Apr 27, 2017

I’m An Excellent Driver

I remember when I first learned to drive. The year was around 1976 and in order to be able to get your driver’s license, you had to take lessons that included both behind the wheel and in a classroom.

The best lesson that I learned in the classroom was that I “needed to leave myself an out”.

What the instructor meant by that was to always be asking; “If the car in front of me does thus and so, where would I go?” In other words, always be looking for a safe way to avoid an accident.

Even today when I drive I can still hear my instructor’s voce saying; If you remember nothing else; remember to leave yourself an out”.

The rest of the class was a blur except for being told we had the option to not watch the 1959 Highway safety Film; “Signal 30” if we didn’t want to.

 “Signal 30” is the legendary "shock" driving safety film featuring numerous scenes of mutilated cars and injured/dead people and a voiceover lacking in compassion. Produced in cooperation with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and shown to millions of young drivers for over 40 years. It contained many disturbing scenes of violent deaths and accident scenes; as well as cries of crash victims on soundtrack. It brought the point home to most of the students; as well as probably scaring some of them out of driving until they were much older!

The “behind-the-wheel” lessons were a trip in themselves. I went through a local agency that provides an instructor who comes to your house and takes you out four times on both city roads and on the freeway. The cars had brakes on both the driver’s and passenger’s side of the car.

When I got in the instructor’s car, he told me to “start the car, back it up, and drive down the block.” When I told him that I didn’t know how to start the car, let alone drive it; he laughed at me, saying that all kids my age know how to do that.

I told him that I didn’t and that was why we were paying him to teach me how to drive. He shook his head, stating that I must not be telling truth, and proceeded to show me how to start the car.

I gently put the car in reverse as I stomped down on the gas pedal, sending the car (almost) into the pond across the road from our house. The instructor in turn stomped on the brake pedal, sending me (almost) through the rear window of the car. My mom laughed at me as she stood watching from the living room amusing herself with my predicament. Just what you want to see…

Realizing that I had been telling the truth, the instructor took time to instruct me on how to gently step on the gas. I put the car in drive and went down the block; swerving from side to side until I learned how to drive straight.

When we got to the first corner, I took it as widely as humanly possible without going over the curb. Once again, my instructor gave instructions to this pre-novice driver on how to take a corner all the while digging his fingernails deeper into the dashboard in front of him.

After three or four corners (all taken quite widely I must say), he asked me to pull over; which I did. When we came to a stop, he opened the glove box which contained a small drug store of antacids; liquid and tablets. He proceeded to both drink and eat some as he told me to not take this personally, because the student before me had given him the ulcer. He said that I was the better driver.

We drove around a bit and then went home. I was grateful that it was only the two of us in the car because sometimes there may be several students in the car at the same time; each taking their turn individually. I guess this was the old method of safe driving through peer pressure.

I am happy to report that the next three times behind the wheel went better; except he kept taking the antacids. He left me with some instructions; “study hard for the written test and try to strike up a conversation for the behind the wheel test” …he said that this would help me and the other person to be relaxed.

When I took the behind the wheel test, I tried to be friendly by asking the person who was giving me the test about how he was doing, his family, etc. He barked at me that his wife had just divorced him, his kids didn’t like him, and he didn’t want me to say anything; mumbling something derogatory about the instructor who gave me such stupid advice.

Despite everyone’s attempt to sabotage my efforts and my own feelings of inadequacy, I passed both the written and behind the wheel the first attempt with flying colors. I was issued a license to drive a motor vehicle.

My real test came a few days later when my dad, myself, and two of my brothers went to the BWCA. After packing up the family’s Ford LTD Station wagon, my dad tossed me the keys and said that I could drive.

Scared, I told him that I hadn’t ever driven a station wagon (let along one filled with people, camping gear, and two canoes on top); I had only driven a compact car with one other person inside!

My mind flashed to my past experiences with others watching me drive and I looked for a way out. What if I get in an accident or lose my way or have one of the canoes fall off the top?

He looked at me and said; “It’s a long trip and you will have plenty of time to learn how to drive the bigger car. You will do just fine. I’m going to take a nap.” And with that he proceeded to get into the rear of the car along with my next younger brother Joe (who had also gotten his license the same time as I did) and settled in for the long trip.

I climbed into the driver’s seat where my older brother Rick would join me up front to be my navigator. The car looked about the size of an eighteen-wheeler! I slowly backed the car out of the drive way (noticing that my dad had already closed his eyes) and headed out towards the BWCA.

