TRUSTING GOD FOR OTHERS.080416

JESUS HEALS PARALYTIC.080416The question for today is: Can a believer in Jesus trust God for the healing (inside or outside) of another person?  The answer (or at least one answer) is found in Mark 2:1-12, where it tells the story of four men who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed.  When they got to His house, they couldn’t even get in the door, so they went up on the roof, cut a hole, and lowered the guy down into the room, right beside Jesus.  Then verse 5 says, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ ”  When the Pharisees condemned Him for forgiving sins, denying His authority, He said, “I’ll prove that I have the authority to forgive sins.” He turned to the man and said, “Stand up, get your mat and go home.”  Miraculous healing.

Where did it come from?  Verse 5 begins with, “Seeing their faith . . .”  Whose faith? Must’ve been the four men.  They had enough faith to go to the trouble to bring the guy to Jesus.  Just regular guys talking about how this Jesus was going around healing people, and their friend had been paralyzed for a long time, and who knows?  What would it hurt?  So they packed him up and took him down there.  And when they got there the place was packed.  They couldn’t possibly get in.  But they didn’t give up.  They kept on pushing the envelope until they reached their goal, to get the guy in front of Jesus.  They didn’t know what would happen.  But it might be worth a try. It’s almost funny.  The passage never said a word about what the paralyzed guy thought about the whole thing.  He apparently never said a word.  All he did was follow instructions.  “He jumped up, grabbed his mat and took off.”

So what does this have to do with us?  Continue reading

OASIS WEEKEND.NEWTON TEXAS.07-31-2016

Oasis_9Last weekend we went to First United Methodist Church in Newton, Texas.  The kids at John Wesley UMC, from grades 6-12, did a weekend mission trip.  We built a wheelchair ramp, and did a good deal of mowing and cleanup for several people in the community.  We had a Vacation Bible School for 49 kids. We worked in the Food Pantry (and Clothing Shop) of Newton, stocking and sorting. We had entertainment: A Youth Rally on Friday night, with live music, games, toys and free tee-shirts; and a movie for all ages on Saturday night, on the lawn in front of the Church, an animated feature called “Inside-Out”.  Popcorn, candy and drinks for all!

May not sound like such a big deal to some; but it was a big deal to us.  It was a memorable event.  We get to develop personal relationships with people in the community.  They love us, and we love them.  Everybody is happy to be nice to each other.  And the SPIRIT  is moving in Newton!  On Sunday morning, members of the church served the team breakfast, then we had church together, with the youth band leading the singing.  At the end we had a few testimonies from people in the community who were touched by the service of our kids.  No doubt, when it was over, everyone was blessed, and God was grinning!

 

BOOKWORM’S BOOK REVIEW: START with WHY, by Simon Sinek

Awhile back I saw an 18 minute TedTalk ‘Youtube’ video by this New Yorker named Simon Sinek, talking about his concept “Start with Why”.  In a way it changed my whole perspective on life.  I was just starting marketing my book, and the guy said, “If you want people to support you and follow you in whatever you do, tell ’em why, and if your why matches their why, then they’ll help you.  They just can’t resist.

And if you tell them why, and your why is central to your life, and your passion, and your cause for action and being, you will just naturally flow into success in your venture, because that’s the way peoples’ hearts work.  All these are my words; his are much better stated; but it works anyway.  It’s because there’s just something going on in your heart that draws people to your idea, your cause, your passion, because you’re connecting with their cause and their passion.

He also talks about how this concept reorganizes your life so that what you DO begins to support your WHY, and it all becomes a unified force for good for you and for your followers.  Read the book and see if it doesn’t have a profound effect on your life too.

CAN PEOPLE CHANGE? 072716

Jesus and the Woman taken in AdulteryIn John 8:3-9 is this story: “Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught[b] in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what do You say?” . . . He said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  . . . Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.  . . . ” He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

So here’s my question: Can people change?  And if they can, how do they do it?  How do we stop following the traditions of men and start to follow Jesus?  It is not a choice between truth and love; it is finding the place of truth AND love.  (Sorta like Jesus did in this story.)  We can’t  seek a forever solution (we want one, but people just don’t have it in them).  We can only do what God tells us to do today.  I don’t have the right to cast the first stone.

In the traditions of the Jews the person who witnessed the wrongful act and testified against the wrongdoer had to be willing to cast the first stone when they stoned the person to death.  That’s a pretty hard task, when everyone is going to see.  You had to be sure of what you were accusing someone of; and sure that you weren’t just as guilty as that person, of that crime or some other.  It’s like they had to put their integrity where their mouth was.

We never get clean BEFORE  we turn from our sins, only after, we are converted (changed).  We are changed, we surrender and turn to God, THEN we are cleansed of our sins.  When we’re hooked on drugs or control or sexual sin or pride, no one can help us, ’cause we don’t think we need help. But when we’re injured, damaged and suffering, we suddenly become vulnerable and open to be comforted and changed.  Then we suddenly change from rocky to fertile soil; ready, even willing, to receive the Good Seed of God’s Word.  Praise the Lord!

YOU CAN’T FAKE GOOD KIDS.072316

Bubble kid.jpeg Last night my wife heard a speech she shared with me.  In it the guy said, “You just can’t fake good kids.”  It got me to thinking.   Psalm 127:3-5, says  “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior. So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.” It says something good about the parents, AND something good about the kids.

