Friday, November 21, 2008

"Watch Out!" "Is it I?"

Have you ever warned someone to "watch out" when you saw that they were about to do something that might cause them harm? You might say, "watch out" to someone who was about to step out in front of an automobile, or someone who was about to step on a nail. You might say, "watch out" to someone who is considering doing something that they've never done before, you might say, "watch out" to someone who is getting into a relationship that you forsee might be a problem. We tend to warn people a lot of the time and yet we don't always warn people when we see them perhaps skirting with hurt,pain and trouble. I used the term this morning when I was sharing with a young couple concerning their finances. I can see that if they continue the way they are going, they may get hurt in ways they never imagined, so I say,"watch out". How many times, I wished someone had said, "watch out" to me. You know many times due to experience and or understanding, we might just have the spirit of fear that others may not. That same spirit of fear that I believe God gave to all women. Us men, we have no fear in the sense, we can fix everything. If you don't believe me, just ask me. We've got the answer to every situation that we hear about. I could fix the war in Iraq in two days if they would let me. I could change the mind of those homosexuals if they would just let me, I could change the Iranian dictator if only someone would let me. I've got answers for everything, Right? Well, not really, I might have a solution, but maybe not the right answer. Women fear and share their fear and normally they are right, but not us men, just let us have at it and we can fix the issue. Well, I'm really going somewhere with this. When you see someone who is actining out un-Christ-like things, do you shout out, "watch out". In many cases I bet you don't. Because we make excuses like, "well, he deserves what he gets", and "am I my brothers keeper" and so on and so forth. We now must ask, Am I really that way? Do I see people in trouble and not warn them? Well I reminded of two scriptures in Mark that are real close to each other and they really apply to all of us and especially me. In Mark 13:32-37 we read that one day Jesus is coming back and none of us knows when, but we see men and women everyday living the life of Satan and we don't warn them and we are warned by Jesus Himself to Watch and do His work as we watch. Then in Mark 14:18-21 we read about Jesus having the Passover supper with his disciples and he announces that one at the table is a betrayer. Everybody ask the question but out loud and to themselves; "Is it I?" and each of us need to ask ourselves this question. "Is it I who fails to warn others about their direction in life, is it I who knows the love of God and fails to share it with others, is it I who betrays the Savior by not obeying His Word?

Well I challenge you today to be so loving to those you come in contact with to warn them, "Watch out" and know that one day that Jesus is coming for you and me and ask your self the question, Is it I? who fails to love others to the point of warning them of the consequences of failing to follow Christ and the benefits of following Christ. Let's all be more bold and let's all be more obedient.
Vs. 21 says, "The son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Examples of Contentment in real life.

