Sunday, June 26, 2022

Reverence & Applause Moments?

 Reverence & Applause Moments?

     My best friend invited me to his church.  But he didn’t go with me.  His father had been thrown out of his car on a bridge (before seat belts and airbags) and was killed the night before.  When I was walking in it smelled nicely fragrant.  As I slid into a pew there was a padded bench by my knees.  A man wearing a decorative robe was up on a stage with lots of candles and lit candelabras everywhere.  Then I heard it.  The softest, warmest women’s voices singing.  From behind and above me.  I had never heard anything like it.  The closest I’d ever heard was when Grandma gave me a record from her deathbed.  “Larry, I want you to play this record.  Someday you’re gonna need it.  Remember, you’ll always be thankful for it.”  The song was Whispering Hope.

     My Mom’s life had been really tough.  Yet, or maybe because of that, she came up to Doug’s and my bedroom to pray with us.  But this night was a special one.  She brought a book with her.  A Bible.  She said “I’m going to read to you boys each night before we pray.”  That was the night I first heard about Adam and Eve and the proverbial apple.  At her funeral decades later I told that story and I remember looking at my sisters’ blank stares.  Apparently they hadn’t experienced that personally.  But all through life I’ve thought back to my Mom and Grandmother’s revered moments in my life. 

     When I turned 15 I worked on a small dairy farm and attended school on the Oregon coast.  It was lonely at night sleeping in a basement room next to the wood furnace.  When I awakened and prepared to catch the school bus I first built a roaring fire for the family.  I only went upstairs for supper and to play when the kids wanted an older brother type.  It wasn’t long before I missed my Mom and family 100 miles away in Portland.  Seems like I only had three or four friends that Sophomore year.  Looking back I can see what the next sacred moment was being planned by the Holy Spirit.

     My loneliness deepened and one night I lay on my bed quietly balling my eyes out.  Pondering quitting and using my next check to take the Greyhound home.  But I just couldn’t do it to these folks. They needed a hired hand and had been so good to me.  I fell asleep.  A couple of nights passed and the glooms struck again.  With tears flooding my eyes I found my mouth praying.  I pleaded and bargained with God.  I begged him to help me not feel so grossly alone.  But I had a dilemma.  I felt like I needed to attend a church but my mind ruffled through the choices.  There were way too many to consider.  It seemed impossible to decide.  At that moment my pleading got very, very committed.

     "Father, if you'll show me where to go, I pledge to you I’ll do so."  That moment was not ignored by the Lord.

     A couple of days afterwards my schoolmate Don said “Hey Larry, my girlfriend said her best girlfriend likes you and wants to get to know you.  Do you like her?”  Duh.  What would you have said?  He continued, “There’s a graduation party next Saturday evening and we’d like you to join us.  She’ll even give us a ride. Both my girlfriend and I will be riding with her also.”  He chuckled me into a “Yes.”  Little did I know the same Lord to whom I poured out my oath was fast at work.  Already.

     The Graduation party turned out to be in a community church.  I actually enjoyed it and timidly got to know the sweet graduate who drove the car.  When she drove me back to the farmhouse we visited for a few moments.  Then she asked if I’d like to visit her church one day. 

     The poet wrote, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”  Better yet is our Savior’s explanation: “Jesus replied, “What I am telling you so earnestly is this: Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.  Men can only reproduce human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven; so don’t be surprised at my statement that you must be born again!  Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it will go next, so it is with the Spirit.  We do not know on whom he will next bestow this life from heaven.” (John 3:5-8, TLB).   From my tear stained mattress to being born again was now in the process.

     Decades later, far far away I was helping a small church of about 225. An unusual thought danced in my brain.  I had heard or read somewhere that it is possible to read the entire Bible in 72 hours.  I asked the leaders if we could do it.  So the planning set in.  A calendar of 72 hours divided by 30-minute segments was prepared.  It was set to run from Thursday at 6 PM to Sunday at 6 PM. We advertised it in the local paper and put signs on the outside.  Surprisingly so many members signed up to read for 3 or 4 half-hours time slots; it wasn't long before all 72 hours of the calendar were full.  Day and night. Three straight 24 hour periods God’s Word would be continuously read.

