BEHIND THE SCENE

FOUR GOOD OL’ BOYS FROM THE “PORE” PART OF TOWN TEAMED UP BECAUSE THEY HAD LEPROSY.

They were kicked out because leprosy scared the living daylights out of people. It was contagious and lepers stanketh.

The Syrian army had come into Israeli territory cutting off the city and well nigh starving those city folks.  The Syrians we’re camped outside the city slowly squeezing the life out of the Israeli’s. Then the Lord showed up!

  1. The four good ol’ leper boys were sitting on a little cliff kinda looking down on the Syrian army.
  2. The first leper said, “Hey boys – we’re gonna starve if we stay here.”
  3. The second leper chimed in with, “Well, we’ll starve if we go back into the city.”
  4. The third little pig … – sorry, that’s a different story –  the third leper was so discouraged he told the others that they probably ought to just go out and surrender.
  5. The fourth guy piped up, “Look, I’d rather get killed than die a slow painful death from starvation. Why sit here til we die?”
  6. So they agreed to climb down the rocks and ask for some food. The  closer they got they could smell the porridge and lamb chops, but they didn’t see anyone so they ate til their tummies were full.

What they didn’t realize was that when God goes to work, you may not always see what He is doing behind the scenes.

“The Lord had caused the [Syrian] Aramean army to hear the sound of chariots, horses, and a large army.  The Syrians said to each other, “The king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and ran away in the twilight, leaving their tents, horses, and donkeys. They left the camp standing and ran for their lives.”

2 Kings 7:6-7 (ncv)

My friend, stay true, stay strong even if you think you’re gonna die because God has things going on behind the scenes for your good and His glory! Hallelujah!

II Kings 7:3-8    🎼🎶🎹

“Encamped along the hills of light,

Ye Christian soldiers, rise,

And press the battle ere the night

Shall veil the glowing skies.

Against the foe in vales below

Let all our strength be hurled;

Faith is the victory, we know,

That overcomes the world.

“On every hand the foe we find

Drawn up in dread array;

Let tents of ease be left behind,

And onward to the fray.

Salvation’s helmet on each head,

With truth all girt about,

The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,

And echo with our shout.

“Faith is the victory!

Faith is the victory!

Oh, glorious victory,

That overcomes the world.”

(John H. Yates)

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THE DECEIVER

DECEPTION!

Have you ever been hornswoggled? I was – more than once!  I needed …, no, I wanted a specific item.  The sales representative knew that the key to my purchase was my “want,” my desire.  He could sense it. He had my number. He knew I was an easy mark. I was vulnerable.  I bought it – hook, line and sinker!  No, No, No! I’m not saying he was a deceiver – maybe a little.  All I’m illustrating is that I was an easy sale because of my own vulnerability.

The New Age followers prey on those who are innocent and/or those who are seeking hope of some sort or another.  The so-called “religious” science followers and the “ology” folks,  pick out those who are looking for fame or positive affirmation and “BINGO!”  They’ve learned how to prey upon those who want money, or fame, or “spiritual” guidance.  These smooth-talkers have been taught how to identify and take advantage of the vulnerable.

“For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”

Romans 16:18 (niv)

“Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Matthew 24:11-13 (niv)

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

1 Peter 5:8-9 (niv)

 

UNSEEN, BUT KNOWN

MULTIPLIED MILLIONS OF DOLLARS – $$$ – have been spent by your government on listening for communication from outer space and investigating the possibility of extraterrestrial creatures. It took our illustrious scientists and academics thousands of years to discover DNA.  We still have not discovered a cure for the common cold.  Just think, electromagnetic and radio waves were not discovered until the 1870’s.  X-rays weren’t known until the late 1800’s and computer technology until the 1930’s.

Suppose, just suppose …

ALTHOUGH THERE IS AN UNSEEN-WITH-THE-NAKED-EYE SPIRITUAL BEING roaming the earth, nevertheless, the evil one is a person. We can rebuke his negativity in our lives, his filthy temptations, his accusations, his attempts to discourage us and his coming  to us as an angel of light.  Yes, an angel of light, and at the same time dragging us into low self esteem or pushing us into arrogant pride. God’s plan is for us to  “submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
James 4:7 (niv)

Right now, regardless of your circumstances, El Shaddai (The Almighty God Who Can), YAWEH (The one who says, “I AM!”), The Christ of Calvary, is as close as your heart.  “HE is here, hallelujah! HE is here AMEN!”  Do you want to “see” Him? GO.TO.HIS.WORD!  Submit yourself to Him!  “Listen” to your heart!

