Thursday, October 15, 2020

 What About The Weaker Ones

     I have wondered if our personal understanding of Scripture passages makes all that much difference... in the true purposes of the Holy Spirit’s motives.  O’ sure there are scores of passages that say we should study and be good workmen in the Bible.  Let’s accept all those important chapters and verses without a quarrel.  But do they comprise the purposes the Lord designed for us to derive from His Holy Word?

     Absolutely His entire word is Spirit breathed and so important in our eternal salvation.  But why did Jesus comment, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40, NIV)

     The Message translation puts it in our lingo:  “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees.  These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.”

     The Passion translation plows deeper into our human-heart soil:  “You are busy analyzing the Scriptures, frantically poring over them in hopes of gaining eternal life.  Everything you read points to me, yet you still refuse to come to me so I can give you the life you’re looking for — eternal life!

O Happy Joyful Day

     The Burtons owned a used furniture store from which they sold a few products but often gave them to any poor, needy family.  Their son owned a transmission repair shop with the lowest prices in town and, though busy as can be, would help any poor person who was in a broken-down car.

     It was to be a most-memorable service.  Dad and Mom Burton had begun attending the services.  One Sunday morn' she was baptized.  When her wet body was raised from the baptistry she spontaneously started singing, “O’ Happy Day.”

Oh happy day (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
He washed my sins away (oh happy day)

Oh happy day (oh happy day)
He taught me how to watch,
fight and pray, fight and pray
And live rejoicing every, everyday
Oh happy day

He taught me how
Oh happy day (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day
Oh happy day (oh happy day)

Sharing A Special Supertime

     When we invited Mom and Dad Burton for dinner they accepted but then refused to be seated saying, “We’ve always stood while the others ate.”  It was with very much effort and continuous pleading that we finally got them to sit down with us at the table.  Later they explained that because they were “colored” (their exact words) they were never considered equals.  I assured them that the Scripture clearly states God doesn’t see any person’s skin color:

     “Peter said, “Now I know for certain that God doesn’t show favoritism with people but treats everyone on the same basis.  It makes no difference what race of people one belongs to.  If they show deep reverence for God, and are committed to doing what’s right, they are acceptable before him.” (Act 10:34-35, TPT)

     “The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b, NIV)

The Visit

     Clark, a firm doctrinally entrenched long-time disciple, wanted to investigate the Burtons.  Later he said, “I had to make sure that they were truly as Christian as they appeared to be.”  It was in December and they warmly invited him in.  He continued, “I saw it as soon as I sat on their couch.  It was on the mantle above the fireplace.  I knew I had to say something and suddenly it blurted out.  “Don’t you know that Christmas tree is for pagans?”

     An 8-inch metal Christmas tree was for pagans?

     I was surprised when the Burtons weren’t at church next Sunday morning.  Nor night.  When they missed Wednesday night I drove to their home.

     Brother Burton, with tear-filled eyes, said, “I’ve never been called a pagan.  Not in my whole life.  We just don’t know what to do... and where we can go to church now.”  Sister Burton said, “And we loved going to your church.  Brother Smith what should we do?”

     I met with Clark and must admit I failed.  He would only apologize if I could prove to him that he was doctrinally wrong.  Sadly when I read the following Scriptures to him they bounced off his proud edifice.

     “Welcome those who are weak in faith, but do not argue with them about their personal opinions.”  (Romans 14:1, GNT)

Is This Your Church?

     I was far from home and church on a business matter.  I found a small church that said, “We welcome any and all to our warm gathering.  Communion is served before the start of the preaching.”

     I arrived early and sat in on the Adult Sunday School class.

     The teacher threw out questions to the audience during the class.  A couple of times I raised my hand and answered.

     As soon as the class was over three men, whom I gauged to be elders, surrounded me.  One spoke, “You obviously know your Bible very well.  Where do you attend?” As I started to reply another asked “Oh, and where did you go to Bible College?”

     Each of my responses generated another question.  I felt grilled.  In fact it was more like an inquisition.  There was no warmth but rather a gnarly ache in my heart.

     Then it was time for serving the Lord’s Supper (communion).  Those three men passed the trays up and down the aisles.  That is until they came to my spot.  With nostrils tilted up so far they would have drowned had it been raining, they dodged my seat obviously refusing to serve me communion.

