Easter - 2018

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Attitude is everything!

Worthy Devotions does it again...funny story to teach us it is all about your attitude:

Psalms 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
We got this email from a friend and laughed so hard we had to share it with you.

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and saw that she had only three hairs on her head. "Great," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today."

So she did, and had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. "Hmm," she said, "I guess I'll part my hair down the middle."

So she did, and had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only one hair left on her head.

"Wow," she said, "today I get to wear my hair in a pony tail." So she did, and had a wonderful, wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that there wasn't a single hair on her head.

"Thank God!" she exclaimed. "I was running out of things to do with my hair!"

ATTITUDE is everything! Let's be grateful for the things God has given us and have a wonderful day!
Keep laughing and enjoy the day. You know I love ya, Don

Monday, August 27, 2012

Humor ... a gift from the throne of God!

I love humor. Laughter is a great part of any day. I have discovered a new devotion website that is all about humor. George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions has put together a series of devotions that are humor with a lesson. See below for one of my favorites:

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
One day, a man was walking across a bridge and saw another man standing on the edge, about to jump off. He immediately ran to him and said, "Stop! Don't do it!" 

"Well, why shouldn't I?" he replied. 

The other said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" 

"Like what”? 

"Well … are you religious or atheist?" 


"Me too! And are you Christian or Jewish?" 


"Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" 


"Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?” 


"Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?" 

"Baptist Church of God." 

"Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" 

"Reformed Baptist Church of God." 

"Praise the Lord! Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?" 

"Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!" 

To which he said, "Die, you heretic!" and pushed him off the bridge.

When we get together with our family here in Israel on Shabbat, we often find ourselves discussing and even arguing our views on various topics, political, spiritual, etc. You’ve heard the phrase two Jews, five opinions? That’s our family. At the end, we all laugh about who argued best and try to learn from one another.

The body of the Lord is one big family. Yes, we differ in opinion on some issues. But we are going to be together for eternity and we must learn to live in peace with one another! In order for us to make a real difference in the world, the world needs to see us loving each other.
Let’s not be like the man who pushed the other off the bridge. Let’s laugh about it and try to learn from one another.

Great thoughts and funny too...Let's not push each other off today but strive to work together to bring abundant life to those we meet. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Box of tomatoes....a reminder to produce!

And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down'.” - Luke 13:6-9

 We were given a big box of fresh tomatoes. All sort of varieties of tomatoes were in the box. Karen used them to make stewed tomatoes and then some homemade salsa. All good eats if you ask me. With the drought this year, our garden has not produced so well. Even with my watering it, it has just been too dry. What we found is our friend has a well and uses the excess water in the well to water their garden. It reminded me of this parable and that our lives need to be tended and watered regularly in order to produce.

This is such an unusual parable. Jesus tells a short and concise story of faithfulness and a call to repent. Responding to God's call is ripe for all to hear and respond. The parable is letting us know that God is investing in his creation and their will come a time when fruit will be expected and when it is not produced there is sad results. Bradford Reeves of Texas writes:
I remember when I was given some exceptional homegrown vegetables. While thanking the people involved, I asked what made the vegetables so good. They told me that the growing temperature had been just right and rain had come at just the right time. Much of what led to their exceptional crop did not depend on them.

Unlike that vegetable crop, much of what influences our spiritual life does depend on us. We determine our attitude, our disciplines, and our willingness to grow. So I check myself from time to time. I look at my attitudes: Do I trust God? Am I seeking to stay in love with God? I look at my spiritual practices: praying, reading the Bible, attending worship, receiving Communion, doing all the good I can, avoiding all the evil I can. Do I seek out spiritual counsel? I look at my willingness to grow: Do I desire God above all things?
I agree with Mr. Reeves. It takes work to be a growing believer in Christ. The sinful nature is like weeds in a garden. If I do not tend and work toward spiritual formation, then the sinful nature will take over and my life is filled with weeds of sin. I want to bear exceptional fruit in God’s kingdom, but I know that means I cannot simply depend on what comes to me. I have my part to do.

Striving to be all the God created in me....you know I love ya, Don

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Surviving the journey and the ups and downs!!!

[Jesus] said to them all, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23

I have been meditating on this passage for a few weeks. It takes a great deal of discipline to take up a burden and live each day with that burden. Every believer has a burden to carry and it does not help to deny the reality of our burdens. I believe our burden travels with us for the purpose of making us depend on God on the journey of life. Pramila Barkataki of Maharashtra, India writes:
It was going to be my first long bus ride. The receptionist at the counter attempted to allay my fears by telling me that it was a nice journey over a smooth road. After talking with her for quite some time, I felt reassured and boarded the bus. Within a short time, I realized that what she had told me was not so. The drive was rough and full of jerks, at times even throwing me off my seat. I was not prepared for it, and I blamed the receptionist for not telling me the truth.

Jesus answers the question of the the young ruler who wanted to inherit eternal life with selling everything and giving to the poor. When Jesus told him to sell all that he had before following him, the young man chose not to follow. Jesus could have made the way appear easier for the young man, but instead he gave a true picture of the cost of discipleship.

Remembering my rough ride and the story in Luke 18, I thought of my journey in the Christian faith. When I was learning about Christ, I was told what it meant to follow him that I would suffer hardships and difficulties and even rejection by my own family members. Because of this, when I chose to receive Christ, I was prepared to face the consequences. I knew what to expect, and when difficulty came I was not taken by surprise. This made my Christian journey easier.
The difficulties we face in life are part of the journey and bring us to a place of knowing and depending on Jesus in all things. The good news is that He never leaves us and we have each other to lean on. Over time, we come to accept the bumps and jerks all the while embracing the grace of Jesus through every moment.

We are on the journey together...You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Everyone has some to teach and some to learn!

