Remember

Walking into our church one Wednesday night, we were given a card. When we opened the envelope and read what was written, we were overwhelmed by the kindness that was sent our way.

The card included a gift card from a store for the purchase of new tires.  We had not made our need known . . . but rather, the gift was the result of an observation that was made by our friends when they parked near us.  Wow, another God story!  What a God . . . So grand and yet so personal.  He shows up in our lives at the most unexpected times. 

Matthew 6:8b says it all . . . Your Father (God the Creator) knows what you need before you ask him.

That Wednesday night happened a long time ago, yet it’s important for me to keep this story alive. Those tires are about so much more than us, and our needs being met . . . they shout GOD!   . . . They continue to preach God’s faithfulness long after the tires have worn out. 

I need to understand that everything that goes on in my life is part of a bigger story . . . God’s story.

In Joshua 3, God’s people had just miraculously passed through the Jordan river.   As spectacular as that event was, God knew that unless a reminder was erected, over time the memory of that happening would fade.  Because of that, God had his people erect a reminder pile of rocks.  That pile was to remind the people to keep God’s spectacular provision fresh as they retell the story of God’s faithfulness.  By the telling of God’s past works, the future faithfulness of God could be depended on. The tires in my life, are a testimony of God’s care for me as a part of His family.  That story is to be remembered and retold to others. It’s a testimony that is to be shouted out, telling of God’s faithfulness. God is good!  God is personal and can be found by all who seek Him.

Lord, help me to never forget Your goodness to me.  Give me the courage to brag about Your faithfulness with every opportunity I get!

Joshua 3:4 When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, . . . , saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan . . . and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’”  . . . that this (These stones) may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

. . . 21 and he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.  (biblegateway.com, ESV)

More than just a believer in God, I need to be a follower of Jesus!

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Fear

Difficult things . . . things beyond my comfort zone or even beyond my abilities. For me, that would have included, anything that I had to do in front of watching people . . . That terrified me. I would literally tremble. I can easily see how fear limited me in the past.

In junior high, I went to Blue Lake music camp for band. My parents paid for me to take private cornet lessons.  Private?  Eek!  Play alone? . . . In front of someone?  Me?  Well, that didn’t happen. I deliberately began to chew away at the inside of my lip, so that I could show the teacher that I couldn’t take the lesson . . . and I didn’t . . .  I was too afraid.

When in High School, I sang with a small group called The Lamplighters . . . A group of only eight.  I was ok with that, as long as I didn’t have to sing a solo . . . or even be singled out to sing the bass part alone during practice.

During concerts, we did a parody of an old-time radio show. Before one performance, I was asked to do the sound effects for the radio show bit, into the microphone.  For one sound effect, I had to blow bubbles, with a straw, in a glass of water.  It was to simulate the sound of a bubbling brook.  When I performed, I shook so much, that the water went everywhere. After the show, my director said I went overboard with the slapstick comedy.  He didn’t know that I was shaking due to fear. Oh, by the way, I was in High School and that was before a grade school audience.

Later, I sang with a similar group called The Macombers, from Macomb Community College.  Once, I was asked to sing a solo . . . Sixteen Tons was the name of the song.  My debut was in front of a small group of Girl Scouts.  It was a flop . . . I was so concerned about hitting the first note that I forgot the second word and just stopped.  I never was asked to solo again.

Speaking in front of a crowd people was way beyond my comfort zone.  I was more than just a little afraid of public speaking.  In college, I was forced to face that fear, however, I all public speaking classes until my last year of school.  I figured, there was no point in putting myself through that trauma if the Lord returned before then.

The day finally came when I had to face my fear.  I prayed . . . I prayed a lot . . . I practiced a lot . . . and I prayed a lot more. God helped me to overcome that obstacle . . . a barrier that, I thought, would take me down.  When God placed me in ministry . . . I found myself in a church in front of people.  It was all God.

