Crabby Appleton and the Two Bears

9349466114_aee0183291_mThere’s a fable about an old couple that were known to have been constantly quarreling for many years.  All at once the strife ceased.  The village gossip called to inquire what had produced the change.  She was told they kept two bears in the house and the peace was due to them.  The couple were no longer “crabby Pattys” and they gave all the credit to the bears.

In the early years of Captain Kangaroo, the cartoon character, Tom Terrific was introduced. He lived in a tree house and could transform himself into anything he wanted, thanks to his magic thinking cap.  Every week he would come against his arch foe Crabby Appleton (the first Crabby Patty), whose motto was, “I’m rotten to the core!”  And, no matter how bad he was,   Tom would miraculously become whatever was needed to overcome Crabby’s rottenness.

That old couple told the town gossip that their reconciliation and renewed love was due to the scripture bears now living in the house.  The one was, “Bear ye one another’s burdens;” and the other, “Forbearing one another in Love.”  Their names were Bear and Forbear.  The explanation of it all was, the old couple had become transformed by the bears and had overcome their antagonism towards each other.

The name Bear means:  to endure with strength and hope;  to sustain and maintain Love;  to carry the burden of 6971988986_4c5e2bb92e_mthe moment as if it is a gift to strengthen your character;  to continue and gain something necessary for your own well-being; to know that this difficult moment comes from the Hand of God.

The name Forbear means:  to hold oneself up against the other with a humble and sympathetic spirit;  to understand the destructive nature of the moment and seek a resolution with kindness and mercy;  to be gentle and kind in response;  to have the nature of a lamb;  to be enabled in the moment to restrain oneself and refrain from responding with anger and resentment.

2440990274_af40be1e30_m“There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God.  God is in the midst of her.  She shall not be moved.  God shall help her and that right early. Then He showed me a river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and the Lamb.  On either side was the Tree of Life which bare twelve manner of fruits and yielded His fruit every month and the leaves of the Tree were for healing of the people.

Those who drink from the River of Life are empowered to Bear the other’s burdens and those who eat from the Tree of Life Forbear one another with the Fruit of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faith, Self-control, Humility, Forgiveness, Power and a Sound Mind.

“Love, Sweet Love. . .It’s the Only Thing That There’s Just Too Little Of”

sweet sheepMy granddaughter Shelby and I were sitting outside on the front steps of her house a couple of days ago.  She was squished up against me as tight as she could and she looked at me and said, “Grampa, I love you.  Thanks for coming to my house,”  and she gave me a little peck on my arm.  “You’re welcome.  I love you too Shelby”.  My face (and my heart) are smiling right now.  She’s only two and a half, yet there is already a depth to her that serves her character well.  The most remarkable evidence of that depth is her whole-hearted willingness to bestow her little sweet love on those around her.  She is the fruit of her Mom and Dad, Rachel and Mark.  .  .and a reflection of the family and friends who continually give her the freedom to be herself.  Her middle name should be Love.  Just what the world needs now.

I was driving into the office this morning and a car started tail-gating me, even though I was already ten over the limit.  I was watching her in my mirror and she started vigorously waving her hands,  motioning me over to the right lane so she could pass me. Even though I’ve been at both ends of the tail-gating experience, I’ve never had one motioning me over before.  I had a few choice words for her that popped up in my thoughts.  .  .and I moved over.  A half mile later, the two of us were side by side at a red light.  I looked over at her, ready to give her a sheepish smile and say, “I am the tortoise” but she wasn’t having any of it.  There is a hate and anger in me that  always has a potential to erupt in any situation when I feel victimized.   But the world has too much of that, and you know what the world needs now.  And no, not just for some, but for everyone.

   “A new commandment I give you. Love one another.  As I have Loved you, so must you Love one another. All men will know if you are my child, if you Love one another.  .   .God is Love and all who live in Love, live in God and God lives in them.”  John 13:34-35;  1John 4:16

Lord, we don’t need another mountain, there are mountains and hillsides enough to climb; there are oceans and rivers;       5361198456_f8cbea6d5c_menough to cross, enough to last until the end of time. And Lord, we don’t need another meadow and there are corn fields and wheat fields enough to grow.  There are sunbeams and moonbeams enough to shine, O please listen Lord, if you really want to know, what the world needs now.  It’s Love, sweet Love. No not just for some, but for everyone.

Love:  the attraction, desire or affection felt for a person who arouses delight or admiration or elicits tenderness, sympathetic interest and benevolence;  devoted affection like a mother’s or father’s love;  a warm affection with enthusiasm;  hold dear;  attraction based on sexual desire with the affection and tenderness felt by lovers;  to cherish and foster with Divine Love and mercy.”  Webster

Love:  “Love is an incredibly powerful word.  When you’re in love, you always want to be together and when you’re not, you’re thinking about being together because you need that person and without them your life is incomplete.  This love is unconditional affection with no limits or conditions:  completely loving someone.”  Urban Dictionary

Love: “If I understand all the secret truths and mysteries of life and possess all knowledge, if I have not Love (God’s Love in me), I am nothing – a useless nobody.  If I dole out all that I have to the poor in providing food and money, if I go to extremes in sacrificing for others, but have not Love (God’s Love in me), I gain nothing.