     The County Sheriff showed up to start the Bible Reading at 6 PM Thursday.  He sat on the stage and beginning in Genesis 1:1 his baritone voice microphoned throughout the auditorium.  The local news reporter took photos which appeared in Friday’s News paper.

     Over the all night shifts I napped on a pew and visited with the members and any visitors who arrived.  Kim Varnal had just moved here from France and was impressed that a church would have such a wonderful idea.  She wanted to read for an hour. I, very excitedly, gave her my next coming hour.  Kim became a true friend and joined my
wife’s women's Bible Study group.  Talk about the Holy Spirit’s planning, Kim came down with Cancer and left a gap in all our lives.  But that Bible Reading in 72 hours gave us her friendship for Eternity!

     On another night a family of 5 came in the early hours in the middle of the night.  The dad asked if he could read and I gave him my last time slot. His wife and attentive young children watched alertly as he did so.  After all these years I don’t recall any other visitors.  But I do remember the most unbelievable moment of the full 72 hours.  Let me set it up for you.

     On Sunday morning we moved the Bible Reading from the microphoned table on the stage to a table in the fellowship hall in the back of the building while adult class and the preaching service happened in the auditorium.  This would allow the most reverential
moment I’ve ever had in church.  Ever.  I prayed about how we could return the Bible reading to the miked table without stopping reading it.  Then the Lord planted the idea in my heart.

     The young mother who was reading during the time the minister was finishing said, “Oh, I’d be afraid...embarrassed I think.”  We talked it over and just as the minister was concluding, the mom and I stood outside the auditorium doors.  I swung the door open and she started to enter when loudly I said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Stand in Honor of the Word of God!”  The entire audience all rose and I was so proud of the mom who read the Bible all the way to the stage, stepped up on the stage and sat behind the microphone and continued reading. The audience was instructed to either sit and hear the Word of God being read or move to the Lobby to visit.

     Chills run down my back as I recall that event.  It was the most reverent event I’ve ever witnessed in nearly 80 years.

     Some years back a gospel song fit that event.  Here it is:

Written by Michael W. Smith
Thy Word

    
For those of you who have never heard “Whispering Hope” here are the lyrics followed by Anne Murray singing it.


“Soft as the voice of an angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word:
Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.
Refrain:
Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.
If, in the dusk of the twilight,
Dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star?
Then when the night is upon us,
Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day.
Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,
Rends the dark veil for the soul,
Whither the Master has entered,
Robbing the grave of its goal;
Come then, oh, come, glad fruition,
Come to my sad weary heart;
Come, O Thou blest hope of glory,
Never, oh, never depart.


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Saturday, April 16, 2022

Heart Squeezer Guaranteed

 Heart Squeezer Guaranteed

      Throughout much of the World this coming Sunday will be the most celebrated Sunday of the entire year.  It is known as Easter, Resurrection Day or Pascha.  The customs, festivals, fasts and childrens’ and adult happenings are plentiful.  But too many of these have scrambled the horrible Crucifixion and incredible Resurrection and cast them aside.  How sad.  How sad indeed!

     About 20 years ago the Holy Spirit filled my soul with a heart-tugging story with an unforgettable twist ending.  We performed it on Resurrection Day to a full-house church audience.  The cast included Joseph of Arimathea, Joseph’s Attorney, four Temple guards, the Mayor of Jerusalem, and three Sadducees.

     There are two scenes.  Scene one begins with the three Sadducee madder than a nest of yellow-jackets.  Their outrage is overheard: “I can’t believe he has said,  Yes.  We can’t allow this.  There may be only three of us but he needs to be stopped.  Surely the Temple Guards will help us.  Better yet let’s go to the Mayor.  He’ll have to do what we want or we’ll have him arrested.”

