Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Friday, March 22, 2013
Saturday, December 29, 2012
The Least Of Jesus Family Matthew 25:40
An older couple and a friend were strolling downtown of a small city. As they passed by the luxury shops of the restored brick buildings it was cold and almost snowing. When they passed by a middle aged woman she asked, " excuse me, can you give me directions?" The husband replied, "sorry we are not from here. "Well," she said," I just want to know how to get to hell. Can you tell me how to get there?" The Husband replied again, I can tell you how to get to heaven." She said she had recently gotten a tattoo and showed them a symbol of Christian faith on her leg. The husband replied again, "Jesus is the way to heaven. "I know" she said, and told them she was homeless. She looked so troubled. The friend of the couple told her about a center where she could go. She explained that she could not go there because she was drinking. She told the wife that some one had just told her to "go to hell!" As she stood outside of a bar, her cigarette in her hand, the wife asked, "Can we pray for you?" She broke into tears and said yes. After they prayed she returned inside the bar and the three friends continued their walk. They ended the tour when they found a place to have dinner. Talk continued about the woman standing out in the cold. She did not ask for a hand out.
What do you think of this story? This true account relates to Jesus' prophecy of his return and the Judgement day "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats." - Matthew 25:31-32 NKJV
Lately I have been thinking of Jesus and how he said that it is him who is the hungry and naked, the sick and the stranger that we meet. Are we not called to help them? The least of these that we respond to is how we are treating Jesus! "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'" - Matthew 25:40 NKJV
I am to go out of my way, take time and go to see the prisoner, the sick ones that I know. 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Matthew 25:36 NKJV
Jesus concluded with his insight to our relationship with him here and now by explaining how it will be a deciding point on the Judgement Day. We will be standing with multitudes that will be divided as a shepard sorting out his flock, the sheep on the one side and the goats on the other. Do you know what happens to the goats, the people that did not help the needy? Matthew 25:46 "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
There are promises for those of us who want to be sheep. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:" - Matthew 25:34 KJV
Do I recognize Jesus when he is "one of those" who are the least and the last? Jesus is in the eyes of children and the oppressed and we need some kind of compassion for them. Often we do not realize that we are helping or neglecting Jesus. God help me change my way of thinking! Do I really know how I have been treating him? What is the value of the inheritance that we will be given? What is the kingdom Jesus promises us? May we know the blessing that Our Father has prepared for us.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
THE ABC'S - THE BASICS OF MISSIONS
…...a word from Greg
A - ALL the glory goes to God
In Luke 4 we have an account of Christ declaring some parts of his mission. He quoted Isaiah 61:1. At the end of this text (verses 1-3) the result of deliverance and healings is that the disciples are raised up like “trees of righteousness”...”that he might be glorified.”
We preach the gospel, not for the primary motive of saving lost souls, but rather to glorify God. We still love the people, but the premise of our endeavors as we witness is a love and obedience to Jesus who commands us to go...
“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.” Psalm 115:1 This verse was a “rhema” for me and a memory verse for our family one spring. We want to be lifting up Jesus and not ourselves.
B - Go BEYOND where you have been.
“And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.” Mark 1:38
Jesus practiced this. The Spirit compels us also, to go and preach the gospel in so many ways. We heed the call to leave our comfort zones. Many go to another culture and communicate to others of different dialects. For Marianne and I, the doors of peoples' hearts were open to us in the southern plains of Sonora. We lived in one of the 35 little agricultural villages in that area. We met many people in the 24 villages where we shared God's love with. Can you find a neighbor, or a new group to serve outside your current circles? We are looking for ways to farther with our relatives in sharing God's kingdom.
C - CONTINUAL
The work of the ministry to make disciples continues... and will continue till the Son of Man returns. In Matthew 10 we have a written account of the commands of Jesus that were specifically given to the 12 apostles, but also at the end of verse 23 there is a prophesy that is relative to us today.
“But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.”
Whether you are a goer or a sender, there is perseverance needed. Jesus said the mission will not be complete till he returns. In fact I read that he will not return until the gospel has reached the whole world, “And then the end shall come.” Prayer and a real effort to get the message out is what it takes. The harvest is ripe now, not in 4 months or so. The Great CO-MISSION at the end of Matthew is the command from Jesus to join him in his Mission. He is still saving lives, and to God be all the glory. G.W.
Monday, October 29, 2012
For a while now I have been thinking of how a healthy family should have new births in it.
Re-productivity is a new spark of life that comes when a new baby is born. In the
Church we can see our Father adopting more sons and daughters. He desires more children.
How is it, that since my conversion in 1979, that I have not seen many come to Christ and be born again? The churches that I have attended over the years seemed to have very few new born children of God. I can honestly say that in the last 33 yrs of walking with Jesus I have not been involved directly in discipling very many converted Christians.
There are ministries that I have heard of where great numbers are converted and Christians gather by the hundreds and even by thousands. They are the churches in far away country. Some of the churches in America are also on fire also, but I haven't been there. For years I have been longing to be laboring where the harvest is ready now. I have asked Jesus, "If I am not able to be a fisher of men, then please at least let me at least stand at the rivers edge just to see where your spirit is moving and the fish are being caught" About ten years ago I was able to visit a House Of Prayer. It's a movement that started in Kansas City, that has increasing numbers of young adults. This is one of the places where I believe Jesus answered the desire of my heart.