I must say that for the most part, I’m a very sheltered individual and am naive about how most of this world lives. I was born in the U.S. and outside going to places outside the U.S. on vacation and on mission trips, I know very little about how the other half lives. Now, I’ve heard stories and seen pictures, but that doesn’t bring reality close enough for a person to really know what it’s like to be poor and without. You see, if for some reason this morning we ran out of milk, I could jump in my new automobile, which is filled with expensive gasoline and go to a near-by grocery store and get milk and pay for it. Most likely, I would still have some money to buy other things if I had wanted to. I could pour that milk into a bowl of cereal and use utensils that we have plenty of. I could cut on running water inside my house and clean those bowls and utensils and place them back with all the other bowls and utensils and all the other plates and saucers etc; I could put the milk back into our side by side refrigerator to keep it cold along with all the other things that need to stay cool. Last night, even though it was cold outside, I was able to have heat and I was able to have a comfortable bed with clean sheets and covers. I was able to jump into the shower this morning without fear of not having hot water.
In other words, I’ve pretty much got it made.
Now, this past summer, I was privileged to go to Honduras on a medical mission trip. Now Honduras is in Central America and not really all that far from the U.S.
However, it didn’t take long for me to realize something was different, real different. We had to fly into a different airport than originally planned because an airplane had crashed on the originally planned landing strip and they had not cleaned the debris up as of the time we were scheduled to be there. This perhaps should have been the first thing that made me realize, this was not going to be a vacation. So we fly into San Pedro Sula which is by third world countries standards, an OKAY place to be. It’s about 50 miles inland and it’s the most northern city of Honduras that we visited. Everywhere else we went, was south of that area. Now just to give you some geography lesson, Honduras is south of the small country of Belize, east of Guatemala and El Salvador and north of Nicaragua.
Shouldn’t be so much different than some parts of the U.S. Right? We spent 4 nights in what was known as their very best hotels. Now this hotel was inside a guarded fence and there were several guards with rifles and pistols and they seemed to mean business when they talked. The rooms were two small bedrooms, a small kitchen and a couch to set on to watch TV. The first night we heard gun shots outside our room and there were several shots. Not sure what happened but no one could tell us the next morning what happened. We had breakfast there and all was well. When we went to the church that we were going to have the medical clinic at, we started to see some of the poverty. We saw small houses, all behind fences or walls meant to keep others out. All were small and dirty. Auto’s were all old and I didn’t see any auto that looked like it hadn’t already paid a visit to the junk yard. In fact, I saw wagons being pulled with mules, and oxen. It started to sink in that this was going to be different. The church had a high metal fence around it to keep people out. In the U.S. we want people to come in. The bathroom was outside and both men and women used it. In the U.S. we call them outhouses. The sewer system can’t take toilet paper so it’s discarded in the trash can. Now I had seen that before in Portugal and a lot of eastern Europe is like that. The streets had water flowing on both sides of the street. This water was run off from water used inside these homes and anything else. No telling where all that water came from. It was also suppose to handle the rain water also, but that didn’t happen, because when it rained , everything flooded. Cleanliness is an obstacle in these 3rd world countries. We spent 3 days and 4 nights there and then we moved on. On one occasion, our bus drivers had to drive back streets and unpaved streets to avoid having our windows broken out and the bus trashed only because a strike had occurred for all drivers of buses, cabs, etc; We headed to Comayagua which is located toward the south and in the mountain regions of Honduras. Roads are paved by not very wide and everybody believes the entire road belongs to them and they drive on either side and it would cause any sane person to go crazy just watching how close you come to being in an accident. Now we are out of what they call the city and we are in the countryside. Houses for the most part are not houses made of wood, but we see more houses made from clay or mud. Children playing outside as if they were ordinary children with every thing they ever needed. People working in the fields, Pineapple fields, coconut fields, banana fields, etc; Now we had just left the wealthy and now we were going to the poor. The people we just left would have been considered poor in the U.S. but not there, they had the upper lifestyle. Now we were really going to see the poor. It was hot and muggy in San Pedro Sula and now it was beginning to cool off somewhat as we got into the mountain region. We again went to a church that was surrounded by a metal high fence which was to keep people out and someone had to allow you through by unlocking the gate. We spent 3 days and nights here and it was obvious, that these people here had little of nothing and this was their once a year visit to the doctor to get medication to get rid of worms, parasites etc; that they got from drinking the water and who knows where else. One day, we drove by a military base used by the U.S. during the Santanesta uprising several years ago. The U.S. still maintains that base. We drove toward the capital city of Tequcigalpa but we didn’t actually go there, just close by. We visited the WOL camp missionaries who were our host during our stay in Honduras.

Now there really is a point to this story. I had everything in the U.S. that I needed to be comfortable. When I got to Honduras, I perceived that things were not the same and therefore, even though I felt God wanted me to be there, I was not content with the situation. It was different and less easy and less comfortable. I could find differences in food, in housing, in bathroom facilities, in cleanliness, in comfort, in communication, in travel, etc; It was different and I perceived it to be different.

Now, the people I met in Honduras were awesome people. They were happy, they were friendly and standing in line for medical help was no big deal to them. Some stood in line for many hours just to be able to see a doctor or dentist. It was obvious, they had little of nothing and yet they smiled and were beautiful people. The children were playful and didn’t seem to have a care in the world.

