Category Archives: MERCY

WHO DO YOU TRUST? (REALLY) 042716

Eroded beach with house, Pititinga, Natal (Brazil)

So we were talking about obedience; and we were talking about ‘building your house on the sand’ as a metaphor for ‘basing our lives on principles and practices that shift and change’.   We should touch on another aspect of this obedience.  If, as we alluded to earlier, obedience is about doing what God tells us to do; then what about the First of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before (besides) Me.”  We’re back to that question about who or what do we worship (or serve)?  Who do we really trust?  Who do we really turn to when we’re in dire straits with nowhere to turn?

Well, I’m good about saying that ultimately I trust God; not my job, nor my employer, nor my network of friends and relatives, nor my piddly bank account or my credit cards.  But do I really?  I say that; but every time I get in a bind, I’m steadily calculating where I’m going to go to stay afloat for another few days or weeks.  Funny thing is; usually something “falls out of the sky” that I was completely not expecting, so clearly that it just had to be God.  It’s happened over and over so often that I just can’t deny that God really has delivered me from evil or destruction or punishment when I didn’t deserve to be delivered.  God’s mercy.  (You know ‘mercy’: that’s when God loves you and takes care of you, even when you deserve to be punished.)

Problem is, we all have been in that position, when to our logical mind it looks like there is a logical man-made explanation for how we got out of that trap; and we don’t give the credit to God.  Somebody comes by and says, “You know that just couldn’t be God; that was your boss, or your rich uncle, or just the luck of the draw.”  And the sad thing is we let it slide and agree by omission.  We don’t say, “You may think that, but I know it was God.”  Just so you’ll know, nobody else may think a thing about it, but God didn’t miss it.  The true miracle is that God still loves me (and you) anyway.  Some people go for years, running in the bushes, worshipping those idols of ‘other stuff’ taking care of them, growing more and more calcified in their position of trusting something else besides God, acknowledging something else besides God is our real god.  (Often it’s our selves.)  The really sad part is that we’re not only worshipping idols, but we’re getting more and more used to trusting in “the house on the sand”; getting closer and closer to the time of ‘great was the fall of it”.  That’s dis-obedience and the fruits (the results) of disobedience all rolled into one.

In case somebody didn’t get it; trusting in something else besides God to take care of you is not only 1] building your house on the sand (basing your life on shifting, shaky stuff); but it’s also  2] worshipping idols; serving other gods than the One True God.  That’s disobedience of the first order.   That’s the exact definition of what Jesus was talking about when he said, “Everyone who hears My words, and does NOT do them is like a foolish man . . .” Only an idiot would do that.  I guess if you want you can join me as a ‘recovering’ idiot.  You know, like members of AA talk about being a ‘recovering alcoholic’.  We never completely grow out of it.  We have to get up every morning, turn ourselves over to God and say, “One more time Lord, I’m turning myself over to You; I’m dying to myself so You can live Your eternal life in me.  I love You.”  From Out o’th’ Bushes, © 2016, by Tex Tonroy

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ROLES NOT GOALS. PURPOSE.022916

stone faced            “God has a purpose for your life.  All you’ve got to do is figure out what it is.”            [This is from a letter to my ‘young-adult’ kids in 1995]  “I used to wonder what I was doing here.  Sometimes I even wondered what you were doing here.  I finally got the message.  God has a plan for my life.  Actually, I think He has a plan for every person’s life, but some folks never figure out what it is.

“When I was a kid I bought into the idea that goal setting and goal pursuing and goal orientation were the way to achieve everything I wanted in life, and happiness too!  When I was 15 I wanted $1 million by the time I was 30.  I focused a lot of attention on it.  I read the right books and tried to practice what they preached.  But somehow it never worked for me.  I guess I just didn’t want it bad enough.  I just couldn’t get motivated enough.  I had a lot of other things on my mind.  Looking back, maybe God didn’t want me to be a millionaire.

