Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my friends and family. This has been quite a year for us and the adventure seems that it will continue.

Just over a year ago Jeannie and I moved into our newly acquired 5th wheel trailer. We stayed for a couple of months near Medford so we could get used to the whole RV lifestyle a little at a time. There were some pretty serious adjustments right off the bat. Jeannie had filled a 3 bedroom house with furniture and, well, stuff. We got rid of a lot of the aforementioned stuff, etc. I also had a shed that was pretty full of stuff. Much of that had to go as well. What didn’t fit in the 5th wheel went to storage. That was a shock for both of us.

Moving into the RV precipitated a very different life style. In cold weather, frequent trips to buy propane, emptying black water weekly or more often, and completely rearranging our ideas about shopping for groceries; Our food storage is about 1/3 what it was before. Just a lot of stuff and we were really thankful to be so close to Walmart.

In February we hooked up and moved to a little/big town in western Arizona. Quartzsite is a snowbird town ranging from under 20,000 in the summer to over 300,000 between October and April. There are lots of temporary shops there and just about every craft imaginable. We had a very pleasant time there and Jeannie found that she enjoys making jewelry. Check out her pendants at dramamamajewelry on etsy.com.

In May we hooked up again and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Our youngest daughter Bethel and her family live there. For the last several years Jeannie has been going there to do child care during the summer. Our granddaughter turned 12 this year so this will be our last year for that. But we enjoyed time with them and we got reconnected with a dear friend from college. We also had a nice visit with Jeannie’s cousin and his wife.

Then late in August it was time to move again. This time to Springfield Ohio, my home town. I have a lot of family there but mostly our son and his family live not too far away in Cincinnati. They have a fairly new son that we haven’t seen nearly enough of. We have gone down there or they have come up nearly every week and we have really enjoyed being together with them. We also have family and friends in and around Springfield that we have really enjoyed seeing again.
There are many others here that I would have loved to see if I had just managed our time better, but alas it is about time to pack up again and roll back to Arizona. We did have a lovely Christmas time with our son and his family and our kids from Oklahoma came up and we had a very pleasant 4 days all together.

After a hopefully restful time in Arizona we hope to head back to Oregon for a long stay, after they get pretty well done with winter.

The first year of our Roamin’ adventure has been pretty enjoyable all around. After my being on the road and gone for most of 12 years we are learning to get along again. A 5th wheel as a lovely way to travel and a nice way to live although sometimes it’s a little extra cozy. We are getting a little better at it each day.

At the beginning of the year I had some grand ideas about how I might encourage some people and be a blessing to many. I hope I have been an encouragement to some. Discipleship is something that I was hoping to encourage many to become active in. I even completed the first of a series (I think) of discipleship studies. I believe I am supposed to continue working on that because my calling is to be a disciple. I have been able to write several articles for my blog and it seems like some are looking at it so I am encouraged to continue.

I am sure that the blessings of God are absolute and I pray that you will consider them as you step into the New Year.
·         Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
·         Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
·         Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
·         Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
·         Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
·         Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the Sons of God.

Be among the blessed.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

To See What Jesus Sees

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
I never cease to be amazed at how I can read a verse that I’ve read many times and all of a sudden I see something that I’ve never seen before. This week I was reading in Mark 4, where we have the story of the woman with the alabaster box. She was reprimanded for wasting so much money on costly perfume, but Jesus commended her and said that what she had done would be told wherever the Gospel was preached.

What the critics were saying was correct. That money could have been used to feed the poor. But instead of agreeing with the critics Jesus saw the good thing that the woman had done. For myself I see that this is a place where I need to work. I am often like the critics who are quick to point out what is wrong with this or that.

In the second chapter of Mark there is another story, which I may have mentioned at another time. Jesus is teaching in a house and some people come carrying a crippled man on a bed to Jesus, but when they get to him there is no way to get into the house where he is. So they climb up on the roof with their friend on his bed and break through the roof to let him down on his bed through the hole that they have made.

In verse 5 it says an amazing thing “When Jesus saw their faith…”; Now try to imagine that this was your house and a bunch of guys have just broken through your roof to let someone down on a bed. What would you see? I would probably not see faith. But that is what God desires that we see.
As I was looking at this and seeing how I need to grow much more I thought about the verse in Galatians 5:24;

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

As I was looking around there I saw the list of the works of the flesh and I noticed that in the midst of things that nearly everyone would agree on are things like hostility, quarreling, outbursts of anger, dissensions and divisions. As I thought about these things it dawned on me how easily I become angry and raise my voice because I am irritated. I saw how I want to separate from others because they don’t see things as clearly or correctly as I do.

And so I see once again that there is work for me to do. I must work to have the exhortation of Philippians 4:8 living in my mind until it becomes living in my life. Whenever I see where I fall short I rejoice because God has shown me confidence to open more of the way of salvation to me so that I can be conformed to the image of Jesus.


Let us each learn more faithfulness.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Two Houses

Two men went into a neighborhood to find houses to resell. They each found a house and they were very near to the other. The houses were very similar since they had been built around the same time by the same builder.

The first man, Charley Makepeace went through the house he bought and said let’s get this house looking good so that we can resell it for a nice profit. So they fixed the cracks in the plaster and caulked where the siding had splits. In the living room the ceiling light didn’t work so they plastered over the switch and removed the fixture and plastered over that hole. The kitchen floor was recovered by putting down a thin sheet of plywood and then putting down new vinyl. After all the cracks were filled and everything looked straight they painted the whole house and put it back on the market listed for a nice profit.

Tom Straight went in and found the problems with the house and then set about to fix them. Some of the siding had to be replaced and all of the electric had to be redone so it would be safe. Some of the drains were replaced so the water would flow better. In the bathroom the floor was taken up and some of the structural pieces replaced and then the floor was put back down with new vinyl. The house was repainted inside and out. He then had the house inspected and an appraisal made. The house was certified safe and put on the market at a price pretty close to Mr. Makepeace’s house, for a smaller profit.

If you went into that neighborhood to buy a house, which of these two houses would you prefer to buy?

A lot of people believe in a God who accepts you just the way you are and is only interested in external improvements. They call this Grace. While other people believe in a God who wants to go through their life and change them from the inside out into people who genuinely resemble their Lord. This second group know that sometimes this process is painful and unpleasant but the result is genuine and therefore worth it. This second group calls this Grace.