The youth that are now at our sides will become the church of the next generation. They are the church that will carry on the faith when the older members of the body like me are gone. God help us to see this when we look into the eyes of these children and the young adults that are called be "fishers of men."
In Mexico I have seen many houses that were half built or empty with wild vegetation growing up around them. In America I hear of many houses being repossessed. Many rentals here in our town are vacant. Since we moved away, even our own home in Mexico has been " lonely" - Spanish interpretation.
It is the family that makes a home. It is the people that live there that can fill the building with life. Marianne and I have known that when we have our lives filled with love, it will spill over to others. We have had a house full of our own children, and often it has been crowded with family in Christ. A visiting groups came to our house in Mexico. They said, " There is a presence of Jesus in this place." I replied, it is Him, and to His credit we feel him here." The church family of our Father needs to have an aroma that draws others to know us. May they then be pointed to Jesus, and know Him.
We live in an age where houses and homes are being broken. Children are being emotionally and physically neglected and abused. There are homes with people in them, that are called "crack houses." Drugs are the influence in addicts that result in stealing the life and health of these people. Death and destruction are the path they follow, often bringing others down with them. Through out the centuries some various places and houses have been thought to be haunted. They are physically empty but are supposedly filled with spirits of deceased people. They are often just full of demons. We are called to overcome evil with good. It is not God's will that we are not growing and defeated by the enemies of Jesus. May his authority rule where ever we live. Now is the time for us to overcome and be victorious. Our Fathers house is a house of Prayer. It is filled with His Spirit and the presence of Jesus. Even if there are only two or three, he shows up. Holy Spirit can lead each of us into the truth that sets us free. Liberty will come and many others will be turning to Jesus. It has been said, "that without God man cannot". It is also said that "with out the will of man, he will not". I am availing my self to Jesus. I want a change in me. My choice, His work. Let's rise above lukewarm lifestyles and press in for revival. We can make the decision and say, "let it start with me." May the fellowship that we enjoy with each other be multiplied and fill the house. In Jesus Name. G.W.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
The Providence of God Romans 8:31
In the fall of 1621 the Pilgrims and the Indians held a feast together. What we celebrate as Thanks giving day, was founded after a year of great tribulation. Out of the 102 Mayflower passengers 50 died that first winter. By spring only 4 of the original 14 adult women remained alive. This celebration with the Indians was a thanks to God for the first harvest in Plymouth Colony. Less than one month after the 3 day long celebration of their harvest a ship arrived from England. The colony had not been notified of its voyage, and it took them by surprise. The name of the ship was "The Fortune". Merchants who sent this ship, with out provisions for the return trip, expected not only stock for the crew, but payment that had be agreed upon by the Pilgrims. They loaded down the ship with furs and pelts. I imagine that this was a sacrificial payment. Immediately the ship set sail to return to England. Their meager rations that had been stored for the coming winter now needed to be shared with the 37 new settlers. Was this just “luck” or providence?
Fortune is defined in English as;
A – Luck = a chance happening, or that which happens beyond a person's controls or
B – Wealth = an abundance of items of economic value
The Puritans along with many other groups of Christian faith would often view circumstances as 2 distinct things;
A -"general providence"which refers to God's continuous upholding the existence and natural order of the universe. B -"special providence" refers to God's extraordinary intervention in the life of people.
As I read this history I thought of how "God cannot stop loving us". He cannot lie. I believe in his his promise for his providential care for us: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39 NKJV
Back in the 1900’s a teenage youth group was returning from a trip to Alaska. I heard that the group stopped to eat their lunch under a big spruce tree. Lightning struck the tree and just one young girl died. Why her? I have asked Jesus so many times about this and other things that bring about the death of children and youth that are so innocent. In a small town on the west coast a 19 yr old young lady, one who was a disciple of Jesus is murdered in broad daylight. Why God? Did you see what was going on and did not intervene? Where were you when this happened? His word says: "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Hebrews 4:13 NIV
"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 KJV My understanding of this truth has been that IF God was on my side I would be victorious in the circumstance or a relationship. Who could be against me and win? It was just a matter of knowing if I was on Gods’ side or not. Victory could come in some way, temporal or spiritual. Here on earth or in heaven. Recently I have seen Romans 8:31 in a different light. I am not always going to be the winner in a temporal way. There are individual people or a government as a whole that are obviously enemies of God. They are antichrist’s and persecutors. Leaders like Pharaoh or Herod could not be in the position over Jesus unless Our Father allowed them to be there. What about Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse-Tung, and even the succession of leaders in North Korea for 65 yrs. They have imprisoned and tortured over 200,000 political prisoners! "Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." - John 19:11a NKJV
Because God is for me, I can know that he is not going to allow something out of his permissive will to come to pass. My perspective is that Sovereignty allows "evil" people or other negative things to come to pass in our lives. Would he allow evil to be something that is for us? Is this “providence”? Would he allow evil to be something that is for us and not against us?
