A New Goliath – Part 3

Goliath Defeated

“Then your light will break out like the dawn,

And your recovery will speedily spring forth;

And your righteousness will go before you;

The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”

Isaiah 58:8

In Part 2 we discussed whether we have a right to be afraid, and should we stand against those who want to kill us. If we remember the fear David experienced while he was running for his life we understand that at times we do have fear in our lives. This is not God’s perfect will for us. His will is that we enjoy an abundant life. The way we receive this life is by living within His will. We know His will by His Word, the Bible. We also know His will by communing with him on a personal basis. Communion with Him is how we overcome Goliath when he tries to frighten us into submission. So this brings us to the last question. This is the same question David asked in Psalm 11:3, our premise for this series.

What can the righteous do?

While praying and searching over the last several months the Lord has placed several thoughts in my heart. I am excited! When these revelations hit me it was like a hand slap to the back of my head. These are nothing new. This is how every man of God in the Old and New Testaments defeated his Goliath. As Christians the following revelations are what we should be already be doing, everyday.

What a wake-up call. If we are not doing these things then we are not prepared for any Goliath, let alone this one. Search your heart and see if you are doing these things. I know there must be many more to add to this list. Feel free to add anything God lies on your heart.

  1. Choose: Make a decisionyou are either in, or you are out. Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
  1. Live through him–remember who we are

We have been given permission, the freedom, the liberty, the ability to become, and the power to conquer.

We are fellow helper’s to the truth.

We are the vehicle the Lord uses to bring someone to the knowledge of salvation.

We find our peace, joy, comfort, guidance and direction through Him.

We are adopted children and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are justified by faith

Jesus is our wisdom and righteousness in everything we do and say.

He will reward us if we diligently seek Him.

We have our hope in Him.*

  1. Do NOT lose heart: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18so we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
  2. Encourage one another and fellowship together. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” In other words you should already be doing this and now is not the time to quit. Ephesians 5:19-21 speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Encourage unbelievers. 1 John 4:16 “…we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Are you living your life as the fragrance to God? Are you living your life as an example to the unbeliever?

  1.   Love one another. John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
  2.  Love those who hate us. Matthew 5:44 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Matthew 5:43-48You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This is not something we just say, it is something we must do. If this New Goliath comes against us there will be those, both saved and unsaved, who will need our comfort. Are you living your life in a way that these will feel comfortable approaching you?

7. Be obedient to God’s Word, especially when we don’t understand it. John 14:15If you love me, you will keep my commandments I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Remember the Old and New Testament saints we mentioned in Part 2? They are examples of obedience. Hebrews 12 gives us a list of so many who give us an example of faith. Remember, “. . . without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exist and He rewards those who seek Him.

8. Pray!!! Pray!!! And Pray Some more!!! James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. We have heard this verse many times. Do we believe it? This is verse is so important to understanding John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

As one evangelist has stated so bluntly, we do not have answered prayer because we are too lazy to pray. Is this true in your life? We should assure ourselves that we stand with the righteous. When we ask in prayer, we must ask in travailing prayer much as Jesus when sweat drops fell from his brow in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is sincere prayer. This is not a head prayer, but a heart prayer.

9. Be compassionate. Share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Telling others about Christ is our foremost responsibility. God trust us to be obedient and win others to Him. When is the last time you shared the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ/

A another wake up call: Ezekiel 3:18-19 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. “But,” if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. It is of utmost importance that we understand this. People are dying and we may be their only last hope of salvation.

10.  Be confident, stay in the race, never quit, and look toward the reward. Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. Sometimes we must suffer. This is part of our calling. But, as 1 Peter 5:10 says, And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. He is always faithful to reestablish us. Remember Job?

11.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit, He is our Helper John 4:23-24 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Remember these things:

Romans 8:16: The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

1 John 5:6-8: And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

Galatians 5:16-19 Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

12. Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority,. . .” Why? “. . . because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you” Hebrews 13:17.  

