Jan 30, 2020

I Can Do It All By Myself!

I had just spent the past two hours snow blowing and shoveling after a January storm had dumped five inches of wet, heavy snow.

When I was done, I decided to check how the roads were and drive my truck to a local grocery store that had a postal box in which I would place an outgoing letter.

On my way back to my house, I noticed an older woman, who I estimated was in her eighties, shoveling the wet, heavy snow from her very long and large driveway. Since I didn’t have a shovel, I drove past her house and continued on my way home.

At home, my conscience got the best of me as I continued to think about that woman. So, I loaded up a couple of shovels in the back of the truck and headed out to her house six blocks away.

When I arrived, I grabbed one of the shovels and started to walk to her house.

“What do you think that you are doing?” she asked me.

“I’m going to help you shovel your driveway.” I told her as I continued to walk up her driveway.

“No, you’re not!” she said as she stood her ground blocking me from coming further.

“I’m not going to charge you,” I explained. “I want to do it for free!”

“Why?” she further inquired.

I told her that I had just shoveled and snow blowed my house and explained how heavy the snow was. I wanted to do something nice.

“Well I don’t need your help!” she said harshly.

“I can do it all by myself! I have a snow blower and if I thought it was too hard to do, I would use that. Or else I would call my son and ask him to come over. No thank you, I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP!”

I turned around, walked towards my truck, placed the shovel in the back, and then drove home and helped a neighbor get shoveled out as I pondered the encounter with the older woman a short time before.

I pondered further…why would anyone turn down help when someone offers to help?

I wasn’t offended, but I found it strange that she would be so harsh in her rejection of my offer to help her. Why would someone turn down help; especially when it is free? 

I had been gracious, accommodating, and generous. I had just spent several hours and really didn't need "one-more-thing-to-do". I saw her and came to her with all that she would need to get the job done. I was planning on having her take a break so that I could shovel the whole driveway by myself.

I was offering because I understood what she was going through. I had just walked (metaphorically) in her boots. I knew the weight that she was carrying. I knew how much pain she was (potentially) going through.

I finished the shoveling at my neighbor's and decided to get the snowblower out to make the alley wider so that cars could get through easier. 

While using the snowblower, a neighbor from up the block walked over to where I was working and asked me if he could pay me to shovel his sidewalk when he goes out of town for the month of February. I told him that I would be happy to take care of it for him.

He asked me what I would charge and I told him that I would be happy to just take care of it for free. He was insistent and said that he would stop by before he left on his trip to see his daughter. Although he was very strong, he knew that he needed my help (because he was going to be 1500 miles away) and was willing to pay for it. 

After he left, I pondered some more...about how so many times people turn down help from the Lord even though He is reaching out and offering His help. He isn't charging for His help; in fact He already paid the ultimate price with His death, burial, and resurrection.

Why would anyone turn down help from the Lord when He offers to help us? He, too, walked "in our boots". He, too, knows the weight of what we carry. He, too knows the pain we go through. 

God doesn't help those who help themselves. Instead:

He asks us to seek Him:
"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord..." (Jeremiah 29:13-14a)

He asks us to call to Him: 
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ (Jeremiah 33:3)

He asks us to come to Him:
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am  gentle and  lowly in heart,  and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)

He asks us to rest in Him:
"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. (Psalm 37:7a)

He cares deeply about what we are going through and longs to help us:
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

I put the snowblower away and went inside grateful for how the Lord continues to call out to me even when I choose to try it on my own first. Grateful that He doesn't turn me away when I come back to Him and ask for His help, after realizing how much I need Him. 

Grateful that I have a Savior who is sympathetic with my weakness and my need for help:
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

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

Jan 23, 2020

Hey Grandma!

I was driving our car along Cathy and two of our grandchildren. We were heading to our house for an overnight.

The weather reports showed that there was a blizzard heading our direction sometime in the next two hours. Little did I know that a something would hit sooner than anticipated.

From the moment that we left their parents’ driveway, the two of them started EVERY statement, question, and comment with the phrase; “HEY GRANDMA…”

At first, I didn’t pay much attention to it until this became the rhythm of EVERY conversation. And then it bugged me.