What’s the difference? I say it’s perception. They don’t know any different, thereby their perception is, “this is the way it is”. My perception is , man this is different and it don’t have to be this way. Now that’s the real difference in Contentment. To God be the Glory for the U.S of A. But also, to God be the Glory for great things He has done. Many people were provided the only medical attention they will get until we go back again, and many people prayed to receive Christ as Savior during this trip. Would I go back and be uncomfortable? You bet ya! Would consider it a privilege. I have visions of little children embedded in my mind who smiled and said Gracias, even when I didn’t do anything for them. God bless the precious people of Honduras and Estoy mas o menos, ee todo esta bien.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Secret to Contentment

Seems as if my thoughts lately have not been what I did yesterday or recently but have for the most part been on things, places and people I knew long ago. That's really strange for me since most of the time, I can't remember yesterday, but seems that many years ago comes back to me very vividly. We use to live on a farm not to far from the house I mentioned in my last blog. Obviously, I'm not a farmer, its just too much work involved in farming. My father-in-law's family owned the farm and they had cattle, grew tobacco and raised some corn etc;. However some of the hardest work that I ever assisted in on the farm was when hay was bailed and stacked in the barn. You know hay isn't stacked on the ground, but it's in the very top of the barn, up high and where it's hot. Again, my thoughts come back to me that one day as we were putting hay in the barn, I can remember my father in law telling me to go to the loft and I was to stack the hay neatly and pack it in tight. Well, I'm a banker by trade and choice and not a farmer, but I did the very best I could. I'm not the strongest person in the world and would probably come closer to being one of the weakest when it comes to hard work. Putting hay in the loft of a barn is hard work. I can remember just after unloading a wagon full of hay bales, I just laid down in some of the hay. I was exausted, tired, sore and wishing it was over. However as I laid down in that hay, it felt pretty good, no in fact it felt fantastic. I was in "hay heaven" if you will. It was the most confortable place that I could imagine at that time. I couldn't have ask for a better place to be other than maybe in my own bed, but it was restful. I could even fell a breeze coming through some of the cracks int he side of the barn. This was good. Now, I've said all that to say this. I was content. Now think about that. It's clear that I'm in the top of a barn, hot as it can be, laying in a bed of hay and I'm confortable, I'm OKAY, I'm content. Contentment comes from perspective. It clear that a great deal of our happiness is rooted in our expectations, and not necessarily in any particular level of comfort in which we find ourselves. It's obvious, that my contentment came not from where I was, but from my perspective. Anything was better than lifting those hay bales, stacking them in tight and sweating like a pig. I'm more convinced than ever, that our expectations, whether met or unmet, are key to our contentment in this life. Whenever our expectations exceed reality, we experience discontent. Therefore, whenever our reality exceeds our expectations, we experience contentment. Now, I could have complained about the hay loft being hot, the hay not being comfortable, but in reality, it was better than I expected. Now what about our state of contentment or discontentment in our life today? Are we expecting too much? Do we criticise everything that comes our way whether it be good, OKay or even bad? Can we ever be happy? Can we ever be content? Well, only if we live in reality and consider all things and consider everybody else above ourselves. You see, I promise you that even in your worst time, in your worst situation, someone else has it worse than you. It really depends on your expectations and your perception. If you get your perception right and your expectations in line, contentment is possible even in troublesome times. Our perception should be reality. Reality is; God owns everything, God is in control, God is our provider and we should live out our lives expecting God to do only what God can do. Now that's contentment. Hope you have a very God contented day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