It’s something to think about.
Matthew 7:24-27



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sometimes We Don't Say Exactly What We Mean

A few days ago as I was going over one of my favorite passages in my mind I realized something that I don’t remember seeing before. Sometimes we don’t say just what we mean.

When our children were growing up I used to go in and pray with them when they were going to bed. I remember clearly when our son prayed that God would help him be patient with his sisters. I remember telling him about the danger of praying for patience. In case you don’t know, when you pray for patience God will often give you more opportunities to become better at being patient. I think his sisters were co-operative in this case. The real point is that what he really wanted was to not be annoyed by his sisters’ behavior. There is a way to do that but that is for another time.

The passage that I am referring to is found in Luke 17. Jesus is giving instructions for our behavior here. In the first 4 verses he tells his disciples that they need to be ready to forgive those who offend them often. Even if they do that very same thing 7 times in a day and then come and repent, we are to forgive them as often as they come and repent.

At this point the disciples said something to Jesus that might not have been just exactly what they meant. What they said was, “Lord, Increase our faith.” What I suspect they meant and what I believe most of us mean when we ask the same thing of God, and that is, “Lord make it so I feel like doing what you said.”

I suspect the disciples didn’t quite understand the true nature of faith. I also believe that we are inclined to not understand it correctly as well. But God is faithful and gives us exactly what we need so that we may understand and do His Will.

Next Jesus says something that is amazing if you will think about it.

And the Lord said, “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, ‘Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea’; and it should obey you.”

Jesus said what he meant, unfortunately we often don’t read or listen carefully. Sometimes we add things that weren’t said. Jesus is talking about the power that is possible with faith, not the power of wishing. Those are two very different things.

The holidays are just around the corner and I could wish that turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie with whipped cream wouldn’t add inches to my waist. But faith tells me to use discretion in what I eat and I will be able to control my weight. I am subject to the laws of diet and nutrition, no matter how much I wish it were different.

Jesus went on to show us how faith really works in verses 7 to 10. Let’s look at it in the Good News Translation.

"Suppose one of you has a servant who is plowing or looking after the sheep. When he comes in from the field, do you tell him to hurry along and eat his meal? Of course not! Instead, you say to him, 'Get my supper ready, then put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may have your meal.' The servant does not deserve thanks for obeying orders, does he? It is the same with you; when you have done all you have been told to do, say, 'We are ordinary servants; we have only done our duty.' "

What just happened here?

We just went from ordering trees around to working all day then fixing dinner and serving a master who may not even be thankful. How can these things both be correct?

Something that we MUST understand is, faith is always a matter of obedience to authority. (Romans 1:5)

In the example where we started, Jesus gave the disciples instructions. Faith will obey those instructions no matter how we feel. In every area of my life God will give instructions on how to proceed if I will ask, seek and listen. Often, I will not like those instructions. I won’t feel like it. But, faith will obey and in the end say, “I am only an unprofitable servant for I have only done what I was commanded.”

Some of the things that faith will do are:

·         Speak evil of no one. (Titus 3:2)
·         Give thanks always for all things. (Ephesians 5:20)
·         Rejoice in the Lord always. (Philippians 4:4)
·         Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)
·         And, Oh yes, “Be perfect just as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)


Now that should be something to think about.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

First Steps are Important

The first step is important. People have a baby’s first step recorded on their smart phone and email or text them to friends and family by email and text message and even share them with complete strangers on social media. Without that first step there can never be the second, third and millions of steps which follow.

In the process of becoming a child of God there seems to be a first step that has been emphasized and yet seldom considered in any depth to understand how to get to the root. We are told that “…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God ;”( Romans 3:23) but we never are shown clearly what that means. Therefore we are left to our own devices to determine what sin is. So instead of coming to an understanding of the nature of sin we find examples and use them as a definition. In that case we are relegated to the big 4; stealing what belongs to someone else, killing another human being, sexual immorality however we end up defining that, and then lying is the fourth. Some do go a little farther and include thinking about doing those things as sin.

So we are told in Sunday school (where they still have that) that Jesus died to save us from our sins. And frightened children come home and tell their parents that they must be baptized because they need to be saved from their sins. But they have no idea what those sins are. They certainly haven’t stolen, killed or been involved in immoral sexual behavior (people of the opposite gender are icky). But they are sure they have sinned because the teacher read to them from the Bible that “all have sinned.” I am sure there are exceptions to this illustration, but generally speaking you will see the point that I am making is valid, I hope.

So, what is this “sin” that we are all guilty of that has caused us to fall short of the glory of God? And how can understanding the answer to this first question help me to stop falling short of God’s glory?

The word Genesis means beginning, so since we are considering this to be a first step the beginning would be a good place to start. In the first chapter we can read how God created the whole universe with his words.  God spoke all of the physical that we can see and more into reality.  That’s a whole other topic. Then in chapter 2 we can read beginning in verse 8 how God planted a garden in “Eden”. Here again we find that the Bible translators didn’t translate. The Hebrew word for Eden is pronounced “Eden” the translation is “pleasure”. Of the 19 or so translations that I look at, only the Douay-Reims Translation agrees with several commentators and says,And the Lord God had planted a paradise of pleasure from the beginning: wherein he placed man whom he had formed.”  

God provided all that man needed for his pleasure in this garden. Just take a moment or several to think about that.

I really like caramel and my wife likes dark chocolate. I enjoy seafood but my wife prefers chicken. What does this have to do with sin? Not a lot, but it does have to do with pleasure. One of the pleasures that God placed in the garden was a freedom to choose. When we choose the course that is right we have great pleasure but when we choose the course that is wrong we quickly come to sorrow. This is simple to illustrate in several life situations. In this “paradise of pleasure” all of the choices but one were within God’s will. Everything was a delight to behold, unimaginably wonderful foods were everywhere, and physical pleasure had no boundaries. Included in the pleasures was the pleasure of choosing to do God’s will. The pleasure of allowing God to decide what is best for me and what I should avoid. The only way that it could be possible to choose one way over another is for you to have at least two options. In this case there were thousands of options and only one had been labeled as “the wrong option”. And yet with a little help from a clever salesman that is what they chose.

That option was not a pear, a plum, an apple or a pomegranate. The option was the option to choose to decide between what is good and what is evil. The option was and is to place my will above and before God’s will. Here is the root of all sin. God’s will or my will; we are presented with the same choice as Adam and Eve.

