Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Name of the Lord is a Strong Tower!

Here is my encouragement for you today. Trust in the name of the Lord! This Psalm is a great Psalm to pray over yourself, and/or over those whom you know that need a boost in life.

1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you; 2 May He send you help from the sanctuary, And strengthen you out of Zion; 3 May He remember all your offerings, And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah 4 May He grant you according to your heart's desire, And fulfill all your purpose. 5We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. 6 Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand. 7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. 8 They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright. 9 Save, Lord! May the King answer us when we call.

Verse 1 is the Defending Name of God. Verse 5 is the Displaying Name of God. Verse 7 is the Delivering Name of God.

Know that the Lord defends his people, know that he delivers his people. So be sure to display the name of the Lord everywhere you go.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They have bowed down and fallen; but we have risen and stand upright. Hallelujah!!

Friday, June 6, 2014

This Is A Hard Saying...

In all of my Bibles, I have written three quotes in the blank pages at the back. These are quotes I do not want to forget. I read them often, and I read them to other people as well. I want to share them with you.

But before I do, let me just tell you that these quotes are horrible, hard, tough, invasive, hurtful, maddening, offensive - I could go on. I have lived troubled days, and spent sleepless nights, all thanks to these three quotes. Sometimes they nearly drive me mad. I often have wept before the Lord, just because of these three quotes.

Paul tells Timothy, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance." I have to tell you that these three sayings (quotes) are hard sayings - still worthy of acceptance. I do not remember, or maybe never knew, who said them. Maybe you do. But I fear that if I did know, they might not be my best friend.

Before I list these quotes for you, I pray that they will have the same effect on you that they have had on me. I pray that they drive you to your knees in surrender and tears and repentance. I pray that they produce good fruit in you. Now, the sayings...

"Jesus has no tenderness whatever toward anything that is ultimately going to ruin a man in the service of God."

"Our Lord never puts personal holiness to the fore when He calls a disciple; He puts absolute annihilation of my right to myself and identification with Himself - a relationship with Himself in which there is no other relationship."

"If you are hard and vindictive, insistent on your way, certain that the other person is more likely to be in the wrong than you are, it is an indication that there are whole tracts of your nature that have never been transformed by His gaze."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Doing the Right Thing




Judy and I read the Bible together at breakfast every morning, then we read a few pages of a selected book and have prayer before we start our day. Right now we are reading Lester Sumrall's book: Genesis, the Crucible of the Universe.

We have also been reading through some of the OT books of the prophets. We have read the 3 prophets that deal with the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity, as well as Ezra and Nehemiah. We enjoyed the story of Esther. In it, we saw that Mordecai finished the job that was given to King Saul, a Benjaminite. Saul was supposed to annihilate the Amalekites, but chose to keep King Agag and others alive. Samuel, the prophet, confronted him and told him that God had ripped the kingdom from him and had given it to David. Many years later, during the Babylonian captivity, God chose Mordecai, another Benjaminite, to finish the job by killing Haman, an Agagite; that is, the last descendant of King Agag of the Amalekites.

Though King Saul elected to keep the best of the people and the livestock alive as spoils, Mordecai elected to keep none of the spoils. Righteousness does prevail, though it may take years to see it. God will always win every time. We may not see it. It may be left to our descendants to enjoy the end of the battle. But if we are faithful to teach our children and to encourage them to do the right thing all the time, regardless of how hard it may be or the cost, then we can be sure that the eventual outcome will be good.

So Mordecai encouraged Esther to approach the king, in the face of possible death, to do the right thing - the hard thing. He said, "Who knows but you have been brought to this position of Queen for this very time in history to save the Jews." And she decided, "I will approach the king, and if I die, I die."

Tough choices, big costs. But because of their willingness to obey the Lord, only good came forth. Today, will you be a Saul and lose the kingdom for a few choice spoils? Or will you lay aside the possibility of personal gain for the greater good?