13. Teach your children and grandchildren Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Deuteronomy 4:9“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

14. Expect God to fulfill His promises. Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments 1 Corinthians 1:9 God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful 1 Thessalonians 5:24 The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. 2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

15.  Give thanks in all things: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Psalm 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Daniel 6:10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

Notice, when evil men came against Daniel, he gave thanks as he had always done.

16. Praise God! 1 Chronicles 16:8 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

17. Again, of utmost importance, remember Who our real foundation is, it is not this world. Government did not build these foundations. God did. Genesis, Chapter 1ff.

2 Timothy 1:9-10 Remember who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

Ephesians 4:1 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

I mentioned at the beginning of Part 3, if you have any you would like to add please feel free to do so. There are so many! PTL

Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.

Psalm 20:6

  • *https://theunfetteredpreacher.com/2016/07/25/that-we-might-theunfetteredpreacher/

 

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A New Goliath – Part 1

goliath 3I have thought and prayed over this for several months. There is something we all share in common. There is something weighing on all of our minds and hearts. With the exception of a few Christian bloggers, few are discussing it.

I like to take just a moment to remind you of two familiar stories about David. In 1 Samuel 17 we see the Philistine and the Israeli Armies on opposite hills in a face off. The Philistine champion was named Goliath. He stood nine feet and ten inches tall (For most of us we brush over that as if he is only the size of one of our professional basketball players and don’t take the time to comprehend just how tall the was. Next time you are in a home improvement store, go to the molding aisle and pick up a piece of 10 foot molding and stand next to it. See just how big Goliath was). When you are fitted for your armor you are given that which you can handle with the greatest of ease. In Goliath’s case his sword was longer and heavier than most, his spear was longer that he was tall, and the head of the spear was cone-shaped weighing about eighteen pounds. His armor weighed in at over 250 pounds, more than the average soldier can pick up on a good day.

“Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelite’s were dismayed and terrified.” 1 Samuel 17:8-11

 Please read that scripture again. This time read it out loud, with emphasis and sarcasm in your voice. This is what the Israelite army heard, not once, but for forty days both morning and night. They went to bed hearing it, and woke up hearing it.

Notice how Saul’s army was feeling—dismayed and terrified. If you look these two words up in the Hebrew, they simply mean, shattered, broken, greatly afraid, and trembling excessively.

Now I ask, if you were taunted twice every day how would you feel? You are waiting and hoping someone, anyone but you will answer the call. No one does. You hear murmurs among the others saying, “We can’t fight him; he’s way too big for any of us.” Pushing each other saying, “You go–No you go!–I’m not going!–I want to go homeWe are all going to die! The Philistine’s knew they would beat you with Goliath’s strength and you knew it too. The foundations of your world are being destroyed. Fear has you hypnotized.

Well, we know how the story turned out don’t we. God sent a lad named David with a slingshot to defeat this huge tormentor and end his relentless persecution. David trusted God and did not fear the enemy.

So Jonathan told David saying,“Saul my father is seeking to put you to death.

Now therefore, please be on guard in the morning,

and stay in a secret place and hide yourself.

1 Samuel 19:2

Goliath was David’s first victory in battle. Many others followed. Now he faced a new enemy that frightened him. King Saul was God’s anointed king. He knew that he was beginning to lose his anointing and that someone would take his place. He believed it would be David’s older brother, Eliab. When Saul became jealous of David and assumed he wanted his throne he sought to kill David.

Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch until morning so he could kill him. Michal, David’s wife, also Saul’s daughter, let David down a rope so he could escape. In the morning Michal told the messengers he was in bed sick. When they checked, they found what they thought was David covered up because they could see his hair; actually it was goats hair made to look like David’s hair. When Saul heard this he sent the messengers back to the house to bring him in the bed so that he could kill him. He was furious for his daughter’s deception. (1 Samuel 19:11-12)

He tried to pin David to a wall by throwing a spear at him. David escaped. (1 Samuel 20:33)

Saul continued to pursue him, to kill him. There is controversy over how long this pursuit lasted. Some say eighteen months while others say fifteen years. The time doesn’t matter as much as David’s panic. David lived in constant fear. He continued to run like, as we say in the South, a scalded dog.