Every day all day long we are presented with choices. Unfortunately because of that first choice, to choose other than God’s will, we often have several wrong options and only one or a few right options that are in agreement with God’s will. How do we possibly learn to choose properly?

This is what following Jesus is really all about. Jesus was tempted in every way the same as we are tempted and yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). God’s Word promises that, “there is no temptation that comes to you or me except what is common to all men and God is faithful and will not permit us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear ( 1 Corinthians 10:13). Does this mean that I will never sin again? I don’t think so. But it does mean that there is always a way open to me where I can learn to choose to do God’s will and not my own.

God’s will certainly involves healing the sick and possibly doing other miracles but it is not likely that we will get to be a part of that while we are still becoming angry with our brother or sister because they didn’t pick up their dirty clothes. I must learn to be faithful to do God’s will where it is clear to me. Then I can learn to be involved where my will is so easily confused with God’s.

As I choose God’s will in more and more situations of life I gain power over sin. As a born again follower of Jesus I always have the power to choose and God will always show me the right choice and give me the power to choose His will in the moment if I will cry out to him in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Let us each one continue to faithfulness
2 Corinthians 3:10


Friday, September 18, 2015

Good Works

Jesus says, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

When you come into a dark room you flip a switch and the light comes on. If you think about it at all you don’t think about the electricity and how it was generated. No, you think about the light. But when the light won’t come on you know where to go to replace a fuse (that’s flip the breaker for you who don’t know what a fuse is) or call the electric company. The light didn’t work because it didn’t get any power.

Somewhere people had to work to generate the power to cause your light to come on.
In the same way we have to work to provide the power for our light to shine and produce good results. But what is the work that we must do in order to make our light shine and give good results.

For a long time I have made it my practice to look at 1 Corinthians 13 regularly. The first 3 verses speak of what are commonly thought of as good things to do or be able to do, but in every case they are classified as worthless in less they proceed from love. Then the writer goes on to explain what love is. If you think about these verses for a while they will ruin almost all romantic stories.

The point is; the things we think of as good works are only the light. The good works is the work of learning and living the love. Read the verses 4-9 and see clearly what the love that God intends for us to practice truly is. This is a good work. This is difficult and we cannot accomplish it without the help of the Spirit of God living in us, helping us.

From the Sermon on the Mount on, the New Testament is full of Good Work that we are called to do. All of this work is invisible to those around us.

Let me illustrate what I am saying. Let’s assume you are in a store waiting in line to pay for your purchase and you turn around to look at something and when you turn back someone has stepped in front of you. What happens inside your mind? Do you become angry because someone has violated your right to be next in line? Jesus says that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgement (not exactly sure what that last part means but it doesn’t sound pleasant) (Matthew 5:22). The apostle Paul says that love does not demand its rights (1 Corinthians 13:5). These and other scriptures demand that we think completely in a new way, a way completely different from our natural inclination.

The light that can come forth is no indication of impatience, or possibly mentioning to the other person what they did with no critical or impatient emotion, and then accepting the result with peace in your heart.

Read the Sermon on the Mount and see how many of the things Jesus says are done internally. The instructions that Jesus gives in the sermon are the good works that produce the light that people see coming from us in the daily life.

One time I saw a police officer receive repeated verbal abuses and he remained calm and patient. Later I asked him how he did that (I want to be that way). He said he had learned to act like a duck. You may have seen ducks in a swift moving stream just sitting still. What you see seems to be a stationary duck but what you don’t see is little duck feet paddling furiously where they can’t be seen but the results are obvious.

No one will see what is going on under the surface, but all will be able to see the light that it produces.

Let us grow in faithfulness.

Ephesians 2:10

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The End of Conflict

This morning I came home from buying coffee because we just didn’t get it done yesterday. I was hungry and wanted some potatoes and eggs for breakfast.

Now we have changed some things under the sink and Jeannie wanted to clean out under the sink before we put the dish drainer back under there. She had told me this. I knew it. I was conscious of it.

I wanted to fix some potatoes and eggs. The dish drainer was on the counter, in my way. So I put it back under the sink, where it belongs. Or should I say I lit the fuse.

What followed may be familiar to many of you. She said… I said…she said…I said…etc. This was followed by some tears some apologies, some more tears and some more apologies; and then by peace restored.

What happened? Does this have to happen every now and then? Is there a solution?
The answers in reverse order are; yes, no, and well let me explain.

What Happened was I did not allow the cross to work in my life. I did not crucify my flesh with its lusts and desires (Gal 5:24). I wanted what I wanted and so I did what I wanted in spite of what my wife wanted. Then something else happened, Jeannie didn’t have the cross in her life. So when I told her why I had done what I did, she responded by being offended. And so it began and continued for far too long.

Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

We both failed to take up our cross and deny ourselves. The cross is the solution to every conflict. James says, “Where do all the fights and quarrels among you come from? They come from your desires for pleasure, which are constantly fighting within you.” (James 4:1)  All conflict comes from this cause. If you read on you will see the extension of how this goes and it doesn’t matter if we are talking about dish drainers or you name it.

In the past I was acquainted with a happy man named Bratlie who said, “If one person has the cross in their life there is peace, if two people have the cross in their life there is fellowship.” If one person will take up their cross and faithfully carry that cross there is no possibility for conflict with that person.


It is something to think about.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Question

In 1978 Douglas Adams wrote a farcical novel called “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” In this wonderfully entertaining book we learned that the earth was simply a giant computer created by a civilization from another dimension in order to discover “The Answer.” But after several thousands of our years the earth was destroyed to make way for an intergalactic byway. But fortunately the operators escaped in time and they had just been able to work out the answer. This only created another and much larger problem. What is the question?

It seems to me (major disclaimer) that this may be where the Christian Church in almost all of its expressions has come up with the wrong answer or question in this case. This is where it all falls apart. What is the question? If we look around at the people all around us we do not see people who are wondering if they will go to heaven when they die. But that is the question that all of Christendom is answering.

Could it possibly be that people are really interested in how to be happy? Could it also be that when they look at the other people who claim to be Christians they don’t see happy?