It took me awhile, but (very quickly) I was OK with driving the car. What my dad hadn’t told me was that the smaller cars that I had driven were older and didn’t handle as well. This LTD was newer and had features such as power steering and power brakes and a better stereo system.

That trip is when I really learned how to drive; not the classroom, my practice times, or my behind the wheel instruction. It was this trip when I had time to go through the process of fearing I would crash to trust that I really could drive.

My confidence came from a dad who was sitting behind me in the car if I needed him. He may have gone to sleep, but he was still within reach; and he had left me my older brother to be my navigator.

King Solomon wrote to his son;
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.” (Proverbs 18:4)

My dad knew that (sometimes) the best way to learn is to toss someone the keys and tell them; “It’s a long trip and you will have plenty of time to learn how to drive the bigger car. You will do just fine. I’m going to take a nap.”

Even greater than the encouragement I received from my dad is the encouragement that I receive from my Heavenly Father that I can make it. At times it may seem that He is absent (or asleep), but He is nearer than I will ever know this side of Heaven.

Apr 20, 2017

Gift of Encouragement

“Keep going kid; no one is on you,” my teammate shouted as he skated behind me during a recent hockey game.

He is almost ten years YOUNGER than me and had just passed a puck to me as I crossed the blue line deep in our end.

“Keep going kid; no one is on you”, my teammate continued to shout as I made my way from one end of the rink to the other and crossed center ice. Suddenly, I was motivated to skate around everyone who was in my path. Bobby Orr would have been so proud of me…

“Keep going kid; no one is on you”, my teammate continued to shout as I made my way past the blue line and towards the net. 

“Keep going kid; no one is on you”, my teammate continued to shout as I took a shot and watched it bounce (accidentally) off a defenseman’s skate and into the net. I said to the man playing defense; “Now that is how you score a goal!”

He, in turn, said to me; “No I scored the goal…you only get the assist!” as he smiled at me. Either way, I lit the lamp; not him!

“Way to go kid; nice job!” my teammate said to me; “I knew you could do it!”

Many times, I have skated down towards the net as I look for someone to pass to rather than going all the way in myself. And, for the most part this is a good thing to do because there are other players on the team.

But, to be honest with you, I tend to pass not just because it is the right thing to do, but because I try to get it away sooner than I should to hand it off to someone else.

So, what made the difference with this goal? What motivated me to push harder than I had been in the game? One word: ENCOURAGEMENT.

Encouragement was the impetus for me to push past all obstacles and not stop until I scored a goal.

It is said that we can live (perhaps) up to a week without water and (perhaps) forty days without food. BUT we can only live a brief time without hope or encouragement. We may be physically alive, but we are very much dead on the inside.

Zig Ziglar said, “Encouragement is the fuel on which hope runs.”
I like that because I want to bring the gift of encouragement to those who come across my path each day. 

In fact, even as a casual reader of the Bible you will discover that giving encouragement is one the themes repeatedly found in the Epistles as something that all Christians are called to do.   

Why? Because as I travel throughout the world, I see a desperate need for hope to contradict the despair that seems to be so rampant in everyday life.

People are no longer plagued by guilt, but by hopelessness and despair.

I believe that a relationship with Jesus is the answer to this problem.

I believe that God’s Word, the Bible, gives answers to this lack of hope, and we endeavor to minister using the principles of God’s Word.

In fact, the mission that my ministry; River of Hope Ministries; set out to follow comes from Ephesians 1:15-23: That you may know the Hope of His calling”

I want to “Create places of grace where unconvinced people can come to know and wholeheartedly follow Jesus Christ.” This includes those who walk with Him as well as those who haven’t yet met Him so that each may know the Hope of His Calling.

In light of that, how can I encourage you today? Where are the areas that you need some encouragement to keep going towards your goal? Where are the areas that overcoming seems impossible to you?

Oh, fellow traveler; who are the people that (perhaps) you are supposed to bring the gift of encouragement to that can become the fuel for hope in someone else’s’ life?

Who are the people who you could use you to simply encourage them to press deeper and go further than they think they can?

Not sure where to start? Watch this video to see encouragement in action…


Apr 13, 2017

It's Friday... But Sunday's a Comin!