     As I recall that incident today I grieve that some “Christian” people reach a point where their judgement exceeds the very warning God’s Holy Spirit thundered:   

     “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister?  Or why do you treat them with contempt?  For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.  It is written: 

     “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (Romans 14:10-13, NIV)

     Commentator Matthew Henry surmises it:

     “It was after he had died and risen that he said, All power is given unto me (Matt. 28:18), and presently he exerts that power in issuing out commissions, Rom. 14:19, 20.  Now if Christ paid so dearly for his dominion over souls and consciences, and has such a just and undisputed right to exercise that dominion, we must not so much as seem to invade it, nor intrench upon it, by judging the consciences of our brethren, and arraigning them at our bar.”

     Emphasizing he continues, “It is certain that nothing is more threatening, nor more often fatal, to Christian societies, than the contentions and divisions of their members.  By these wounds the life and soul of religion expire.  Now in this chapter we are furnished with the sovereign balm of Gilead; the blessed apostle prescribes like a wise physician.  “Why then is not the hurt of the daughter of my people recovered, ...”

Determining The Lord’s Will

     Don was in his 10th year as the minister since his graduation from Bible College when Bud Ableman visited.  He returned to the Sunday and Wednesday night services.

     Bud invited the Roddas to dinner at a restaurant.  He had a proposal.  “Please move to Crescent City, CA and become our preacher.”  Don smiled and politely said, “No.”  Bud returned several times over the next two months.  With the repeated visits were repeated attempts.

     Finally, Don responded more positively: “I’ll consider it if the Lord answers a fleece. We’ve tried to sell our home for nearly a year without anyone even coming to look at it.  Bud, I’ll put it back on the market and if it sells, I’ll accept that as a fleece that the Lord wants me to do so.”

     Bud went back home and asked the Crescent City church to pray about Don’s house selling.  Don had put the "For Sale" sign in his yard at about 9:30 Monday morning.  At a little past 3:00 PM an older couple asked permission to walk through the home.

     Afterwards they said, “How much is it?”  Don told them.  They said, “It’s well worth that.  We would like to buy it.”  Don said, “Well how will you finance it?”  The man said, “We’ll pay cash.  When can we have possession?”

     In less than a month the Roddas moved to Crescent City, CA. where they had an incredible multiple-year ministry.

     I’ve shared this absolutely true story not to discuss buying and selling homes.  This is a true story about how the Holy Spirit orchestrates bits and pieces of our lives to bring about Heaven’s will.  Jesus included this when he taught his disciples how to pray:

     “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10, NIV)

     Oh, and don’t overlook that Don Rodda’s fleece was answered.  God’s promises are always kept.

Will The Lord Help Teenagers

     I shared my conversion story in an earlier post (Murder Attempt Led Me To The Lord) and now I need to reveal how the Lord convinced me to preach.

     After I became a Christian in the summer after my sophomore year in High School spiritual events began pulling me towards serving the Lord full time.  But Baseball scouts were telling my coach they considered me a possible candidate.  So ~ ~ should I preach or play baseball for the future?  The wrestling match began.

     In the spring of my Junior year baseball began and my energy focused on it while my mind played ping pong between it and preaching.  I leaned towards preaching as the preseason games began.

     I pitched the first game and batted 6th in the line up.  We won and I also hit a double knocking in a run.  I was loaded with pride.  The last preseason game I played first base and hit a home run.  I just knew the scouts were drooling!  I was so amazed with my greatness I needed to buy a hat twice as large!  In the ping-pong match preaching was fading badly.

     As I planned my Babe-Ruth future the season began.  Game 1 I hit the ball hard but everyone was caught.  I went 0-3.  Game 2 was exactly the same...hard hit balls were caught and I went 0-3.

     Without boring you anymore I ended up setting a School record.  I played every game.  And went 0-26.  Nobody in our school had ever gone hit-less for a whole season.  Something was strange and I was struggling to figure it out.

     As my soul fought the ping-pong match, I’ll never forget the Coach coming to me mid season.  He said, “I’m going to leave you batting clean up.  You’re hitting the ball so hard.  I just can’t believe every hit gets caught.”

     The next night I couldn’t sleep very well.  I was sure classmates were mocking the wanna be Babe Ruth.  And my boss - the farmer - I’m sure wondered why he had let me have time away from farming to turn out so dudley.

     It was then the Lord spoke to my soul.  It became clear that He wanted me not to pitch but rather to preach.  I prayed and prayed and then told the church I’d made a decision.  “I’m going to ask my Principal if I can graduate now (my Junior year) as I am going to go to Bible College."  Dr. Robinson said “Yes, if I’d take two final classes in Summer school.”