“Christians” seem really interested in telling those who are not Christians that they are going to Hell if they don’t pray a certain prayer, say some special words and do some ceremonies. Christians seem really interested in pointing out the sins that others are doing. As Christians, disciples of Jesus, active members of the (fill in the blank) church do we have anything that is truly of interest to those who haven’t bought our T-shirts?

Let’s just assume that the real question is something like, “how can I be happy?” Does the Bible or Jesus have an answer to that question? I believe that the answer in bold flashing capital letters is YES WE DO. The colossal problem is that many of the people wearing the T-shirts and flashing the hand book are not doing what it says in order to be happy. So the non-T-shirt wearing non hand book flashing public doesn’t believe the sales pitch when the results are obviously not as advertised.

The Word of God tells us in many places who will be happy. These simple instructions involve conforming to God’s pattern. Take some time to look up the references in your bible that begin with the word blessed. This is just another word for happy.

Jesus showed us by his life how to conform to God’s pattern. In Hebrews 1:9 it says that because Jesus loved to do what was righteous (God’s pattern) and hated lawlessness (that’s everything else) God poured the oil of gladness (happiness) over him more that over anyone else.

This is much more difficult than telling people they will go to hell if they don’t conform to my religion. But this is the way that I have chosen for myself. Thankfully I have made some small progress and I am trusting God that he will give me the power to continue in this way. I hope some others will follow me as I follow Jesus and learn to be happy in all situations.


It is something to think about. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

More Effective Prayer

Sometimes you search for years for the thing you need and then one day you find that you have been stepping over it, moving it to one side and even sitting stuff on it all the time. I am always amazed when I realize that that is exactly what I have been doing with the truth and plain instruction in the Word of God. Someone may have read my article about my “Life Changing Experience” where I pointed out the tremendous benefit of memorizing and meditating on the “Beatitudes”.

For years I have sought for help to know how to pray more effectively. And once again there was the answer in plain sight.

Many years ago, when I was a student at Ozark Bible College, there was a local evangelist whose motto on all of his literature and banners was II Chronicles 7:14. Many of you and myself as well have always thought of this as a prescription for political action. Today as I was especially aware of the need for effective prayer this verse came into my mind and happily I didn’t push it aside but rather took some time to look at it. What I have seen is an amazing insight into effective prayer.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

So often when I think of prayer, I think of verses like Philippians 4:6

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Of course this is a fine and instructive verse. I have for some time realized because of this and other verses (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20) that all of my prayer needs to include thanksgiving. But in the Chronicles verse today I have seen a tremendous application of how I ought to pray.

I have mentioned before that this verse is specifically addressed to those who are ‘called by my name’. I don’t believe that prayer is necessarily the exclusive privilege of “Christians.” Otherwise no one could become a Christian. But I do think that this level of effective prayer is limited to those who are “called by my name.”

If I have written this before, it bears repeating often. When we are dealing with the activity of prayer there is no such thing as taking it too seriously. If I were going to be handling high explosives or radioactive material I am pretty sure that I would be careful to take the proper precautions. But we routinely bow our heads and say our prayers as casually as asking a stranger for the time. I need to realize that I am the most unworthy of creatures approaching the Living God who is always maintaining all things by his very word.

Sometimes it seems that the whole idea of something or someone being holy or sanctified is completely foreign in the protestant church especially in America. So when Jesus, teaching us how to pray, says we should pray like this “Our Father which art in heaven hollowed be thy name.” we just rattle it off with no thought for what it means. When the apostle Peter tells us to “sanctify the Lord God in your heart and be ready to give an answer,” we begin by thinking what our answer should be. And I have been in meetings where communion was treated more like the snack between the song service and the preaching than like the divine ordinance given to us by Jesus. Which, by the way, has extremely serious warnings attached to it by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23-30.

And so, after accepting Solomon’s Temple as a dwelling place (II Chronicles 7:14) the Lord says to Solomon, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves”; He calls them “my people” and yet requires them to first humble themselves. In all of our spiritual development this is the starting place and the very pavement upon which we travel. If we overlook this principle we can make NO progress with God. Consider these verses.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (1 Peter 5:6)

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5)

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:1-14)

Once I have seen my own poverty of spirit and acknowledged it to myself, then and only then am I truly ready to pray and seek the face of the Lord.

I am very aware of Philippians 4:6 which speaks of letting our requests be made known to God. I am also very aware that Jesus tells us our Father knows what we need before we ask him (Matthew 6:8). In the passage we are considering it simply says to pray and seek the face of the Lord.

What does that mean? Where would I look? How could I look?

This takes us back to becoming a disciple. In the 70’s Tim LA Hay wrote a book titled “The Becomers”. It put forward the idea that no matter where we are as Christians, we are always in the process of becoming more of a Christian. We should always be in the process of becoming disciples. The first disciple that I should always be making is myself. A disciple of Jesus is someone who wants to become as much like Jesus as possible. I do this by placing myself as close to him as much as possible. Reading his story and imagining myself there listening and watching. Learning his answers in situations; rehearsing what he taught about in this or that situation.

Many of you, myself as well, are or have been members of Christian groups or churches. When you first join that group you noticed peculiar ways that they say things. As time goes by, you began using the same ways of speech. You and I became like them. In the same way as we spend time with Jesus, in the Gospels, we begin to see the sense and logic of the things he says and we begin to sound like him. We begin to think in those terms.

I believe that part of seeking the face of God is seeking to know Jesus intimately.

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you such a long time and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. And how do you say, Show us the Father?” (John 14:9)

Surprisingly this makes reading God’s Word a form of prayer if we take it properly. In the same way as we memorize God’s Word and meditate, or repeat it to ourselves, this also becomes a form of prayer. His thoughts become our thoughts and we become like him, little by little.

Most people are as good as they know how to be. Often people who we would consider terrible sinners are simply doing the best that they can with what they know and have no idea about any fault in themselves. They see no better way to live.

At one time along my discipleship journey I memorized 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter). And as I meditated on this chapter I came across the phrase “love does not behave itself unseemly” (or rudely). Up to this time it was pretty common for me to speak of bodily functions in crude terms, for shock value or sometimes to get a point across. After I read this I realized that this was not the way that God would have me live. Now I had something to repent of. I needed to change my behavior.

There are many areas of each of our lives where we need to repent and change how we live and behave. That is why The Lord said, “and turn from their wicked ways.” We need to see our smallest inconsistency with God’s pattern as our “wicked ways.” This is very serious.