One of the phrases that I have use over the years is, “Me plus God are a majority.”  It’s important for me to realize that God doesn’t need me to be that majority. His strength, working through me can overcome all odds and even my fears and shortcomings . . . I need to let Him lead.  And still, even though I know that, at times, fear still dictates my moves.

Joshua 2 is a passage that leaves me with a couple of questions.  First, Why did Israel send spies into the land if God was their strength? Second, why do people always say that Rahab was wrong for lying, but never condemn the two spies for hiding on the roof?  Aren’t they trying to deceive the people? It seems to me that they’re doing the same thing as Rahab, lying.  Without words. but by their actions, they are shouting . . . “We’re not here.”

It became obvious that Rahab acted out of faith in God. Her fear was legitimate because it was based on truth. She believed that everything that had been done for Israel came from the hand of God.  Yet all of Israel, the very ones who had experienced the very things that caused the people of Jericho to believe in God’s power, needed to “check things out”.

Nothing the spies did changed anything regarding the battle that was fought.  It’s interesting that God used fear to overcome their foe . . . Rahab and her family were saved because of her fear.  God’s grace and mercy showed up in spite of Israel’s weakness.  The victory belonged to the Lord.

Fear . . . I need to understand that God can use my fear to demonstrate His strength and control in my life.  God is all powerful and will always be a majority. . . He is worthy of my trust.

Lord Help me to rest in Your unchanging strength that You put on display every day.  Give me the discipline to engage in the opportunities You put before me, no matter how fearful I may be.  Your strength is demonstrated through my weakness.

Joshua 2:1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof.So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.

Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.” (biblegateway.com, ESV)

More than just a believer in God, I need to be a follower of Jesus!

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Willing to be Stretched

In the past, I’ve told of a quad adventure that I was on in the wilderness of Wikwemikong, on Manitoulin Island. As I read from the Bible in the book of Joshua today, I was immediately taken back to the trails I went down while on the quad with my guide.

As I think back, I’m confident that if I was alone on that venture, my journey would have been very different . . . Okay, if I were honest, it would have been nonexistent.  I would have stopped at the first obstacle.

Visions of nicely groomed, well-traveled, paths through the woods would not describe the conditions we encounter when we’re on the quads.  I’m sure that if I was on my own, only several feet off the main road and into the forest, I would most likely come to a puddle . . . no . . . to a deep pool of water stretching across the path. I would stop there . . . and after my evaluation of the situation, my response would be. . . “It’s too wet out here today, we’ll have to go home and come back another day . . . Yes, that’s it, I’ll come back on a day when things are dried up.”

In contrast to that, my well well-traveled guide doesn’t even flinch at water covered paths . . . We plow through the water before I can say, “Do you think we should? . . .  With him obstacles we face, throughout our trips, become “Wow” experiences.  Trees that are fallen across the path, water holes, swamps, ruts, dips, steep hills and turns, quickly become experiences that grow a confidence, in me, that we can overcome far more than I ever imagined.

Well, eventually the time came . . . I was put in the driver’s seat of the quad.  Driving down through the wilderness, a couple of times I thought it best to try and go off the path to go around an obstacle . . . I was quickly told to stay on the path. Eek!  I learned not to turn to the right or the left . . . many of the obstacles had to be met straight on, with confidence . . . anything less would have left us mired in the water and mud.  Had I relied on my abilities, I would have experienced a day of sitting on a quad, like on a horse in front of a store waiting for a penny to be put into the slot. Ho-hum, how exiting is that?

In the first chapter of Joshua, he was told that he was not left alone.  He had the instruction of the Word of God and the guidance and power of the Lord.  The obstacles they were about to face were daunting! . . . But God . . .

God delights in using the simple to confound the wise.  That tells me that my “Adventures” through life are not dependent on my abilities, but rather, on my obedience.  I need to trust God, knowing that there is no such thing as an obstacle to Him . . . Obstacles are only opportunities to take me on spectacular adventures, for His glory.  I have a choice to make every day . . . I can sit on a coin operated horse in front of a store . . . or . . . I can opt for a four-wheel adventure though the forest . . . Who knows, maybe into uncharted territory.  My God is so big, so strong and so mighty . . . There’s nothing my God cannot do!