“No one can see God, but JESUS CHRIST IS EXACTLY LIKE HIM.  He ranks higher than everything that has been known, made or discovered.
“He was there before anything was made, and all things continue because of him.”
Colossians 1:15, 17 (ncv)

To the scientists and governments of this fallen world, I am saying, “Your huge disks on top of the mountain will not find Him.”

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith 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 55:6-9 (kjv)

“You must give your whole heart to him and hold out your hands to him for help.”
Job 11:13 (ncv)   🎼🎶🎹
“Into my heart, into my heart.
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.
Come in today, come in to stay.
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”

On the Wings of Angels

A FEW YEARS AGO – actually, it was over 40 years ago, but the older I get “ain’t it funny how time slips away.” So, over 40 years ago I went to Los Angeles, maybe Costa Mesa, to a wedding; a small one.  Pat and Debbie Boone were there. Pat’s secretary was getting married. No huge pipe organ.  No big choir.  No marching down the aisle. No train following the bride. Suddenly, but softly Pat and Debbie began to sing,

🎼🎶🎹
“Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.
I can feel His mighty power and His grace.
I can hear the brush of angels wings.
I see glory on each face.
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.”

There were no strobe lights, no acid rock music, and no blonde bombshells prancing across a stage yelling into the mic. But guess what? The Holy Spirit showed up.  Some may not understand the metaphor, but all of us there that day heard the flutter of angels wings.

The Quietness of Growth

BACK IN THE STONE AGES WHEN I WAS ABOUT SEVEN, we moved to Grandpa’s ranch way out in the country north of Cisco, Texas.  The little town we moved from near the Mexican border was noisy, but on the ranch it was real quiet. The cows were eating grass so about the only sounds they made were when they mooed. Grandpa didn’t have tractors. He had horses. They didn’t make noise either except snortin’ around. Chickens clucked and the pigs oinked, but for all practical purposes it was quiet all the time.

The wheat, corn and highgear, grass, trees and flowers didn’t make any noise as they grew. Things that grow don’t make noise, but in town there was alot of noise especially when they were tearing things down, or if Grandpa ran into something, or if the blacksmith was banging on iron.
I guess I learned that when things grow they don’t make noise, but when you tear things down or go running around here and there you make a lot of noise and bring a lot of attention to yourself.
It’s better to be in a growing mode than to tear things down. It’s better to lift people up than to tear them down!

WHY PEOPLE HURT

I HAD MY PASTOR’S HAT ON.  [I was so young.]  TEARS OF CONFUSION POURED FROM HER EYES.  She was a relatively new Christian.  Her little son had just died and her husband was angry. He was mad at her, God and everyone!  In addition, they were in debt head over heels. With pleading eyes she said, “But I thought Jesus was supposed to help us.” I was thinking, “Is she thinking God caused this? Does she think God allowed this? Did I teach her this?”  Where is God when you need Him?  Maybe I should say, “Well, we live in an evil world.”  Both she and her husband would have thrown me out of the house … and he was a big guy.

I don’t think quoting Jesus would have helped, and leave it at that.  “‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’”  (John 16:33 (niv))  And yet, he spoke truth.  Nevertheless, she had a sincere question. She wouldn’t have accepted a scriptural exegesis.  A saccharine sweet brushoff wouldn’t do from a 27 year old “preacher of sorts.”  She was in emotional and spiritual pain!

When someone has had a terrible auto accident, lying in the middle of the road, blood everywhere, a doctor would not give a classroom  lecture on trauma.  Sorry Charlie.  It’s not the right time or place. Furthermore, the pain would be too excruciating.  I’m trying to figure out why people hurt.

#1 –  The place to start is before the injury & pain; before the heartache, before the discouragement or disappointment, before the treason or lies, before the uncertainty or questions.  The relationship we have with Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit,  a voracious hunger for his Word, the Bible , our spiritual road map is our  protection and peace.