Someone is bound to think that, “We are under grace” or “When God looks at me he sees Jesus.” If that is so, why are the churches, in Revelation, told several times, “repent?” apparently God could see their sin. Repentance is a vital part of being a disciple of Jesus that seems to be written in very small letters in most of “Christian teaching” these days. Being changed is the WORK of discipleship. If I try to change myself I will only change some of my outward behavior. But, if I seek God’s face I will be able to find grace to be changed into his image. Grace is the POWER OF GOD that he will give so that I can be changed.

Then when God speaks of ‘healing the land’, I see that he means more than the political application of the context. I believe he is also interested in healing my life so that all of the promises can be realized for His glory.

It’s something to think about.

  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

God's Word hidden

I have hidden Your Word in my heart, so that I might not sin against You.  (Psalms 119:11). What a wonderful powerful verse of scripture which so many have stored in their mind but has gone nowhere near their heart.

This is where we have failed and where we must work if victory in anything is ever to be experienced.

In Matthew 4 you can read about how Jesus was tempted. For years I had no appreciation for what he was going through in this situation. But then, I have never fasted for forty days or been led into the wilderness to be tempted. Well, try to imagine not eating anything for forty days. Maybe you should start with four days. He would have been physically and emotionally weak, very weak. The suggestions that he was offered would have been very enticing. A piece of bread after 40 days would have seemed like a banquet. To easily accomplish recognition in that weakened condition would have been very attractive. He knew that the world was his inheritance, to quickly and easily take possession would surely look tempting.

What saved Jesus?

He was saved because he had hidden God’s Word in his heart. Read what is written in the chapter.
Many people memorize scripture for many reasons. Memorizing God’s Word will do you little good.

If it is to protect you from sin, it must be hidden in your heart.

How do I hide God’s Word in my heart? FIRST, you do need to memorize it. THEN, you need to meditate on it. Say it to yourself over and over. 5 times a day to start.

1.    When you go to bed.
2.    When you wake up
3.    When you have your breakfast or morning break.
4.    When you have your mid-day meal.
5.    When you have your dinner.

And that is just to start. As you work with God’s word in this way you will become aware of it in everyday life situations. For instance, if you memorize 1 Corinthians 13, as you go through your day, you will notice times when your behavior and God’s word are not in agreement. Then you will have an opportunity to have a prayer meeting with God. This is where God’s word gets hidden in your heart. This is how God’s Word will keep you from sin.

Becoming Jesus’ disciple is not easy. Words like suffering and fear have been removed from new translations of the Bible but if we do not receive chastisement we are bastards and not sons (Hebrews 12:8). Disciple and discipline are from the same root and clearly indicate harsh training to effect change. (Romans 12:1-2) Memorizing God’s Word is not easy but becoming Jesus disciple is not easy.


Start where you can. I began by memorizing the beatitudes and repeating them like I have illustrated. They have worked changes in my life. I have added other passages to work to protect me from the sin I see in my life. God will help us if we make a beginning. Then we must also persevere. 

We must each learn faithfulness in the little things.

Monday, June 22, 2015

God is the best matchmaker

In the fall of 1967 I went back to Ozark Bible College (Now Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Mo.) with marriage on my mind. I was very interested in finding a willing young lady to share my life with.

This was my third year at Bible College I was going to a little church in Duquesne Mo. while at school. I was the song leader (now I would be the worship leader) and Jeannie played the piano.

Now although I was in college, I was not real clever, so I didn’t even think of her as a viable candidate for marriage to me. I was more interested in glamor or unique interest. There were a couple of Hawaiian girls there that I thought might be special and a girl from Norway that I liked for the job. Happily they were much smarter than me and kindly buy firmly told me to keep looking.

This went on for some time and I was getting kind of frustrated. Mostly I thought of myself as a pretty desirable guy and I was getting some pretty cold shoulders.

In my frustration I thought of something intelligent to do. I prayed, and pretty much laid my problem out to God. While I was praying it came into my mind that I should make a list of characteristics that I should be looking for. This idea came while I was consciously praying so naturally I was aware that I should place this list in an order appropriate for a spiritual person. So practical things like domestic skills and music were high on the list and physical beauty was at the bottom. This says nothing about Jeannie but only about how I thought God would want my list to look. After I finished making the list I put it in a notebook and pretty much forgot about it then went on my way searching according to my ideas.

This went on for a while. During this time as I mentioned Jeannie was playing the piano and I was leading the singing at the little church where we went. I also was her ride to and from church and we hung out together from time to time, when I wasn’t looking for a future Mrs. Everingham.

After a few weeks and more frustration I resorted to prayer again. I might not have been stupid but I was pretty slow. This time as I was praying I distinctly was aware of Jeannie Foyil. I think I heard God tell me “what about Jeannie Foyil?” I didn’t like that idea and told Him so. She wasn’t my ideal. As I sat there arguing with God, He said, “Look at your list.” I hadn’t thought about it for a while but when I heard that I knew exactly where it was.

As I looked down that list I realized that it was a spot on description of Jeannie. I was blown away.

The next time we headed to church, on the way I told Jeannie I wanted to talk to her. She asked me about what. I said, “About us.” We were friends, we went to church together and did other stuff but there was really no ‘us’. We were just friends, pretty good friends but just friends. Mostly I talked to her about my frustration in my search.

So, after I had dropped everyone else who rode with me off we got out of the car by the trailer where Jeannie and 3 other girls stayed. I pretty much told her about the list and my little conversation with God. Then I explained that I didn’t love her and then I made some very tasteless comments and asked her if she would consider marrying me.

Believe it or not, she said she would consider it. 

That Thanksgiving I went home with her to meet her family in Tulsa Ok. and then at Christmas she went home with me to Ohio to meet my family. I flunked out of Bible college, got drafted and we were married May 25th at her youth sponsor’s house. The wedding happened after I got my draft notice and we drove from Joplin Missouri to Tulsa with a stop in Miami Oklahoma to get our blood test so we could get our marriage license before we went to her parent's house. The evening of the 24th we went to her brother’s high school graduation. Then on Saturday we were married, then Sunday morning we drove about 200 miles so I could preach at a little church in Sparta Missouri near Silver Dollar City in Branson where we had our 6 hour honeymoon.