For clarification, these conversations were NOT directed necessarily at Cathy. In fact, almost all of them were for anyone who was listening.

They were statements, questions, and comments on items like what day it was, do you know what we did or where we went, or did the car have a spare tire…

In a short time, a root of rejection, jealousy, and isolation started cropping up. I reacted by asking the children to please quit starting EVERY conversation with “HEY GRANDMA…” and added that I was also in the car; not just grandma.

Silence was the response…for about two minutes and then one of them said; “HEY GRANDMA…” the hairs on the back of my neck arose as the possibility of offense loomed before me.

I gripped the steering wheel and realized that although I couldn’t stop the impending blizzard, I did have a choice as to how I would choose to respond to this potential storm.

Would I choose to take offense just because I felt as though they weren’t acknowledging me, who was there with grandma, or choose to let it go… I continued the drive home.

When we arrived, the two of them continued EVERY statement, question, and comment with the phrase; “HEY GRANDMA…” Sometimes one of them would walk into the room and look up and see that it was just me and look puzzled as to where Cathy was.
EVERYTIME I asked them what they needed; they would say something that I could answer. NONE of the statements, questions, and comments were specifically for Cathy.

Once again, I felt my emotions rising up and I asked them to please stop always starting everything with “Hey grandma…”

Once again, I again recognized that I had a choice as to how I would respond to this potential storm.  I took care of something else as I prayed for help to let it go.

Cathy came into the room where I was sitting and put her arm around me. I chose to let it go.

It’s hard to be in a spot where it FEELS as though no one recognizes that you are even there, or that you are even alive…

As I sat there, I realized that oftentimes that is how we treat God. We pray to Him and yet, often, never even acknowledge that He is even there.

For some, they will call out to His mom or someone who has been dead for centuries rather than acknowledging that He is there.

For others, they compartmentalize Him; restricting Him to a (church) building; forgetting that He is ever present in EVERY place that we go.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (Psalm 139:7)

Many times, we don’t even call out to Him; that is until we are desperate.

I told Him that I was sorry for the times that I did that to Him. I asked for His forgiveness and asked for a deeper knowledge of His presence throughout ALL of my day…

The four of us took time to play some games together as the snow storm began. Cathy suggested that after we finish our games, we get dressed in our snow gear, grab some sleds, and head to the park; which we did.

We laughed together as we took turns until the cold turned our ears red and we could no longer feel our fingers, and then headed home for movies, games, food, and books.

The rest of the time that the grandchildren were over was filled with more conversations that began with “HEY GRANDMA…” as they told BOTH of us something.

This was interrupted only when I took the two of them to Hobby Lobby to look for some clay for them to use for a project. During the car ride, to my surprise, EVERY statement, question, and comment started with the phrase; “HEY GRANDPA…” which made me smile.

A few hours later, after they left, I pondered my thoughts from the day before about acknowledging the presence of God. I thought of Misty Edwards’s song “Dove’s Eyes”:

I don't want to talk about You like You're not in the room
I want to look right at You, I want to sing right to You
I don't want to talk about You like You're not in the room
I want to look right at You, I want to sing right to You

I think way too often we forget that He wants to be a part of EVERY part of lives. And I think that probably it “hurts” Him as we talk about Him but don’t talk to Him.

Jesus spoke of this when He said:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)

I got away and responded to His invitation to be with Him.

The cool thing is that this encounter is something that God wants EVERY DAY!

Every day we can awaken with the hope that as we turn to God each day, we will find His mercy fresh and new waiting for us to use. Great is His faithfulness; in that we can place our hope!

How about you? How much have you acknowledged Him so far this day? He’s not upset with you; He just wants to be with you and have you acknowledge that He is there.

Are you ready to start over? Have you tried to change your life with no success? Are you tired of trying to do it your way? Call 1-888-NEED –HIM; someone is waiting to talk with you.

Jan 16, 2020

Way Below His Potential

Years ago, I volunteered as site supervisor and consultant for Rebuilding Together Twin Cities. They were partnering with the Honeywell Corporation to do repairs on a house in Minneapolis for a homeowner who was physically unable to do the work himself.