You know the rest of the story. Saul is confronted by David, who now was holding a piece his garment. David sliced off a piece while Saul was relieving himself to show that David meant him no harm. In fact, David bowed before Saul in honor of the anointing of God on this king. David saved Saul’s life more than once.

These are two different stories of David. One is as victor, and one the foundations of David’s world are crumbling. He lived in fear. Have you ever been in either, or both, of these circumstances? Have you ever felt like the foundations of your world were crumbling? Did you know what to do and how to handle it?

In the Lord I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.
 For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
 When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”  Psalm 11:1-3

goliath 4We have a New Goliath on the loose¾He stands and taunts us every 83 days with another killing somewhere in our world. He is huge and stands in the same defiance of the True God that the Philistines did. You’ve heard of all these evil killings and the hatred that has developed over the last several years; especially the killing of those who will not follow Islam. In particular Christian believers.

I don’t have to go into a lot of detail to make my point. You know what is happening and if you are like the Israelite’s—like David—like me—you are scared. You just don’t know what to do.

If you read the news, ISIS is NOW going to kill Christian’s in their places of worship. In fact a Catholic priest was murdered this past week in France while holding mass. Nuns were used as human shields to protect these cowards while they fought off the police.

The foundations of our world are being destroyed before our very eyes.

David asked a very important question in this Psalm 11. “ When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

The authorities say ISIS is already in all fifty states of our union. They will begin to attack us on a regular basis. So what can I do as a Christian? What can the body of Christ do when the foundations of our world are crumbling?

This is Part 1 of this discussion and what has been on my heart and mind for months. In Part 2, I will discuss some of the answers. I would like you to ponder the following questions and have your comments ready for my next post.

I leave these questions with you?

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

  1. Based on these two verses of Scripture, Do we have right to be afraid?

2. As did David, should we stand against those who want to kill us? Why, or Why not? How can we stand against them?

3. What can the righteous do?

It’s Friday……..But Sunday Is Coming!!!

I am sure that many of you have heard this message before. It is always worth hearing again. When I was in college back in the 1970’s I was privileged to hear Dr. Anthony Compollo preach this sermon. It is one I have never forgotten, especially when Easter comes each year. He preached it for many years on Good Friday. Read and enjoy.

Andy

Taken from the following website: http://apologetica.us/2009/04/10/its-friday-but-sundays-coming-2/

The whole tape is great but the best part is at the end when Tony Campolo recalls one Sunday when he had a little preaching competition with the head pastor at the church where he attends.

Dr. Campolo tells how he preached the perfect sermon in every way and had taken the congregation to ‘the heights of glory’. As he sat down beside his pastor, Dr. Tony patted him on the knee and simply said, “Top that.” The older black pastor looked at him and said, “Boy, watch the master.” Then Dr. Campolo recalls for us the very brilliant message which followed.

The following is a short printed version of the 45 minute sermon–the printed version doesn’t really do justice to the original, but you can at least get an idea what the last part is like:

Cross_3904_edited-2

It’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming—

It was a simple sermon, starting softly, building in volume and intensity until the entire congregation was completely involved, repeating the phrases in unison. The sermon went something like this.

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.

It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.

And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.

Now, it’s Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday.

He Has Risen_3856_edited-1

And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb. Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.

It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.

At the end of the message the pastor shouts out:

It’s Friiidaaaay!

And the whole congregation responds:

But Sunday’s Coming!

Cross_3825_edited-1

If you would like to listen to the entire sermon you can find it here at this link (the last 5 minutes will have this part in it).

http://tonycampolo.org/its-friday-but-sundays-coming/#.VRRQBGaYI7A

 

 

The Night Bessie Bumped Her head

Costa Rica_Morgue Files_048

John Neil Ider “Ida” (Owens) Oldham was better known as Grannie to my two brothers and me. Her daddy wanted a boy and he told his wife it did not matter if it was a boy or a girl. When the baby was born he was namin’ it John Neil. His wife told him she did not care what he named her, she was naming her Ider. Most folks understood her name should be pronounced Ida, of course. In later years, she would have trouble with her name when needing identification because her name did not match her gender.

