Tag Archives: grace

LETTER TO PRISON.112416

paper plane gets stuck in barbed wireVince,

I’m really glad that you’re enjoying the Kairos small groups.  I’m just certain that small groups are the key to maintaining your relationships with God and with others.  You can be a Christian with just you and your Bible and prayer with God; but you can GROW as a Christian, and move from being a spectator to being a participant (even a leader) in the process of making disciples, if you’re involved in regular meetings with other brothers where you talk about what God is doing in your lives.  Praise God for what He is doing in your life.  I’m always astounded when I think that God has picked us out, before the foundation of the earth, to BE HIS.  Whoa!

I hope you get to work as a servant on Kairos #5.  I will be there, and maybe we could spend a little time visiting together.  At the very least, you can come to the closing.  I’m looking forward to seeing you.  You’re right; being a servant on a weekend is almost better than being on a weekend the first time, because you know more and you get to see more and understand more.

When you talk about your daughters, not being hungry or homeless, it makes me think about my kids; they’re not perfect, but they’re not on hard drugs, they’re gainfully employed; they’re in their 40’s and not still living at home.  (And a couple of them are serious trusters in Jesus.) What more could I ask?

So here’s the main reason I’m writing you back so soon.  I want to answer the question of “Why bad things happen to good people (particularly to little kids and/or innocent people).  What is the point?  Why does God do this? Or maybe better “Why does God let things like this happen.” Especially to people who don’t deserve it.

I don’t know.  I’m not in charge.  In the Book of Job, God says to Job, near the end of the book, “Who are you to question Me?  Where were you when I created all this?”  In Romans 5:3-5, it says, “3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” NLT Continue reading

Talking about Talking: 030116

Happy portrait of grandparents and granddaughter“A man’s words are a mirror to his soul.” Unknown. 

“It is not what goes into a person’s mouth that defiles them.  .  . but what comes out of their mouth that defiles them.” Jesus of Nazareth, Matt 15:10; (paraphrase)

[From a letter to my kids, 1995]

“I just don’t know what to do with people that won’t talk. It’s hard for me to deal with them. People that talk a lot, which includes most everybody in my family, are easy to read. They tell you a lot about themselves.  If they’re not talking, they must be sick, or mad at somebody. 

“There is nothing more fun and pleasurable than spending an afternoon or evening solving the world’s problems with somebody who enjoys talking and listening. It helps your mental, emotional health. When necessary, it’s a legitimate and inexpensive alternative to a psychiatrist or psychologist.  Personally, I enjoy a ‘highball of an evening’, with my talking companions, but the highball is not required.  Tea, cokes, or red Koolaid will substitute nicely.

“In Ireland of old, next to the kings, the persons held in highest esteem were the bards, who were the government supported combination priests, historians, and storytellers. Some say that the oldest uninterrupted literary tradition in Europe was the orally maintained and transmitted stories of the Celtic Bards. Those folks raised talking to the level of an art, a science, almost a religion. That’s where we came from, a long and uninterrupted line of talkers. Talking is in our blood, so in choosing what you want to do in your life, find something that involves talking. You’ll enjoy it, you’ll be good at it, because you’ve got it in you.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but talkers get extra attention, and they often end up being leaders, because they don’t mind telling people what they think.  It is a big responsibility, so don’t take it lightly. You have a lot of influence just because you talk, as long as you know what you’re talking about, and you have love in your heart. Always remember to use your influence for good. Really, that just sorta happens, because that love in your heart comes out.

“Talking is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s good cheap entertainment. You can do it anytime, any place. You can even talk to yourself.” 

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

RESISTING TEMPTATION.011816  

 

ANXIETY CLOUD.121415

 

In this election year it’s hard to resist the temptation to dive into political commentary, particularly about who would make the best president; and what the candidates think about issues that I think are important.  I’m with Mary Harwell Salyer: “How far above politics You are, O Lord – high above the low-slung mud and lack of love shown for others, including…”  Can’t resist saying what a Godly courageous man Dr. King was; and I love his quotations floating around the ‘Net.  And while I don’t know who the best man is for the job, I also loved Dr. Carson’s comment at some speech last night, about the Powerball: “I already won the lottery. I was born in America & know the Lord”.

I also can’t help saying how much I love what Lysa TerKeurst said on Twitter early this morning, “We can’t possibly remain in Jesus and rant about others at the same time. Dear friends… Remember today to love even when we disagree;” and “Jesus made it clear. His command wasn’t to bash other people when we don’t agree. [He said] ‘This is my command: love each other,’ John 15:17.”