I believe you will make the right choice. It may even save your country, your family, and your own life.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

South Africa - Our New Assignment

It seems that our life has been sorted into assignments, and we have a new one. Our new assignment is huge - a move to South Africa.

South Africa has been on our hearts since 1985 when we traveled there to visit our Tulsa friends who had moved there. We had a wonderful visit, and we fell in love with the country, the people, and the work our friends were doing. In the last 15 years, we have desired to move there ourselves to help Ron Kinnear in his mission outreach throughout the southern African continent. (Check out his ministry.) We have served as his US office administrators for many years, but that was only marginally fulfilling to us. Now, the Lord has released us to move there and work in a more hands-on manner.

(I might take just a moment to explain why I use the word assignment. It is my habit to spend an hour in prayer every morning from 6-7 am. During Monday of this week, the Lord began to show me my ministry life in stages, although he used the word assignment. There have been 6 assignments, and now we have just been give assignment number 7.)

So, we are now South Africa bound. You may ask, "When are you leaving, and how long are you staying?" Good question(s). I will try to answer. (We will be living in Pretoria in the northern part of South Africa. See map at the bottom of this blog.)

We have no appointed date for leaving. There is much to do: raise monthly financial support for our And the Lord has been faithful every day in giving directions and supply for the tasks. Stay tuned for an announcement at some time in the near future for our departure date. Judy and I are planning for mid-June. But we have heard nothing from the Lord, so far.
livelihood while there, gather money for the trip there (and shipping a few small items), acquiring volunteer visas, finish up US obligations. Overall, we are daily looking to the Lord for HIS direction as to what to do, when to do it, and how to pay for it.

How long are we staying? I have never entered any assignment with an end-date in mind. To me, that creates an escape hatch, if things aren't going well. I have always begun an assignment with the idea of finishing my life in that given assignment. So I am naturally amazed when the Lord shows up to let me know that it is time to move on. I plan to stay in South Africa until the Lord returns, or I go to meet Him. Of course, we will have occasional visits back home.

The most important thing you can do for us is to pray for us. Pray as the Lord leads you to pray each time you lift us up. And if the Lord speaks to you, impresses upon you, or however you describe it, then please support us financially, either with a one-time or occasional gift, or with monthly support. We are trusting him with our every need, and him alone.

Keep checking back here for updates on our ministry to South Africa. And check this blog for my personal thoughts and stories.

Thanks for your prayers above all (and your good wishes).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Most Powerful Christmas Story

Each year, as Christmas rolls around, I find new and exciting details about the coming of the Messiah to earth. In other words, Christmas just gets more and more wonderful to me. I have especially been drawn to the account recorded in Matthew chapter one.

It begins, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” It struck me, as I read this sentence, that it was Jesus who was the promised son of David (not Solomon), and the promised son of Abraham (not Isaac). I remembered that Genesis 3:15 was the promise of the coming “seed of the woman” who would totally defeat Satan who had misguided Eve in the garden.

Then I reviewed Acts 2:30, “Therefore, (David) being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne…” It was Jesus, not Solomon, whom God promised would sit on David’s throne.

Further, I returned to Galatians 3:16 to remind myself of the promise to Abraham, “Now to Abraham and his Seed, were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.” So truly, the Holy Spirit speaks through Matthew to inform the whole world that Jesus, born of a virgin in Bethlehem, is the true Son of David, the true Son of Abraham. And this truth begins the whole New Testament, verse one of chapter one of Matthew.

The genealogies, beginning with verse two, are given for many reasons; but one special reason stood out to me in view of the first verse and the eighteenth verse. The coming of Jesus was quite different from the coming of all other people into this world. All people’s lineages are made up of men marrying women, men cohabiting with women – good women, bad women, good men, bad men. But not so, the birth of Jesus. And the Greek language especially points to this fact.