One of the things I enjoyed most, in growing up in Louisiana, was going to her house during the summer time and spend a week; just the two of us. The summer of 1959, at nine years old, is one I have never forgotten. Pioneer, Louisiana was a small town with one wood frame country store and one gas pump. Because it was a farming community there was always danger on every corner if you did not stay fully aware of your surroundings.

Papa had died in 1954 leaving Grannie to tend the forty-acre farm alone. I was only four when he passed. She was lonely at times and enjoyed having company. TV was watched every night with the shows in black and white. Bedtime for me rolled around at 8:30PM. I was usually afraid to go to bed alone. A farm in the country is extremely dark in the middle of the night. One consolation was the .22 rifle standing next to the bed. I had used it several times looking for rabbit and squirrels. I knew if I needed to protect myself the rifle was there.

It was a privilege to sleep with Grannie each night, of course I never knew for sure she was there because, if she came to bed it was well after I was asleep and she was up before dawn. The thought that she slept with me offered some facsimile of security.

I discovered the truth about where she slept one night when all hell broke loose. Heavy breathing entered the room. I could hear it but not see it; the room was too dark and heavy clouds blocked the moonlight. At that instant the clouds dissipated and illuminated two large eyes staring right at me. I sat straight up in the bed. Grannie was not there!

I sat gripped with quiet anxiety while I fought off the dragons of fear. The breathing was only feet from me–then a snort. I screamed bloody murder. I could hear Grannie running down the hallway at the same time Bessie, her milk cow, pulled her head up, and bellowed like I’m the one who scared her. She jerked her head back out of that window as fast as she could, tearing out the glass and the wood frame that held it.

Grannie ran down the hall, entered the room and stuck her head out the widow yelling some words that I did not hear. Bessie skedaddled back toward the barn where she belonged. It was the first time I had seen Grannie with no teeth. Flapping her lower jaw against her upper, she turned to calm me down and found me aiming the .22 right at the window. She relaxed me into the reality that she was not there to hurt me. I dropped the gun and climbed under the covers where I burst into tears. Grannie climbed in beside me, wrapped her arms around me and slept the rest the night, or least until I woke up to find her cooking cathead biscuits, scrambled eggs and grits.

Made you smile!

Farms Don’t Have Dinosaurs

I don't like what I am hearing!

I don’t like what I am hearing!

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching,

 but having itching ears they will accumulate

 for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”

(2 Timothy 4:3; ESV)

I heard a prodigious scream. It meant one of the children had been hurt, or was about to be. After dodging a yellow Tyrannosaurus rex flying into the hallway, I arrived in their room to discover that a death threat had, for the moment, not yet been executed; no blood was splattered on the wall. Whew! As with most siblings’ perpetual disagreements, this squabble had circumvented toddler-aged common sense and stuck its nose in the middle of a normally quiet Saturday morning.

Traditional Farm Animals

Traditional Farm Animals

~VS~

Non-Traditional Farm Animals

Non-Traditional Farm Animals

My youngest and more traditional son was playing farm. He had his cows, horses, and chickens lined up inside the plastic-fenced corral next to the barn.  His older brother is a bit more creative and decided he would bring a colorful array of plastic dinosaurs to the farm. So, without asking or even discussing the idea, he proceeded to place the prehistoric icons right in the middle of the corral. After all, the more animals the more fun they would have, right? It would only benefit the farm.

In revisiting this nostalgic flashback, I realized that by the time I had reached their room a great battle over right and wrong had already emerged. Delaying intervention meant an even wider division between the two. Neither was willing to compromise on their definition of playfully correct. Each child blamed the other for his ignorance of how a real farm should look. It seemed that both were really angry and bitter, ready to leave and find a new farm where they are welcome, a farm where their lil’ ol’ hearts and ears could be tickled pink with affirmation of their correctness. A teaching moment had arrived, and I’d used the opportunity to teach the boys to understand that, though new ideas do break tradition, they are not necessarily wrong, and that even though it may be a better idea, you shouldn’t force it on someone without explanation or discussion. His brother wasn’t getting rid of the farm; he just wanted to add some animals.