God's Word is never wrong

Many times early in the morning, I'm awakened as if I have slept the full night and need no more rest. In other words, I'm fully awake. Normally, this is a time that I feel God wants to communicate to me and even sometimes He allows me to speak back to Him. Now don't get this wrong, I just think this is when God can catch me still and of course His word says to be still and know that He is God. Well, anyway my mind begins to wander and just so happened, I remembered something that happened a long time ago. Now you have to know me, I normally can't remember yesterday, but for some reason and I have to believe that God had a purpose to bring this to my remembrance. We were living in Tennessee and we lived two doors down from my in-laws. The house right beside us belonged to a relative. This relative had a young daughter who played with my daughters. My Father in law grew tobacco to help pay taxes on the farm that he and his brothers owned and when that tobacco was ready, it was cut from the field, brought in and placed in the barn to cure. When it was cured, it was taken off the stalk, tied and placed on a basket to be later taken to market and sold. Just so happened that one year because it was cold in the barn, my father in law brought some of that tobacco and put it in our garage and it was pulled from the stalk, tied and gotten ready for the market. It was warmer in the garage and easier to work. Many times, people would take the stalks and put them on their yards, one to hold down straw if if were a new yeard and two just to fertilize their present yard and the second was what we did. Now I've said all this just to set this story up. Again, all this was coming back to me early this morning. My duaghter and this her cousin who lived next door where playing in the yard. They each grabbed one of the stalks and were hitting each other with this stalks. Now the first thing that come to my mind, is they are going to put each others eyes out if they not careful. Isn't that what we always think and say. It's a wonder to me that we are all not blind from doing such silly things like this. So I called each by name and said, "You girls stop that, you're going to punch somebody's eyes out and then you'll be sorry". Well, my duaghter reluctantly put the stalk down and moved on to something else. Now she may have in her mind, thought, he's crazy, he over exagerates, I really don't know what she thought but she minded her dad because she knew consequences could arise if she didn't. Now the other little girl looked at me and said, "Your not my dad, I don't have to mind you". Well, needless to say what I thought, but she was right, I wasn't her dad and I couldn't correct her even thought I would have liked to take that stalk and leave it's prints on her behind, I was not her authority and she knew that. In other words, she was letting her sin nature, disobedience, rear it's ugly head and she was doing only what she knew how to do.
OKay, Why did I say all that? Well, this morning I was reminded that scripture says that God loves and because he loves, He chastens His children. I had just been given a view of what God really meant. I could chasten my daughter because I am her father, but I couldn't chasten her cousin because I wasn't her father(authoity) Now as I continued to think this through, I was reminded many times when the Heavenly Father has had to chasten me and it was those times when I said, "Your not my daddy, I don't have to do what you say". Yet His word says "For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He recieves. I couldn't wait to get up and find this in the Bible. I knew I had read that, but I couldn't remember where until I opened my bible and it on the page I opened to. Is that odd, just circumstance or was that God. Well I'll leave that up to your imagination and I'll believe what I believe in this. The best part about this is not just the verse that I was thinking of but the verses that come after it. The one's I've read before but didn't remember. Hebrews 12:7-17 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom the father does not chasten? But-----If you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore------we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of HIS HOLINESS.
Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore: strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and HOliness, without which no One wlll see the Lord: Looking carefull lest anyone fall short of the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birhtright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

How many times have I said to God because I chose not to be obedient, "Your not my daddy, I don't have to do what you say". Everytime we choose to be disobedient, we chose to say to God, "Your not my daddy, I don't have to do what you say."

Well, needless to say, getting into God's Word this morning was a rich experience. There's many times that it's not that eventful for me, but I thank God for those times that I feel His presence, His knowlege and His wisdom and His reminding me that He is my Daddy and I do have to do what He says. I'm learning and living the consequences of previously saying, "Your not my daddy, I don't have to do what you say."

Friday, November 7, 2008

When God shows up

Daniel 6:20-22
And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke saying to Daniel. "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?" Then Daniel said to the king, "O king, live forever! "My God sent His angels and shut the lions mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you."

Wow! "That makes me want a shout Hallelujah, thank YOu Jesus, Lord your worthy of all the glory and all the honor and all the praise." When that song was written, they must have just read Daniel 6:20-22. When, not if, but When God shows up, you always know it. You see there wasn't just one lion that Daniel was facing that night, there was more than one, because God's word uses the plural here both in the words lions and mouths. Daniel was probably just a mouth full for those lions. Had they eaten him, they would have probably still been hungry and yet, not one bite, not one scratch,probably not even one growl. When God shows up, He demonstrates His power, His might, His control and absolutely nothing can defeat Him or change HIs plans. You see, God had a plan for Daniel and it wasn't to be food for the lions. Even though mankind, wanted to change the plans, Proverbs tells us that "many are a man's plans, but the Lord directs his steps". God has a plan for each of us and He will complete that plan regardless of the number of "lions" that come against us. He had a plan that His one and only Son would freely give His life on an old rugged cross just for you and me and nothing would change that plan and it was accomplished and today, you and I can have eternal life with Christ if we only confess the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that God the Father raised Jesus the Son from the dead and that today He sets at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and me. No army of lions can change that. The Shepherd watches over His flock.

Remember this, An army of sheep led by a lion, will defeat an army of lions led by a sheep. In this case we are the sheep being led by the Lion, of the tribe of Judah and the battle has already been won. It just makes me want to shout,
Hallelujah, Thank you Jesus, Lord your worthy of all the glory and all the honor and all the praise.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Think about it!