After having identified Jesus as the Promised Seed of Genesis 3:15 (Matthew 1:1), the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, Matthew finishes His genealogy with these words in Matthew 1:18. “Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise.” Or to translate the Greek more literally, “On the contrary, the birth of Jesus was like this.” The Holy Spirit specifically draws attention to the stark difference in the conception/birth of others and the conception/birth of Jesus. He was born of a virgin, before her marriage, and of the Holy Spirit’s impregnation. So verse eighteen becomes the centerpiece of the entire New Testament. Jesus was truly the only begotten Son of God!

People throughout the last 2,000 years have doubted and disbelieved this fact. But the fact still stands true, unwavering, and withstanding all contradiction. Jesus is the Son of God. And remember this truth; the Word of God trumps all other theories, ideas or experiences. It has stood the test of time.

So this Christmas, I pray for you, that you will see in a deeper way the beauty of the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. Christmas is more than the gift we give, it is all about – and only, ever, all about – the gift of Jesus to the world. And His coming the first time assures us that He will surely come again!

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Have a Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The New Testament - Jesus' Letters in Red?

One whole shelf in my office library is full of Bibles of many different versions. The one I use the most, the New King James version, has the words of Jesus in red.

One theologian I read said that this is a travesty. By raising the words of Jesus above all other scripture, you naturally lower the value of the other words, he says. All scripture is inspired by God; therefore, all the words are of equal value because they are all God's words.

I don't know how you feel about that. You probably take the more common position that it is nice to separate the words of Jesus for identification purposes.

But here is my personal take on the matter. When I try to follow what Jesus taught, I find that I am woefully inadequate and powerless for the task! I mean, who can truly forgive his enemy, let alone love him? The good news is that through His death and resurrection, he accomplished for me what I could not accomplish for myself - on my best day!

So, His words are in red, because they leave me owing; i.e., in the red.
Then comes his sacrifice for me, and now I have all I need, in Him, to overcome and be successful; i.e., in the black.

In the Gospels, He removed my debt - the red; and in the Epistles, I am on victory ground - in the black.

What do you think about that?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This Tree Is A Testimony



This beautiful tree with its gorgeous limbs and the light through it leaves has a dynamic story. Let me tell you about it, and the man who's confession never wavered and eventually came true.

In April of 1979, 34 years ago, Doyle and Marlene Turley and 13 other families bought a huge tract of land near Lake Tenkiller, outside of Tahlequah, OK. All of these families grew up on the west side of Tulsa, or were family members of someone from the west side. They created the Westside Country Club on this purchased land. As often as they could, they would come from Tulsa for the weekend to this heavenly piece of property, until they eventually were able to retire here. 

At the beginning, the piece of property around this tree was the only open space on the entire tract of land, all the rest was forest. So they would come and camp around this tree and plot out and clear the rest of the land. They sectioned off the land among the 14 families, created roads, and a covenant. 

This tree was somewhat sickly. It was about 10-feet tall, split into two parts, and had an ugly, deep hole about 3-feet long on one side. Everyone would say, "This tree will die." "Let's cut it down." "This tree isn't going to make it.", etc. But Doyle Turley would always say, "This tree won't die. It's going to live."

So Doyle filled the hole with that expandable foam that comes out of spray cans for filling up cracks, etc., in walls and house trim. (It took a lot of the foam.) Then he sealed it over, and sprayed it every year. All the time, the others would say, "This tree won't make it."

The picture at the bottom of this article is the tree 34 years later. It is in the middle of the property, and the pride of the whole Country Club. (My own granddaughters would love to climb it, but are too small.) And never once has Doyle ever said, "I told you so." The picture also includes in it my wife, Judy, so you can see how big it is.

There is something to say about the importance of confession, and sticking with it. It may take months for your life to show the results of the confession, but if you hang in there, it will. I am thankful that God gives us such a powerful tool as confession. I am alive today because of it. I believe what God says about me, and I continually speak it out. My circumstances eventually catch up. 

Paul says, in Hebrews 4:14, "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession." And again, in Hebrews 10:23, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."