Love & Respect

About two months ago Lucy and I signed up for a class on marriage called Love and Respect. Some folks looked at us funny because we are fast approaching our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. I got the feeling that they think we should have it figured out by now. WRONG!

One of the first things I learned in life is that when you think you have things figured out….you don’t! That is especially true in marriage. After twenty-five tears together, I have come to realize that the woman I married is not the woman I am married to now. She has changed and grown. Time has made her sweeter, wiser and more loving now than she was in her twenties.

I always knew that communication between couples was important; the listening and the speaking. But… I always thought we were listening and speaking in the same language!

How can we say the same words and yet it means something totally different? “I don’t have a thing to wear” may mean “I need something new” to her and it generally means “I need something clean” to him! Our tone of voice, our facial expression and how we gesture can all work together to convey a meaning that we didn’t even intend.

In the class, we’re we’re learning that although we speak in a common language we listen in our native tongue. The mother tongue of women, of course, is love. They listen for it and when they don’t hear it, they are wounded at the deepest level. Men listen too, but not for love. Women give their love freely, it is their nature. Men are sure of love but what we listen for is Respect (notice the capital R). When we don’t receive it, our spirit and our ego take a deadly blow.

Lucyah and I are having our eyes opened by this simple revelation of truth and we’re learning. It is a woman’s nature to respond positively when she feels love. It is a man’s nature to love her deeply when he feels respected. Armed with this wisdom we are ready for the next twenty-five years of adventure with GOD and each other.

 

Coffee on my Mac

Getting up early to watch TED Talks on YouTube, I got my  sixty cent senior coffee at a local fast food spot, set up my Mac, took a sip and promptly spilled  coffee on my beloved Apple. Mac looked at me in horror, blinked and promptly went black!…..OH, NO!!

Stunned, I dried off the keyboard as best I could, packed up my things and headed home to confess my clumsiness to Lucy. After she gently patted my hand and made me a cup of that dreadful liquid that started the whole thing, she suggested we call the Apple store and make an appointment at the Genius Bar.

I set my Mac aside, followed my wife’s counsel and then a thought occurred to me. Ask GOD to fix my problem. It felt silly at first. Then I thought GOD has the power to heal the sick and raise the dead and my computer was definitely dead!…I might as well ask Him.

Lucy and I put our hands on the computer and asked GOD for what we wanted. We made our way to Apple and they referred us to a local authorized dealer but cautioned us that we were probably looking at a $700-800 expense. Gulp!  We decided to give GOD 24 hours to “heal” Mac…when the next day came, I was still looking at a blank screen.

The initial charge just to do a diagnostic was $76.00  and we had to wait two days to know whether it even could be repaired or if we had to buy a new computer. During the waiting time, Pastor Bob Jarred shared a bit of wisdom….

“Any time I have a surprise expense I ask,  ‘Is this really the way You want me to spend YOUR money, GOD.’  We always look at a repair as money going out of our pocket. We rarely see it as a way that GOD is providing for another.”

Then it dawned on me, I am not the belly button of the world. I am part of GOD’s plan, I am not THE plan!  Suddenly the expense of the repair didn’t bother me. I discovered two things. My expenses are another’s income and GOD is the provider, I’m not. All I have to do is my best, GOD will handle the rest.

The waiting time went by quickly and when I called to get the final diagnosis, the tech told me when he opened Mac he found no sign of caffeine cancer. Praise GOD! Mac was back on his feet, blinking and syncing as usual….and it only cost me $76.00! (Kudos to Micro Center! They could have overcharged me and they didn’t. Now I have a vendor I trust)

My friends, GOD cares about our situations, even the little ones. Invite Him into your life. GOD is real and your life and circumstances matter to Him!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say No to the One Habit…We All Have!

We are addicted. We say we have a “need” but it is really a habit. An addiction is state of being enslaved psychologically. What we are enslaved to is what we are addicted to; alcoholics to alcohol, junkies to narcotics.

It is a loss of freedom under the deception of having many choices. They say they can choose quit any time but that is only one of their many other choices: Rum, gin, bourbon, beer, wine, scotch, shoot-up, smoke or snort. These are obvious addictions and we may smugly say that we are free of “them.”

But there is another addiction…threatening our nation, our families and our very own well being. It is the one habit no one wants to talk about. It’s one we like because it makes us feel good (what drug doesn’t?), puts temporary smiles on the faces of our children and shackles around their future. My friends, you and I are addicted….to spending!