     Then we have some scurrying around.  Temple guards haul Joseph of Arimathea into the Courtroom accompanied by his Attorney who indignantly snaps at the Guard “Unhand me you uncouth fool!"  The three complaining Sadducees are smirking and quietly chuckling under their beards.  Yawning, the Jerusalem mayor enters and looks furiously at the Sadducees.

     “Well, what has you all with skintight skullcaps again?” sneers the Mayor.

     “It’s this Pharisee ~ ~ Joseph.  He is selling his tomb to bury that lying, blaspheming Jesus who just got crucified by order of Pilate.  As you know, so very well Mr. Mayor, city law says “No criminal may be buried in a city tomb or grave but must be flung into the fiery Gehenna garbage dump.”

     “Well surely there can be some exceptions, aren’t there?” responds the Mayor.

     “No, there are no exceptions.  If you don’t do as we say we’ll go inform Pilate and also Herod, who is in town.  They’ll drive you out of office and we hope into a camp of lepers.”

     Joseph’s Attorney leaned closely to Joseph and whispered.  Joseph got a smile on his face and nodded.  The Attorney spoke to the Mayor, “Excellency, please hear from my client as he has something very crucial.”

     Joseph, eyes focusing on the distressed Mayor and glancing at the smug Sadducees said, “They’ve got this all wrong.  I’m not selling my tomb at all. I’M JUST LOANING IT TO JESUS FOR 3 DAYS.”

     Mayor: slams the gavel saying, “We’re done here.” 

     One of the most fitting Easter songs ever is a completely rewritten lyrics to Hallelujah sung by two 9 year old Canadian sisters.  I promise you’ll never forget it.

 

 

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

It Doesn’t Have To Turn Out This Way

 It Doesn’t Have To Turn Out This Way

     “Authorities say a man shot and killed his three daughters, their chaperone and himself during a supervised visit with the girls at a church in Sacramento, California”   (Feb.28, 2022, ABC News)

     “Kayla Giles and her husband, Thomas Coutee, Jr., were embroiled in a contentious divorce and custody battle when she shot him in 2018,” (Feb. 1, 2022, People.Com)

     Dr. Jan Garavaglia says, “About 30% of murdered women were murdered by their intimate partner: husband, ex-husband, fiance, etc.”

     When I did premarital counseling there was one critical question that I always asked.  It would hopefully avoid horrible, mind-numbing-news flashes like these.  I attempted to just be so calm and relaxed the couple wouldn’t suspect a potent argument might soon erupt.  At least it often did; only a few avoided it.

     “If you get a separation or divorce who gets custody of your children?”

     In later years I counseled mainly couples with a blended-family.  You know: his, hers and ours.  There is one rule I stressed over and over and over.  For the marriage to work punishment was to be done by the natural parent.  Many times, a well-intentioned step parent, exacts reprimand or correction.  Often it would blow up in their face.  “You’re not my Dad. I don’t have to listen to you.”  Or, “You’re not my Mom. I can’t stand you.”  Over hundreds of counseling sessions I heard far worse castigations than these.

     It is so sad what is currently going on with marriages and couples who shack up.

     The percentage of adults having sex with multiple people is beyond belief and far exceeds anytime in human history.  A recent winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada had about 6,500 Athletes and Officials over the 17 day event.  They were provided over 100,000 condoms until they realized that was not enough.  So they were given another 8,500.

     I hang my head in shame to report this as in the Lord’s Plan for intimate relations He wants purity.
  
    STOP arguing thinking I’m just a crusty antique old geezer.  No matter what the world, press, websites and groups of swingers, sex dating sites, etc. present.  God wants purity.
“You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?  Therefore whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4, NHEB)
     The Bible contains 165 warnings against any type of immorality. 165.