As missionaries in Mexico for 6 yrs we prayed for the teams or the young singles that wanted to come and serve with us for a week or two. Some committed for 3-6 months. We cried out for wisdom and love to come out of us to care for them. We prayed that if it was his will for them to be able come, then we would be able to lay down our lives for them, care for them if they got sick or injured. We had faith that they would able to see what they were to learn from Jesus. Often Marianne and I would be praying "Lord do not let them come unless it is your will. Slam the door shut if it is not”. We trusted for “ divine providence” to intervene in this circumstance.The reason why we often prayed this was not for our comfort or fear of sharing from our provisions. There is also Gods promise for "general providence" which refers to God's continuous upholding the existence and natural order of the universe. "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 NLT
When Marianne and I met we were married in 1980. We became ”one flesh” and some would say it as just “luck” and some good fortune that we met. I believe we have been joined together by divine Providence, to be joint heirs in the gift of Life. Author Thomas Vaillancourt's writing on the subject has considered a wide scope of quotes on the subject.
In 1735 John Wesley crossed the Atlantic to the Georgia colony by ship. When a storm rose up he became quite frightened. He noticed the 25 Moravian Christians making the same journey. They were calm despite the rough seas. They spoke to him an explanation of the peace he could see them expressing. This caused him to think about his own inner peace. The storm was not bad luck. He made passage with others who had a spiritual faith that he had yet found. The Providence of God brought his peril and their peace together. It exposed his lack and also provided him with a paradigm shift in his faith.
Back in the 90's we were in fellowship with an elder and his wife that we really looked up to. Their son who was in a wheel chair all his life kept them home bound. They had great vision for missions and ministry. This child who had come into their life held them down in the same house and membership in the same little church for nearly 30 yrs. They were questioned, " is this illness because of some sin, or lack of faith of you parents?” The mother, who had become a grandma, thanked God for this "handicap" that she and her husband had. She knew that better things were given to them through their commitment to stay home and care for a special needs son. Their other sons went on to become missionaries and pastors. All the things that they were prevented from doing out there “somewhere” actually worked for their good. They had an incredible solid home life. They were examples of love and faith for other believers in their small community. This couple received a little one who grew up with great joy and love. He came to them by the providence of God.
On their way to their first mission to live in Africa a middle age couple were waiting quite a while at the airport. Close by there was a Menonite couple. As they took up conversation the younger couple shared that they had tried to live as missionaries in another country and had to return. They were now embarking to another location to live and try to serve again. They stated “God has a purpose in all this." Even though they had failed on previous attempts, they believed that God knew it and his provident hand was with them all the way.
In our mission work we held our meetings on Saturday nights. This freed up our Sundays. At first we visited churches in the area and also traveled often to the city an hour away to attend a Calvary Chapel. As time went on we grew accustomed to being home alone on Sundays. Our family really enjoyed a day without activities. Being home with together and not working or traveling was a good practice. But, we had become well in the region. Folks did not call ahead there in the villagers. It was like the USA culture and economy was like in the USA in the 40's or 50's So, they would just drop in on any day of the week, but a lot more on Sundays for they would not be working. Well, a visit in the villages was not just business for them and then, "we need to be on our way". They would sit and talk and the family would all be conversing. Then if there was something of business or an item to be borrowed it was mentioned last. We found out that the longer the visit the larger the a favor or and item with would be. So I prayed that no one could pass through our gates with out the hand of God allowing it. We needed rest and really needed quiet for the family to be together. So if some one came through our gate, we saw it as opportunity to share Gods love and the gospel. Like the good ship fortune, we were able to see the visits as what Divine Providence allowed.
May we see Gods hand and his sovereignty over our lives and what happens on the earth. May we not shrink back in our faith when things happen that we do not understand. May we trust that Jesus is with us always, even to the end of the world. G.W.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Who Do You Say That I Am? Matthew 16:15
Years ago I heard of "Bailey's Jesus." She was a young three year old girl that attended an Easter Pageant that was held in a large Auditorium. From Jesus birth to his resurrection; his life was played out with live animals and nearly a hundred cast members in realistic costumes. This granddaughter was not just watching but involved as if she were a player. When Jesus, on a young donkey, descends the steps from the back of the auditorium, depicting His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Bailey was ecstatic. When Jesus, riding on a young donkey passed by her isle she began jumping up and down, screaming, " Jesus, Jesus! There's Jesus!" Not just saying the words, but exclaiming them with every fiber of her being.
Bailey had her answer for who Jesus is. To my family and friends I must ask, who do you say Jesus is? I have been trying to answer this question myself. The need I have is to give an answer from my heart and who I believe he is. Even though I have never seen him. I believe what I have read, heard, and seen testified of him. He was born of the virgin Mary was crucified, dead and buried. Just as Thomas when saw him, resurrected in a glorified body, I also bow down and worship him as my Lord and my God.
He and Father have made my soul their dwelling place. This is the spirit that groans from within me3. My Jesus lives now in intercession for me. There are unseen eternal things he has shown me. Things that I could not have found out on my own.
There are practical things I have has his help with. When I have just gotten on the freeway for a long trip he has reminded me that I need to go back to get something important like my wallet.
Even though I have not seen Jesus, I love him I am trying to obey him, and it is by Holy Spirit working in me that I am able to even want to do the things that bring Jesus great pleasure. There is a conviction that hold to, He would return as he has promised. He will be King over all kings. He will and make judgment of every word and action in my life.
Many people who knew Jesus when he lived in Isreal were expecting a King to deliver them from the Romans. Even one Mother thought that his reign would be in the realm that we now know, and that Jesus would become a ruler right then. She requested of Jesus that he should grant the top two positions to her adult sons! When Jesus returns, I believe that the same misconception could be prominent in the minds of many. Many could be thinking Jesus will return as a Savior. Some one to deliver them from the tribulations of the earth and the wrath of God which will outpoured upon the generation that will be on earth when he returns; only to be surprised to see him descending as a ruling king. A ruler to which every living soul will submit to and say that, “Jesus is Lord.”