     Once my decision was done and I put God in first place (where He always belongs) our school had one postseason baseball game remaining.  My first at bat in Cloverdale, OR the bases were full.  My mouth still drops when I relive that moment.  The pitcher threw a fastball.  I swung with gusto and the ball sailed over the fence.  A home run cleared the bases.  Two more times in that final game I got hits...3 for 3.

     Don’t think this story is about my supposed great baseball prowess.  This is about one thing.  Even when you’re young go to the Lord and ask Him to speak to your soul and direct your future.  He always will lead and guide you. I  so wanted to hug the Holy Spirit and my guardian angel then... and still do!

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

How About A Cheerful Post?

How About A Cheerful Post?

    We’re suffocating in many areas of our lives.  So here’s a post that will be warm and fuzzy and maybe even bring a chuckle to your stressed life.  Be sure to refresh yourself by clicking on any links.  Each will be a “feel good” anxiety reliever.

    For any too-serious religious uptight person who was baptized in vinegar and thinks it is wrong to enjoy life ~ the Apostle Peter finishes this post.

The Monk

    Years ago a dedicated, religious man decided to become a monk.  So he contacted some monasteries and finally was welcomed into a very strange one.  The chief monk showed him around and then told him the strict guidelines if he wanted to join and remain with them.

    “You must take a vow to only speak once every 10 years and on that day you may only say 2 words.  No exceptions or you’ll be kicked out."  He joined.

    At the 10-year mark the Chief Monk called him in.  “What do you have to say?" he asked.

    “Bed Hard.”

    At the 20-year mark the Chief Monk called him in.  “What do you have to say?"

    “Food Bad.”

    At the 30-year mark the Chief Monk called him in.  “What do you have to say?"

    “I Quit.”  

    The Chief Monk said, “I’m not surprised because all you’ve done is complain for the last 30 years.” 

“To succeed in life, you need three things: 
a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.” 
~ Elbert Hubbard

Newly Married

“I got to thinking what if a guy really hadn’t gotten to know the gal he was marrying... ya know.  
 It goes like this:

We got married last Friday.
My girl was there right beside me.
Our friends were all gone.
We were alone, side by side.

We were so happily wed when she got ready for bed then
Her teeth and her hair she placed in a chair,  side by side.

One glass eye, so tiny.  One hearing aid so small.
Then she took one leg off and placed it on the chair by the wall.

I stood there brokenhearted.
Most of my girl had departed.
I slept on the chair
There was more of her there.
Side by side." **        

“Do not take life too seriously.  
You will never get out of it alive.” 
~ Theodore Roosevelt

“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting 
before you get tired.” 
~ Jules Renard

“A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.  A successful woman is one who can find such a man.” 
~ Lana Turner

“I can resist everything except temptation.” 
~ Oscar Wilde

“I am a marvelous housekeeper.  
Every time I leave a man I keep his house.”  
~ Zsa Zsa Gabor

    The Lord’s people are called to go through stormy waters, hurtful losses, and painful persecutions, but the Apostle Peter says ... after that:

“You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.”  (1 Peter 1:8, MSG)

    Here’s an unforgettable, cheerful song by Mark Lowry:

What’s Not to Love

Just released ... new arrangement and new singers of ... 
Daddy Sang Bass

** If you want to hear George Younce sing that  
Newly Married comedy song mentioned above:

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Friday, September 4, 2020

In The Rear-view Mirror

In The Rear-view Mirror

     Looking back many years I remember noticing my Mom’s toenails needed to be trimmed.  She was in her early 80s and I knew, with her poor breathing, it would be really difficult for her to reach down and do it. Mom said, “Son that would be so thoughtful of you.”  She put her feet up on a hassock and I started.  After about 3 toes were clipped my hand slipped off the nail and I nipped her toe.  It instantly bled.  Instantaneously I began crying.  My intent was to help and instead I had hurt the Mom I would have died to protect.Eventually it all worked out just fine.  The blood quickly stopped.  She kept saying, “It’s OK Son. I’m fine.”  But 25 years later I still can relive that moment.  It is a moment in our history that is unforgettable.

     What makes us cry?  What makes you cry?  Along life’s pathway when do you cry?  What makes you weep?  A sober reflection on those tearful moments indicates what and who is dear to us.  It really does reveal what or who is fastened tightly in our innermost heart.  The valentine spot.

     It was a heart-wrenching development and I needed to let him know before he heard from someone else.  One of the strongest and most faithful families had left the church and wouldn’t return.  I loved them and was so dismayed.  I knew he was close to them but didn’t know how much.

     In my years of ministry he had always been the wisest, calmest and least-emotional counselor in spite of what the trial might be.  He and his sweet wife welcomed me and gestured to a couch.  “How can I help you?” he asked.