Lord, help me trust You, knowing that in Your hands, my obstacles become great adventures waiting to unfold into spectacular God stories for Your glory.

“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you.” . . . “Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:1 After the death of Moses . . . the Lord said to Joshua . . . Moses’ assistant, 2 “. . . arise, go over this Jordan, . . . into the land that I am giving to . . . the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.. . .No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’” 

(biblegateway.com, ESV)

More than just a believer in God, I need to be a follower of Jesus!

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Distractions

I like to do things on my own rather than pay someone to do them. My effort to be thrifty often leaves me scrambling to keep up.


Once I had a plumbing problem in a rental home that I was going to tackle.  Before I started, I was frustrated because of what preceded my problem.  In getting the apartment ready to rent, I found I needed a new vanity and sink in the bathroom.  Hating to spend money and hating to take the time to put it in, I started the job anyways. 

The bathroom had little room between the door and the old steel sink that hung on the wall.  I found something to fit in the space available but when the old sink came out, so did part of the old plaster wall.  I repaired the wall,  and brought the new vanity in. In doing so, I found I had to cut some of the baseboard out. I also had to cut out a different section of the wall to for the vanity sit against the wall.  After quite some time, I got the vanity in and hooked up.  It looked great and I was actually glad for the improved look.  With that, I proudly thought, “Okay now I can rent this place out”.  Then I saw it . . . a crack in the shower enclosure.

I had to rip the entire enclosure out. When I began, I quickly saw what the problem was.  Part of the old plaster wall had broken off of the lath, causing the slit.  I removed additional plaster and then replastered the wall before I could get a new enclosure installed.  Again, after it was in, I was happy with the results.  It looked so much better than the old enclosure.

I then had to clean the tub, so I tuned the tub water on, only to find that the tub was not draining well.  I plunged and plunged and plunged, but to no avail.  The water ran out, but very slowly.  I opened the door of a very small access hole, behind the bathtub. There I saw that one of the drainpipes had rusted out. The water in the slow draining tub was not going down the drain, but rather, it was running under the tub onto the ceiling of the apartment below.

With only a 12” x 18” access space, I tried to repair the plumbing issue.  After multiple trips to the store for parts and days of trying, I found myself no closer to a completed repair than when I started.

Rather discouraged . . . No, rather mad . . . No, quite mad . . . I gave up and contacted a plumber friend of mine.  He came out and had the problem fixed in one evening.  It wasn’t easy and he had to go through the first floor apartment ceiling . . . but it was done.  I could then rent the apartment.

 

 

I thought I was using my time for a good reason.  I need to realize that many times Satan loves to waste my time for “Good reasons”.  He would rather I do that rather than have me spend my time on “The best reason”, things that have eternal significance.

A change of thinking from, “I can do this” to, “What is this taking me away from?”, needs to take place in my life.  Time is not always best used by doing things myself . . . The reason I am part of God’s Kingdom is to engage with people, for eternal purposes.  I get so involved in “projects”, that I have little energy or time left for “The Main Project”.

God’s Word is full of practical examples of how I need to order my life.  Even Moses needed to be reminded by his father-in-law that other people could tend to “Good things” so that he could tend to “The Best things”.

Lord,  teach me to say “No” to “good things” to engage in “The Best Thing”. . . Your work . . . Really, all else is of little value.  

 

Exodus 18: 13  The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16 when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good.18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.

19 Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

24 So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 

More than just a believer in God, I need to be a follower of Jesus!

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In Awe

Years ago, my wife and I decided to take a vacation to Hawaii. I figured, if we didn’t go then, we would never again be able to afford the trip . . . So we went.

The trip was great! The ocean was like a painting . . . Different shades of blue, yet the ocean was crystal clear. Mountains in view from our hotel window were breath taking and blue skies with perfect balmy weather made every day perfect. We went snorkeling and were surrounded by brightly colored fish darting in and out of thecoral seascape. Wow! What a dreamy place.