Jesus became a living real Savior to me in 1979. I realized that he was not just healing me of hurts that others had wounded me with. I needed a Savior from the wrath and punishment that I deserved for my offences made toward others. It was time to do a 180 degree turn from my rebellious ways. I was causing him more grief than I did my own mother. Leaving the sex and drugs and “Rock and Roll” lifestyle was a joy to him, my mother, and a whole multitude of Angels. More importantly I had a need to be submitting to Jesus as my Master. He is my Lord. Like a boss that rightfully has authority over everything in my life.
Years ago there was a game show called, "To Tell The Truth." The central character was accompanied by two impostors who pretended to be the central character. The celebrity panelists questioned the three contestants; the impostors were allowed to lie but the central character was sworn "to tell the truth." After questioning, the panel attempted to identify which of the three challengers was telling the truth.
In the final points of this devotion I would like to point out in the scriptures the many people who errored in their understanding of who Jesus was and is. There were also many who knew Jesus correctly. This is a strong conviction for me these days. To not be wrongly relating to Jesus, and when he returns be saying to me, : I never knew you. I might know who he is, but does he know me as a close friend?
Just like that game show, many people in our present day that are trying to decern who is the real Jesus. Doctrines of Demons are imitating Jesus, but in truth they are anti Christ.
Followers of the Muslim practice have posted Jesus on a time line as a good man, and a prophet that preceded Mohamed. This is a gospel that teaches that Jesus did not die! To a Later Day Saint Jesus is not the word of God or God himself. This religion teaches that Jesus and Satan contended to be the one who would take on flesh, being born of Mary and then be able to be the redeemer of mankind. This is a different Jesus that we are warned about. The scriptures declares to us also not to put up with this preaching.8
About 2 million Americans say they believe the Watchtower doctrine about Jesus. These false teachers say he was Michael the Angel who was born of a virgin. These folks declare themselves to be Jehovah's witnesses, but they are in truth identified by a friend of mine as "False Witnesses" confessing that Jesus is only a spirit now, after being raised from the dead. Over 1.2 million of these members have achieved the status of an "active publisher" In 2010 over 7 million world wide are not able to confess that Jesus came in the flesh as God, but that he is only a god.
By the grace of God I want to be testifying to anyone I can that Jesus came in the flesh. The scriptures declare that he was God and that all the fullness of the Godhead dwelled in him bodily. I believe that after Jesus was raised from the dead he was a real bodily person. There are about a dozen references to these truths.
Here is some more of Bailey's encounter with Jesus. There is a lesson for us to learn from this childas her grandma told it. In the arrest scene the soldiers shoved and slapped Jesus. Bailey responded as if she were in the crowd of women, with terror and anger. "Stop it!" she screamed. "Bad soldiers, stop it!" "In a most powerful scene, the soldiers led Jesus carrying the cross down the steps of the auditorium from the back. They were yelling, whipping, and cursing at Jesus, who was bloodied and beaten. Bailey was now hysterical. "Stop it! Soldiers! Stop it!" she screamed. She must have been wondering why all these people did nothing. She then began to cry instead of scream. "Jesus, Oh, Jesus!" People all around us began to weep as we all watched this devoted little disciple see her Jesus beaten and killed as those first century disciples had. Going back and forth between her mother's lap and mine for comfort, she was distraught. I kept saying, "Bailey, it's OK. Jesus is going to be OK. These are just people pretending to be soldiers. She looked at me like I was crazy. Bailey perceived what to her was the real Jesus right before her eyes."
To Bailey, he was real, and his hurt became her tears. His resurrection became a living joy and after the play she ran up and clinged to his feet. I want to have a real relationship that causes me to have a childlike faith in Jesus. Can I relate to him as real person who really wants to be involved in every thing I do? Does he really have a say so in every relationship I have? Does he really care about me and the circumstances that I am in? The scriptures describe the encounters many had with Jesus and who they understood him to be. The Pharasies declared that Jesus was demon possessed. In the midst of a storm that was about to sink their boat his disciples marveled at Jesus and said, " What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!" Matthew 8:27 Later on Jesus walked on the water toward the disciples. He picked up Peter from sinking when Peter tried to walk on water also. When they both got into the boat the disciples worshiped him, saying, “truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14
The demons believe and tremble. Perhaps better they are able to believe better than most of us. Here are a few accounts of their ability to know who Jesus is. Jesus stepped out of a boat to be met by a man who had been demon-possessed. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? From Mark 5 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are--the Holy One of God!" - Luke 4: 33,34
The Centurion that saw Jesus die before him confessed, "truly this was the son of God." Pilot published that Jesus was King of the Jews. Jesus asked His disciples, “ who do men say that I am? They answered, "John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets." Then Jesus asked the question again. "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ." Matthew 16
Peter knew Jesus by revelation from Our Father. It has taken Divine intervention for me to know him also.