Love endures long and is patient and kind.  Love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy.  It is not boastful or conceited nor is it arrogant and inflated with pride.  It is not rude and unmannerly.  Love (God’s Love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking.  It is not fretful or touchy or resentful;  it takes no account of the evil done to it.  It pays no attention to a suffered wrong.

It does not rejoice at injustice and wrong-doing and law-breaking, but Love rejoices when right and truth prevail.  Love bears up under anything and everything that comes.  It is ever ready to believe the best of every person.  It’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and endures everything without weakening.  LOVE NEVER FAILS.  IT NEVER FADES OUT OR COMES TO AN END.”  1Corinthians 13:1-8

photo(16)This is the measuring stick for Love.  This alone is Love.  Only this Love can transform the world.   But it is a Love that is impossible for man.  Who can fulfill these requirements?  It is possible with God.  Only He possesses Love that there’s just too little of.  It is a warm and devoted Love, an unconditional Love that delights in His children.  A Love full of mercy and forgiveness, with no limits or conditions.   A Love that creates a union with the Son of God, who becomes the very Life of each of His children and through them spreads His Love, Sweet Love.   .   . and it is what the world needs now.

“A Father’s Day Faith”

5015629845_ba74f39bce_mI just got home from a shopping trip to Walmart to pick up a few things for a barbecue today.  My daughters Rachel and Jessie, my son Ben, my son-in-law Mark, and my granddaughter Shelby are coming by today to celebrate Father’s Day.  On my way to the store, I passed by a small church with a sign that said, “Faith is not believing what God, the Father can do;  it’s believing what He will do.”  I would add to that, “It’s Believing what He has already Done.”

“Faith is the Substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  .  .for we walk by Faith, not by sight.  .  .for we are saved by Hope, but hope that is seen is not Hope, for what a man sees, why would he hope for it?”

       “What the eye is to the body, that is Faith to the soul:  the eye by virtue of its seeing ability, beholds sensible objects but does not produce them.  They exist before they are seen.  If they did not previously exist, the eye could not see them.  The sun exists before it is seen as thousands of other examples hold true.  Faith is to the soul as the hand is to the body.  It receives things for its use; but these things must exist before they are received.  Faith receives all the Blessings that the Father has prepared for His children, which already exist in His Eternal Will, known by Him before time and arrive in time, exactly as He has Authored them.” 

“You are risen with Him through the Faith that is the Operation of God.  .  .the Work of God is this, to have Faith 2885684265_ed4356e502_min the One He has sent.  .  .what is the greatness of His Power to us who are Enabled to Believe.  .  .who are Given the Faith to Believe according to the Working of His Mighty Power in us.  .  .for to you it is Given through your Eternal Union with Jesus, to have Faith in Him.”

Faith is a Supernatural Act.  The Faith that sees and touches, that holds tightly to the promises of God is a Spiritual work.  The faith that man possesses from birth is a natural act and bears the fruit from a cursed, earthly tree.  The Faith that takes possession of the Gifts that God has Provided for His children, must come and will come from a second birth.  .   .from a union to the Tree of Life that bears the Fruit of the Spirit.

2656509428_c8cbb51b8a_m     “The fruit that comes from the earthly tree, what human nature does, is quite plain.  It shows itself in immoral, filthy and indecent actions.  People become enemies and they hate, and they fight, and they kill each other.  They become jealous, angry, hateful and totally self-centered.  They segregate themselves from others.  They are full of envy.  They are arrogant and judgmental.  They excuse their own behaviors, while they accuse and judge others of their sins.   But the Fruit that comes from the Tree of Life (from Jesus).   .   .the thoughts and actions that the Spirit produces within the children and becomes their behaviors, is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, FAITH, Humility, Self-control.”  Galatians 5:19-23   Good News Bible

I am always aware of the challenge for someone who reads a story filled with “religious sounding” words and ideas.  My Prayer for you today, right at this Good Moment.   .   .is that the Father of Faith, the Source of Love and the Spring of all Hope would Bless you today.  Would Bless you with His Son. Would Bless you with His Spirit. Would Bless you with Himself. Would bless you with a Father’s Day Faith.  A Faith that enables you to move mountains, to quiet a stormy sea, to bring Life and Light into your soul.  A Faith that says, “If God is for me, then nothing is really against me.”