She was not what I wanted or was looking for, but God showed me that she was the perfect match for me. She is my best friend and I am thankful from the deepest part of my heart for her. I thank God always for her.

Trust God with every area of your life. I heard a wise man say we should seek a wife just like Adam did. Go to sleep and let God bring her to you.

Be Faithful

Rick

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Why Should we fear God?

Why must we fear God?

This is a valid and a good question, especially when so many people are telling us that “God is good” and “God is love.” How can anyone reconcile these two concepts, especially to people who are somewhat hostile to Christianity, especially as they have seen it practiced round about?

For the moment let’s not talk about how Christianity is preached and practiced and simply try to address the question; why must we fear God? Obviously I can only answer from my own point of view which is the point of one who is a learning to be disciple of Jesus.

Every reasonable person has fears. People fear losing their job, losing a loved one, a child, a parent, a mate, losing their money, losing their health or mental ability. We may fear being injured on the job. It seems reasonable to fear dying.  Fear is usually presented as a negative thing, but is it truly? If an electrician working with high voltage does not fear the power and destructive force of that electricity, that caviler attitude can get him killed. As a truck driver I had a healthy fear of the physical laws that do not change just because I am such a smart guy, so I didn’t take an 80,000 lb. load down a 4 mile 6% grade in 8th gear.

So then when we come to God there are a couple of other things that we must consider. First of all does a person actually believe in God? If not then of course there is no reason to fear him. I have absolutely no fear of Sasquatch or yeti, because I do not believe they truly exist. The second question that should be asked if a person does believe in God is, what sort of god do they believe in?

Over time there have been many gods presented by various people and religious practitioners. Some of the gods were good, some not so good and some were downright scoundrels.

The book commonly called the Bible or The Holy Bible presents a God that is unique in many ways. The Bible itself is a very unique record. It was prepared over a period of over 1,000 years by over 50 separate authors, many of course never met one another. And yet it presents a unified record, much of which has been authenticated by science, archeology and secular history.

The God of the Bible is inexpressibly good, kind and loving, and yet he is also inexpressibly powerful and holy. The God of the Bible demands obedience of his children, and yet he provides a way of restoration for those who have been disobedient, if they will sincerely seek that restoration according to His conditions.

The foolish electrician will ignore the laws that govern the use of electricity and in the end will cause much damage and possibly injury or death. The foolish truck driver will ignore the laws of physics and will eventually destroy much and possibly injure or kill himself and possibly others. The wise electrician and the wise truck driver will have a healthy fear of the laws that govern their craft and so far as it concerns them will keep themselves and other safe.

A person who believes in the God of the Bible who is wise will have a healthy fear of the spiritual laws that govern all people and will, as far as they are able keep themselves and those around them safe.

In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body but cannot touch your soul. Fear only God who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” He goes on to say, “What is the price of two sparrows – one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (NLT)

Some will say we need to respect the God of the Bible and some modern translations have said it that way, but if I only respect the God that I serve I am still free to respectfully disagree with what he says and not obey. If I fear that He is and will do what He says fear will compel me to obey whether I agree or disagree.

If you do believe in the God of the Bible who created everything and maintains all things, you definitely need to have a healthy fear of Him. If you do not believe in the God of the Bible I hope this has at least clarified the matter a little.

Proverbs says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” (1:7 & 9:10) It is the beginning but it is only the beginning.

Be Faithful to what you believe.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Master's Wealth

Jesus told a story about a man who was going on a journey and before he left he entrusted some of his wealth to 3 of his servants. To one he gave 3 portions and to another 2 and to the third a single portion of his wealth, to each according to their abilities. Then he went away.

Each of the servants did something with the portion of the master’s wealth that they were given. In the end the master returned and their performance was the basis for their reward.

It is probably important to realize that this is one of a series of stories Jesus was telling to illustrate what the Kingdom of heaven is like. Each of these stories demonstrated the importance of our behavior when the time for judgement comes. We will be judged and rewarded according to what we do! These are the words of Jesus
.
Two of the servants doubled the treasure of the master and one only hid the treasure so he could return it to his master when he returned.

What is this about?

How can it apply to my daily life?

I have not been satisfied with any answers I have heard over the years. The King James Bible and many of the other newer translations have unfortunately made an unfortunate translation that I suspect may have been misused to suggest that the wealth of the master had something to do with talents or abilities. The Greek word would be spelled TALENTON. Therefore rather than translate the word scholars simply spelled it like an English word that they could explain as it was convenient for them. The Greek word actually simply means a certain sum of money.

As I said at the beginning, the master distributed portions of his wealth to each of 3 of his servants. If the story is to help us understand what the kingdom of Heaven is like, wouldn’t it seem logical to assume that the master represents Jesus? What then of the portions of his wealth? These were each servants of the master (Jesus). What does God give us when we come to him to be born again into his kingdom? A very precious gift, He gives each of us his Holy Spirit to live inside of us to guide us into all righteousness. (John 14:22)

As we learn to listen to the Spirit of God who lives in us whole dimensions of life become available. Not least is the power to stop choosing sin and to choose obedience to God instead. But these treasures never become real for us if we do not take the gift of God and cultivate that gift in our daily life. In that case, when the master returns and asks what we have done with his treasure, he will take the treasure away and cast us into outer darkness.

But if we have worked to cultivate that spiritual relationship and have increased it even a little he will be pleased with us. But we each must work to the best of our ability.

These stories of Jesus are a frightening contrast to the teaching that Jesus did it all and there is nothing for us to do. Certainly we could never earn the gift of forgiveness we could never balance the scale. That is the wonderful mercy of God. We could never overcome one sin without the help of the Spirit of God working in our lives. But this story clearly tells me that I do have work to do and if I neglect that work the consequences are severe.


Let us each one work to cultivate our relationship with our Heavenly Father, with our Savior Jesus the Christ and with the Holy Spirit that lives within us. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

For Keri

Here are some thoughts about the article you shared. It seems a little rambly I hope it’s not too disconnected. (ref; christianityfortherestofus.com; “Disillusioned Christian”)

Disillusioned Christian. A very interesting and thoughtful article. I found myself identifying with much of what he said. However even though for some time now I have felt disillusioned about the church system I have not become disillusioned with Jesus. I still believe what I have believed for a long time about him and in many ways very similar to what much of main line Christianity professes.
There have been times when I just wanted to chuck it all in and walk away. It didn’t work! The truth is it didn’t and doesn’t work the way I was always taught. The feel-good religion is a lie. That’s not to say that there are no good feelings. But, the reality of the gospel message does not make me giddy. The rhythmic music and the entertaining speeches are enjoyable but they are not a help in the daily life.