When many turned back from following Jesus he asked if his disciples if they would also want to go away. Peter answered him and said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God" - John 6
Jesus said, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of me.” Matthew 11 Many of us have expected things from God. We have been looking for answers to prayer and were disapointed in a “no” or “wait” answer. So many little things have tripped up many believers I have met. A major crisis in my life has done the same thing. I could not see his love and care for me to be greater than the immdiate circumstance. A personal injury like the ones that I have had can do it. A loss of a job, loss of house, loss of spouse, or death of a loved one can set back so hard!
Jesus met up with his disciples on the mountain where he ascended to heaven. There they worshiped Him. "But some doubted." Here he was after 3 yrs of living and serving them, dying and then was raised back to life. How could they doubt? May we not doubt that Jesus is really who he should be to us.
John the Baptist doubted. He had declared Jesus to be “the lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world.” But in his last days he sent messengers from his prison cell to ask Jesus, " Are you the one to come or should we look for another?"
Are you searching for who the real Jesus is? If you have come to know him, who do you say that he is? May we know in our hearts and be ready to give an answer to anyone of the hope Jesus has given to us. May we have the courage to confess to others who he is, and that we know him. G.W.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Quite often I wake up with a song in my heart. Before all the noise and duties of the day get rolling. In my mind I can hear the voice of my spirit and Gods Spirit in me singing. There is a song that I have known for 25 yrs that I woke up with the other day.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. - Psalm 143:8 NIV
This is a spirit led prayer of asking God to show me the way I should go. One time he answered on a Monday morning. Really early Marianne popped up from a deep sleep and declared that we had missed cleaning one of our jobs over the weekend. There was just enough time for me to go down and get it finished before their business opened. God spoke to her in her thoughts and God showed me the way to go that morning. The song that I have sung over and over from Psalm 143:8 was a prayer that God answered through my wife.
One time when I had really failed on an installation of a floor I cried out to God. I was sick over it and had to trust Jesus. It was time for me to cast all my anxiety and care on him so I could sleep that Sunday night. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT When I went to the flooring supplier Monday morning every thing worked out for the good.
Another recent experience happened while I was burning a brush pile. The wind picked up and the fire got out of control. It burnt about 250 acres. The day after that we were working at a cleaning job when an officer called to tell me that my pickup rolled down a hill and sheared off a power pole. I was asking, "why Lord?" Then I realized that no one condemned me! Not the firemen, not even the property owners. With the pickup there was also no accusation against me. Not from my wife, neither the police and none of the neighborhood people that could been injured or killed. Later insurance adjusters contacted me and there were no judging that came from them either. So I had to go figure, if none of these people are condemned me, then is Jesus condemning me?
“When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." John 8:10,11 NKJV
There was also some strong thoughts in my mind that Jesus wants me to be more careful.
Many times God has answered in a way that I could hear and understand him; even though I did not hear a voice. The goal of this "Soul Food" blog has been to merely testify of various things that the Master has spoken to me in this life. Some times through the scriptures. Other times through people. Many times it is through life's experiences that I learn what he is saying to me. It is also the small still voice that Jesus Promised. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27 NKJV May we have ears to hear, what the Spirit is speaking. G.W.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Who Am I To Criticize? Luke 6.37
Jesus said, "Don't judge, lest you be judged." I have dis-obeyed this so much! We in America hear criticisms1 of Politicians, preachers, and even lay our own out against those we love the most. I am learning to take the corrections that I need, and lay aside the ones that are not going to help me follow the truth. I have wrongly re-acted so much to these false and destructive voices my whole life.
Few months ago I heard and also read just now again, a bible institute teacher sharing the following text and basic truths I need to remember;
"Nobody likes to be corrected. You see, there are different kinds of correction2 or criticism. There is corrective criticism and there is malicious criticism and there is constructive criticism and there is destructive criticism. So you need to figure out which type of criticism it is." In Job 5:17 he says: "Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole."
"This means when God corrects you it is not going to feel very good, but there are people who do not have the same good intentions for you that God does. There are people who like to correct others and that type of correction becomes destructive correction. It comes from malicious people who are not only there to tell you your faults and blemishes, but they want to put you down. They want to put you away and castigate you and marginalize you. They want to be little you and do these evil things against you and those people are not there to build you up."3
I thank God for his gentle Holy Spirit conviction4 of my faults, weaknesses, and even out right disobediences. He is so wise in HIS ways of correcting me. Jesus said in Luke's Gospel, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven" Is it not my place to condemn someone. Especially my own family members. It is written, “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” 5 May we each be able to see our brother, sister, neighbor in a different light. Jesus was able to look into the eyes of a sinner and say, “I don't condemn you either”. With compelling love he says, “ go and sin no more.” May we have faith to be able to say “ Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing”, if someone is torturing or even executing us. G.W.
1 Criticism - to consider the merits and demerits of and judge accordingly to blame, to condemn
3 Quoted from BLBI.org Servant Leadership – Lesson 20 Exhortation to Maturity, Part I by Pancho Juarez
5 James 4:12 NKJV
Monday, January 2, 2012
A Wise Heart Proverbs 23.15
My Friend had a note to himself on the door to his shop, " Work harder" At the time he was managing a business that, at the time, had a potential of growing to annual income of 6 digits. How could he be saying to himself to work harder? I am not sure of all of the implications to the motto. I think that most of it was to be an example to his sons. To be faithful to his family. Even though the shop was grossing more than just a few hundred some days, and most of the time by noon, some thing of the work ethic was in moral fiber of my friend.