There are times when getting two young children to understand each others point of view requires vigorous effort. Over the years I have discovered that it’s just as hard to get adults to understand each others points of view if they are unwilling to listen.

God’s people, the Jews, had become traditionalist, handing down from each generation different ideas of how to worship. They propagated oral laws to help define God’s written Law so men could better understand how to live more righteously.

The Word said to “Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.”  Well, just what does keeping it holy mean? The high Priest and other leaders took it upon themselves to define ways to keep it holy. One example was that if you took over 400 steps on the Sabbath you were working, and therefore, not keeping the Sabbath holy (I don’t know who took the time to count the steps but that sounds a bit like work itself).

Though they meant well, through the centuries, they created a self-righteous pattern that led them away from God.  Now these Oral Laws became the way of salvation through ones ability to not only keep God’s revealed and written Law, but the Oral and traditional law as well.

Jesus brought a new paradigm. He came bearing good news.

 “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”                                                                                                     (Matt.22:37-40)

 Now, to some extent these Oral Laws sound silly, but are they really? Do we not do the same with our views on the ways things should be done today? Jesus did not propose getting rid of the farm, or the Law. He simply reemphasized what the Law always said: Love your God with your total being. In other words wrap your arms, legs, heart, soul and mind around a loving God just as tight as you can and never let go. And the new law was to love your neighbor just as much as you do yourself. Notice He placed self, last.

Jesus wasn’t telling us that when disagreements arise we need to accept others’ ideas simply as a way of saying we love each other. Neither was he saying we need to see those who disagree as unloving. In society’s new world view, I believe they call it, tolerance? But then that is polemic for another post so I’ll save it.

Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness,

strife, selfishness, or unworthy ends] prompted by conceit ‘and’ empty arrogance.

Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others

as better than ‘and’ superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another that you do of yourselves].                                                                                                                                                                                                                         (Philippians 2:3; Amplified Bible)

If we look at the great and foremost commandment again, we can see that Jesus brought the paradigm back to the beginning of God’s Word. Here he simply reminds us that our very heart, soul and mind should be devoted to God first. We should have a relationship so intimate in prayer and Word that we recognize His guidance over our own. We must desire to know God better. Our soul should be so thirsty for Him we become like a ball of cotton absorbing every ounce. Our mind should hunger for His Word as if we were on the verge of death by starvation.

So, what about division between church members, family and friends?  We don’t need to go back to the time before that childish farm. As Christians, it is time to evaluate ourselves and our congregations with this new example, given by Jesus. It is not a new standard, it is the very one He taught His disciples while in their presence. Are we following that standard and not compromise it away? Maybe it’s time to ask God to point out a few good and faithful saints that will pray with us on a regular basis for an old fashion revival in our congregations. Maybe it’s time to pray until it comes!

“… Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked                                          nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”                                              (John 16:23 NIV)

As a member of your congregation revival begins with you. Be encouraged. Stand up, and hold your head high so that those in your congregation are also encouraged.

 

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement

give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.”

(Romans 15:5)

No Short Cut to Grace

I see everyone is posting about the cold and snow affecting their lives. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful photographs and read wonderful stories about it. I reminisce about the snow and wish I could have a little of here in Mississippi for maybe a day or two. Wait, stop right there. I not being truthful. I lived in Indiana and North Dakota for several years and quite frankly I really don’t miss the snow. I will just enjoy the photos if you don’t mind. Your photos do bring up a few memories of living in the north that I chuckle at now. I’d like to share one with you if you don’t mind. As we say in the South, “Set your pretty little self down and take a listen.” Bless your heart!