“Extra-Terrestrials”

8920286788_1607751151_mIt was a Saturday in the summer of 1956.  I was ten years old.  A bunch of us had taken the bus to 79th and Halsted on the south side of Chicago.  We went to see a movie at the Capital theater.  The place was filled with kids, anxious to see one of the coolest science fiction movies ever made in an era where life was much simpler.  Forbidden Planet. It was amazing!  One of the first movies about extra-terrestrials.  I just saw it again a couple of weeks ago on cable.  I am smiling right now thinking about it.  In comparison to modern science fiction movies, it seems kind of hokey.  I remember sitting in the theater, captivated by the thought of another Life form existing somewhere in the Universe.

Webster defines extra-terrestrial as, “originating, occurring or existing outside the earth;  the possibility of life;  a being beyond the earth’s atmosphere;  extra (outside, outwards), terrestris (earthy, relating to the earth).  There even appears to be a reference to other life forms in the Bible.

  “There are also celestial (above the sky) bodies and bodies terrestrial (worldly, earthy, on the earth):  but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.  They are very different from one another.”  ICorinthians 15:20

For a long time I have kept a secret about my own close encounter with an Extra-terrestrial.  I know there will be skeptics, but no one more skeptical than I was, until I saw one with my own eyes.  It was on a day in 5132720393_f70474749c_m November.  The year was 1980.  It was the end of Fall, when all the evidences of life were gone from the earth.  My eyes were closed to the beauty that brings hope to the heart, and my ears could no longer hear the music that can comfort an aching soul.  Though I was blind and deaf,  I could still see the end and I could still hear the grave calling out to me.  It was in that very place, in the darkness and silence.  .  .that I saw One and I heard Him.

      “And He said to them (and to me.  .  .and to you);  You are from below;  I am from Above.  You are of this world (of this earthly order).  I am not of this world.  I came not to judge the world, but to save you from it.”

2615765065_34e4a6798f_mYou can’t help but notice the news articles and TV programs about the probabilities of some alien life forms existing somewhere in the Universe, or according to some, having actually visited us in the past.  It can get you thinking seriously that there could be other life forms beyond the earth, more advanced.  .  .more evolved and superior to man.

In the early days of my experience with the Bible, I remember reading about the very first “visitors” to our planet. I wanted to tell somebody about what I read, but my bible reading wasn’t a regular topic for discussion with others, particularly not with the customers who frequented my bar.  I avoided it because of the impression it would have given them that I must have flipped out.  Anyway.  .  . I discovered that Adam and Eve were the first extra-terrestrials on the planet; but they lost the “extra” after their fall and all of mankind became terrestrial and continue in that state.  .  .until the Celestial, Heaven-sent Man arrives, so to speak.

Over the last thirty-five years, other ET’s have made contact with me.  Dumbo sheep, glow-worms, lilies, roses, firemen, sailors, eagles, jackasses, black sheep, baby ewes and others.  .  .all having the same pedigree and background.

       “For simply consider your own call when He, the One, made contact with you. Not many of you were 9695833890_b5770bf391_mconsidered to be wise according to the current standards (what is in vogue)  of the terrestrials;  not many of you were influential and powerful;  not many of you had a high and noble birth. For He, the One selected and chose the foolish to put the wise to shame and He, the One chose the weak to put the strong to shame.  The Celestial Man deliberately chose what the terrestrials see as lowborn and insignificant, even branded and treated with contempt, so that He, the One would dethrone and overthrow the pride and arrogance that sits on the throne of their heart.”  1Corinthians I:26-28

When the One reveals Himself to the broken ones, to the lonely ones, to the sad and depressed ones, to the ones who feel like failures, to the ones who live with guilt and shame, who feel like they are beyond redemption, the ones without hope.  .  . He whispers His name to them and “Extra” enters their soul.  I am teary eyed as I write this. I remember that moment, my first Good Moment when He whispered to me.  .  .”Jesus”.  .  .and the Love and the Life of THE Extra-terrestrial entered my heart.

One of the ewes of His flock who is nicknamed “a flaming torch” that brings warmth and light to the hearts of others, recently spoke at one of our meetings.  Her words express the truth that lies in the heart of all of the Heaven-Born terrestrials.

7489341884_637018979e_m       “We are who we are by the Grace of God.  He is the First and Last in everything.  I, being a dead believer but in reality have a Living God within me.  As time has gone by in my life, the hatred of the outside world has become more relevant as though you’re being squeezed, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood.”  Yet there we are, standing with Him.  Sadness does surround me but the reality becomes more relevant and real, that I am one of His.  He brings us in a way that seems foreign, but it always ends in blessing.  He’s got us covered.  What a precious privilege.”

The Celestial One, The Extra-terrestrial One, The Sent From Heaven One makes contact at just the right Moment, at the time predestined by His Father.  .  .and His Spirit brings the very Presence of Jesus into the soul and the terrestrial becomes a being from beyond the earth, from beyond the stars, from a Place where God dwells.

     

“Easter. . . and the River of Life.”