Good kids end up honoring their mommas and their daddies; they grow up to be self-supporting; they find productive things to do that help others, and themselves.  What’s that line, “They make me proud!”  Good kids are respectful and obedient when they’re little, moderately respectful and obedient even when their teenagers, and they grow up to be friends in your old age. It’s a genuine gift from God to have good kids.

Hopefully good kids say something about the parents.  You know, the parents were good people; they loved their kids and were nice to them and took care of them; that they taught them to be honest, hard-working, responsible people; not just because it was the right thing to do, but because the parents had those qualities they were just passing along. They taught ’em to trust God.  They passed on the gift of God’s love and mercy they learned from their parents. “Freely you have received, freely give.” Matt 10:8.

Good kids even have Godly qualities; they know all about you and they love you anyway.  They put up with you when you get old and cranky; even when you don’t take their advice.  Good kids are people that you can really be thankful for.  It’s like that verse, Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he won’t depart from it.”  (Maybe in the middle he’ll fall off the wagon a little, but when he’s old, he’ll come back to the Way.)  What we’re all looking for is people we can depend on, now and later.  It’s especially nice when those people turn out to be our own kids!

Whad-a-ya-mean Love?072216

TROOPS ON PARADE.072216“Be ye kind one to the other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another …” Eph 4:28-32

When my two oldest sons, Sam and Andy, were in high school, they went to military school in New Mexico. Secretly, they said they wanted to go to military school because there was less discipline there than there was at home. I don’t know. Maybe. All in all, I think they learned a lot there, both in education and in life experiences. Not all good, but certainly some was. They made good grades; they excelled in the military training; and they responded well to the military discipline (probably learned that at home?). ‘Course they weren’t perfect angels, but who is? Both of them got in some trouble from time to time, partly because they were a little resistant to authority. Can’t imagine where they got that. As a matter of fact, both of them got kicked out for various reasons, but both of them got back in and graduated.

This little story is about Sam. One day, for some unknown reason, he decided he’d stick the fire hose in the window of the Tactical Officer’s office (Tach Office) and fill it up with water while the Tach Officer was away doing his rounds one night. When he came back, the tach office was about 2½ feet deep in water (up to the bottom of the windows), and when he opened the door, the water knocked him down flowing out the door. He was a little hot.

Because there is a “secret code of honor,” nobody squealed on Sam for several hours. Finally, the officers devised a way to put enough pressure on everybody that someone finally gave in and told them who did it. That was maybe 10:00–11:00 in the morning. Shortly after that, the Officer of the Day called me on the phone in our hometown, maybe 6 hours away. His first words were, “Come and get the sumbitch; we don’t want him around here.” After that, he gave me a short version of what happened and then told me that Sam and all his belongings would be waiting for me out on the curb, whenever I was able to get there. He knew how far I was away, and he didn’t care. Then I said, “I want to talk to Sam.” The guy said, “He doesn’t want to talk to you.” But he put him on. Continue reading

5 TIPS (IN 1) TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE.072116

HANDS PRAYING ON BIBLE.012615.jpg

I’m convinced that the Bible is inspired by God.  It is (and was) inspired by God when he directed the original writers in writing it down; it was (and is) inspired by God when the scholars and theologians were (and are) translating it into different languages; and it is inspired by God when each individual person reads it, her mind and heart are opened to show her the meaning, just for her, in that particular time and place.  It is so inspired that when we read a passage another time, we often get a different finely tuned message.  Makes me grin.

1] www.biblegateway.com is a website that has a tremendous amount of information about the Bible that is easily accessible, user friendly, and welcoming, no matter what your Christian persuasion.  It has translations of the Bible in 64 different languages, including every major language, many of those in a number of different translations.  English has 54 translations and Spanish has 18.  I recommend “BibleGateway” highly.  I find that when I compare different translations I am better able to understand what a particular verse or passage is saying.  Try it.  You’ll be amazed!

2] There is even one translation, called the “Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament” which shows the New Testament in English, and the translation into New Testament Greek.  If you click on a particular word in the passage, in the margin it shows you the Greek word (in Greek) with a detailed translation (in English), with references to all the places that word appears in the New Testament, so you can compare different shades of meaning for different verses, and learn even more.  Wow!  Way cool.

3] I haven’t researched it yet in Spanish, but in English there are online resources for study Bibles (14), Biblical commentaries (10), Bible dictionaries (6), and even two (2) Bible encyclo-pedias.  Many of those resources are free.  This is especially informative if you’re looking for an explanation about a particular story, or historic context, or underlying Biblical points.

4] All these functions and many more are available on your iPhone or other internet device. So you can look up references and Bible passages while you’re listening to a sermon or talk or Bible study group to allow you to contribute to your own knowledge, and to the benefit of those around you.  (It may sound silly; but sometime you hit on something, because it is so easy and handy, that it makes me think it really is inspired by God.  What a novel concept!)

5] Besides all that you can search for passages in the Bible, when you only know a few words, or just an idea of what it’s about.  They have “Passage Lookup”, “Keyword Search”, and “Topical Index”.  And for further growth in your relationship with God, they have daily devotionals, Bible reading plans, newsletters and more.  BibleGateway is a Christian, mission centered enterprise, focused on making Scripture freely available on the Web in multiple languages and translations. You can find its “Statement of Faith” on the website.