My real conclusion about commentary is this:  We, as Christians, have a much more important task and higher calling than to consume ourselves with the ‘cares of this world’ and the ‘deceitfulness of riches’. We actually have the Answer, our Lord Jesus; and while many among us would disagree, for all kinds of reasons, WE JUST MUST keep sharing Jesus, and His love and His grace and His mercy and His eternal salvation, because we are HIS representatives here on this earth, and WE JUST MUST keep on telling the world that there really is VICTORY IN JESUS and not get distracted by all the alternative stuff. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.Religious Words on Grunge Background

SMALL GROUPS FOR JESUS 3.111115

drinks, communication, friendship and people concept - happy young women with cups sitting at table and talking in mall or cafeThis is my last post about “small groups for Jesus”, at least for the time being.  I just have a few more comments to make.

1] In my opinion, small groups are like family; they’re not about enforcing rules, and everybody being disciplined; they’re about letting God’s love flow through you into other people.  You may not believe this, but I’m convinced that almost every single person is acutely aware of their short-comings, and what they really need, on a regular basis, is encouragement and moral support.  (I find a lot of support for this attitude throughout the Bible; call it grace and mercy)  Small groups are, and should be, about sharing and expressing the fruits of the Spirit; and while self-control is one of the fruits and is therefore important to God and should be important to us; it is the very last thing on the list.  Wonder why that is?  (I don’t even know if there IS a hierarchy of the fruits, but I hear a lot more about love in the Bible than I do about self-control.)

2] One of the central, indispensible ingredients of a small group is trust.  Continue reading

SPEAKING SPANISH IS AN ACT OF LOVE.110815

smiley fashion designer holding tailors scissors and looking at cameraSo I went to the fabric store with my wife yesterday.  I’m telling you, my wife knows more about fabric and fabric stores than most of the people who work there.  She is buds with almost all the little ladies that work in the fabric stores in our area; on a first-name basis, if you know what I mean.  My job was to hold her place in line at the cutting table while she picked out the material and the pattern she needed.  So mostly I just get to watch and listen; maybe put in a little side-bar or two.

There were two ladies working the cutting tables, measuring and cutting the material.  At my table was a grandmother and her late teen granddaughter buying bright picture-pattern fleece material.  The cutting lady was showing them how to do some complicated sewing maneuver.  I said, “This is a great store.  You can buy material and get free sewing lessons.”  We all laughed.  The grandma said, “We need all the help we can get.”

At the other table was a family of Hispanic ladies, an ‘older’ lady (not as old as me, but older than the others), two younger ladies and two or three children.  Continue reading

REAL FAITH.060515

In Mark 7:26-30: it says,  “The woman was a Greek, [a non-Jew from Phoenicia in Syria] and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” Christ preaching on shores of Lake Galilee. Stained glass. And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”  Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”  And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.”

So Jesus says, “It’s just not right to take the blessings that belong to the Jews and indiscriminately throw them to the outsiders.”  And the woman, being a non-Jew, is referred to as a dog, to her face.  It’s almost as if Jesus is trying to rile her; to see if she’s serious about getting the blessing she seeks.  She must be serious; ‘cause she completely ignores the personal attack and says, in effect, “I don’t care what you say about me; I just want you to help my daughter.”  (She knows that her pride and her ego don’t matter, when her daughter’s life is at stake.)

To me that’s the message of this story: When we have enough faith in Jesus, we too will let nothing (even our selfish pride) stand in the way of our trusting Him.  When we do that, He will help us; and He will get a kick out of our faith and our spunk, just as He did with this woman.

THE GOD PRINCIPLE.060415

Boy celebrating mother's day. little child lad giving flowers yellow tulips to his mom mother studio shot on blue

In Psalm 18:25-27, David says, “With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; with a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; with the pure You will show Yourself pure; and with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.  For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks.”  In Matthew 5:3-12, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed (happy) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the meek (the humble) for they shall inherit the earth.” Continue reading

THE UNDERLYING TRUTH.053115

change your life phrase handwritten on school blackboard

My friend Red Smith, serving a 25 year sentence, sent me a letter one day, and it began with this line, “I thank God every day that he delivered me from myself.”  That’s all I remember, but it’s enough. That leads me down several paths, but the one for today is what is really going on in God’s plan to deliver us from ourselves and all the other evil that is lurking out there.

The truth is this: that God sent his Son to save us: and the way He chose to save us is by changing us from the inside out.  He saves by delivering us from the evil that is in our heart.  The war between the flesh and the Spirit, between Satan and God, between God’s will and my will, is one that is going on in my heart.  When God sends His Spirit to move in our lives, He doesn’t change our circumstances to affect our world, He changes our hearts so we see things differently.  When we are changed inside, that changes what happens to us on the outside.  Oh, God uses all kinds of things in the world to get my our attention, but his main purpose is to have us surrender our hearts to Him so that we can begin to see His eternal design for our lives.  A good example is the Prodigal Son, it says, “When he came to himself, he said, ‘I will return to my father.’ ”  It was because his heart was changed.change the world phrase handwritten on blackboard with heart symbol instead of O