5732673907_e7ef160ce7_mLast Thursday afternoon I witnessed something remarkable in the office.  I saw a woman rise from the grave.  She sat on the couch for almost forty minutes with no visible signs of life. She was speaking, but the words came from a place deeper than six feet under where there is no light.  Only darkness. Where there is no true self-awareness.  Only Denial.  Where wisdom and common sense have disappeared and have been replaced by an ignorance that is almost mystical and keeps a person “in the dark” so to speak, regarding the personal issues that are killing them and destroying others.  It is a slow death.  It is a disease that consumes the soul.  It is a sickness that comes from the secrets we keep.  .  .from ourselves.   I will call the woman, Magdalene.

I have known her and her husband for a few years.  They have a teenage daughter and a young son.   They initially came to see me because of serious issues that had developed in their marriage.  Their friends, their family.  .  .even their own kids have been strongly promoting that they get a divorce and move on.  They have tenaciously held on and have done their utmost to make things better.  It seems to work for awhile until one of them is unkind or uncaring in their words or actions, and it gets worse than before.  There is a major contributing factor that handcuffs their sensibilities and makes them emotionally handicapped. They both have serious issues with alcohol.  I have heard them readily admit to the “problem” but because they are still functioning at an acceptable level professionally, they have minimized the affect that drinking has on their lives.  I TOTALLY understand because I have been there myself.

She started out the session with, “You won’t believe what I went through last weekend.”  Her husband, who has given up   16316685052_e6c7a31581_mdrinking during Lent, was confrontational with her about her problem.  Her daughter had a lengthy text conversation with her about the way she is affected by her Mom’s drinking.  Her son has become distant with her over the last few months and she was blaming it on the influencing her husband was having on the son.  .  .turning him against her.

She was committed to attend a friend’s baby shower on Sunday, but decided it was in her own best interest to attend the St. Patrick’s day parade instead.  When she called her friend to inform her of the change in plans, the friend “read her the riot act” (as she put it) about her self-centeredness and said she couldn’t forgive her.  Magdalene was also furious over her families reactions to her behaviors and was convinced that she did not have a drinking problem.  She went on to tell me about the particulars of her weekend which included an evening out with her girlfriends.  “I only had six or seven beers and a couple of shots.  I was totally in control.”  She went on to say that the only problem that night was that she lost her car keys and asked one of her girlfriends to call her husband to come up to the bar to get her.  And when he refused to come, she was very angry and said to me, “Do you believe that?”   There was silence for a moment and then she looked directly at me and asked, “Do you think I have a drinking problem?”  I sat there for a moment teary eyed and then said, “Magdalene, you have a serious drinking problem.”   She was shocked when she heard the words.   .   .and I watched her face, mirror what was churning in her heart.  .  .what was set on fire by my words and a few moments later, exploded out of her soul like the bursting of a dam.

 8521048694_26038732e5_m      “On each bank of the River all kinds of trees and Lilies will grow to provide Food.  The leaves will never whither and they will never stop bearing fruit.  They will have Fresh Fruit every day because they are Watered by the River that flows from the Temple of God in Heaven. The trees will provide food and the leaves will be used for Healing people.  This Water flows through the land to the east and down into the Jordan Valley and to the Dead Sea. When it Flows into the Dead Sea, it replaces the salt water of that sea with Fresh Water.  Where the River Flows, everything shall Live.”  Ezekiel 47

The human soul.  The Dead Sea.  A stagnant pond with an inlet but no outlet.  Repressed feelings, suppressed thoughts, hardened hearts.  No flowing.  .  .only some movement when the winds blow and momentarily brings a false sense of life into the soul.  But on this day, the Day of God’s Power,  Magdalene began to flow.

She cried and she cried.  Then she confessed and revealed to herself and to me, what her secrets were.  .  .a litany of truth about her offenses and the affect that it has had on the people she cares about.  Dozens of stories about her drinking, her blackouts, her humiliations and embarrassments, her self-condemnation and regrets.  It was remarkable.  Through it all she continued to sob and every secret that was making her sick was now flowing out of her.  .  .a purging of the polluted water in her soul.  A dying to the influence of what has kept her imprisoned and has held her captive.

The following Monday morning I sent her a text asking her how the weekend went.  She replied, “No booze, had family time   13945879931_5417728c44_mand it was perfect. There is hope yet for all of us.”  I saw her again yesterday, Saturday.  The day after Good Friday and the day before Easter Sunday.  The day after Christ’s death and the blood that He shed for the sins and offenses of his sheep, that Flows over their soul like a River and cleanses them from all guilt and fear of punishment.  And then Easter Sunday.  .  .the Day that His own Life Flows through their soul to Enable them to Live victoriously, without a spirit of fear but with a Spirit of Power and Love and a Sound Mind.  Magdalene heard these Truths on Saturday and like the Magdalene in the courtyard who was brought by religious hypocrites to Jesus to have her stoned to death for her sins, she noticed that all of them had dropped their stones and left.  “Who is here to condemn you” Jesus said.  “No one, Lord” was Magdalene’s response. Jesus answered, “Neither do I.  Go in Peace”,  And Magdalene Loved Him, her River of Life.  Flowing on Good Friday with Forgiveness and Flowing today on Easter Sunday with Resurrection Life, Given to His children as Free Gifts of His Love to Hope in the improbable and Do the impossible.