Mean while I had had returned to the U.S.A. From the slow lane, in a foreign country, like living back in time, spending most of the week in a small village of a few hundred people. Getting out a few days a week and doing 40 mph out on the four lane highway seemed just fine to me. Now I was trying to make a go of it, make ends meet, and earn an honest living. For me, $20 an hour, in the construction sites seemed like plenty, but we were having trouble making ends meet, and we were not even paying rent! Marianne started working part time, and that was humbling. We had always done well with my wages from the woods. I had very little understanding of the seismic shift that was coming to our economy. I found myself working Saturdays. I even stayed home from church a couple Sunday's to be able to get a few things done around our home, which at that time was only 2 travel trailers.
The Lord had spoken to me years in advance a word that I needed and still need as I just turned 50 this year.
" Work smarter, not harder." For those who know me, hard work has never been a stranger to me. But wisdom in business management has always been something that I could use more of.
This fall another word came to me from Proverbs 23:15
My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; NIV
At first I took this to be some guidance in praying for my sons, for them to have wisdom, and for me to blessed with joy in seeing them succeed and enjoy the abundant life they have been promised in Christ. Today, after meditating on this and digesting the context, I can hear our Lord saying to me, " work smarter today, not harder, and my heart with rejoice over you, with singing!"
This summer I was in a real struggle to keep it together, mentally and emotionally. I was determined to work hard at paying down our debt. We are doing great in a few areas, and have never had struggles with a few of our accounts. By Gods grace we have never been late or behind on any payments. We have paid down certain loans, but one credit card keeps running up there. In July, we took on a few new cleaning contracts with our cleaning business. I had promised Marianne that I would quit working in the day, and only concentrate on the cleaning hours , so she would not have to work so much. Well, it did not happen. I worked my self to a frazzle, and debt did not go down. $30 an hour work kept coming in and I chose, not to say "no" except to a few really good big projects.
I have called it, " burning the candle at both ends." Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that he and his team worked night and day to not be a burden to the body there.1 This is a great example of " spending and being spent"2 for the sake of others being served in love and for the increase of faith in the hearts of Christs disciples, true?
May we each be led, as we know we are capable of doing, to serve one another with a pure heart. A mind that is protected by the peace that passes all understanding can be had for each of us, "today"; if we will give everything over to Our Father in Prayer. Look to see what he hands back to you on the to do list for today, and do not worry about the rest, ok? The following thoughts are describing more of what I have learned in the last couple months. May they be food for your soul. :) If there be anything note worthy of what Christ has wrought in me, all glory to him! G.W.
A Tender Heart An entry to my Face book wall, November 26th 2011
Well, lately I have had a troubled heart. For a week, I was so stressed I did not feel safe driving. Yea, Greg, me having fears of being hit, or not able to concentrate enough so much that I was concerned that I might hit some one. I did hit a power pole and take my mirror off. AND locked the keys in my van 2X. Oh, well, its past and I am walking more humble than ever. Did you see the movie "Brave Heart"? Cool. What about all the broken hearts out there, anyone ever see one? I see them almost every day. Had one myself a time or two. The following is an excerpt from lesson 24 in the BLBible Institute course. I am learning from about 15 other teachers, some maturity and stability that I need in my own walk. A Tender Heart is what Jesus had3, and still has. I pass this on in hopes that it might encourage a few of my face book friends, and perhaps a family member or two also:
...maybe you have been betrayed by someone who you thought was a friend or a loved one. That hurts so deeply. Perhaps someone has undermined you, lied about you, or stabbed you in the back, who you thought was a strong supporter. Now, I am sure it has happened to most of us to one degree or another. If it has not, it will. It is just one of those guaranteed things.
But the question is: how do I react? How do I respond when I have been hurt, betrayed, or attacked? That is when it is the hardest to love. Do I harden my heart? I have been hurt so I want to harden my heart. Or do I become calloused and negative? If so, then God’s love is choked out. Do I become bitter, close my heart, or hold on to ill feelings? It is easy to do that, isn’t it? It is very natural, but it is not supernatural.
Jesus said, “As I have loved you, even so, love one another” (John 13:34). It is not a natural love. It is a supernatural love. If we become bitter, if we harden ourselves, if we get callused or cynical, even as pastors, then God’s love is choked out. It cannot flow. So the Lord wants me to run to Him. Only with His love can my heart be strong and yet tender at the same time. How do you keep a tender heart in this world? It is really easy to see how people get hardened in this world and how people get cynical or closed off. But with Christ, we cannot afford to do that because He has called us to love. We can keep a tender heart and yet be strong through the power of His love as He heals us.
Servant Leadership – Lesson 24 The Supremacy of Love by Wayne Taylor
1For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. - 1 Thessalonians 2:9 KJV
2And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. - 2 Corinthians 12:15 KJV
3 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29
Saturday, November 19, 2011
A New Tee Shirt Luke 12:11,12
This summer a friend of ours came up with a good tee shirt idea, kind of like WWJD "What Would Jesus Do?" This shirt says, "Ask me about Jesus." The point to the message on the front of the shirt is to allow someone to tell other of their faith in Jesus.
Not all of us ready to be that bold. There are very few of us that are as emphatic as the African American Preacher Dr. S.M. Lockridge. In his message, " That's my King" he describes very thoroughly his Savior, Lord. His all in all. One can appreciate good enthusiasm. This type of Charisma is displayed by many when they follow their sports team.
