Sep 27, 2018

Throwing Momma from The Train

“The grace of God is sufficient for the vilest, and He can take the most wicked men (person)and make them monuments of His grace.” -Smith Wigglesworth

In the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible, chapter nine, we read about God’s ability and power to change a life going one direction and place it on a completely different trajectory.

Saul was a young Pharisee who was on a mission to rid the world of all who claimed that Jesus was the Messiah. He was on a road to Damascus with legal papers in his hands that gave him permission to arrest ANYONE who said that they were followers of Jesus and bring them back to Jerusalem.

Acts 9:1 said that Saul was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord”. 

MURDERER”, was the cry of everyone who saw him coming as they ran for shelter.

In verses 3-5, Saul, instead, had a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ who told Saul that he was actually working against the Lord by arresting and killing people.

In verse 6 Saul started trembling and was astonished, and said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Somehow in this encounter, Saul became blind and fell to the floor. Verse 9 says that Saul was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Verse 10 tells us that there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”

So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision, he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” (V. 11-12)

“He’s a MURDERER”, was the cry of Ananias to the Lord when he was told to go to Saul and pray for him.

 “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” (V.13-14)

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (V.15-16)
Ananias said; ‘OK, I’ll do it…’ to the Lord and went to the appointed place and laid hands on Saul and prayed for him for healing.
And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (V.17) 

Notice when Ananias came into that house, he called Saul; “Brother”. Ananias’s response was loving, affectionate, kind, and welcoming to this man who stood before him.

I am so glad that Saul didn’t run into Owen’s momma; from the movie; “Throw Momma from The Train”.
Her response would have been to call out; “Murderer! He’s a murderer! He’s trying to kill me! He’s a murderer!” everywhere Saul went.

Then something very cool happened; Saul was healed!

Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. So, when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.” (V.18-19)

Saul was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit and the Bible records the results of that filling.
My friend, that same grace that was given to Saul (who later called “Paul”) is available to you; TODAY! That same filling of the Holy Spirit that Saul received is available for you TODAY!

As I stated earlier; “The grace of God is sufficient for the vilest, and He can take the most wicked men (person)and make them monuments of His grace.”

You simply need to ask.

“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:10-13)

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sep 20, 2018

Suitcoats and Genes

Several months ago, I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend and I noticed that two older gentlemen were talking about me. I acknowledge their conversation and asked what they were talking about.

“He likes your suitcoat”; one of them replied, referring to a blue colored plaid suitcoat that I was wearing.

I asked him if he wanted it; taking it off and handing it to him.

He said, “Where did you get it from?”

I told him that my wife Cathy worked at a thrift store.

He said; “Oh, I can’t take it then; what would you wife say?”

I told him that Cathy would have a harder time if I DIDN’T give it to him knowing that he liked it.

I once again offered it to him and told him to take it. Once again, he declined so I put it back on, returned to my table, and went on with my meal and my conversation with my friend.

About ten minutes later, the man came over to me and made a comment about how much he really liked the coat.

I once again I took off my coat and offered it to him and told him to take it.

Once again, he declined. Instead he told me his name was Gene and gave me a business card. On the back of the card he had written his name, phone number, and address. He lived about a mile from my house.

We shook hands and he departed with his friend.

I put the coat back on, placing the card in one of the pockets, returned to my table, and went on with my meal and my conversation with my friend.

When I returned home after the meal, Cathy was having a small party with some of her sisters so I didn’t get a chance to talk with her until later about the suit.

She confirmed that I it would have been good to give away the suitcoat. My intention was to deliver the suit to his house in the next week or so.

Needless to say, because I didn’t do it right away, I forgot about the card until some time a few months later when I found the card in the pocket.
I placed the card in my Day-Timer so that I would put it on my short-list of things to do.

Unfortunately, life became full and I once again forgot about the card; that is until recently.

I made it a priority of things to do this week and set about to take care of it.

Well, today was the day to deliver the suitcoat to Gene so I grabbed it and drove to his house.

On the way over, I heard form the Lord that Gene had died. I decided to drive over any way. Once I arrived, I noticed that the yard had the appearance of someone moving out.

When I opened up the screen door to knock on the door, I saw a realtor’s lockbox on the doorknob and I realized that I had heard correctly. I knocked several times any way.

“He’s not here; he died”; I heard someone say. I looked around and saw a neighbor trying to get my attention.

I walked across the street and spoke with the neighbor who told me that Gene had died one month ago; a few days before his eightieth birthday.  He said that a realtor had started cleaning out the house to put it on the market to sell.

I thanked him and drove back home realizing that I had missed an opportunity to give. I cried for Gene.
And then I thought of another Gene; my father-in-law (who died in 2007).

“My” Gene was a ‘prompt-to-give’ individual who loved to give lavishly; usually insisting on the beneficiary receiving the gift.