Where the River Flows, Everything Shall Live.

Shades of Gray. . .Mixing White with Death

4736360439_68e05a4f35_mWhen my own dark gray, near-death experience passed in 1981, my near-Life experience began.  .  .and what arrived from the authoring hand of God,  was a series of unexpected events that have contributed to the Life in me that has made me a prisoner of Love.

I found myself going back to school to be a counselor.  It was the beginning of a Sensibility that directed my mind to believe that my failures in life suited me to help other “lost but found lambs”, groomed by their sins to be flying, soaring eagles.  But I also needed to find a job that would provide income to help support my family.  So.  .  . He made me a painter.

I worked as an apprentice over the next couple of years for two established painters who taught me the ropes.  They had some expertise with making colors from tints, which saved us time and money.  I never did get the knack of it except for creating a few basic colors.  The one color that was the easiest to make was gray.  You begin with white and you would slowly mix in a black tint until you arrived at the shade of gray you were looking for.  For some reason it reminds of the story of the frog and the kettle of water.

“They say if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger.  But if you put a frog in a kettle with water that is cool and pleasant and then gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late.  .  .the parable is often used to illustrate how humans have to be careful to watch slowly changing trends in their environment that can lead to death.” 

It is in the kettle of our lives that the fire created in our human nature, heats up our passions and desires, 12679269364_c60d0b8b81_mour ever-growing needs.  .  .or something new.  .  .or something more extreme.  Behaviors become boiled delicacies for others to consume as we become food for the appetite of others.  .  and we call it love and we believe it, or empowerment and we’re confidant of that.  .  . or some other word that provides the evidence of the total ignorance within all of us.   And with it all comes a “you deserve it” mentality that frees people up to become as dense and numb as the poor little frog.  The current “green light” of the world is to grant personal freedoms in the “gray areas of life”.  Freedom to choose your poison.  Freedom to choose your shade.  Freedom to chose the form of death that arrives as the grays turn darker and darker until life’s canvas is black.

I looked up the word gray on the internet and one of the first search items it came up with was the phrase, “gray matter.”  It is defined as “a major component of the central nervous system.  It is present in the brain, brain-stem, cerebellum and present through out the spinal cord.  It is made of unmyelinated neurons and other cells that influence regions of the brain involved in muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making and self control.  While 20% of all oxygen taken in by the body goes to the brain, 95% of that goes specifically into the gray matter.” I wonder what affect polluted air has on the gray matter and everything it influences?

“But of the tree of the knowledge of Good (what is White) and evil (what is black), thou shall not eat of it.  For if a day comes that you eat from it, you shall surely die.  .  .and the serpent said to the woman (Eve), if you eat from it, you shall not surely die.  .  .and the woman and the man (Adam) ate from the tree and death (Blackness) entered their souls.” Genesis

15516801625_10a0386b03_mEvery shade of gray is a lie.  Every moment of life in the gray areas is a moment in the kettle. Man is born wearing glasses that tints everything gray and as life continues he finds himself wearing darker shades in order to see less and less of what is white and pure, and Good for him.  Each moment begins in the cool, refreshing water with a reassuring, “all is well”, until your soul is cooked and the light grays have become medium grays.  .  .and the medium grays have become black.  .  .and the conscience becomes hardened and insensible.  .  .and death rules in the heart.

“The human heart and mind, which resides in the brain, is desperately wicked and mortally sick.  .  .and totally ignorant of its own ways.  .  .it is utterly self-deceived.” Jeremiah 17:9

I can only speak for myself.  All of this is my own personal experience.  3572867869_f2bbf90f76_mThe personal knowledge of this is a Gift from God.  .  .and freedom from all of this must be through His Gift.  .  .His Son, Jesus.  Full of Life and Light.  .  .and in Whom is no darkness at all.  Who freely forgives every shade of gray, from the lightest to the darkest.  Who rescues lost and helpless sheep from the boiling kettle and the inevitable death.  Whose Spirit Breathes pure Heavenly air into the heart and mind and soul.  Who covers His little flock with His own White Garment of Salvation.  And they all see perfectly through His own eyes.  .  .and what they all see is Infinite, Eternal and Merciful shades of Love.

“You Just Need a GOOD Pep Talk”

16316685052_e6c7a31581_mWednesday morning I sat in the office with a young woman whose heart was crushed and the vitality of life was no longer pumping through the veins and arteries of her soul.  She could only whimper and feel the tears run down her cheeks.  Her best girlfriend was with her and spoke for her.