This event was highly supported by the local media who sent field reporters to broadcast live on the local Twin Cities news stations.

To add to the grand effort, Genevieve Gorder was hired to be the spokesperson to the media on behalf of Rebuilding together.
NOTE: Genevieve is an American television host and interior designer. She was one of the original designers of the TLC's hit series Trading Spaces.

A speech was given, safety was explained, donuts were eaten, and all hit the floor to accomplish the tasks before them.

Genevieve and the local Muckety-Mucks from Honeywell Corporation spent most of their time suited up as they took photos with media and all who recognized Genevieve.

The Honeywell executives took the opportunity to stand in the limelight in order to draw attention to their partnership with Rebuilding Together nationally.

My assignment was to look for issues of safety, quality of work, answer technical questions, and keep an eye on what was taking place at the whole jobsite. I decided to take a walk away from the celebrities and meet with the volunteers who were physically doing the work.

As I walked into the backyard, I noticed two men who were up to their elbows in engine parts and other junk piled in a corner of the yard; all of which needed to be tossed into a dumpster.

I asked them if they needed anything and encouraged them to get something to eat or drink.

The two men were covered in sweat and grease and turned down my request for them to take a break. I admired their work ethic.

When I made my way back to the front of the house, the media frenzy drove me to go back into the house away from the limelight.

Inside, the local representative from Honeywell who was my contact person asked me if I had met the bigshots from Honeywell. I said that I saw the men dressed in suits posing with Genevieve, neighbors, and the media.

She informed me that they were the local bigshots; she was referring to the BIGSHOTS from Honeywell National Corporation: The Senior VP’s who flew to Minnesota to join the local workers from Honeywell at the jobsite.

It turns out that they were the two men in the backyard.

These men were working way below their potential so I went to the back to meet them. The men told me that they wanted to remain doing the work that no one wanted to do; away from the media frenzy. And that they wanted no credit for what they were doing. They wanted to remain anonymous.

As a corporation, Honeywell had encouraged employees around the USA to volunteer. These two men had issued the orders on behalf of the BOD of Honeywell, yet had not personally done any physical work.

So, they came to Minnesota to work incognito where no one would recognize them and where they could do work and get no credit. They CHOSE to give of themselves and take no credit. They CHOSE to take on tasks that no one wanted to do.

They knew that they needed to lead by serving way below their potential instead of flaunting their status in the Honeywell Corporation for all to see.

These men reminded me of the words written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi:
 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4)

These men reminded me of the One who really lived here on earth way below His potential. His name is Jesus Christ.

He CHOSE to give of Himself for the sins of humans by submitting to the laws and the wages of death.

He CHOSE to submit Himself to torture, beating, and hung naked as He was nailed to a cross to die a cruel and slow death.

He CHOSE to serve way below His potential in order to express the love of the Father who longed for sinful man to turn form their sins and turn to His love and forgiveness.
And because of what He did, the Apostle Paul continues in his letter to the church in Philippi:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)

The world could use more who CHOSE to live way below their potential.

Rebuilding Together Twin Cities has been preserving and revitalizing homes and communities in the metropolitan area since 1997. Our programs provide opportunities for community involvement. Through sponsors and volunteer efforts, we strive to impact communities and the nonprofit places where neighborhood members gather. http://rebuildingtogether-twincities.org/

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

Jan 9, 2020

Practicing His Presence

One of the hardest things most followers of Jesus Christ struggle with is resting fully on the promises of God. In other words, believing that when Jesus paid it all; HE PAID IT ALL!

“He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness].” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

We see this struggle as we try to spend time with God by just hanging with Him instead of doing anything for Him. We have to work at not working to be with Him.

Some tools such as daily scripture reading plans or devotionals can be helpful, but when getting through them to check a box becomes more important than just spending time with the Lord…then something is off.

Being with Him, resting in His presence takes practice; in other words, you are probably going to have to ask Him for His help to get you “there”.

Our flesh and religious notions think that the Lord is waiting for us to wow Him with our elaborate scripture memorization or elaborate prayers.

The Holy Spirit would tell us other wise and He is gently “shouting” to us to cease from our efforts to get “there”.