     “I’m so sorry to tell you but the ____ family has left the church and won’t…”  Then it happened.  I’d known him for about 50 years but I’d never seen him cry.  Never.  He burst into an agonizing thunderstorm of tears and couldn’t stop.  He was hurting far deeper than I’d ever witnessed, and whispered “I taught them the gospel and baptized them.”

     The best times of their spiritual friendship were now history.

     He hadn’t visited for about 10 years.  He had aged into his 9th decade and the long, long drive had really taxed his energy.  The waitress served the coffee to the three of us and I could see the lines on his face and neck and the jaundiced color.

     I had heard his wife of 60+ years was not doing well and was having serious memory impairments.  Gently I asked, “How’s your sweet…” but I didn’t get it out before his eyes gushed with tears, his voice broke as he struggled and said, “After all these years it’s not so easy when she doesn’t even know who I am.  The best times of their lives were now past tense.

     While we’re pondering emotional distress to the max let’s consider our Lord and Savior.  Perhaps there were other instances where Jesus was in soul-wrenching-tearful agony but there are for sure three occasions that we need to carefully consider.

     When we realize He knew He had to be separated from His Father as He bore our sins on the cross one thing is more than crystal clear.  When tears trickled down His cheeks it was not about physical pain.  His most agonizing moments were focused on the danger of not finishing the work of eternal salvation and expressive trust in God Almighty that He had been sent to accomplish.

Jesus and Jerusalem
     “When Jesus caught sight of the city, he burst into tears with uncontrollable weeping over Jerusalem, saying, “If only you could recognize that this day peace is within your reach! But you cannot see it.  For the day is soon coming when your enemies will surround you, pressing you in on every side, and laying siege to you.  They will crush you to pieces, and your children too! And when they leave, your city will be totally destroyed.  Since you would not recognize God’s day of visitation, your day of devastation is coming!” (Luke 19:41-44, TPT)

     Here Jesus knew His time was very short and His efforts to save the Jewish people in Jerusalem were quickly running out.  In fact He was even losing one of the 12 about whom Jesus said, “It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." (Matthew 26:24, NASB)

     Have you ever wept uncontrollably over someone or a group who were neglecting their faith?  To do so requires a heart that loves far deeper than every-day life events.  I had a dear friend who, when he knew he was dying, stood on busy street corners and preached to anyone who would listen.

     Have you at least prayed for someone... maybe a prodigal son or daughter... for their soul’s salvation.  Today that’s not politically correct.  But the Lamb’s Book of Life doesn’t have politically-correct phrases.

     The old adage, “A stitch in time saves nine” if applied spiritually is a prayer in time accomplishes much.

Jesus and Lazarus

     “On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.  Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.  When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

      “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

     Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

     Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

     Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”

     “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

     After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.”  When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him.  Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him.  When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

     When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

     When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

     “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

     Jesus wept.  Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”  (John 11:19-36, NIV)

     What Jesus experienced here is such an indescribable emotion that some translators say he was angry.  The context clearly reveals those around Him recognized His emotion not as anger but as love’s deepest agony. “See how he loved him.” they said.  It is clear that Jesus was not angry.  The Greek phraseology reveals the most intense hurt, agony and soul-groaning moment in Jesus’ entire life until the final night of His life in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  The sisters totally believed that Jesus could have healed Lazarus... and believed Lazarus would rise in the great resurrection to come.  But somehow they couldn’t quite connect that the Son of God they loved was The  Resurrection and the Life.  What a powerful moment they would soon witness.

Jesus the night before His crucifixion

     “Who (Jesus), in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death,” (Hebrews 5:7, NKJV)

     Since this statement is not found in the Gospels some overlook it concerning Jesus’ absolute concern about saving the lost.  He knew that He was the only hope for mankind.  But He had a gruesome crucifixion in just a few hours.  And crucifixion was a horrid way to be put to death.  The emotion of what lied ahead would have been grotesque.

     But I am totally convinced it was not about being physically tortured and murdered that led to this prayer time in the Garden.  It was the separation from Father God about which the verse above refers.  Scripture shows that Jesus and the Father had never been incommunicable.  Never!  This demonstrates that each human being needs to be right with God.  Commune with Him here on terra firma or be separated for all eternity.  Don’t carelessly put it off until your final moments.  Too often death catches us unawares and seldom do we have time or alertness to take care of eternal concerns in our final moments.