Her husband had left the marriage six months ago.  He fell in love with another woman.  As she attempted to get back on her feet, she found herself on a dating sight and developed a relationship with what she believed to be, a great guy.  .  .and they had so much in common.  He made her feel special.  He made her feel beautiful.  He made her forget the sadness and pain.  .  .and her loneliness.  She trusted him.  She was falling in love.

They had been dating for a couple of months and just spent a romantic weekend together.  The following day he sent a text. “I’m sorry, it’s not about you.  My ex girlfriend called and I’m getting back with her.”  That was it.  That was all he said.  Of course she couldn’t wrap her head around his words, much less her heart, so she called him to talk; but he wouldn’t answer.  So, she blamed herself and was drowning again in despair and a self-contempt that was taking her life away.

     “He came to the house of the man whose                   daughter had died.   Her friends and family were deeply distressed.  .  . crying and wailing greatly.  And He said to them, ‘Why are you so full of anguish?  The girl is not dead, but she is sleeping’.  And they laughed at Him.  Then He went into the house with the girl’s parents and went in to where she was lying in her burial clothes.  He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha Cumi’ which interpreted means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise’ and straightway the girl arose and walked.” Mark 5:38-42

The woman’s best friend is a blessing.  She sat there and genuinely shared all of what is really true about her.  “You are a beautiful person inside and out.  You are a wonderful mom.  You are one of the most intelligent people I know.  You have such a great sense of humor.  You are kind and you are caring.  .  .and I am so honored to have you as my friend.  You have been there for me whenever I needed help.”  She shared much more.  I’m sure it was all true.  It was an objective perspective of what others see about her.  It was a pep talk.  .  .but it fell on deaf ears and I watched her gasp, like it was her last breath.

Pep: energize;  enthusiasm;  drive;  get up and go;  life;  animation;  vitality;  vivacity;  fire;  exuberance;  gusto; stimulate;  revitalize.  A good pep talk can do all of that.  Words intended to heal a crushed and broken heart.  Words that can inspire and give power.  Words filled with light to bring sight to the blind.  .  .to enable the deaf to hear.  .  .and to energize the lifeless.  Words to revitalize and stimulate and move a person from despair to hope.

“There was in the city of Joppa, a woman named Tabitha.  She was full of good works and kind deeds.  And it came to pass that she was sick and died.  Her family laid her in an upper chamber to prepare the body for burial.  Some men went to another bordering town to get Peter, hoping he could help.  He went with them to Joppa and arrived at the house and went up to the chamber where the young woman was.  Peter knelt down next to her and prayed.  He turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, arise’.  .  . and she heard him.  .  . and she opened her eyes.  When she saw Peter, she sat up and he gave her his hand and he lifted her up.  They walked out together, hand in hand and Peter presented her, alive.”  Acts 9:36-41

The name of the woman in my office Wednesday is not Tabitha.  .  .but she is a Tabitha.  The New Testament, Greek definition of her name is, “a young gazelle (as beautiful);  an army within her;  a woman of prominence;  full of splendor.”  That is who she is.  .  .and she does need to know that.  .  .and she does need the Faith to believe that.  .  .so, she does need a Pep Talk.

       “From that time, many of his disciples left Him.  3572867869_f2bbf90f76_mThen Jesus said to the twelve apostles, ‘Will you also leave Me?’  Then Peter answered Him. ‘Lord, to whom should we go?  To whom should we listen to?  Who speaks words like you, Lord?  Only You have the words that create miracles and brings Life and Light into the soul.”  John 6:67-68

It was God’s Pep Talk that created the earth and the entire universe from nothing.  He Spoke it into existence.  When you find yourself dressed in your grave clothes, like the woman in my office, you are like Tabitha.  .  .simply dead and nothing.  And then, He Speaks to you.  He creates a new being.  A beautiful gazelle, full of the Power of an army.  .  .filled with the Fruit of Heaven.  Loved by God.  Always words of Love.  Only words of Love.

 

 

“Lord, Help Me”

boy with sheepThe very first time that I genuinely Prayed the words “Help me,” I was thirty-two years old.  It was four o’clock in the morning and I couldn’t sleep.  I had just gotten home an hour earlier from the bar that I owned.  I had snorted three grams of cocaine during the evening and was still high from it.  I laid there in bed, pleading with God to make me sleepy and promised Him that this would be the last time that I would do any drugs. I can do it, Lord.  He must not have believed me.  Sleep did not come.  .  .and drug use did not go away.  I realized months later that He knew me better than I knew myself.  .  .and it wasn’t the Right time yet.