  Driving Through The Essence

Driving Through
The EssenceA light snow had fallen and melted the week before my brother and I went hunting with my best friend, Mo, around Salamonie Reservoir in Indiana. We took his new, but used, 4-wheel drive Chevy Blazer with gigantic mud tires knowing that we could go anywhere we wanted. Driving down a gravel road we noticed a peaceful grouping of deep woods across an open field. Mo decided there was a short cut across a pasture and took off. No sooner had we started when our nostrils filled with that favorite country aroma that make so many ask, “What is that smell?” Whoever farmed this land had just finished spreading the field with fertilizer. Now, not that kind you buy in the store, mind you, rather that kind that comes out of the south end of a north bound cow. Some folks call it the Essence of Manure.

 It's getting deeper and a lot more smelly

It’s getting deeper and
a lot more smelly            We were about half way across when Mo started to fight with the rear end of the vehicle. For some reason the Essence combined with the mud from the melted snow rains was exceptionally slick. The steering wheel moved quickly from left to right and back as he fought to keep the Blazer straight. The fight was short-lived and we found ourselves stuck. Forthwith, we looked at each other in confounded trepidation–the four-wheel drive was not turned on. This may date me, but at that time turning on the four-wheel drive was accomplished from the outside by turning the hub on each wheel. While stopped we found the small amount of wind given by driving with the widows down had blocked most of the nosegay of bitter pungencies. Because we were so dumb as to not lock the hubs we received the blessings of unsavory suffocation.

Climbing out of the Blazer we noticed an old beat up farm truck swerving up the hill toward us. The farmer was waving and shouting some unintelligible words, so we waved back. He stopped, pulled a rifle from the widow rack and cocked the chamber. He stomped in front of the vehicle and said, “You’re trespassing on my land and I am gonna put a bullet right through your motor.” All three of us assured him that we thought we were on public land and apologized for being there.

He continued to shout and blame when Mo interrupted, “Uh, sir, your truck is rolling backwards down the hill.”The farmer ran waving the gun shouting, “I’ll be right back!”

 “In my anguish I cried to the LORD,

and He answered by setting me free.

 (Psalm 118:5)

Full revelation of why the scriptures tell us to pray without ceasing helped us decide exactly what to do; we locked the hubs and took off! The farmer chased his truck screaming obscenities while our deliverance arrived simultaneously.

 “The Lord knows how to rescue

godly men from trials.”

(2 Peter 2:9)

            I’m sure the saints above held their hands to their bellies and rolled in laughter as they watched three crazed idiots spin through Essence like the devil was on their tail. The scripture says to,

 “Do what is good and run from evil—

that you may live!”

 (Amos 5:14a)

            There are times when we see the peace and calm of someone else’s walk with God. We desire that same walk. The allure of the short cut across the pasture of life is so tempting, but given individual gifts our path to peace may be different. Take only the path directed by the Holy Spirit and get out of your own way. If things begin to smell a little, and the Essence begins to suffocate, hit your knees in prayer. We cannot take short cuts with God for it is only through His Son that grace arrives. Our walk is progressive and He will guide you in the path you should take. (Proverbs 3:6)

           On Top of the Mountain!

On Top of the Mountain!

Secrets the Seasoned Ones Wish To Tell

Written By:

The Great Plains Poet

Grandpa Don ~ better known as Opa

Grandpa Don ~ better known as Opa

Our “seasoned one”, Grandpa Don

Five different faces stared across from each other at the butcher block farm table that sits in my simple home. Coffee mugs of all shapes, colors and sizes were cradled in each hand as I watched the other’s expressions lift, fall, and convey their emotions. At my weathered table, sat four generations of the Lord’s people. Each had been through trials and elation. All persons seated knew some form of sorrow or joy; the marks of life that each person must endure.

The one thing this gathering had going for it was experience. It was etched upon each person’s face as they were relaxing in my dining room the size of most homes bathrooms. The closeness of the space brings an immediate intimacy. There is no escaping to a corner and being alone with one’s thoughts at my kitchen table. You must engage.