“After I got baptized in the Holy Spirit, I started seeing differently.  I decided that God had a purpose for my life, a destiny.  Somehow, I got the message that God has a role (really a bunch of roles) for me to play in my life.  In fact each of us is given a number of readymade roles to play when we’re born.  Like the role of a son or a daughter, the role of brother or sister.  Then pretty soon you get the role of student, then later employee, then girlfriend or boyfriend, then husband or wife, then father or mother, then maybe employer, or doctor or lawyer, or teacher, or preacher, or seeker or finder.  What fulfills your destiny, and God’s purpose, is for you to be the very best you can at whatever role God has given you for that time.  And what’s really neat is that this will make you happy.  Seems to me that chasing a goal is not very fulfilling, but being best in your role is very fulfilling, and with your role you fit into God’s plan perfectly.  Just remember when you can’t figure out what you’re doing here, or where you’re going, or why; focus on being that person, that character, the very best you possibly can.  You’ll be surprised how happy it will make you.

“The thing that separates the exceptional people in the world, the 2-3%, and the rest of the folks, is that the 2-3% have realized that God has a grand design for their lives.  (Here again, a lot of people call it a lifetime goal, which is OK with me.)  Many people spend all their time just living from day to day, so they never have time to fulfill that grand design.  Eating and sleeping, working and raising kids may be enough for most folks, but it’s not enough for me.  I may never amount to a hill of beans, but it won’t be because I didn’t try.  Oh, and by the way, I still think that grand design is about the role you play in your life with other people; not so much about making a million dollars, or being the President, or climbing the highest mountain, or building the biggest building, even though those are perfectly OK things to aspire to.  (Heck, if you don’t aspire to something, you’ll never amount to anything.)

“But in the end, the best way to help other people is to get in tune with God’s purpose for our lives, and focus our attention on fulfilling His grand design for us. In the meantime we will still have time to eat and sleep and play and have fun and raise kids, just like everybody else. And we may do something truly memorable.”

TAKE CARE OF ‘EM.022716

         Homeless man holding sign   “We take in strays, orphans and widderwimen.”  (see James 1:27)

            Y’all all remember Lois.  She was the old lady that used to babysit for us when Lindsey was a little baby.  She was pretty crazy, and she had a drinkin’ problem off and on during her life.  She had some pretty hard times, what with her husband dying when he was a young man, and them having a boy with Downs Syndrome. She had to raise that boy by herself.  He lived to be about 20 years old. But oh what a caring heart that lady had.  She was like a member of our family.  She went camping with us in Big Bend; and she took y’all fishing at her lake house.  She took us out there to feed the chickens and have puppies in her living room floor.  She needed us and we needed her, and God saw to it that we all got what we needed, which was mostly somebody to love us, and hug us, and answer the phone when the call came in the middle of the night.  I was glad to know her.

And there was this guy named Dave Twoomey.  I’m not sure how it happened (somehow  thru the church I think) but we ended up with his wife and two little girls living in the basement apartment while he was sitting in jail for kiting checks.  Somehow or other he finally got out after about a month and they all left; but in the meantime we fed ‘em and talked to them about Jesus; and got ‘em clothes and stuff.  I don’t think we changed their lives or anything, but something was going on.  And at the time God had blessed us with extra stuff and money; so it didn’t hurt us one bit.  We even gave him a Bible, but I think he left it there when he left.

When I first got baptized in the Spirit, I was working for Paul Campbell remodeling apartments.  He had this cabinetmaker named Jim Haynes who was a recovering alcoholic who hadn’t quite made it to recovery.  One time he didn’t show up for work for 3-4 days and Paul got me to go with him to Jim’s apartment to see about him.  He was so drunk he couldn’t even get his clothes on, so we helped him.  Continue reading

KARMA. 102216

mountain path uphill to the sky at sunsetI thought Karma was like Gal. 6:7-8, “Reap what you sow.”  But the Hindu man on the plane explained Karma to the preacher.  He said, “Karma means that you get exactly what you deserve, based on what you did in your life.”  The preacher answered, “I don’t get what I deserve, because Jesus died for me on the cross and His blood redeemed me from all that I have done.” So there really is “No condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, to those who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1.  We don’t have to pay for all the bad things we’ve done! We are free!!!  We’ve been delivered from sin and death.  (and from the “wheel of existence”, as the Hindus might say.)  
‘Course I guess you might say that Karma (as the Hindus perceive it) applies to your ‘natural’ life, in the sense that there are consequences for our actions.  We end up being responsible for the things we do, whether we like it or not.
But in the spiritual realm, Jesus has provided us a way to be delivered from the sin that so easily attacks us.  If we trust Him, Jesus will (and DOES) deliver us from sin and death.
Just between me and you, I think God lets that deliverance seep over into our (us believers) ‘natural’ lives as well.  “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