       “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted.  A time to kill and a time to heal;  a time to break down and a time to build up.  A time of Love and a time of Peace.  .  .God has determined the times, before time began, and prearranged all the circumstances.  .  .my times are in Your Hand. Ecclesiastes 3;  Acts 17:26;  Psalms 31:15

Sometimes when I have a client or a couple sitting in my office book of lifeand we are trying to find Hope in what is hope-less, looking for a Light and a Life at the end of the dark tunnel they are in,  I reach for my schedule book and open it up to a page.  “This is your life today, as it exists in every way, shape and form.  .  . and the next page is tomorrow.  Your intelligence, your reasoning,  your beliefs and the world’s philosophy will be challenged by this; but the fact of the matter is.  .  .this book that I’m holding is called the Lamb’s Book of Life and it contains God’s plan for you.  .  .from the moment you were born until the last breath that you take. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of time.” Acts 15:18

Over the last few months I have been blessed a couple days a week with the gift of baby sitting my grand-daughter, Shelby, the princess of my “grand” daughter Rachel and her husband Mark.  There are times in her life when she is the spitting image of what faith looks like.  There are moments when she opens her mouth and a prayer for help comes forth from her lips that moves me to rescue her.

imageShelby already has the “I can do it, let me do it, don’t do it for me” attitude.  She gets a little agitated with me when I see her struggling with a task and I jump in prematurely to help.  So I back off.  .  .and wait for the prayer.  At some point, after she’s tried and tried to do it and her frustration at her failure moves her to stop trying, she utters a single word that is making me teary-eyed right now.  “Grampa.”  This is her prayer.  A child-like prayer for help.  A dependence on another for what she cannot do herself.  A faith in a Love that has rescued her before and has proven to be faithful to her.  She has learned through her failures that what is impossible for her is child’s play for her Grampa.  .  .”what is impossible for man, is possible with God. (Luke 18:27)

       “I thank Thee O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because Thou has hidden these things from the wise and the prudent of the world and has revealed the secrets of Heaven to babes.” Matthew 11:25

     “Jesus called a little child to Him and set her on His lap.  And He said, ‘Truthfully I tell you, except you be converted and enlightened.  .  .and become as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Whoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Matthew 18:2-4

“Lord”.  .  .Supreme in authority.  Controller of all events.  Sovereign Power in the universe.  Master of my life.  Author of all things.  A Father who I love, Who first Loved me.

“Help”.  .  .Do it for me.  I’ve tried and tried and can try no more.  Your power is made perfect in my weakness.  You promise that I can do all things through You, giving  me Strength by giving me Your Son, by sending His Spirit into my heart.

“Me”.  .  .this helpless babe.  Trying to be something that I’m    not.  Trying to do something that I can’t.  Needing a Grampa Who carries me on His wings of Love and does all things for me that I cannot do.  Me, who marvels at your Love that covers over all of my sins and failures.  You, Who promises to make all things work together for my Good.

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       “He gives Power to the faint and to           them that have no might, He increase Strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary and the babes shall utterly fall:  but they that wait upon the Lord and expect Help from Him, shall renew their Strength.  They shall mount up with wings like eagles;  they shall run and not be weary.  They shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:29-31

Another page.  Another day.  Another time.  Another Season.  A New Hope.

“Excuse Me. . .There’s Something Hanging From your Nose”

group of donkeysHi.  My name is Mike.  I’m a human and the colt of a wild ass.  (For vain man would be wise, though man be born the colt of a wild ass.” Job 11:12) Everyone shouted out,“Hi Mike”.   The Dumbo sheep and the Glow worms, the Fireman and the Sailors, the Lilies and the Roses, the soaring Eagles and the Sheep dogs.  All safe and secure in the Ark, the Eternal Love of God.

A few months ago I was looking over a paint project at a group of buildings with a very refined, retired gal who was the president of the condo association and as we stopped for a moment she reached over and pulled a sticker off the hip area of my new jeans.  She said, “I don’t mean to be fresh with you but I’m sure you’d rather not walk around with that on your pants.”  I felt a little embarrassed and it brought a nervous grin to my face. This incident was followed up with another a few weeks later, when I heard a stranger’s voice saying, “Your zipper’s open.”  I could have died.   It added to my growing list of moments that reflect that I’m gradually “losing it” and still feeling exposed and somewhat inadequate every time it happens.

Just the other day, my dear friend Steven told me about a recent incident of his own that caused him some momentary, deep distress.  He is substitute teaching for the first time in his life and was sitting with a young boy working on some learning exercises.  Out of nowhere the boy said to him, “Why is your hair so funny.” Steven had told me that his biggest challenge regarding his looks, is his thinning, receding hair line which is most prevalent on the crown in back and is very self-conscious about it.  Because this was only the second or third day of student teaching, he wasn’t accustomed to the honest and frank observations that most small children make, without any prudence.   In spite of the emotional impact it had on him, Steven was able to respond, “It’s because I’m a funny guy.”  Yeah, and so am I.  .  .and so is everyone else. Everyone.