Gene knew that his part was to give. What the beneficiary did with the item or money was really up to them. He simply needed to do what he was told to do.

 “So, let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Once again, realizing that I had missed an opportunity to give, I cried for Gene.

Today, as opportunities for you to be generous present themselves, DON’T WAIT! Tomorrow may never come and you will be stuck holding the very things that the Lord wanted you to give away.

This includes many things such as time, money, possessions, resources.

It also includes simple gifts of cooking a meal, or giving extra produce, or giving someone a ride.

It also includes making time for ‘interruptions’ such as phone calls, drop-ins, and prayer requests; both urgent and recurring.
It also includes asking for and offering forgiveness…taking time to make amends…

It also includes sharing your faith with others.

DON’T ASSUME that you have one more day; you may not…

And He (Jesus) said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”  But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’

“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-22)

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sep 13, 2018

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

In the 1960’s, there was a popular children’s song that went like this:

       Nobody loves me 
       Everybody hates me 
       I think I’ll go eat worms
       Big fat juicy ones
       Little tiny skinny ones
       I'm gonna eat some worms
       Chop off the heads 
       Suck out the guts
       I'm gonna eat some worms

That is supposed to be a children’s song???

And parents all around the world have taught it to their children thinking that kind of repetitive mantra would help their little ones…do what…???

What is wrong with you people? Who was the person who wrote this song and then said; “Hey, what a great song! I am going to teach it to children…”???

When I was young, it was bad enough that children sang it. But in my case, those words were sung TO me; not by me. Usually it was sung TO me when ever I was melancholy and feeling as though I was all by myself in the world, which is really strange because I came from a very large family.

You see it’s one thing if I am singing is as a ditty because I’m feeling sorry for myself.

It’s quite another thing when the song was sung TO me because I REALLY felt as though no one loved me.

I was thinking of the song as I pondered two recent encounters that brought to light how deep that belief of no one loving has run in my life. It is a root that I constantly have to pull up in order to not walk in a spirit of rejection; something that I have struggled with my whole life.

The first encounter happened to me at a wedding I had officiated. At the reception, one of the groomsmen came up to me and asked if he could take a photograph with me.

It must be a joke; right? Why would someone want to come up to me a take a photo with me? 

Man, that root shows it ugly shoots very quickly at times!

My immediate response to him was; “Are you serious?”

A woman who turned out to be his wife, answered my question; “Yes, he is serious. He asked me if I would take a photo of the two of you.”

I looked at the groomsmen who was shaking his head “yes”, put my arm around him, and said; “cheese”. My heart was filled with love. We spent the next several minutes conversing about music, and guitars. It turns out we live about eight blocks from each other….

The second encounter took place at a birthday party for my grandchildren. Both sides of the family were in attendance; including my daughter-in-law’s grandfather.

I spent some time in conversation with him catching up with the events that took place in both of our families over the past year. I was amazed that he remembered so much about who I was, where I lived, and what I did.

Several times throughout the rest of the day he would ask another question as I was going through the room where the party was taking place.

The joy of his presence and conversation was overshadowed by his loss of hearing, which made it difficult at times for him to hear me.

At the end of the party, I heard him ask; “Where’s Tom?”

I assumed that he was referring to my daughter-in-law’s brother; who was his grandson and went on with the conversation that I was in.

My daughter-in-law found me and said; “My grandpa wants to say ‘goodbye’ to you. He said that he wants to say ‘goodbye’ to Tom before he goes.”

I went to find him and was surprised to see his big smile and hand extended towards me. “I was looking for you”; he said to me. I extended my hand towards his and received his firm handshake.

Two encounters of people wanting to be with ME that I almost missed because of the root that tries to grow up and choke out the life that I was created to live.

I was loved! I had believed a lie that I wasn’t loved! Good thing that I didn’t follow through and eat the worms!

My friend, have you also believed the lie that you weren’t loved? Have you lived long enough entangled by the root of rejection? Have you eaten your fill of worms?

Don’t go through any more believing that you are not loved; YOU ARE LOVED!

       “Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
        And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
        Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
        Everlasting joy shall be theirs.” (Isaiah 61:7)

My friend, we live in a broken, sinful world that is so far away from how God created it to be. Read Genesis chapters 1 & 2 before things got messed up and Adam and Eve chose to sin. The good news is that not only do we have a God who cares; but Jesus Christ died and rose again to destroy the curse. Jesus came that we could once again walk in the garden with God.

This same Jesus knows what is like to be rejected by family; Mark 3:20 tells us that his family thought that Jesus was out of His mind! During His lifetime, His nearest and dearest didn’t understand Him.

This same Jesus KNOWS what we are going through because He, too, was misunderstood and rejected by the leaders of His synagogue, and even His followers.