Money is a little like truth. When you have 3 or 4 Benjamin’s in your pocket you know you can handle most of life’s regular situations. Truth is like that only better. To handle those daily situations you will need to sacrifice some of those Bens. To get through the day the truth is you will need to give up some other things as well.

For myself at some time I realized that my plans and my strategy was yielding some pretty unsatisfactory results. What are the alternatives? The religious system is all I have known for over 60 years. Heaven and Hell are not big motivators. A life that works; now that could get me excited. Over the years I have seen some people who seemed to be successful in their life. I am talking about success in the difficulties not without difficulties. I am talking about people like Steve Saint (The End of the Spear) or Corrie Ten Boom (The Hiding Place). These are real people and they found their strength and their direction as they looked at Jesus. I have known some similar people as well although their lives were not filled with so much public drama, still they succeeded by looking to Jesus following his example and obeying his commands.

Jesus is much more than a Bible story. He is a real person whose life is revealed little by little throughout the Bible. I cannot know him by just reading about him. I must learn by obeying what he says, and follow the example I see in the Bible. As I am doing this I am experiencing better results. Also, as I am doing this it is requiring that I change my behavior, thoughts and attitudes in many ways I never expected or would have been willing to change. Truth demands sacrifice!

So in the mean time I am not sure where I belong when it comes to churches, but wherever I am I know that my focus is on following Jesus and learning how to obey his commands.
There are still no easy answers. J

Here is a little of how it is working, sort of, for me. In one paragraph he speaks of staying silent or shouting angrily at no one in particular (The great nameless faceless “they”) I have found or I believe God has shown me an answer to this. I do not like the answer but I believe it is the answer for me.
Isa 42:1-4 The LORD says, "Here is my servant, whom I strengthen--- the one I have chosen, with whom I am pleased. I have filled him with my Spirit, and he will bring justice to every nation. He will not shout or raise his voice or make loud speeches in the streets. He will not break off a bent reed nor put out a flickering lamp. He will bring lasting justice to all. He will not lose hope or courage; he will establish justice on the earth. Distant lands eagerly wait for his teaching."
Matthew quotes this when he is writing about Jesus in Matthew 12:18. For me this works in that as I want to be like Jesus, I need to find the way to conform my life, thoughts and attitudes to this. So for a while now I have been thinking about it. I especially think about it when things are said by those I care about that I believe are damaging things to be saying. (Facebook!) I know that mostly people do not want to be corrected. I don’t! So I get to be quiet or not respond directly. Often I simply get to pray and think about my own life. This is a response I don’t enjoy because I want to do something, but I know it is the right response. Someone may ask for my thoughts and hopefully I will be able to share them in a way that is helpful.

In the next paragraph he says he’s stuck and not making progress. I suspect that this may not be true if he is sincerely seeking. It sometimes takes a lot of work to get a garden ready to produce a good crop. In our lives as well sometimes we do a lot of work that doesn’t appear evident for some time. Sharpening the hoe and collecting seeds doesn’t look like anything in the garden patch but they are necessary, doing them is progress toward the crop. The most productive thing I have ever done in this regard is to memorize and meditate on Matthew 5:3-9. When I began and for a long time it didn’t seem like I was accomplishing anything. But as I thought about the meanings of the words I saw the wisdom and aspired to be conformed to those virtues. As I did this I suppose I was praying, and little by little I have begun to see changes. It is very slow, but it is progress.

I would dearly love to find others who want to follow Jesus and become more and more like him. I am not offended by many church services, but I am seldom helped either. It is a matter of a community sharing our struggles and accepting that we are individually in different places and that we each have our own understanding of how it works; how God wants to work in our lives. I believe following and obeying Jesus is the way and I don’t think that will change, but I am pretty sure that screaming that into your face won’t convince you and it certainly isn’t making me any more like him.

So those are some of my thoughts. I hope they are understandable and that you may find some encouragement for your life there. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I Desperately Desire to be In Church!

I desperately desire to be in church! But what does that mean? I know it seems like a simple statement that can easily be fulfilled at any of many local meeting places. But, what is church? And, how does it compare with all of those local meetings that are considered to be church?

In nearly every “church meeting” I have gone to there is a very similar pattern that is followed. First there is a “worship time”, where a single person or very small group of people decide what everyone will sing and then lead singing of their preferred genre of “worship songs”. This is not a time for discussing what songs are better. It is simply what I have seen. This is usually followed by an offering to support “The Lord’s Work” which is also determined by another small group of “leaders”. In some groups the communion service is included here, though it varies from group to group.” Then there is a “message” given by someone whose primary employment is to bring a message each week or even 3 times a week that will keep people coming back and satisfied that they are participating in “The Lord’s work.” The message will also include a strong encouragement to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior so you can go to Heaven and avoid going to Hell.

Singing songs, giving offerings, receiving communion and hearing a message of encouragement are all good things that God’s Word encourages us to be doing. But is this the pattern that is described in the New Testament for the Church to be following? I must allow that there are many similarities. However there seems to be a large disparity between how this is currently accomplished and how the Word of God describes the development of the meeting of believers.

In 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 we have a large portion of the description of how the local assemblies are to function. It is surely no accident that those 2 important chapters are surrounding the incomparable glory that is 1 Corinthians 13. Anyone who would set about to correct the majority of Christendom must absolutely recognize the gravity and necessity of charity as described in this passage or else simply slam about wounding and doing damage to the Church of God.

A large difference that I see between the modern American church and the instructions I read in the New Testament is what might be called full participation. As I have mentioned, in the popular church meeting the messages are primarily brought by a paid minister who was selected by either a small group of leaders or by a popular vote of the congregation. This person is chosen because of the college that they attended, because they are a gifted speaker, or because they have shown leadership abilities in another assembly. 1 Corinthians 14 begins with the encouragement to follow after charity and desire spiritual abilities but especially that you may prophesy. Then from verse 24 to verse 33 there are clear directions for the conduct of a meeting. I am especially aware that participation is encouraged for all. Verse 31 says “all may prophesy”. Here you may understand that by prophesy I am considering this the same as bringing the message of encouragement. I think the context supports this.