Many years ago I was sitting in the office of a very sweet and lovely          6626817923_86edeaa1b6_mfriend of mine who was unaware that there was a profound hygiene issue.  It was chronic and no one, including the family was able to address it.  Me either.  Those of you who are relating to your own “funny guy” moments when you were mortified to be told something about yourself that was embarrassing or shame-filled, know about the dilemma of saying something to someone else.  I didn’t want to be the instrumentality of causing anguish in her soul and wound her heart, yet because of the Love in my soul for her, a Moment arrived in her office when Love reached out and freed her.

I sat there that day with tears in my eyes and God’s own, tender Love in my heart.  .  .and I told her.  And we cried.  And the Scent of Lilies and Roses filled the room.

     “Thanks be to God, Who always leads us in triumph through His Son and His Love in us.  .  . and spreads everywhere the Fragrance of the Presence of His Loving-Kindness.”  2Corinthians 2:14

Thirty-five years ago as I was mopping up the floor of the bar that I owned, one of my best customers walked in.  His name was Tanz.  He is dead now.  His drinking killed him.  He was already intoxicated and strolled over to where I was working.  He looked at me and said what I was always dreading, that someone, someday would say to me.  .  . (“Why is your hair so funny?)   “I used to respect you and looked up to to you.  And now, you are one of the most messed up people I know.”  Every day I waited to see who would be the one to say it.  Who Knew it would be Tanz?

2455691162_aeef9132a0_mHe said the very words that daily haunted my own heart and filled me with despair and self-condemnation.  And denial.  Words I kept secret within me that were killing me.  .  .and now his words were a sword that pierced my heart and blood gushed forth.  A blood-letting to heal me and cure my disease.  Who Knew?  One of the most powerful philosophies that those in recovery share is, “You are only as sick as the secrets you keep.”  The ones that you keep from others.  .  .and the ones that you keep from yourself.

As I look around the room there are very few eyes making contact with   190126630_01ba29185a_mmine.  There’s an uneasy feeling in their gut where the source of all secrets lie and they know the pain when the sword pierces through to it. And here it comes.  .  .  You have something hanging from your nose.  And since the fall of Adam, when God said that death entered his soul, that death continues to evolve into this anomaly.  Regardless of the word you choose to define it as it hangs there, it has grown so big that it affects everything about the way we think and act individually and collectively as a society.  We have become a circus menagerie.  .  .and what hangs from our nose has made us a caricature of what we were.  We have become the consummate meme.

Meme.  Me Me.  A self-centeredness that is evolving into perfection, making us an aberration of the perfect original.  

It has made us blind and deaf.  Lame and senseless.  We have an insatiable appetite like my beagles, who are gone now.  If they were given a chance, they would have eaten until it made them sick, as if the portion that was given them, that was good for them, was never enough.  The word that God uses in the bible is “concupiscence“. In the original Greek language that the New Testament was written in, the word means a longing, especially for what is forbidden;  to desire and lust after with an insatiable appetite.”  Never satisfied.  A giant black hole in the soul and an utter absence of sensibility about it.

       “The heart and mind of man is desperately wicked and mortally sick.  Who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9

3481988079_43a66239b7_mSome of you thought I was going to point out something else about you.  But I’m not.  If you have stayed with me this far, you have already identified your issues. You know what they are, even if you are still in denial, because others have been pointing it out to you.

When a client comes into the office, typically in great distress, the kind thing to do for them is to help them take you by the hand into the land of their secrets.  The mere fact that they have come is an indication that the sword of Love has pierced the heart and the blood is beginning to flow.  .  .and the Divine Surgeon’s Hand is beginning to cut away the anomaly, hanging from their nose.  It is a Hand-full of Mercy and Kindness, Loving away every secret, Healing every disease and Forgiving every sin through the blood that flowed in the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. 

“Hi.  My name is Mike.  Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.”

 

 

A Morning Prayer: “Do I Love, or Not?”

boy with sheep       “Tis a point I long to know, it often  causes anxious thought. Do I love the Lord, or no?  Am I His, or am I not?

If I love, why am I thus?  Why this dull and lifeless frame? Hardly, sure, can they be worse, who have never heard His Name.

Could my heart so hard remain, prayer a task and burden prove; every trifle gives me pain, if I knew the Savior’s love?

When I turn my eyes within, all is dark, and vain, and wild; filled with unbelief and sin.  .  .Can I deem  myself His child?

If I pray or hear or read, sin is mixed with all I do.  You that love the Lord indeed, tell me.  .  .is it thus with you?

Yet I mourn my stubborn will, find my sin a grief and thrall; should I grieve for what I feel.  .  .if I did not love at all?                                                                                                         2121298544_e9a10cd429_m

Could I joy, His saints to meet and choose the ways I         once abhorred. Find, at times the promise sweet.  .  .if I did not Love the Lord?

Lord, decide this doubtful case!  Thou who are thy         people’s Sun. Shine upon Thy work of Grace.  .  .if it be indeed begun.

Let me love thee more and more, if I love at all, I pray.  If I have not loved before.  .  .Help me to begin today.”         John Newton