We do not buy because we need. We are bedazzled by the latest and greatest and shiniest. This is not only an accusation on my part but a confession as well. Ah! Already I hear it….”BUT….” You can fill in the blank. There are no buts. Check out grocery carts in the supermarket and in these times of so called economic hardships, we purchase the trivialities of life. Cigarettes, soda pop and my beloved Cheez-it’s are not a need.

We cannot demand our government to get their spending under control when we can’t. That’s like one drunk telling another to sober up! They are as addicted as we are! The only way to kick a bad habit is to….decide! The second step is to replace it with a healthier habit.

One of the reasons we like spending is because we like to count or keep track of what we accumulate…..computers, cars, cellphones, songs, earrings, tools, shoes. The list goes on. The only trouble with this list is that everything we buy loses value.

Let’s you and I start to replace the spending habit with a habit that will still let us count what we accumulate. Let’s get hooked on the saving habit! It will also remove the dark circles from under our eyes, reduce the stress in our life and increase the happiness in our home. Let’s begin the habit before the Christmas season gets under way and the “Pushers” get a chance to give us a “free taste” of their newest drug Lay-a-Way.

Each of us need to look at what we spend this week….and stop! Our children don’t need the latest and greatest anything. They won’t remember it in two days let alone twenty years. Let’s give the gift of us….people appreciate it more, remember it longer, it never runs out and costs us little or NO cash!

Let’s start looking at ways we can cut back. I love coffee but I don’t have to spend $5.00 a day every day! Rent a movie and make our own popcorn and we save over $20.00! Now take that money and deposit in a bank. Don’t worry about the interest rate, just tuck it away. Because when the car breaks down or the kids need clothes, you’ll have the cash and the BIG plus is that you won’t have to go to neighborhood loan shark (credit card company) for a little bit of cash and a whole lot of stress.

Let’s do what Sister Mary Alice and the sisters at St. Michael’s do to shake things up bit….let’s exchange habits!

Let’s show our nation’s leaders how it’s done. Let’s get our house in order and be an example for them. Let’s stop our spending and start saving…together we can do better!

If you need a little help to get started, stop by Financial Peace University, It’s the only school where you graduate DEBT FREE!

Every ONE Makes A Difference

She was raped, beaten and left for dead. Her husband died on the floor in front her of a drug overdose. One of her desires was to be a serial killer. She hated men! She already was a major drug dealer…complete with hand grenades and machine guns. It was a life centered on harming others for personal profit.

I met her in church. Today she is alive for the Lord, married to a tenderhearted Christian man and their main focus in life now is helping orphans in Liberia; a life centered on helping so others profit.  What in the world happened?

Two words: JESUS  CHRIST

After talking with Debera & Roger, Lucy and I drove home thanking GOD for all the experiences...we didn’t have! Her stories, which she talks about in a very open and matter-of-fact manner, caused us to shudder. Our GOD is so magnificent that He embraces ALL who turn to Him.  We live in a fallen world. We have free will. No one would willing choose the life that Debera experienced but our thinking gets muddled, our perspectives get twisted and often we make some very bad choices. Every choice produces a consequence that we can’t outrun.

The Good New is that we can’t outrun GOD either! He walks, trots and sometimes runs to keep up with us in our journey through life. When we fight going to church or roll our eyes at the thought of reading the Bible or praying. He has someone tell us about His Son JESUS and the injustice and shame that He endured for each of us.

That’s why it is so important that you and I share the story of how we came to CHRIST. GOD turns lives from upside down to right side up and He is counting on you and I to help. If it’s hard for you to tell your whole story then…just for today…make it a point to tell someone something simple like: “You can count on CHRIST.”   Every time you say it, your spirit gets stronger and soon, you’ll be saying more and more.

One day you’ll realize that your words and your faith in CHRIST changed someone’s destiny…..someone just like Debera.

Everybody Has One

There are only two chapters in a Christian’s life experience…..before CHRST and during CHRIST.

We all have a story of how we got from chapter one to chapter two. JESUS tells us to go and tell. That “telling” includes sharing stories from the written Scriptures and sharing stories from the only Bible anyone may ever read…..You and Me!

I want to encourage you to write, record or video your encounter with CHRIST and email it to a family member, friend or Facebook buddy. What you have to say matters. People may not make a comment to you directly but they hear you and your words have an impact on their heart.