Edgar's Casserole

     Edgar was at the bar with his friends. He’d had a few and was just warming up to his typical hammered night.  His friends saw her coming in the door before he did.  Joel nudged him and said, "Edgar, it's your wife and she’s carrying something."  He spun around just as she looked at him. She was lifting a large casserole up onto the bar.  He said, “What’s this, honey?”

     She replied, “I wanted you to have what we’ve had while you’re here with your friends.”  Then she was gone.  Edgar’s friends said, “Wow... what a wife.  She’s brought you a casserole and big enough all of us can have some.  Open it!”

     Edgar pulled the lid off and found nothing.  The casserole bowl was empty.

     When you spend your life chasing the Devil you’ll find the same thing: all his treats are empty.  He doesn’t give you anything worth having.  Isn’t it time to give your life to the Lord where all His gifts are genuine, good for you and will last for all eternity?

The Time of our Lives
by Tyrone Wells

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Monday, August 10, 2020

We're Not Alone

We're Not Alone

     I was in a small Minnesota church when I heard her. She played the piano with more trills and flourishes than I'd ever heard before.  Visiting later, she said, "The lyrics are not important. It is the tune that makes the song."  Some might be really critical of her.  But I think critics are missing something.  Without making a mountain out of a molehill, why not take time to consider what her motive was.  I believe this shows someone who associates worship with what pleases her.  She loved using her musical gift to enhance any song sung.  Hmm.

     Now let's compare the pianist's worship philosophy with a verse in the Bible.  "Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies?  I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices.  And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights His heart.  For this becomes your genuine expression of worship." (Romans 12:1, TPT)

     This passage exhorts us to seek to delight God's heart which He'll accept as our genuine expression of worship.  Do you see the difference?  No matter how gifted the pianist's playing was she was focusing her worship more on pleasing herself than the Lord.  Our worship is to be focused on what pleases God ~ not ourselves.

     Our Lord taught the Samaritan woman (in John 4) that there are several types of worship... as far as people practice... but only one that God desires... and is pleasing to Him.  He explained that the Samaritans didn’t know who they were worshiping, but the Jews did know the true God.  But the Jewish worship was changing as He said, “The true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24, NIV)

     After His resurrection the Lord expanded worship far from Jerusalem into the whole world: “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20, NIV)

     Over the half-century I’ve ministered I’ve bumped into others who have a strange variety of worship aberrations.  A South African spokesman said “Jesus was good in so many ways but there were others from whom we can gain great spiritual truth and who were great teachers sent from God.” 

     Since he hosted a podcast that reached thousands of listeners I exchanged emails for a few weeks.  Then I emailed John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”  I asked him what value was there in involving anyone else, whoever they might be, other than Jesus ~ since He said, “... no one comes to the Father but through Me.” 

     He replied,  “You are misinterpreting the passage.”

     Excuse me!  I had not interpreted anything, rather I quoted it exactly as it has read for two millennia.

     When it comes to worship, Scripture clearly instructs us to worship our triune God ~ Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

     A young woman was one of six people leading the congregation in worship music.  One thing seemed odd to me: she had bare feet.  I asked her why.  She said, "Though the congregation joins in our singing, for me it is directed to the Lord.  So I take off my shoes because I'm in His presence standing on Holy ground."

     I learned in my counseling training a bizarre truth about pregnant, drug-addicted mothers in contrast to pregnant not drug-addicted mothers.  When each was asked to draw a picture of themselves as pregnant the non-drug addicted Mom drew a woman with a blimp-sized stomach.  The drug-addicted drew a picture of a skinny woman with a basketball-like object out in front of but separate from her own body.
Doctors view this as an anomaly which I used here to illustrate the difference between what God wants our worship to be and what we commonly believe our worship should be.
     Too often we picture worship as reaching out to the church audience.  When we should, instead, see worship as a united effort of leading all the congregation to the Heavenly audience.  The true audience is not the congregation.  It is Heaven.

     Each Christian must stand on Holy Ground and worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This philosophy needs to be ours throughout our Christian walk.  If we go backwards into our sinful life’s past practices it is serious business: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (I John 1:6-7, NIV)

     If you carelessly continue sinning without repenting and returning to the Merciful and Gracious Heavenly Father read what you’ll lose in the 11 underlined blue words above. No one on this planet can ever reach heaven if their sins are not purified. Remember, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” (I John 1:8-10, NIV)


     Sometimes the Holy Spirit allows awful things to happen to nudge us to change our ways.  The honest soul will humble them-self in repentance and accept the discipline realizing their Heavenly Father is showing them His love by whatever the trial is.  But there are others who become arrogant and so stubborn they carry a grudge against God and any person who tried to help them change their ways. 