After pulling in a few draws of my cream-laden coffee, I watched, and most importantly, listened to all the conversations being shuffled around. The frenetic pace at which each story and colloquialism were spoken was exhausting for a scrambled mind like mine but, I treasured it greatly. For I consider it an honor to watch generations of firm believers speak of political concerns, charities, dreams, prayer requests, and of the direction the Lord is taking each one. This was an experience I held dear.

The graduated lines on the carafe of caramel colored liquid became more exposed as the bounty it held began to reach the bottom. Opposite the table from me was a soft-spoken man of God I called Grandpa Don, but my son has come to know him as “Opa”. The fingers on his tan, weathered hands held a blue leather-bound “boy-focused” bible that was my son’s. I saw concentration set his brow as he thumbed slowly through page after page. It appeared that he was searching for his favorite scriptures while intently looking at the various notes my son’s bible contained. Sheepish grins and softly uttered “hmm’s” would denote passages that seemed to strike a chord within him. Trying not to intrude on his “moment”, I watched him carefully, not to pry or to intrude, but to learn. For in this stooped older man was much wisdom and a seasoning that only comes from a life well lived and totally given over to the Lord.

Let me back up a little and explain. I didn’t receive an upbringing in righteousness in the house I grew up in. As a matter of fact, I found myself at 40 plus years old, wanting much in Fatherhood, Nurturing, Kindness, Encouragement and Instruction on how to raise a family… properly that is. This created a problem for me. As a husband and a father, these were skills that I needed to possess and quickly at that. So one day I realized, to my utter disappointment, I had no idea what I was doing as a father and husband.

I knew something had to be done about it. After asking the Lord to show me what to do and by searching his word, he began to arrange people in my life as an example of the Godly virtues I was lacking. Experienced persons would model a needed characteristic and I would put that in my pocket. I would witness an act of loving kindness and I would bend over and pick up its remnant to use later. A faithful believer would speak a word of encouragement and before it fell upon the floor, I would place it in between my cheek and gum and spit it out into my own syllables forming an edifying sentence of my own. What I did was watch and listen to the older ones, the faithful believers who were on the path of righteousness. And I learned that the “seasoned ones” had secrets to tell and I would collect as many of them as I could.

Praying that no one was paying attention to me, I thought of all Grandpa Don had been through as I was moving from keen interest to staring in fascination. Pondering some of the events of his life revealed to me he was one of the best examples of the “greatest generation” I have known. Let me build the foundation that this unshakable house sits on; indulge me for a few sentences if you will.

Connor’s “Opa”, was in a car crash that took his older brother and his father’s life. He fought the tyranny of Hitler with his service in the Navy. His hands worked the ground as a farmer during the difficult and bountiful times in the Great Plains. This man of few words, has buried two wives, and still has smiles for all his great-grandchildren as each one tears around his meager home during visits and holidays. In other words, wisdom and experience is coursing through his veins; definitely a man to be respected, appreciated and learned from.

The tenor of his voice broke the silence as he began to remark at the usefulness of my son’s bible. He thought the footnotes and scattered snippets of wisdom in Connor’s “sword” was very helpful for a young man. Grandpa Don didn’t have to verbally complete his thought before I was already imagining what it was like to study the bible in his formative years. We have many more tools for study at our ready than his generation had. The invention of the internet really has changed the way we study in our ultra-fast, modern world. My wife speaks of a touching memory of Grandpa Don searching carefully through a large heavy concordance and taking his finger down each column until the exact word that was hiding became found. It took great effort and patience to grow daily in God’s word in those days and that effort paid off in his latter years right in front of me.

He spoke a few more comments, but not too many more after that. He doesn’t vocalize very often; making the treasury of his knowledge much more valuable than mine. So, when Grandpa Don has an observation, I stop in mid-sentence, close my mouth and listen; hoping with anticipation there will be a secret he will wish to tell.

There were so many verses to grab a hold of on this subject. I wanted to focus on a verse for people who currently don’t have anyone in their lives that will lead by example and model the characteristics of God for them.

Here’s what God promises: “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:15(ESV)

If you find yourself wanting and don’t feel equipped for the job that you’ve been handed, God will bring people in and out of your life that will impart to you knowledge and understanding married with what you are drawing from Him daily as well.