He said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me.” (John 10:14)

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 (kjv))

“But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
Romans 5:8-9 (kjv)

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7 (kjv)

#2 -The Rorschach test was designed to help the psychologist delve deep into our thinking finally diagnosing our mental state.  Other than our own destructive behavior, trying to diagnose how or why human beings suffer – usually blaming God – only creates more suffering through hate, anger and despondency.  When suffering through our heartaches, should we blame God or perhaps go to a street-side mind reader?  Trust me on this my friend, things will happen in our life for which there is no answer – none.  You can read books about why bad things happen to good people and it may bring a little comfort, somewhat like rubbing Lidocaine on a sore tooth, but when God works with us through our hurt, he goes to the heart of the matter.  Count on it, he does not cause human suffering, but in many cases he will pick up the pieces left along the way.  He welcomes us as we fall helplessly into his bosom.  Even Jesus who was God in the flesh had terrible feelings of hopelessness.  In his feelings of unrequited soul-hurt he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

#3 –  Over and over throughout the Bible the Lord challenges us by saying, “Do not be afraid.”  When the disciples were about to drown, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.”  When a celestial being appeared to the shepherds, it scared the living daylights out of them.  Think of it,  thousands of angels spread across the sky, singing.  I would be scared, too.  An angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.”  In the Book of Revelation 2:10, the indication is that Satan causes suffering.  It says,  “DO NOT BE AFRAID of what you are about to suffer.  I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer for 10 days.  But be faithful, even if you have to die, and I will give you the crown of life.”

#4 – How about those three hanging on crosses?  Two of them were criminals.  The One on the center cross was God who took upon himself flesh and bone.  In his pain and suffering, one of the thieves railed at Jesus, mockingly said, “So, some people have said you are the Messiah! If you can’t save yourself, how are you going to save us?” I can’t find where Jesus shouted back condemnation to the bitter thief.  “But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?  We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.’  Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.’  And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
(Luke 23:39-43)

#5 – Sometimes the pain we feel is because we don’t know what to do. It’s as though there is no answer.  Hopeless. “What do I do now? Is there no one to help me?”
It’s interesting that Paul and Silas “were PRAYING and SINGING HYMNS to God [in jail], and … suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!”
(Acts of the Apostles 16:25-26)

#6 – Rather than dealing with the “Why” of suffering, the key is to deal with the solution. The solution is to PRAISE HIM!  Praising shows trust!

#7 – 🎼🎶
“Praise Him! praise Him!
Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Sing, O earth, His wonderful love proclaim!
Hail Him! hail Him! highest archangels in glory,
strength and honor give to His holy name!
Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children;
in His arms He carries them all day long:
“Praise Him! praise Him! tell of His excellent greatness!
Praise Him! praise Him! ever in joyful song!”
(Fanny Crosby)

SACCHARINE OUT THE YINGYANG!

THERE ARE THOSE WHO HAVE CAUTIONED ME, ASKING THAT I ONLY PRINT “POSITIVE” THINGS.

No prrroblema (a little Spanish lingo for your enjoyment).  But c’mon now.  This happyhappy mind set is like the (P.T.) Barnum or Forer Effect, like Pollyanna.  Pollyanna, Barnum, Forer, positive thinking, you can do it yourself philosophy … the happyhappy life, the give me your money for seeds and you’ll be healthy, wealthy and wise; all this was actually used by charlatans.  This may be called subjective validation. They say you will never have to worry about sickness because all you need to do is just go to one of those big healing campaigns and whoever it is will heal you. Oh, and BTW, your heart will never hurt.  That being the case, no one would ever die.

The book, Pollyanna, was written back in 1913 [the same year the 16th Amendment was ratified – INCOME TAXES] by Eleanor H. Porter and became a popular children’s book.  Pollyanna has become a derisive term for someone who always has an “optimistic outlook: a subconscious bias toward the positive.”

Theoretically, all you need do, they say, is to think positive and your problems will dissipate.  You’ll never have a “Job” experience; that’s JOB, the man, not a job.  You’ll never fail at anything [or if you do, just think positive; be happy-happy].

Do you remember that comic strip by Charles Shultz, Peanuts?  Charlie was saying, “I’ll never make it. I’ll be a failure.”  Lucy says to him, “Charlie, think positive!”  Charlie answers back, “OK.   I. WILL. fail!”  I presume one could think positive about failing – I wouldn’t recommend it.  But I have known those who just couldn’t bring themselves to face reality – it wouldn’t be spiritual.

Did you know that the Pollyanna, Barnum, Forer Effect has been associated with New Ageism, astrology, fortune telling, graphology and sorcery?

Am I saying that faith is of no effect?  Absolutely not!  Am I saying that positive thinking is of the devil?  Not on your life!  Are you supposed to walk around with a rain cloud over your head?  You gotta be kidding!  Sour, negative, down in the dumps? No way!  But if you think you can do it yourself without the hand of God in your life, I guarantee that some time or in some way you’ll be jerked back to reality with your little positive attitude wrapped around your little positive neck.