Isaiah 55:8-9
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."

Proverbs 21:1 "A king's heart is a water channel in the Lord's hand: He directs it wherever He chooses."

The 2008 elections are over. As I write this, I'm thinking back to last night when the very first returns came in and I was praying that God would allow that trend to continue. Obviously, as the night progressed, that trend did not. The election was decided before the evening was over and now major changes can be expected in Washington, DC. We have to remember that our God is Sovereign. He is always in control and never surprised. His eternal will shall be accomplished here on earth just as readily as the angels hasten to do His will in heaven. We must continue to have total faith in our Lord and in God's plan even though His thoughts and ways are much higher than ours and we can't always see His plan. One thing we do know is we can trust His Hand. Many will question how this election can and will glorify God. You can be assured that God will glorify Himself and that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes. This is just another event that must happen prior to the Rapture of the Church and soon followed by Jesus return as the King of Kings, ruling over all the earth.

Now that the election is over and the decision has been made, you and I still have much to do. It appears to me that the things that are important to those of us who support family values and the sanctity of life will have to be more fervent in our prayer life and also be more vocal in order to preserve the ground we've taken over the past decade. I want to challenge everone who reads this blog to remember these three things; 1. God is Sovereign and on His Eternal throne. 2. His plan is established through the ages, and cannot be changed by man's efforts, 3. It is His will that all men and women, boys and girls, have the opportunity to accept His free gift of salvation offerd through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, The Promised One.

Nothing, and I mean nothing can change these three principles of Almighty Sovereign God. We are in a new chapter of American history as we know it and we are in a new chapter of life here on earth. We all can make the most of it by keeping our trust in our Lord. Today, please pray for President Bush as he makes the transition back into private life and then pray for our next president and his family that God would turn his heart whatever way the Lord needs to to bring America back to the Lord.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Two Flies were buzzing around a messy kitchen table that had the remains of a recently prepared bologna sandwich. The knife used to slice the bologna was covered with the little particles of meat. The two flies started at the tip of the knife and ate their way to the end of the handle. Then they flew away, only to become dizzy and fall to the floor-dead.

The moral of this story is: Don’t fly off the handle when you’re full of bologna.

Thought you might want to laugh before you read my blog today since I'm being very serious. Today is election day and the news thus far doesn't sound too good for the A team. I don't know what the end result might be, but I know that my God is still in control and if it doesn't come out the way I would like, it just may be that God is giving us all what we deserve. Think about it. Now think on this:

Exodus 18:21
“But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes. Place them over the people as officials of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.”
When God told Moses to choose leaders to represent Him and listen to the people He gave a specific criteria for who should be chosen. When the Israelites tired of rule under Samuel and the Judges, they demanded a king. They were tired of being responsible for their own obedience under the Judges so they did what was right in their own eyes. They wanted to be like other nations, looked for ways to increase their own wealth and began to cheat God on their offerings in the Place of Worship. When Samuel, under God’s direction chose Saul as their king, as Samuel had predicted he levied heavy taxes, took their young men for his armies and demanded more and more from the people. When their enemies conquered them, they took their harvests and made them slaves. Once the Israelites asked for and then received a King and his accompanying government, they were slaves to the system and never recovered their prior wealth and freedom.
God carefully instructed Moses to choose men who were not easily corrupted with bribes to be leaders. Our current financial crisis has been manufactured by those who took bribes, accepted favors, increased their wealth and brought the USA to the point of financial collapse. God said the chosen leaders should be trustworthy, those who would not make promises they could, or worse, had no intention of fulfilling, and had the well being of the people as the chief purpose of their election. God also instructed that well-qualified men be chosen and their limits of government be clearly laid out and were not exceeded.
Today, in the United States, we are voting in the most critically important election in the recent history of our nation. We will choose between two basic philosophies of government. One group of candidates will limit government growth, will not take more of our money and will deal with spiritual issues, such as the sacredness of life in a God-honoring way, and will continue the commitment to our God-inspired democracy as outlined in our founding documents; there is another group that is the antithesis of these standards. I encourage you to vote, and to make it an extension of your own life values and principles.