If you come from a broken home and you feel like you want prayer, please email me at thegreatplainspoet@sio.midco.net or comment on this post and I will lift you up to the Lord which will set in motion the discipleship you need to carry you until you become that seasoned one.

I hope this post reminds us all of the wisdom and experience the generations before us possess. From now on, let us all slow down and look into the caring eyes of a seasoned one… Hoping for secrets they wish to tell.

Please take the time to comment, re-post, “Like” on Facebook and Twitter, and most of all, tell others what you’ve read here today.

The Great Plains Poet, seeker of the Lord’s wisdom from the faithful ones who’ve paved the way.

God bless you all and enjoy the poem below.

Secrets The Seasoned Ones Wish To Tell
by Chris T.

Folks push past them in the line,
No time to slow personal agendas
We talk over them when it is their time,
Missing the facet of knowledge, the wisdom it brings.

We all think we are each experts in everything we do,
Pursuing a self-gratifying existence that’s dull,
Never respecting the experience of a time clock punched,
Letting it bounce off our hardened skull.

Scarcely do we make a trip,
Allowing a tremendous resource to go untapped,
They wait alone and bite their lip,
When it’s obvious to them you’ve missed a step.

We sure show up with their grandchildren in tow,
Demanding a sitter like we’re ringing a bell,
But prudence and patience makes the experienced wise,
Secrets the seasoned ones wish to tell.

Thanks Chris for allowing me to post such a beautiful story and poem!

For more great stories and poetry please visit Chris’s blog here:

http://thegreatplainspoet.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/secrets-the-seasoned-ones-wish-to-tell/

This story was re-blogged with permission.

My Grandparent’s Home ~ By: Raymond Bottom

Sept 30 1108

My grandparents’ farm was a wonderland of things to see, do and just enjoy when I was a young boy. Their farm was in walking distance of my home and I visited them at every opportunity to experience activities I couldn’t do at home and to bask in their love, acceptance and praise. “Gone but not forgotten”, the phrase often seen on tombstones, is a fitting description of my youthful days on the farm.

They’re still as fresh as long ago,
The house, the barn, the love and grace,
The open arms, welcoming smiles,
That lived at my grandparents place.

I see them now in memory,
As I ran down the dusty path.
Zigzagging, happy jumping high
My boyish antics made them laugh.

The old plow horse I loved to ride,
The patient cows they’d let me milk,
The baby kittens I could pet,
Their fur soft and smooth as silk.

The things I did, saw and felt
All gone, and yet so near.
My dreams often take me back
Down the path to yesteryear.

Raymond Bottom

Raymond Bottom has 60 years of publishing credits to his name. His very first publication was a poem he submitted to a contest for college students. His articles, poems, and stories have been published in well over one hundred magazines in the USA, Canada, Italy, Great Britain, and Ireland. His latest was in Mature Living, May 2013. He also wrote a weekly column in The Guardian Newspaper in Michigan for over seven years. Ray lives in Brandon, MS and is 86 years old. He never uses a typewriter or computer to write. He prefers to use longhand and his wife converts it to print. His passion is writing and carries a small paper booklet and a pencil everywhere, just-in-case he sees something that inspires him. His joy in this life is the time he spends with his three grandsons, one granddaughter, and one great-grandson.

Goodbye to Spring & Summer

Spring & summer have come and gone in 2013. I just want to thank the Lord for a beautiful flowering season. Below are some of the flowers I photographed this year. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Southern Magnolia

Southern Magnolia

Rose of Sharon Lil' KimOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrepe MyrtleIris & AzaleaRose of Sharon - WhiteRose of Sharon Lil' KimThe good Lord blessed my bloomers this year! Why not plan to teach your grandchildren about flower gardening this fall and next spring. Together you can sit on the porch, look with pride, and talk about how beautiful they are. This is one simple way to open conversation and build a lasting bond, one they will cherish in the future.

Even the squirrels enjoyed the bounty! Laughing Squirrel-2<