Maybe this is a good time for you to open your Bible and read about the human experience.  It is the oldest history book known to man.  Do you think Eve suffered when one of her sons murdered her other son?  Was Joseph thinking positive when his brothers dumped him in a pit?  Was Job happy-happy when he lost everything he had worked so hard for and wound up with revolting sores all over his body?  The Psalmist cried,  “People make fun of me and hate me.” (Psalms 22:6 (ncv))   Do you think he just snapped his fingers and sang, “O what a beautiful morning?”  No way Jose’.

In my book, “Write it on My Heart,” I mention that from the time I was about 19 years of age it is provable I read approximately one (1) self-help book every month.  I mean everything from “Think and Grow Rich” to “The Power of Positive Thinking,” from “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” to “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”  I even read some of those saccharine sweet religious books authored by preachers who never had the experience of suffering, that is until they lost their kingdom in scandal and/or bankruptcy.   I attended seminars out the yingyang conducted by those guys who collected $500.00 with glee.  I even spoke at a bunch of those seminars myself from hither to yon collecting half of the $500.00.  I went home healthy, wealthy and wiser.  If the person speaking or leading the seminar had a certain esteem or charisma, or was perceived to be (pseudo) successful, he could say “the.world.is.round!” and the attendees were more likely to accept what was said and jump up and down shouting “Whoopee!”  Hence, the “power of positive thinking” acceptance.

My friend, “positive thinking” without Christ is like a shadow without substance, a shell without the kernel, a brain without a mind!  If you want positive, try this:

“My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side! I PRAISE God for what he has promised; yes, I PRAISE the Lord for what he has promised. I TRUST in God, so why should I be afraid?”
Psalms 56:9-11 (nlt)

“I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST because he gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:13 (ncv)

YOUR “I CAN DO ALL THINGS” CAN BE LIFTED INTO THE HEAVENLY REALM ONLY  “THROUGH CHRIST!”

DOES JESUS CARE?

MILLIONS IN THIS COUNTRY ARE ONE PAYCHECK AWAY FROM HOMELESSNESS! JEWEL, the well-known singer, was essentially homeless and living out of her car in San Diego. I heard her say, “I had the privilege of being stripped of everything except my thoughts.” You may have been there.  I was! Those around me were confused. “Friends” didn’t know if it was permissible to remain my friend. Two kids. No money. Misunderstood. Heartbroken. Two inches away from homelessness. Turned down for unemployment. No one … no one to help!  THEN JESUS CAME in a new way. He had always been there in my heart, but I had also received a weekly salary – not much, but at least it kept the wolf away from the door. I had a few dollars for cereal and wieners.  Not enough for rent.

In the fog of my confusion, stripped of everything, JESUS CAME!  Oh, I knew him as my Savior, but who’s gonna feed my kids … right now?! Will the three of us be sleeping on the street after having been the pastor of a growing church?

“You are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.”
Isaiah 64:8 (nlt)

Laughed out of a 7-Eleven. Not answered by a messenger service. Rejected as a hotel clerk. No experience as a waiter. Another church looked upon me with skepticism when I applied as an assistant. Frantic, looking for a job … any job. Nothing! Stripped of everything – except my dignity. Yes, Jesus saves, but he also cares. Three weeks later I was hired as the executive assistant to a man who was worth multiplied millions. He paid me well.

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19 (nlt)   🎼🎶
“Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
“Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.”
(Frank E. Graeff)

NO MATH HERE!

FYI – BE AWARE OF THOSE WHO TELL YOU TO “TAKE THESE THREE [or four, or five, or seven] STEPS, and you’ll be saved! Islam has The Five Pillars, some Christian groups have two, seven, and some have 12.  It is as though if you DO these two [or 3, or 4, or 7, or 99] things – taadaah! YOU’RE IN, MAN! ‘Taint so!  “Am I suppose to say, ‘Mother may I?’ Are these supposed to be baby steps or giant steps?” This way of Christ is not a mathematical equation. It is not a check list.

John 1:9 – “If [you] confess your sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive [you] and to cleanse [you] from every wrong.”

“He is the forgiveness for [your] sins. … And [you] can be sure that [you] know him if [you] obey his commandments.”
I John 2:3

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
1 John 1:7 (kjv)