There are other aspects of the Biblical pattern for the church which could be considered at a later time if there is interest, but just now this is a good place to stop. I am sure there are some who would protest that this could not work because the general congregation lacks training to be able to express themselves. There would be error and confusion in what was shared. The problems go on and on, and they are justified. But they are not problems that the current system avoids. Yet the pattern set down in scripture is just that; The Scriptural pattern.  I and many others have seen the Scriptural pattern for meetings yield very good fruit in the lives of many. Some of the strongest admonitions for my life have come from simple testimonies of what might be called unlearned men, women, and even children who sincerely shared what they heard the Spirit telling them.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Shield of What?


Above all, take the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (Ephesians 6:16)

Above all… what an imperative statement. What an all-inclusive statement.

One of the amazing things to me about this whole passage is that it speaks of the different aspects of the Christian life as very useful articles in the clothing of a soldier in spiritual battle. I am therefore very inclined to find a clear and practical understanding of what these items are so that I can use them in this warfare that we are engaged in. I am therefore very interested in understanding what it is and how to use this shield of faith.

For years I heard and many times read the definition in Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

To me this was not very helpful. And it is amazing that this is the answer so frequently given. But if you will read on in the chapter there are very good examples of what faith is and how it works.

Noah may be my favorite of those mentioned although Enoch is also very impressive. Noah is so good because we can read about what happened and if we will think about it see that faith involved a long and difficult task that was the result of a warning from God (Gen. 6:)
. It was also a job that had to be accomplished in the face of opposition with almost no support. Faith then was a matter of being faithful and doing what was required without support or help and possibly with opposition.

In Luke 17 Jesus gives instruction to the disciples about relationships and when they ask him to increase their faith he tells them a parable about a servant who comes in from working all day and then is told to clean up and prepare dinner for his master. The servant does not expect to be thanked or praised for his work. Jesus tells his disciples, “So likewise you, when you shall have done all the things commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants, for we have only done what we ought to do.’”

So then how is this a practical shield against the darts of the devil?
If we are actively seeking to know and do God’s will rather than our own, when doubts and fears come we can safely hide behind the shield of faith. When discouragement would tear me down when I get busy about the work that I believe God wants me to be doing, that dart has no power against me.

OK, so what is this work that I am supposed to be about?

God’s word is full of activities He wants each of us to be about; In everything Give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thes. 5:18). Finally brethren whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise think on these things (Phil. 4:4-8). I exhort you therefore that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings and all that are in authority(1 Tim. 2:1+). Because of this, make every effort to add integrity to your faith; and to integrity add knowledge; to knowledge add self-control; to self-control add endurance; to endurance add godliness; to godliness add Christian affection; and to Christian affection add love If you have these qualities and they are increasing, it demonstrates that your knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive (2 Peter 1:5-8).

If we become faithful in these activities Satan’s darts will do us no harm. And this is work because it is in every case contrary to the old nature and in complete harmony with the Spirit of God.


Take up the shield of faith.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Profanity is not a problem with your mouth!

Many of us have battled with profanity to some degree or another. There are even acceptable versions of profanity heard in churches of all colors. On the street someone may say ‘Oh shit’ but around home or at church it sound like ‘Oh crap’ , ‘Oh poo’ or maybe even ‘PICKLES”. The illustrations could go on and on but you can see what I mean if you are interested.

Many of us have tried to overcome this habit with the acceptable curses, but that does not eliminate the problem. The problem is much deeper than my mouth. In Luke 6:45 Jesus says;

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth the good. And an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth the evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
What comes out of my mouth comes straight from my heart. It is also true for you. I can say, “But I was only joking.” But what Jesus says is different. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” So here is the problem. My heart… your heart.
So much of the business of following Jesus is wrapped up in our heart. Lately as I read God’s Word “heart” seems to jump out at me and when I see it I come to a stop to see how it applies. One precious brother said, “My heart is that place where I like it.” My heart is the place where I have a taste for a thing. Whether it is ice cream, the Word of God, puppies or profanity. If I can admit this then I can truly go to work on the problem.

Do I trust God in all things? Do I believe in the deepest part of my heart that He is loving and caring for me? If that is true of me then when something happens that is a difficulty for me the response from my heart will be one of praise to God. And that is what will come out of my mouth. Yours as well!
When you hear profanity coming out of your mouth think about this. What is in my heart that such things come out of my mouth?

On our way to Arizona we stopped at Boron California and saw the 20 Mule Team Museum. Older readers will remember the TV show about the 20 Mule Team. There really was a time when teams of 20 mules would go into the mountains of Southern California to haul out the Boron from the mines. 10 pair of mules were harnessed to a chain that pulled the wagons to and from the mines. The mule skinner or driver sat on the last mule on the left with 1 rope leading up to the first mule on the left and this with his voice commands is how he controlled the mules. In the same way the reins for our tongue are way down in our heart telling us what to say and how to speak.

Think about it.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Authority, Who is in charge here

In Matthew 28, Jesus says, “All authority is given unto me…”

Why was all authority given to Jesus?

Most of you will probably say, “Because he was the Son of God” or “Because he was God.” But is that what the Word of God says?

In Philippians 2:6-10 it says.
Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. Instead he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us.  Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. Then God gave Christ the highest place and honored his name above all others. So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.

Most people don’t understand this truth. But all people who truly have authority have gained that authority by being under authority. The centurion who met Jesus in Luke 7 and Matthew 9 understood when he said, “Say in a word and my servant will be healed for I also am a man under authority and I say…” He knew that Jesus had authority because he was under authority and recognized that his authority came from submission to authority.

In the book “The Fellowship of the Ring” in the very beginning, where Tolkien is explaining about the rings, he says, “Above all things, men love power.” We would all like very much to be able to speak healing for those we care about and to speak prosperity to the situations that we encounter. Of course we can say the words. But do the words we speak bring about the desired results?

In John 12:49 Jesus says;
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

This is a small part of a larger speech that Jesus is making but at the same time I believe it can stand alone to show us the principal of where Jesus got his authority.

Therefore If I desire the kind of authority that Jesus speaks of in John 14:10-15, I must learn to submit to his commands the way he submitted to the Father’s.

To believe is to keep his commandments.


It’s something to think about.