The Learning Principle: Each person we meet has the potential to teach us something. Take a look at Ephesians 2:20, “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” The foundation of the apostles, prophets, and Christ Himself is servant teaching. A Christ-follower does not stop learning. A Christ-follower will never stop learning…in fact a Christ-follower is dedicated to learning and seizing every opportunity to improve their walk with the Lord and with each other.

Learning begins with listening and change is always the goal of learning. These are two actions that are hard to do…listening and changing. The success of listening and changing is to value everyone. People do not listen, nor do they change because of someone they do not value. Thus, in order to achieve the Learning Principle, we need to listen to and value every person.

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated it this way, “I have never met a man who was not my superior in some particular.” You and I grow and learn best in the areas of our strengths and we can learn from other people’s area of strength.

Nancy Morris writes in her blog, "Making Common Sense Common Knowledge":
I love giving commencement speeches at graduations. But most young people look shell-shocked when they hear me say that their learning has only just begun. I tell them that to be successful, they have to follow a two-word rule. The two words? “Teach me.” Learning doesn’t stop because we’ve graduated. In fact, “teach me” is a critical key for success for anyone.

I’ve got some examples here that show you what I mean:

  • Teach Me Mr. Client how I can help you better use our product or service.
  • Teach Me friend how to laugh at myself.
  • Teach Me mentor how to do this effectively and efficiently.
  • Teach Me honey how to be your ideal partner.
  • Teach Me kids how to play with abandon.
Action – If you think you know everything, you’re living a life of disappointment already. But if you follow the “Teach Me” rule, you can reach any goal you set.

I believe Nancy has some wonderful words to listen to, learn from and teach other with. I am taking the "teach me" approach that every person has the ability to teach me something, I want to connect with that person and continue to build on the foundation of Spiritual development that connect brings. Lets make connections! Lets learn from each other! You know I love ya, - Don

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Olympics Close, yet our race continues.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" Hebrews 12:1
Last night the 2012 London games came to a close with a grand closing ceremony celebrating music traditions from Great Britain and then on to Rio de Janeiro for 2016. I love the ceremony of it all. The amount of organization and planning to implement any Olympic Games is amazing. It reminds me of God's Kingdom and how He has strategically planned for our redemption through His touch on history. The writer of Hebrews refers to this in the passage above.

In this text, I can see Paul (or whomever wrote the book) imagining a great Roman Stadium, maybe even the Colosseum. I can see the Holy Spirit guiding the words, illustrating sportsmanship and endurance. Illustrating to us the discipline, dedication, and passion that is necessary to achieve Godliness, holiness, and righteousness. I can feel the heat and burn of the muscles as they work with sweat and tears. There is also the challenger that is pulling at me and flesh that is holding me back. This is such a hard race....

But then, there is a large crowd. Enormous crowd! Cheering! Shouting! Chanting my name! I take my eyes off the course for a split second and the reality sets in....in that crowd is My Dad, My Grandma, My Grandpa, Nicholas Mark, all the friends and loved ones that have gone home to be with the Lord. They have finished the race and are in the stands cheering for me....for me. It is my turn to win. It is my turn to please the King. Then I see Him....it is Jesus....He is standing at the end of the race with His arms open wide!

It makes it worth getting out of bed and pressing forward....because He lives it will be worth it all! You know I love ya - a fellow racer and your companion on the journey, Don

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Relationship Building!!!

Philippians 3:10-14
"that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Making choices defines our relationship with God. That relationship is often challenged by other people, our scheduled, and our poor choices. Debbie Sumstad Petras writes in her blog, "Heart Choices" the following thoughts:
In order to grow in any relationship, you need to spend time together.

So, pour a cup of tea, coffee or your favorite beverage and find a place where you'll be alone and talk to God and ...listen.

Maybe you have to set your alarm so you wake up a bit earlier than your children or before you have to get ready for work. It may only be a short time to begin with. But start with some time each day.
  • Ask the Lord for direction for your day.
  • Give Him your to-do list and ask for the time to complete what He has for you this day.
  • Submit your day to Him asking for His strength and guidance.
  • Ask for His wisdom to discern whether an interruption is a distraction or something sent from Him.
There may not be enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list. There may not be enough time to be super "whatever you are".

Just start by submitting this day to the Lord. Allow Him to work in and through you to impact others He has for you ...in this season of your life. It is then that He will make you effective and purposeful.

I totally agree and require regular reminders. God has and is continually, intentionally seeking and loving my attention to Him. Thus, it is my purpose to intentionally seek His presence in my life. You know I love ya, Don 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Why am I too busy for God...or am I?

Luke 24:13-35
       And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was [about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them.  But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.  

     And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” 

      And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

     And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.

The following thoughts are from Sammy M. Gumbe on the Upper Room Devotional. They resonate with me at times and often use these words as a reminder to stay on track and focus on God. Hearing His voice is the key to successful spiritual formation.
"The two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus were so busy in their thoughts and in their discussion that they did not recognize Jesus when he began to walk with them. How this story reminds me of my walk with Jesus! 

"As a Christian leader and trainer, I often find myself extremely busy in ministry, training ministers in spiritual formation and Christian leadership. Recently, though, I have realized that in doing so much work "in the name of God," I have neglected a basic element in my own life of faith: intimacy with God and growth in my personal spiritual formation. 

"When we become busy in our "doing" for God and forget to spend time in God's presence with scripture and prayer, we will find ourselves becoming tired and frustrated with our work. In our ministry for Christ, we miss Christ's ministry to us. 

"I have learned that I need to have intimate times with God constantly, even as I go about doing things for God. My Christian service has changed for the better as I have prayed, 'Lord, help me and lead me as I daily serve you'."

May we never forget to listen for His voice and His character in our lives. You know I love ya, Don