The truth is we are all called to take the witness stand, and it should be a sober, humbling approach that we take when we are testifying for, or against, the man Jesus, Son of Joseph, from Nazareth.
This is the one who is declared by his Disciples today to be the promised Hebrew Messiah, God in the flesh. The one whom time and Calendars still acknowledge, even when science and schools are denying who he really us. Even when popular scholars are distorting him for who is really is and even what he said he was. The references that we make to B.C. and A.D. declare him as factual and historical. Have you ever read the Jewish historian Josephus?
The scriptures declare that we will all bow our knees one day, and confess that He ( Jesus of Nazareth) is Lord.
Right now, while it is called "today" we can call upon him to be our savior, but also choose to confess and obey him as our Lord.
In doing that we have a position to maintain, daily, and that is to take up our cross and follow him. It sounds like a lot of work and sacrifice, but HE is worthy of such an effort. It's kind of like me being able to pay $100 for the average NFL ticket. Would it be foolish to just let it sit on the dresser, or maybe even post it on the wall and not attend the game? Paying for a plane ticket, or spending the time and $ for gas and the drive to see our local team, "The Seahawks", or my current fav. "The Broncos" would be part of the commitment that I should follow through on, true?
Its my choice, even if the ticket was given to me free. Free, just like Christ's' redemption on the cross, given to "whosoever" will believe, so they will not perish. I can just leave that ticket laying there and look at it, toss it, or idolize it on the wall, like a WWJD icon. Should I try to placate my broken relationship with the Almighty by plagiarizing redemption, salvation, and restoration of relationship as a son with a Father, with mere religious jargon? It would be better hitch hike to Seattle a few days ahead of date on it, doing "what ever it takes" to get there and use my "free ticket" for what it was intended for.
Another part of the response that we can make to Jesus is to confess him before others. Jesus said it plain and clear:
"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. - Matthew 10:32-33 KJV
I heard of a woman who was able to make use of an opportunity to be a witness in her community. During the time period that she lived, it would have been unthinkable for a woman to accomplish what she did with a public impact like this:
Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. - John 11:45 KJV
Apparently, according to this reference, Jesus did not stick around after raising Lazarus from the dead, therefore the Jews came to Mary for the report of what Jesus had done. She conveyed what had happened or more importantly she confessed who Jesus was, and they went their way and told the Pharisees what she had testified of.
The new tee shirt that Marianne bought me has made me think of the strategy Jesus gives us as disciples when we are called to the witness stand, whether it be in our home, out on the street, or in a real court.
"When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." Luke 12: 11,12 NIV
Martha, like Mary had taken to heart what Jesus had told her about that one needful thing. She got the point of "religion" It is not only about service, and accomplishments. It is about relationship, and that starts with acknowledging who the other person really is.
John 11:27b records what Mary and Lazarus' sister, Martha, declared in public:
"Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world."
She faced excommunication1 from her religion in making a public statement like that. We think, well it's a no brainier, that any one seeing Jesus face to face like that would be able to know him rightly and boldly declare him to others. But how many of us have denied him at work to keep our position? How many times have avoided the questionable subject of my personal faith with relatives? There is help to be able to say the right words at the right time, if we will approach the throne of grace2 and ask for it in our hearts.
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always ready to a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;" 1 Peter 3:15 NKJV
May we be ready for those divine appointments like Phillip had. May we be able to hear that still small voice, even if it just says to take a certain road or approach a stranger like he did. Jesus will give is the words to say! Especially if we are bold enough to wear a shirt, "just asking for it" G.W.
1 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. - John 9:22 KJV
2 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrew 4:16
Monday, November 7, 2011
More than a few years back, I was able to attend an IHOP with one of my dearest brothers in Christ. We were able to worship and pray in a really healthly setting out east in the state of PA.
The movement that started out in Kansas City has spread all over and we both were able to meet up again and attend a gathering in Salem Oregon that was like the first, a very monumental time of growth and exercise of prayer for me.
SO, I have been asking "what is this "one thing" banner all about. I heard in its context this week in Luke 10:42. Not just a good choice, or some thing that we decide between good and evil. The best choice, is relationship over what we can "do for God".
This is not just being spoken by the Spirit to one group of believers, but to many who are drawing closer to our Master. The teaching that I heard from Pastor Joe reaffirmed to me a great need that I have as a "under the law" type of guy.
"the Lord is saying: “Look there is one thing that is necessary.” One thing is needful and that one thing cannot be taken away and that is to be with Jesus. The thing that Mary did is she was with him. And the thing that will never be taken from us is being with him. Our homes can be taken, our careers can be taken, and our kids can be taken. Anything in life can be taken, our service can be taken, all of these things; but one thing that will never be taken away from a believer is to be with him."
I thank God he has allowed me to see where he is leading the next generation of his people. To his feet, at his side, and even to the ends of the earth. To know him, and make him known! G.W.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Abiding In Jesus John 15:1-10
This summer I was able to grow some corn. Not in our garden area, but in a new place that came by divine provision. In 2008 we moved into our little house with a partial lot, and that being steep in parts. Out by the street corner it is beyond our property line. It belongs to the city or the state, but we get to maintain it. In my heart I had really wanted to level that piece of ground and hoped that one day I could request some company or the city dump some kind of free fill there. In May my hearts desire was fulfilled when a contractor friend called wanting to know where he could dump a few load of top soil.