PRAYING FOR TOMMY.123115

Older man expressing pain or depression, verticalJames 5:14-15: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

I knew Tommy since I was a little kid.  We went to the same church together.  His daddy and my uncle were both deacons there.  He was five years older than me, so we weren’t close, but I knew that he was a ‘famous’ football player.  He played quarterback for our high school, and a time or two they went to the State Championship.  Later, my cousin Danny, Tommy and I sorta ‘grew up together’ in the oil business for the last 30 years or so.  We’ve had lots of ups and downs.  Tommy and his high school sweetheart Tanya were married for maybe 30 years and then got a divorce.  They had two kids.  Tommy had spells of drinking and running with some pretty fast folks.

But we were friends to the end.  Early last year he started having headaches and was diagnosed with a tumor in his sinuses which turned out to be inoperable.  It pressed on his optic nerve and he became blind.  He took a lot of treatments, and while they may have helped some, he wasn’t getting any better.  I went to visit him in November, the week before Thanksgiving.  We’re both old, but he didn’t look good.  His one eye was swollen shut and the other was staring.  He was sitting in a chair with a blanket over his lap.  We talked a some about old times, football and the weather.

I’d brought along my friend Loyde, and when we got ready to go, I said, “Tommy, before we go, we’d like to pray for you.”  He said he needed all the help he could get. So we knelt beside his chair, put our hands on him and prayed.  I prayed for him to be healed.  I prayed that the God Who raises people from the dead would raise Tommy up too.  Tommy prayed that God would give him courage.  At the end Loyde quoted James 5:14-15 and said, “We’re elders and we’d like to anoint you with oil and pray so that you too can be healed like this verse says.”  Tommy said, ‘Yes.’

About two weeks later Tommy died.  I don’t know why God didn’t heal him and raise Him up like new, as if from the dead.  I guess some might say that what we did was dumb, knowing that Tommy was terminal; but I’m sure that we did what God wanted us to do; and I’m just as sure that God’s will was done by us all trusting God to take care of Tommy.

 

YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND.100115

Handsome man playing guitar. Close-up of young man playing acoustic guitar while sitting in front of the window

Been stressed lately.  My main source of income dried up.  Had way too much to do and not enough time to do it all.  Not getting enough rest.  Not enough exercise. Heck, I don’t even have time to talk to my one kid still at home.  He’s too busy too.  Long days and short nights.  Need a little relief.  What can I do?

Well, I can think a little about God.  Max (Lucado) says, “When you’re down, think of all God has done.”  Oswald (Chambers) says, “We think everything should be turned into useful teaching.  In fact, it is to be turned into something better: character.” Charles (Stanley) says, “When you need help, thank God for all He’s done.”  Alistair (Begg) says, “All God has done for us should be saved and remembered, to bring honor and glory to Him.” Wow!

And I can pray and tell God I love Him.  I really do thank Him for things He’s done for me, both long ago and in the last few days.  I’m thinking about how I could use a little relief; a little peace and quiet; a little rest.  Continue reading

WHAT IF GOD IS LOOKING AT YOUR HEART? 081015

Trust in the Lord With All Thine Heart road sign1 Samuel 16:7(b) “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” NIV.

What does this mean, “The LORD looks at the heart”?  Sounds like it means that the important things in life are going on inside us rather than on the outside.  It’s similar to 2 Corinthians 4:18, where it says, “So we don’t pay attention to the things that are seen, but those that are unseen.  Because the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  The things that are going on in our hearts are the God things; the spiritual things.  They are the things that really matter, because they are going to be around FOREVER.

Have you noticed that even on a natural level, the “things of the heart” are much more important to all of us than the material, worldly, earthly possessions.  The things that are important are those that touch our hearts.

So in this story, God sends Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be king.   Continue reading