No matter you background. No matter your age.

No matter what part you play on the stage

When CHRIST changed your life, when night became day

When you lifted your head and you found the best Way

Your defeats and losses all fell to the ground

And your life brightened up with GOD’s glory.

Encourage us now. Share that tale with us, please.

Tell us your wonderful story!

You don’t need fancy equipment, sparkling backdrops or eloquent language. I read my story while sitting at my kitchen table.  People want you to open your heart and share your journey….here’s a little bit of my story. Write yours…everyone has one!

JESUS CHRIST Changed My Life

Why Do We Hesitate?

Have you ever wanted to ask someone out on a date and then talked yourself out of it?  Why the heck do we do that?  Sometimes it’s because of “perceived knowledge”…. things we think we know but really don’t.  We see the person and before we can work up the courage to do the asking….we begin a conversation with ourselves that tells us all the reasons that we know they won’t go out with us. We hesitate, when in truth, we know nothing about what they think.

Have you ever wanted to ride a motorcycle or take a trip to a foreign country but never did the deed?  We remember when Jason wrecked his bike or Uncle Charley had a bout with Montezuma’s revenge. Although those things happened in their lives, we let them transfer over into ours! How silly is that? We are different people living different lives. Why should the past events in their lives cause hesitation in ours?

Hesitation is a delay caused by uncertainty or fear.  The seeds of uncertainty and fear are often planted by the casual comments of friends or family. “Oh, you’re going to be a musician. What if that doesn’t work out?”  “College is so expensive! It’ll take years to pay off the debt.”

Until we are committed to a thing, there will be hesitancy. So how do we develop commitment to a dream, a diet, a budget or anything else?

Talk to GOD, not people, about what you want to do.
Begin!
Trust Him to direct you as you go. Often we ask GOD for all the direction before we move.
Don’t compare! Do what you can do as best you can and know that GOD is pleased with your efforts.

I Believe…Really?

I met a young man the other day. I’d say he was about 19 years old or so. He wanted to talk. Life just wasn’t going the way he wanted…he had gotten fired from his last job, borrowed money to take a trip, enjoyed himself but now he was in debt. He had gotten another job and just wasn’t sure about life. His father is an alcoholic and has been since as long as he can remember. He sounded tired and life hasn’t even begun yet!

The good side is that he has dreams! He has already made a decision to stay on the right side of the law. In fact, he wants to make a career working for the DEA or the Department of Justice. We talked for awhile about a wide range of subjects; God, being debt free, saving before spending (what a concept, eh?) and we talked about and prayed for his dad. No one becomes an addict without going through some serious pain. We prayed, not for his dad to quit drinking,…he might just substitute one addiction for another…we prayed that his dad would receive Jesus Christ.

When I asked my young friend if he believed in Christ, he said he did but that he didn’t go to the church. We talked a bit about how church can be boring at times. I likened it to any school. Church is school for the spirit.

Some classes are interesting and others put you to sleep. I tried to explain that he will like some of his criminal justice classes more than others but if he wanted to be the best at any career he chose, he would have to study under a master.It was no different with his spiritual studies. We talked a bit about the Bible. I always recommend the Book of James. To me it’s a short practical guide to living life.

The next day, I re-read the Book of James and as I did so, I wondered what my friend of yesterday would see in those five chapters. In James 2:19 it reads “You believe there is one God; you do well. The devils also believe and tremble.” He said he believed in God. I should have asked him what that meant.

What did he believe in exactly? I thought of all the people who tell me that they “believe” but don’t go to church; they don’t study who God says they are. If we want a good job, we go to college or trade school to study. If we want a good body, we study nutrition and exercise. Want to be a great farmer? Study agriculture. Want to be a great pharmacist? Study chemistry. Want to be a good man or woman? Study God’s Word! Find out who God says you are!

The next time someone tells me they believe…I’m going to ask them “What is it you believe? I don’t want to miss an opportunity to tell people about our wonderful God on the assumption they “believe.”

Always Turn to GOD

Just because you receive the sentence of death does NOT mean that death has the final word….always turn to GOD that He may receive the Glory and thanks.

2 Kings 20
1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 “Remember, LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you…” 

Hezekiah was told by a prophet of the Lord that he would die… but…he appealed to a higher authority…GOD! No matter what anyone tells you….always take your case to the Supreme Court!