Brother Lawrence (1614-1691) wrote:
"...in the winter, seeing a tree stripped of its leaves, and considering that within a little time, the leaves would be renewed, and after that the flowers and fruit appear, he received a high view of the Providence and Power of GOD, which has never since been effaced from his soul."

I regard myself as the most wretched of all men, stinking and covered with sores, and as one who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King.

Overcome by remorse, I confess all my wickedness to Him, ask His pardon and abandon myself entirely to Him to do with as He will.

But this King, filled with goodness and mercy, far from chastising me, lovingly embraces me, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the keys of His treasures and treats me as His favorite.

He talks with me and is delighted with me in a thousand and one ways;

He forgives me and relieves me of my principle bad habits without talking about them; I beg Him to make me according to His heart and always the weaker and more despicable I see myself to be, the more beloved I am of God.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practicing of the Presence of God

Being able to abide in the Presence of God is not just a theory, but is SO much more available to us here on earth than we could possibly imagine.

Jesus came to give us salvation, forgiveness, and life abundant; in all fullness including living with the indwelling presence of God.

It can start TODAY by simply stopping what you are doing and asking the Holy Spirit to teach you how to abide in His presence.

He will help you and you will discover how effortless it can be as you practice remaining in His presence.

All Scripture from Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Jan 1, 2020

Welcome To The Roaring Twenties

Happy New Year 2020

1919 brings this decade to an end and begins the new decade which some people are already calling “The Roaring Twenties”. For some it is a season filled with optimism that American can once again be great.

The reference is to the 1920s; which was an age of very dramatic social and political change. For the first time, more Americans lived in cities rather than on farms.

Over nine years (1920 -1929), the nation's total wealth more than doubled as an economic growth was sweeping many Americans into an affluent consumer society as the country marched forward on its path to becoming a superpower.

During this era, women (finally) were granted the right to vote. It was also the start of prohibition.

As great as this new era was, it didn’t stay on the path to greatness. In fact, many question if the greatness of the roaring twenties was ill recorded.

Prohibition, which was supposed to get Americans sober and living healthy lives, actually helped cause more illegal activities as consumers looked for new ways to purchase and consume alcohol; resulting in more murders and stronger organized crime.

Lawlessness and corruption affected all aspects of our society and our judicial system as illegal activities and no respect for our laws seemed to be out of control.

By the end of the decade, the market crashed and America went into what has been called; “The Great Depression” …a great economic disaster. When the decade was over, the Roaring Twenties were replaced by the Terrible Thirties.

So here we are on the threshold of another decade. What we do with it has yet to be recorded.

George Santayana said; 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'

So, what do we do? What do you personally want to see happen next year?

It’s good to think decades because “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7), but START by asking God to plant hopes and dreams for next year in your heart.

What do you hope God does in and through you?
What works has He prepared for you to do?
How can you make a difference in those who cross my path TODAY?
Where can you use your gifts and talents to change the atmosphere?

Secondly, realize that you can’t change the world by yourself. Work with God and let Him take you through the process; you will find that the results will be eternal. And embrace who you are! You will never be as good a version of someone else as you are of yourself!

To do this you will need to stop relating to the Heavenly Father by what you do or don’t do: “You don’t read the Bible enough, pray enough, witness enough, etc.” Stop living under condemnation and guilt and instead let Jesus take you to meet His dad. He loves you and you are precious to Him;

He calls you “beloved”. He acted first, while you were still a sinner (read Romans 5:8)

Let God do the work; your part is to agree with His assessment of sin (confess) and turn from it (repent). The Holy Spirit was given as a “helper”. He is God and wants to help you. The Holy Spirit wants to blast down those walls that you have placed up that stop intimacy with the Father; to restore a level of trust that was violated when you were young, and you survived by not trusting any more.

Today can be a day of excitement as you enter into the roaring twenties anticipating what God is up to. Get excited for what is ahead, knowing that something has to change.

Today can be a day of new beginnings; a day to finally hear the Father calling you “son” or “daughter”. Hear my plea to not “stop short”

Need some help? Call Toll-Free: 1-877-2GRAHAM (1-877-247-2426)