This same Jesus is calling out to YOU today; wanting for you to hear Him say to YOU; “I LOVE YOU!”

You can today, right now, join the family of God!
Don’t wait. His arms are open to receive you!
Simply put, Jesus is calling out for you today.
All you have to do is respond to His calling to you to turn from your ways and ask His forgiveness. He will take care of the rest!

Need further help? Someone is waiting to talk with you. Call either:
1-888-NEED HIM or 1-877-2GRAHAM (1-877-247-2426).

Or drop me an email; I always reply…

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sep 6, 2018

My Father's Eyes

I’m sure that you’ve seen the commercial telling us; “This one is for real!”

A man with massive bags under his eyes uses Plexaderm and gets amazing results in just minutes. The product is applied and the skin around his eyes transforms and it really looks great.

The commercial says that Plexaderm uses silicate minerals from shale clay to form a temporary tightening layer on your skin. This invisible layer works to visibly tighten and lift crow’s feet and wrinkles surrounding your eyes in minutes.

We are told that Plexaderm smooths skin surrounding under-eye bags, making them shrink from view in minutes. While the results of Plexaderm are not permanent, they say; “You'll love the way you look after your very first use!”

Personally, I’ve lived most of my adult life with bags under my eyes and never thought I could do a thing about it.

I blame it on the “German” genes that run in my family since most of my brothers also have large bags under their eyes.

And over the years I have met other people who are of German descent who also have bags under their eyes and they seem to be getting through life just fine.

For the most part it, it really doesn’t bother me; except when I travel. It’s a problem because sometimes the bags under my eyes are so large that the airlines charge me extra for the additional bags! Ok, that part is an exaggeration!

What is a “problem” for me is when I am officiating a wedding, most couples will pose for a photo with me. Later, when I look at the photo, the bags are the only thing that I see.

I am hoping that the happy couple can look past the bags and still treasure their special day. Or that their photographer is able to do wonders using Photoshop!

When some of my adult children are tired, they too will have bags under their eyes.

Whenever I see the bags under the eyes of one of my beautiful daughters; I wish that they could have had their mother’s “Norwegian” eyes.

Instead, sometimes, they have their father’s eyes; which in this case is “bad”.

But other times, saying that they have their father’s eyes can be good.

Hopefully, some of the time, it will mean that my children see broken people (like I do) and are able to minister to them.

Hopefully, some of the time, it will mean that my children are able to find the good in things, when good is not around.

Or meaning that their eyes are able to find the source of help, when help would not be found.

It is a compliment to say that their eyes are full of compassion, seeing every pain that knows what people are going through, and feeling it the same.

Just like their father's eyes.

But when all is done and said, I hope that when people say about my children that they “have their father’s eyes”, it will be referring to their Heavenly Father.

He alone is the One who is able to see the deep needs of others; beyond what they first appear to need.

It is when we look through His eyes of grace that we are able to truly see hope for other people’s situations.

The Father uses the Holy Spirit to pour out His fresh oil to heal our eyes. This invisible layer works to move our eyes to be focused on the needs of others instead of on ourselves.

While the results of Plexaderm are not permanent, the deep work of the Holy Spirit IS life changing!

“You'll love the way you look at others after your very first use!”

That’s my hope for my children, grandchildren, Cathy, and myself. That each of us will be known by others as having our Heavenly Father’s eyes.

Eyes that see the best and believe the best!

Eyes that are moved when others come across our paths.

Eyes that see the reality, yet still can see beyond the disfunction in order to bring hope to those who are hurting.

That others will say; “He had His Father’s eyes!”

Father's Eyes by Gary Chapman

I may not be every mother's dream for her little girl,
And my face may not grace the mind of everyone in the world.
But that's all right, as long as I can have one wish I pray:
When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say,

She's got her father's eyes,
Her father's eyes;
Eyes that find the good in things,
When good is not around;
Eyes that find the source of help,
When help just can't be found;
Eyes full of compassion,
Seeing every pain;
Knowing what you're going through
And feeling it the same.
Just like my father's eyes,
My father's eyes,
My father's eyes,
Just like my father's eyes.

And on that day when we will pay for all the deeds we have done,
Good and bad they'll all be had to see by everyone.
And when you're called to stand and tell just what you saw in me,
More than anything I know, I want your words to be,

She had her father's eyes,
Her father's eyes;
Eyes that found the good in things,
When good was not around;
Eyes that found the source of help,
When help would not be found;
Eyes full of compassion,
Seeing every pain;
Knowing what you're going through,
And feeling it the same.
Just like my father's eyes,
My father's eyes,
My father's eyes,
Just like my father's eyes.
My father's eyes,
My father's eyes,
Just like my father's eyes.

Songwriters: Gary Winthur Chapman
Father's Eyes lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group