The following is from Pastor S.M. Lockridge (1913-2000)

It’s Friday

Jesus is praying
Peter’s a sleeping
Judas is betraying
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
Pilate’s struggling
The council is conspiring
The crowd is vilifying
They don’t even know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are running
Like sheep without a shepherd
Mary’s crying
Peter is denying
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s a comin’

It’s Friday
The Romans beat my Jesus
They robe him in scarlet
They crown him with thorns
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
See Jesus walking to Calvary
His blood dripping
His body stumbling
And his spirit’s burdened
But you see, it’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The world’s winning
People are sinning
And evil’s grinning

It’s Friday
The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands
To the cross
They nail my Savior’s feet
To the cross
And then they raise him up
Next to criminals

It’s Friday
But let me tell you something
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are questioning
What has happened to their King
And the Pharisees are celebrating
That their scheming
Has been achieved
But they don’t know
It’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
He’s hanging on the cross
Feeling forsaken by his Father
Left alone and dying
Can nobody save him?
It’s Friday
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The earth trembles
The sky grows dark
My King yields his spirit

It’s Friday
Hope is lost
Death has won
Sin has conquered
and Satan’s just a laughin’

It’s Friday
Jesus is buried
A soldier stands guard
And a rock is rolled into place

But it’s Friday
It is only Friday
Sunday is a comin’!

Apr 6, 2017

Hope Is Real!

Written by Martha Noebel CBN Staff Writer

On the way to work, I saw these words written on a sign at a local church. It said, "Hope Is Real." I thought about it and (needless to say) agreed with the statement. But as I pondered the simple little phrase, I realized that for many people hope is not real. I believe that is one of the most important gifts we can give to another person, the gift of hope.

You see, someone who is hopeless and alone usually cannot help themselves out of their situations. They have a great sense of loss and helplessness. We must come alongside and bring the good news of Jesus Christ and all that He has to offer.

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10 KJV

One definition for hope is: To look forward to with confidence or expectation. We must bring the Word of God with all its hope to someone who does not know it is real. When we bring hope, we bring life. It is life changing to finally believe again. It is more than just asking God for something we so badly need; we must expect our miracle. Somewhere in the midst of asking, believing, and expecting God to answer, we will find what we are looking for.

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalms 27:13 NIV

I have felt for a long time that the biggest problem we have in the world today is there are so many people who have lost hope. There seems to be so many hurts, problems, sicknesses, troubles, financial woes, family problems, world issues, political concerns, etc. It seems the world has no hope.

Apart from God, it is an awful, hopeless place. But with God's help, we can make it. I want you to know that whatever situation you find yourself in at this moment, there is hope. You may not be able to see or feel the hope, but it is there for you. How do we find the hope? There is only one place where hope can be found, and that is in Jesus Christ.

I did a word search in the Bible for the word 'hope' and found many wonderful passages. They were mostly in Psalms and Proverbs of course. David found himself in situations many times and had to remind himself that hope is real. It comes from God. Here are a few of David's prayers to God:

Psalms 39:7 NIV "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you."

Psalms 42:11 NIV "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."

Psalms 25:4-5 NLT "Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you."

Psalms 25:3 NIV "No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,"

Psalms 33:18 NIV "But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,"

Psalms 119:49 NLT "Remember your promise to me, for it is my only hope."

Trust God. He wants you to trust Him. You need to agree with God about your situation. What does God say about who you are and what His will is for your life? Don't go by your feelings. Instead we should remind ourselves that God only has plans for us that are good. Jeremiah helps us remember what God has to say about us. "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

We do not need to be disappointed and feel alone. We can have hope! God's love in our hearts will ignite the flames of hope we have buried deep inside our hearts. God's Word can encourage us as we read it with great anticipation and faith. Paul writes in Romans these words of encouragement:

Romans 5:5 NIV "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Romans 15:4 NIV "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

Here are a few key scriptures that help us to understand what we need to do. Words like "be strong, take courage, wait, reverently and worshipfully fear God, tarry for the hope, wait patiently for it, and be joyful in hope. They are all action words we need to work on. Read these scriptures out loud during your Devotion times. Watch how hope will come alive in your heart as you speak the Word of God over yourself and your situation.

Psalms 31:24 AMP "Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!"

Psalms 119:74 AMP "Those who reverently and worshipfully fear You will see me and be glad, because I have hoped in Your word and tarried for it."

Isaiah 40:31 NLT "But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

Romans 8:24 NIV " But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

Romans 12:12 NIV "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

I don't want this to be just another Devotion. I want it to bring life to you. Pray out loud the words of hope into your life and your situations. I have hope! My hope is in the Lord! I will be strong and wait on the Lord. I trust God with my life and the life of my family. Speak these words every day. Hope Is Real. It comes from God! He has placed it in your heart. Speak it out and watch what God will do for you.

Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

What is your need today? Is it for a financial blessing, healing in your body, a new job, a house or car, etc? Whatever it is, take it to Jesus today. Is there someone in your life today that needs encouraging? Speak the Words of hope that bring life. Hope Is Real, just try it.

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