2 Corinthians 1

9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

If life seems to be closing in on you, if all seems dark….just remember life is not about how you feel. Paul tells us to look at the times GOD has intervened on our behalf.  Remember the near accidents that didn’t happen; the worries that never came to pass, the lightening  that never struck?  He helped you before and He’ll do it again.

Just call on GOD!  He loves you. Your life matters to Him.





 

Where Are We Now?

Our third 3300 mile walk for Christ across ended in January but here it is nearly the middle of May and we’re still traveling in the RV! We thought we’d be settled into an apartment by now but God had different plans. Working for the Lord, we don’t always know where we’re going but we do know Who we’re following!

While we were on the road, we developed a new Biblical character to share. It’s a story everyone knows and yet…every time you read Scripture there is something new to learn. You’ve probably heard of Bartimaeus (Bar-ti-may-us). He was a blind man who encountered Jesus and then received his sight. We wrote our rendition of the story based on the last line of Mark chapter ten. It simply says “Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus down the road.”

When we read that… we thought, “What did he see? Where did he go?” and so out of those questions “Bartimaeus” was born. At first we were nervous about portraying him. There are so many emotions that he went through. He received his sight, witnessed Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, was horrified by the scourging, crushed by the crucifixion, and overwhelmed by the death of his Redeemer.  Now that we have returned home, many churches that we have spoken at before, have asked us to return to share the testimony of this often overlooked blind man.

For the last few months we have been zig zagging across the Mid West…Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma, St, Louis and back to Kansas City. The next few months have us in Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio and back down to Oklahoma. Please make no mistake…we are not complaining! It is an honor to share the Word of God and serve the Lord. We would love our life and only ask to do more!

But all the traveling does take it’s toll and many a morning, Lucy & I look at each other and say “Where are we now?”

 

Homeless or Pilgrim?

Sunday, we were scheduled to speak at both  morning services and then address a luncheon afterward. Since we were driving about one hundred and twenty miles to get there, we decided to go in the day before. The church was located in the downtown area of Emporia and so we decide to “camp out” at the local Wal-Mart. One of the nice things about Wal-Mart is that they graciously allow motor homes and truckers to park overnight in their parking lot. You don’t realize what a gift that is until you are looking for a spot to park a big rig.

We had just pulled in  when  a young man came up to the driver’s side window and said, “I’d like to talk to you.” I replied, “Sure. What about?” and made my way to the door. His name was Steve and he was from the San Diego area. He said he had been homeless for about seven months and was on his way to the House of Prayer in Kansas City. When he said that, I thought “God wants me to give Steve a ride to the Prayer Room. I told him that we would be leaving town the next day around 2:30pm and that if he wanted a ride to KC, we’d take him. He looked surprised….so was I!


As our conversation started, it seemed like all he wanted to talk about was  GOD. He didn’t complain about the economy or rant against the government,. Steve didn’t even hit us up for a handout. After an hour and half or so, he left to find a place to stay for the night. Lucy gave him some fruit to take with him. We didn’t have any meat to make him e sandwich.  I felt bad because our RV wasn’t big enough for him to stay inside. I should have gotten him a room but I didn’t. I had the feeling that we were going to see Steve again before the day ended.

Lucy and I decided that if Steve did return we would get him a room for the night. We kept hearing the tune “Freely, freely you have received. Freely, freely give.” People have been so good to us. How could we have hesitated to give to another? Later that evening, Steve did return and we got him set up in a nice motel. He was excited about taking a long, hot shower. After eighteen months on the road in an RV, Lucy said she could relate!

The next day, we ministered at church as planned and then went to pick up Steve. We had a two hour ride back to Kansas City and Steve talked the whole way. Lucy said she hadn’t heard me that quiet in years! He talked about God and people and people and God. He mentioned the fact that he was homeless a couple of times and I finally interrupted him. “Please don’t define yourself as homeless unless you want it to be who you are. Lucy & I don’t have a home but we’re not ‘homeless’.” He looked me at me for a moment and then said, “I’m not homeless. I’m a pilgrim who walks with GOD.”   He got quiet…for about ten seconds…and all the way back he talked but he never defined himself as homeless again and I hope he never will.

Lord, You said that the power of death and life is in the tongue. We know that the words we speak shape and define our life. Thank You, Lord, for giving us the power to re-shape and re-define our lives beginning right now. We are children of GOD and as such we have the freedom to love and to bless…ourselves and others by the words of our lips.