     Without listing all the types of immorality the Bible warns against, let’s consider some statements from God’s Word itself.

Eyesight: 
     “I have made a covenant with my eyes;  How then could I gaze at a virgin?” Job 31:1)
     “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5:28)
Action: 
“Can a man take fire in his bosom  and his clothes not be burned? Or can a man walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?  So is the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; Whoever touches her will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 6:27-29)
Finality:

     When the Lord Jesus spoke the final description of who will and will not be going to Heaven, he made it very clear: “The one who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.  But for the cowardly, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and sexually immoral persons, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:7-8)

Never forget:

     There’s an option available no matter how you’ve led your life.  The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NHEB)

Kindness
By Chris Tomlin
 

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Sunday, February 27, 2022

FIND ANY STORY QUICKLY

Did you know that there are 67 heart-throbbing true stories at this site. Better yet you can easily find any story by going to the right side of the page and typing in the story name in the SEARCH ARTICLES box (just above Larry Smith's photo). Here are the 67 stories:

1 On Your Knees

2 Manifesting Love in Our Lives

3 Castaways and Keepsakes

4    Most Terrifying Fall Ever

5    It'll Feel Like a 2nd New Birth


6 Unsightly Toenails and Elegant Feet


7 Ed & Jesus Have Special Arrangements


8 Has the Lord Stooped for You?


9 Grief Crosses That Never Heal


10 Erasure Danger


11 What About The Weaker Ones


12 How About A Cheerful Post?


13 In The Rear-view Mirror


14 We're Not Alone


15 Red-Flag Warning And More

 

16 How Many Ways Can You Say Lonely?


17 The Cure


18 You Own The Most Complex Battlefield Ever Built


19 Soul-Destroying Behaviors


20 A Fashion Show and Full of Hypocrites


21 Don’t Let a Wishbone Grow Where a Backbone Should Be


22 Faster Than Immediately


23 They Wouldn't Let Her Say Goodbye


24 County-Wide Scream


25 I'm Still Hugging The Holy Spirit


26 Wrapped In His Loving Arms


27 From A Rut To A Tear Fest


28 Don't Open the Spine-Chilling-Terrifying Door


29 King Of The Sandbar


30 My Soul Storm


31 Where's the Line to See Jesus?


32 Life is Often Not What You Expect


33 A Most Nauseating Dinner


34 That Blasted  _ _ _ _ _ _!


35 Does God Really Help Widows?


36 The Saddest Room In Heaven


37 The Black Handkerchief


38 The Greatest Homecoming Event In All History


39 Ghastly Graveside Grief


40 Mom's Nuclear Tantrum Boomerangs


41 Forbid The Doll And Break Her Heart


42 She Taught Me How To Fly ~ Higher 


43 A Most Bizarre Assignment


44 Evolution or Creation is an eternal decision


45 The Whole World Sings Praises To The Lord ~ 2


46 I'm Just A Worm


47 Coffee With An Angel 


48 Murder Attempt Led Me To The Lord


49 I Applaud God For Creating Matt Shively


50 The Whole World Sings Praises To The Lord ~ 1


51 When All Else Fails ~ ~ Remember His Faithfulness


52 World War 3 Or A Saved Marriage?


53 Does The Lord Give 2nd Chances?


54 4 Choices To Make When A Loved One Dies Or Is Killed


55 Golden Nuggets - 2 


56 A Warlock Blasphemes Our Congregation


57 Do You Really Give God Thanks For Everything


58 Golden Nuggets From My Bible Reading - 1


59 God's Angel Named "Anonymous"


60 Flat-Tire Faith


61 Could Hollywood Compete With This Story


62 5 - 3 = 2: God Is So Good


63 In His Time 


64 Do Angels Work At Night


65 Prayer Warrior


66 Can You Make A Real True Difference


67 She Never Saw It Coming

 

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Christian purpose if you credit it Courtesy of: https://godapplauseblog.blogspot.com/

 

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