While there, we met a couple that had been to the Islands often. They said that several years earlier, they moved from their home in the northern part of the
continental United States, to Arizona. Since that move, they said, because of Arizona’s similarities to Hawaii, their trips to Hawaii were not as breathtaking as
they once were. Really? It was still Hawaii!

Years later, I heard another couple who moved to Hawaii talk of how & “Utopia” had its down sides. Things were expensive on the Island . . . the couple complained that they never got to wear different types of clothes because the weather was always the same, perfect . . . They said that they were also locked in by the ocean, making the Island seem very small and confining . . . and on and on they went.

I’ve heard it said that when Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect, built a house, he would not put windows in locations that would expose spectacular
outside views . . . Instead, he made sure that those spectacular vistas were visible only after there was some sort of effort exerted, like going out onto a deck to see the beauty. His thought was, when a spectacular view is too easily seen, the “spectacular” dims and becomes common.

Manna from heaven . . . the people of Israel were fed by God as manna would appear on the ground for their gathering every day. How spectacular is that? It was even enhanced with the taste of honey. Yet, what once brought them excitement, became a source of groaning. How ungrateful!

In contrast to that, I showed the video Ee-Taow to our 6th grade young people, at church. I’ve seen the movie several times and yet its impact always convicts me. The overwhelming, chill giving, excitement that a tribe of people had, when they understood the Gospel, leaves me to wonder: “Have I allowed the spectacular Gospel of God to grow dim in my life? Like the reaction of the wandering people of Israel, to the manna God provided His people with, has the blessing of my continual exposure to that which is truly miraculous hardened my heart?”

Even the Angels are in awe of the glory of God . . . And that awe has not dimmed for all eternity. I should never catch myself waking up to ‘ho-hum; day. My breath should be taken away with each thought of what God has done and is doing on my behalf . . . Every moment of every day should be met with awe, as I consider the mercy and grace God has extended to me!

Help me to open my eyes Lord and see! 

Exodus 16:11:
“And the LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘ . . . in the morning you shall be filled with bread.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’” . . .  And when the dew
had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground.  When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another,
“What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is
the bread that the LORD has given you to eat . . . Now the house of Israel called
its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like
wafers made with honey.”

Numbers 11:4-6
“. . . and even the Israelites themselves began moaning, “We don’t
have any meat! In Egypt we could eat all the fish we wanted, and there were
cucumbers, melons, onions, and garlic.  But we’re starving out here, and the only
food we have is this manna.”
More than just a believer in God, I need to be a follower of Jesus!
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Good Friday 2021

Wow, have things ever changed over the years.  Today is Good Friday, the day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus.  For many, today is just like any other day.  It wasn’t like that when I was a kid.  Most businesses closed down between the hours of 12 and 3 PM.  I can remember, as a young boy, being at my grandparents’ home on one Good Friday.   It’s funny how clear the scene is . . . How is it that 55 years later, I remember that, on that Good Friday, I found myself eating a piece of toast with Honey Butter spread on it?  I can still see the short, waxed covered, cardboard cylinder with a drawing of an animated bee on the top of that, half empty, creamy treat.  I can still picture the pearl-like shimmer of the Honey Butter as I put my butter knife into the container sitting on my grandmother’s counter.  As I pulled the loaded knife out, the blob of butter seemed to stretch as it was trailed by a stringy tail of that sweet mix.

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Standards That Rules Our Lives

It kind-of scares me when I realize how many of the choices I make are based on what other people think.  It only takes a trip through my high school yearbook to illustrate that fact.  Big hair . . . I mean really big hair for the girls . . . Shirts with spectacularly wide collars, along with guys wearing platform shoes . . . oh and then there were earth shoes . . . Whatever did we see in earth shoes???  I’m guessing that several years from now, today’s kids will look back at their jeans, all filled with holes, and find themselves scratching their heads, wondering what they were thinking.

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