     Marvin had been a leader in the church whose attitude became cynical, abusive and divisive.  No matter how many tried to get him to change his attitude and behavior, he simply worsened.  The Church took that toughest of all actions.  They called a congregational meeting and asked him to repent.  Different members stood and told him how much they loved him and begged him to change.

     He spat in their faces metaphorically and said he was without blame and all the other leaders were the problem.  He spoke grotesque things and sat down.  His wife asked to speak.  With tears streaming down her face she made a heart-rending plea to him and said even their daughter, who loved him dearly, had a crushed heart because of her dad.  He smirked and muttered contempt at his wife for turning against him.  The church then took a vote and a little over 90% decided he needed to be removed from the fellowship. 

     Adding insult to injury Marvin set out on a most unwise course.  He made picket-like signs and picketed the church Sunday after Sunday.  His wife and daughter were too embarrassed to continue attending the church with him out front picketing.  Having only one car his hatred was so intense he drove them clear across town and dropped them off across the street from the new church and returned and continued picketing the original church. 

     Then it happened.  Just like the Scripture says, “Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.” (Proverbs 29:1, NKJV) 

     As winter snowflakes drifted onto the frozen ground Marvin drove his wife and daughter to their church and let them off across the street and headed back to continue his picketing.  After the service was over he drove to pick them up.  But a fire truck was on the scene and as he drove up an ambulance with lights and siren sped off.

     Marvin recognized one of the firemen and asked him what happened.  Try as he could the fireman stammered in a broken choking voice and finally got it out.  “It was your daughter.  She was struck crossing the street by a pickup that slid on the icy road.  I’m sorry Marvin... but she didn’t make it. The ambulance is rushing your wife to the trauma center because she tried to pull your daughter to safety and she fell and broke her back.”

     How sad must a story be to cause us to always yield to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  It would be good if we would pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;  And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalms 139:23-24, NASB)

     Marylou had lived a tough life before she became a Christian.  She had been known to have a horrible temper, nasty tongue and slept around.  But when the Lord grabbed her heart she repented and was immersed and rose to be a changed woman.  She was a joy just to know and she became a very good example to younger women and mothers in the church.

     I can't recall how many years had come and gone but news reached my ears that she had slipped back into some of her old ways: sleeping around, temper tantrums and filthy speech.  Then one morning Marylou came forward at the Invitation.  She expressed sorrow, repented and asked for prayer.  We were thrilled to witness her turn around and the congregation hugged her and prayed for her.

     About three or four months later Marylou erupted into sin again.  Sadly she had increased the extent of her sin.  She blew up at her husband and threw a cup of boiling coffee in his face.  When he was released from the hospital he was afraid to return home and stayed with another family in the church.

     Marylou was now the talk of the town.  Her testimony was gone and would have been laughed at if she’d tried.  It seemed, she just couldn’t give anywhere close to a 100% to the Lord.  A number of us really poured out intercessions for her.  A few months came by and unexpectedly she came back to church.  Once again she came forward asking for forgiveness and prayer. 

     Though we were pleased to have her return, my mind was suddenly filled with a verse.  The Holy Spirit pulsed a message.  He spoke through my lips to Marylou: “Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance.” (Matthew 3:8, ASV)

     She was stunned and then wept.  “I don’t understand why I’m doing all these horrible things. I really want to change.”

     After an extended period of counseling and re-examining her conversion Marylou was finally able to recommit to the Lord and live a life pleasing to Him.

     "Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think.  This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes."  (Romans 12:2, TPT)

Bob Cain

     At age nine, Bob Cain was so musically gifted he joined the school band playing trombone.  As his teen years began he loved rock and rhythm and blues of the day.  He dreamed of being a star.  He advanced to leadership of the band.  Plus he was such a gifted orator he became an emcee hosting famous people.  Then he advanced to the Miss Alabama Pageant which he hosted for ten years.

     He married Penny and the duo bought a Supper Club in Birmingham in which famed artists performed.  Bob and Penny frequently performed at their own club and at other famed venues.  But something was missing from their lives.  Selling alcohol and hosting partying crowds began to gnaw at their souls.

     Feeling pulled by the Holy Spirit the couple repented, closed the club and pondered their work options.  As the Spirit so often does He made the choice very obvious.  Bob's natural gift was music: playing and singing and his sweet wife was a perfect partner.

     A lifetime Christian friend urged the pair to produce a Christian album in their blooming new faith.  Bethany Records produced it and it was titled, "New Song" to celebrate their renewed hearts.