We had been parking our motor home and my pickup in this area, but now it seemed appropriate to make use of this ideal soil and sunny area, to grow some corn. The year before a friend of our had given us a bunch of corn seed and we grew a little in the garden patch below, but now it was time to get serious.
Two 40 ft rows planted by hand started growing as June and July went by. I was learning some important lessons about farming, but also about how Jesus is the Vine and how I need to abide in Him. What does this mean? It means we draw our life from him. When we bear fruit he prunes us back to bear even more fruit. It means that what I do or who I am is because of Him, my life source.
With the Corn, I learned to side dress it with some 16-16-16. Whew! That made it sprout up fast and be bright and shiny green. How much fertilizer is applied and how and when is very important. With Tomatoes one can have a huge plant with lots of growth, but little or no fruit. We as disciples of Christ can be tempted to be "religious" and as Ecclesiastes 7:16 says, "overly righteous." 1 The Lord spoke this word many times to me in Mexico, to balance out missions and ministry with family time and values. He has also been impressing me lately that just like the corn or most anything else we grow in our garden, to much water is not good.
Can we get to much of Gods word? If we are only taking it in and our heads are gettting bigger and bigger with knowledge and we are not practicing what we preach, we need to take heed.
"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: - Matthew 7:22-24 NKJV
What happens when crops or veggie gardens get to much water? Fungus, bugs, and all kinds of things can hinder good fruit. So I learned that watering in cycles helps good root growth. What may seem to be a dry time spiritually, is intended by the husbandman, or the vine dresser to be a strengthening or what is called in sports, "physical conditioning."
There is also another important aspect to consider:
When we live as branches abiding in the Vine, we will suffer.2
We get pruned or disciplined so that we can bear even more fruit. I experienced a little of this 9.13.2008 when I fell 25 ft out of a tree. No broken bones but months of pain and lots of sleep less nights. In 2010 on the exact same date, I fell playing basket ball and injured a different part of my back even worse. 3 days immobilized and 2 weeks of recovery gave me time to re-think, "what is it that I am not learning here?"
First, I tend to cram to many things into my life and try to accomplish more than is feasible. If I would have planted all the corn 2-3" apart and left it all in that way, there would have been little or no fruit come September. As it grew, I kept thinning it out to recommended spacing of 15" to 24". Each day I set out to check of lists of things to do. Trying to keep the most important at the top. Usually half gets done, but a lot of little distractions pop up every day. Climbing trees and trimming them is still something I do, but with a lot more caution. Basketball at 6 a.m. is history now. Just jogging and swimming will meet my need for exercise. Even though they are boring, they increase my need for self discipline to get up and get out.
Spiritually speaking in 2008 the opportunity came to make marriage and family a larger priority in my life. This included not returning to live and serve in Mexico another season. We were still able to be involved in sending a couple shipping containers of wheat to NK and both Marianne and I have been able to take long trips back to our village and the Christian School in Mexico. Personally, dealing with pain management has been a point of trust in the Lord like never before in my life. New temptations have come, but nothing that is not ordinary3 or that cannot be overcome.
Has there been a relationship or a circumstance that you have taken as evil but it was really for the good that God allowed it in your life? I found what I thought was a serious blight on the corn. I rushed off to wikipedia to find that it is a common fungus or a mushroom. It is edible and Huitlacoche is a delicacy in Mexico. I fried some up with onions and other garden veggies, and it was just like mushrooms. I would not have been full of joy if this would have taken over the whole patch, but I am for the few that appeared this year. Through this I learned that the difficult relationships in my life are allowed by God so that I can bear more patience, understanding, or choose to separate from evil, even if I loose a friend. What ever it take to serve the Lord, I want to be willing to be rid of it. Watching football this season was one a few things that I sensed needed to go. By faith, we can encounter the good that the husbandman wants to replace the pruned back area with. Receiving an encouraging call from a life time friend yesterday was my answer to a specific prayer. I asked for any kind of a blessing that I trusted Jesus for in place of self- pity and indulging in unneeded food. I needed something unseen, a fulfillment of hope that Jesus would bless me if I obeyed. That is faith.
What is it that you are wanting to do or be for the Lord? None of us, who have come to believe in Christ should refrain from being disciplined or pruned. It helps us to abide even more. "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. - John 15:3-4 NKJV
I am tired of the Chritian -ease and I am hungry for the deep waters of the Spirit. I long for good accountablity, but also hearts knit together in real love and care.
Amos 6:1 gives a warning to those that are "at ease in Zion." To me, the "Fear of the Lord " needs to be impacting me enough so that I won't be like a goat4 on the last day. Or as Luke 12:45 delares, living for my own pleasure and feasting when my brothers and sisters are not cared for.
" I just want a rescue shop, next to the gates of hell." John Marr
Jesus, " I want to be your disciple and make disciples. Not just chalk up "decisions for Christ."
May we grow in our faith or trust by obeying in areas that have not been bearing much fruit. May we be bold in asking for the desire of our heart to our loving and caring Father. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. ... "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. - John 15:5, 7 NKJV
"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. - John 15:8-10 NKJV
Obedience leads us under the covering of Gods love. May we all find more grace for it.
1 Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself? Ecclesiastes 7:16 NKJV
2 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. - John 15:1-2 NKJV For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, - Philippians 1:29 NKJV
3 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. - 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV
4 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." - Matthew 25:31-46 NKJV