     But the Spirit was just warming them up.  Legendary Jake Hess heard their album and was so impressed he shared it with Bill Gaither.  Bill reached out to Bob and Penny and invited them to sing with and become part of the Homecoming Friends' videos. Bob sang in ten of the Gaither Homecoming Videos before succumbing to cancer at age sixty-one.

What a Wonderful World
Bob Cain

Don't miss his closing remarks.

     Maybe realizing the truth in the lyrics of a new song will help us release some of our anxiety, discouragement and fearfulness.  After all...

“We’re Not Alone”
Ross Brotman

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 or to comment on this article send an email to:

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Red-Flag Warning & More


     Most of us have tried a variety of part-time jobs working through school.  Mine had started at age 15 milking cows and shoveling manure.  When I entered Bible College it was pumping gasoline and then broadened into other automotive work. In my counseling schooling I tried driving a Taxi part-time a few nights a week.


     It was past midnight on a moonlit, humid summer night in Portland, OR.  Working through college I was driving Broadway Cab a few nights a week.  It had been really slow which was common on the warm summer nights.  If it rained then we were really busy.

     I had the cab parked a half block off of Powell in a block long restaurant parking lot.  I had pointed the taxi towards Powell and had my front windows down a few inches and was finishing a greeting card for my wife.  The dispatcher was silent and the night air was starting to disperse the humidity.  Like the song, The Sound of Silence I could have fallen asleep it was so quiet.  Then I heard it.

     I rolled my window all the way down to better hear it.  There it was again someone was screaming over on Powell.  Then a louder scream and I realized I had to check it out.  Leaving all the cab lights off I rocketed across the parking lot towards the noise.  At the last minute I pulled all my lights on and was barely 6 feet away from a large 4-door station wagon.  And there was the screamer … the back door was open with a man dragging a young woman into the car by her hair.  Right before my eyes the deed was done.  They had the woman in the car and then the car shot up Powell.

     I had just witnessed some type of kidnapping and was frantic to do something.  I knew if I didn’t follow them this woman would likely not survive the night.  My conscience shouted do your best.

     So I yanked my steering wheel and sped up to catch the car before it was out of sight.  Up Powell we sped and I had the cab phone in hand and called the code for needing immediate police assistance.  The dispatcher switched me to a different channel and wanted to know what was going on.  I told him and said, “Tell the police I’ll keep following this Station Wagon so all the police need to do is catch up to me then go on past me and pull their car over.”

     I suspect I had only gone about 10 or 12 blocks and then the police car was right behind me.  I gestured to the car in front of me and the officer responded in just a couple of seconds and whipped around me and pulled the car to the curb.

     My last memory was seeing the two men in handcuffs and, once she was freed, the young girl running up the street... still shaking and screaming.


     A week or so later a fellow cab driver was executed by a shot in the back of the head.  Then the murderer fled the scene.  Fortunately a bystander was able to provide a good description and the police gave out an artist’s sketch.  They also said it likely was a gang initiation hit.

     A few days later I dropped off a fare near Lloyd Center when the dispatcher gave me an apartment address nearby.  When I got there a tall thin young man came towards the cab.  Whenever my fare was a young male I always preferred they sit in the front seat where I could keep my eyes on them... trying to prevent any criminal action.  I jumped out and opened the passenger front door.  But he had other plans.

     He slammed the door shut and shuffled around, hands in his pockets, and opened the back door right behind my seat.  Instantly warning bells sounded in my mind.  He’s up to no good, be careful Larry.

     I asked for the address he wanted me to take him.  He snapped, “Just drive.”  Red-flag warning I’m thinking.  “Sorry, I’ve got to have an address or we don’t go anywhere.”  He muttered an address and I pictured it in my mind.  It was a vacant lot on Union Ave.  Another red-flag warning.  I drove towards it rocketing all my senses to full alert.  I prayed to the Lord to please protect me and direct me out of this danger.  I was scrambling to think of any way out of this.  All my life I’ve trusted that when our prayer reaches His throne He gauges the urgency and provides the absolute best solution... and rapidly so:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
     Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
     So are My ways higher than your ways
     And My thoughts than your thoughts.” 
(Isaiah 55:8-9, NASB)

     As I drove north on Union I saw a traffic signal ahead.  It was red.  So as I slowed to stop ~ I saw it.  The first car across the intersection waiting to go south towards us was a police car with two officers inside.  The Holy Spirit directed my action.  I whipped my Taxi sideways in the middle of the intersection ~ which blocked the Police car and I jammed my transmission into Park, jumped out and threw the back door open and ordered the man out of the cab.  And as he did the police officers took over from there and he got to ride in their vehicle.


     Sometimes unique and special occurrences happened back in those Taxi days.  Here’s one.  It had snowed in Portland and quite a bit of the northern Willamette Valley.  Taxi Drivers worked long, long hours as desperate people rang our company’s phone off the hook.  It was not uncommon for riders to have to wait several hours to get a ride.

     I was exhausted and started towards home and decided maybe I should first drive through the Portland Airport and see if there was a straggler who was praying for a ride.  As soon as they saw me the older couple waved wildly.  I pulled over and got out to help with their luggage.  I asked them where they needed to go.  But they didn’t speak any English.  None.

     The man pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and gestured.  It was obvious he wanted me to drive them to whatever was on this paper.  It was an address.  But not just an address.  It was 70 miles away on a rural route out of Stayton, Oregon.  For several moments I tried to gesture to them it was far away and would cost quite a bit.  They got in the cab and gestured to get moving.

     As we headed south on I-5 we went mile after mile with them talking to each other and pointing at traffic coming northbound and they’d sometimes swivel their necks like maybe they recognized a car or truck.  I began to wonder if they were going to a relative’s house outside of Stayton and had expected to be picked up by them at the Airport.  But because of the snow their relative hadn’t made it and so they had to take a Taxi instead.  But, try as I could, I never recognized a single word.  Well that’s not true.  An 18-wheeler coming north on I-5 was full of something green.  They shouted, “Christmas Trees.”  That still makes me chuckle.

     Rather than bore you with an hour-long taxi ride let me share what happened when we got east of Salem and headed into the country roads north of Stayton.  It was around midnight, the roads were free of snow but a fog was drifting in and out, and boy-o-boy was it dark.  I looked at that paper again and realized it will be nearly impossible to find a rural route address as the numbers on the boxes were just not visible.  So I pulled to the side of the road.  It was time to ask for help.  So I bowed my head and asked my Heavenly Father for guidance.  In less than a couple of minutes a County Sheriff came around the bend.  He immediately pulled alongside and asked if I needed help.  Talk about answered prayer!

     Over the next 30 minutes the Sheriff led us to the address.  When we got there he said, “Oh, I know these folks they run a great Chinese Restaurant in Stayton.  But their car isn’t here.  I don’t think they’re home, but I’ll go check.”  So he put his flashers on and knocked on the door.  No one came to the door.

     He said, “You know I think we should take your passengers into Stayton.  There’s a hotel there and they can stay there.  That’ll free you up so you can head back to Portland."

     When we got to the Hotel my passengers really didn’t like what was happening.  But the Sheriff was a prince of a man and, without being able to converse with them, convinced them that he would keep driving by the home and once their relatives were home he’d get them to come and pick them up.  

     Don’t ever think God doesn’t answer your prayers.


     In these COVID-19 days there is an awful amount of sickness, death, loneliness and miserable grief. In full empathy for each of you I decided to share a story that might let you smile and even feel cheered for a few moments.

     The king of Gloomsville was especially grouchy, moody and depressed today.  He had many court jesters whose lot it was in life to cheer the king.  And of course each of the jesters had varying degrees of success to their credit.  One however, was very, very good.  The king nearly always roared in laughter at his words and antics.

     But on this particularly gloomy day in Gloomsville the king was very depressed, moody, grouchy and ill tempered.  In a sudden utterance he summoned all of his Court Jesters…except his favorite one.  He moaned, “I am so downcast, moody and depressed.  I order you to make me laugh or I'll have you put to death."  Try as they might…the King not only failed to laugh…he didn’t even crack a smile.  Horrors.  He had all the Court Jesters put to death.  All except for his favorite jester.

     The King summoned his favorite Jester and gave him the same charge.  Make me laugh or you die.  Having never seen the king this depressed before the Jester gave it all that he had, going far beyond what it normally required to get the king to laugh.  But, this time nothing worked.  The King then spoke the fateful words, which seemed to make him even more despondent: “Then you must also die.  But, because you’ve been my favorite and best jester I will allow you to select your manner of death.  Take just a moment and tell me how you want to die.”

     The Jester pondered just a moment, “Your majesty… I select… as my cause of death… old age!”  And the King laughed.

     Have you and/or your children ever heard the Laughing Song by the late George Younce?  Click on this link and enjoy... be sure to let your children listen to.

     Perhaps you find it hard to chuckle, let alone laugh.  Sad reports of many people giving up during this pandemic.  

     But there is something to turn it all around.

Because... Hope Has A Name...

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 or to comment on this article send an email to: