Tuesday, November 26, 2013


My friends and I would lay on the ground or in the grass and either look at the stars at night or the clouds by day.  We had the warmth of the sun by day and a cool breeze at night.  Time slowly passed by and we would marvel at what the heavenlies revealed to us.  

It was a time of simplicity.  It was a time where real friendships were forged, the kind of friendships that lasted a lifetime.  Going from memory, video consoles and games were in its infancy.  During the summer months when school was out we would play several football games in the empty lot behind one of the apartment complexes.  (This was a dirt lot and served as our artificial turf.  The enclosed church yard, lush green grass, served as our neutral field when other streets challenged us to a game.). Not quite sure why or how it came about, but the church leaders never scolded us for using their field!  We on occasion helped keep it clean and well manicured.  

My minds eye recalls all of the block parties and birthday parties we all shared growing up.  Kids of all ages running around and parents gleefully looking on.  Hmm!!  I can still smell some of the food and hear the hearty laughter as life seemed to be at its best.  Comparing those days, no, years to today and I say to myself, "were we living in a bubble?"  Everybody knew everybody.  Parents, grandparents, cousins, brothers, etc.  There were no strangers living within a mile of our little community.  
Many a nights were spent sitting on porches and enjoying one another's company.  We spoke of ambitions and dreams, fears and failures.  Yet, I can only recall very few sad times.  Life did present difficulties for the many families and still we carried on. 

Eventually, one by one some of the older kids graduated high school and either went off to college, joined the military or startng working full-time.  Rights of passage into adulthood.    Now the younger kids like myself were the ones being looked up to by those who came into being later.  We became the examples and guardians of a future generation.  

We all lived life day-to-day.  As children we did not have a true understanding of what it took for our parents to make all of this possible!  No way!!!  Whenever a need came up whether it be babysitting, transportation or financial, an emergency or a death we all rallied to help one of our own.  

Looking back I can recall how the early church (Acts 2:42-47) and its members sold their possessions and goods to help out others members within their community who had a need.  

"Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common and sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all, as anyone who had a need.  Continuing daily in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people."


That is what I miss the most between 'generation then' and 'generation now'.  I miss knowing who my neighbors are and watching our two families become one.  Community nowadays is just a name on a building or bank.  Society today is at a disadvantage because they have no sense of community.  The only commonality amongst people today is the town they live in.  The early church had it right because it says "they had all things in common."  

After while we too moved away and I began too feel a great loss because of my friends (family) I was leaving behind.  Will things be the same?  Will I meet and come to know people like the ones I grew up with?  Will we have anything in common?  I can answer yes to all of those questions.  More importantly the people from my new community met some of the people from my first community and we essentially formed our own town.  NOT!!!!

Once again back to the early church.  Because of persecution they had to leave their present community and start over in other towns and cities.  In doing this the gospel message was brought to many people who would not have heard it otherwise, therefore uniting the communities through Jesus Christ.  My family was not forced to move because of persecution, however, the two communities I was a part became united by my family and I. My new grammar school played my old grammar school in basketball quite often and many more friendships were formed.  Who would have thought that?  Certainly not me.   


This is what Jesus meant when He told the apostles in Mark 16 "go out into all the world..."

The "Community" is still alive, but only as the people within that community "go out and invite others to become a part of the community." 

What if the early church had refused to go out and share the gospel?  Might the message died there?  I'm not sure.  However, there would not have been much growth associated with that particular community.  If we are not extending ourselves then as born again followers of Jesus Christ then we cannot grow and we will wilt and die.  
If that happens then what will happen to the community, or the body of Christ?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Just before I start work

I look out at the trees and literally see their nakedness.  They are without the natural covering God provided for them, leaves and the birds who often times inhabits them.  Some of the trees are still green with color and others are dark and pale.  It is a stark contrast to all of the houses that now for the background where before the trees hid them. 

As I sit here and type this blog my mind goes to the Old Testament story of Noah and his sons after the flood.  Most notably Ham the middle son.  Noah had gotten drunk and was passed out naked in his tent.  Ham went into the tent and saw his fathers condition and told his two brothers what he saw.  How Ham told this to his brothers does not require a lot of imagination.  He probably made a joke or two and really put down his dad.  Well, Shem and Japheth took exception to this went in and covered their father before anything else happened. 

Point #1.  Being born again I am covered by the blood of Jesus.  My nakedness is seen when I step out from under the covering God has graciously provided for me.  It's not a physical nakedness but spiritual nakedness.  I become like Ham and consort with my flesh and do the wrong thing.  How often have I seen and said something regarding another person and not offered or attempted to offer them a covering?  Ham could have covered his father and kept his mouth closed and none would have been the wiser.  But...he chose the lesser.  As a result of his decision, a curse was placed on Ham's descendants.  

Point #2.  Even though Ham saw the nakedness of his father, the greater sin was how he reacted to all that transpired in those few moments and forever caused his family line to become servants to his two brothers family lines.  

When we do shameful acts as children of Light, we cause others to see our Father in a compromised way.  As a result we lose a blessing and suffer the effects of a curse.  Now, we become the servants of our flesh which goes against the Spirit of God.  
Did Ham seek forgiveness for his actions?  I don't know.  Read the story in Genesis 9 and let me know. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Yes, my God is merciful.

What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?

I will offer You the sacrifice of thanksgiving.  


Beautiful Saviour

Beautiful Saviour I need Your touch

A storm cloud is coming I see it on the horizon.  My world is crumbling but You can uphold me.  The voices are loud, the doubts are rising.  

But You...
are my strong tower, no man can reach me.
are my shield no weapon can pass through to hurt me.
are a strong God a defender of the weak and feeble.
are my only hope.

Beautiful Saviour shine down with grace sweep away the darkness that now fills this place.
Light of the world You reign supreme, for
You Lord Jesus are my Sovereign king.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Six= A Season of Change

A couple of days ago I awakened to a light snowfall and a slight chill in the air.   What happened to the fall season?  Did I sleep through it?  Maybe it has a shorter season now?  
This snowfall, to me, represents the official end of summer (ugh).  
I look around outside and I see the barren trees quivering and lifeless leaves on the ground.  The season is changing and so is life.

Every morning I prepare myself to go out into the cold air and cold world. Physically I put on my long johns, long sleeve shirt, hat, gloves and I'm ready to venture out.  
Spiritually, I wake up pray and read the scriptures to stear my heart and soul towards the Almighty. It helps to know no matter the season of life I am in God is always there--unchanging.  Spring, summer, fall and winter the faithfulness of God shines through.  

With society today experiencing more and more 'birth pangs' and the coming apostasy of the body of Christ I was easily led in my mind to focus on "what will happen to the world" per the evil.  Not many times do I look to the "good" that will happen in the same days.  I selfishly pray "come quickly Lord Jesus."  Very foolish of me. As I get older in the physical sense my body is not as quick to adjust to the cold-weather.  One layer becomes two and somedays three. (Revelation: I am not 39 anymore).  Mentally, I cannot adjust to the continued rejection of God by society.  

Having moved past the created and on to the Creator, I was lead by the Holy Spirit to the book Habakkuk in the Old Testament.  There I read of God's terrible judgment that will befall the nation of Israel for their sin.  However, in the midst of all that is to come my Lord showed me a promise.  This verse is God's reply to the prophet Habakkuk concerning the condition of Israel.  His coming judgment will not favor Israel.  But, to me it is a sweet proclamation of what God will do in our present day, even though I see the sinful condition of the world.  
Chapter one verse five reads like this, (God talking) "Look among the nations and watch--be utterly astounded!  For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you."

I stopped and glorified The Lord of heaven and earth.

Immediately, I knew what He wanted me to see and do. God wanted me to stop being amazed (the seeing) by the depth of mankinds sinful nature and what it can accomplish.  
Instead He wants me to focus on the great harvest of souls (the doing) that will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in this season of human life.  Will I do as Habakkuk did and pray for the mercy of God to fall upon us?  Yes.  Even in the midst of His wrath.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Famous Quotes

The point of walking with God is not to arrive, but to walk with God.

M. Craig Barnes

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Good and the Bad

The blog post you are about to read is true.  No names were changed to protect the innocent. 

(My best Joe Friday voice): It was Wednesday November 6, early afternoon in Hazleton, Pa.  The air outside was pretty warm for an early November day.  My only intent was to relax and reply to some correspondence I had received previously.  But then I got hungry and I wanted something to eat.  The next few paragraphs will describe my day, so far. 

(From time to time I email my brother and relay some goings on with me.  The first paragraph was to be the only content of the email between us). 

I only had the good, but something just happened that put the bad in it.  I was in McDonald's yesterday morning before work having a cup of coffee (strange in itself) reading Decision, the Billy Graham magazine.  A few minutes later a young lady sits across the way from me.  Normal happenings, it is a restaurant.  A couple of minutes later I see she is reading a bible and writing in a journal.  Nice!!  I wanted to say something to her but I figured it was her quiet time and did not want to disturb her.  So I wrote on a index card an introduction and some words of encouragement and a scripture reference.  On the back of the card I put my phone number and email address.  It's like 730-8 in the morning.  I get up and go to work and slip the card on the table next to her.  All day I'm thinking will she or won't she respond.  I was not REALLY waiting to hear from her, but it was in the back of my mind.  So they day ends and nothing.  A little bummed. So Tuesday night I check my email and see this heading -from the young lady from McDonald's-, and am stunned.  Wow she replied. 

Her name is Ana Gonzalez and she thanked me for doing that and offered some words of encouragement to me.  Now we will keep in touch by email.

Onto the bad. It is Wednesday afternoon and I'm sitting in a Wendy's restaurant just using the free wifi.  As I sit down to eat, a lady across the restaurant gets up to get some napkins and a guy at the table next to her, gets up and steals her purse.  Brazen.  Without thinking I ask some stranger (her story is last) to watch my stuff.  My laptop, bible, lesson for bible school, Wednesday night and Saturday morning.  I chase after the guy down the street.  (Tis the stuff legends are made of).  As I am following him I call the police and give a full description and his movements.  I loose him about five minutes into the call.  (Yes, while running after him I am on the phone still.)  I need to get a Bluetooth (spell checker has Bluetooth as two words).  I loose him as he turns the corner 2 blocks ahead of me.  Because I know the town it's easy to pick shortcuts to catch up to the purse snatcher.  Now the police pulls up and I talk to him and tell him what happened.  He says to me "get in the back of the car."

WHAT??  I'm thinking.  But much louder.  Just what I need a few hours before bible study is to be spotted in the rear of a police cruiser. I show him where he dumped her purse ( a laundry mat garbage can) and as we are leaving they have him spotted on broad St. and catch him.  Baretta, Colombo, Jim Rockford all rolled into one yeah.
The officer retrieves the bag from the can (garbage) drives over to the restaurant and talks to the lady ( I have seen her around town) and returns her bag.  She had no idea it was gone.

Now for the climax.  I sit down and my food is cold, no big deal.  The lady who watched my stuff was overwhelmed.  It is her first time in Hazleton and she was like "I don't know what just happened.  You were sitting down and next thing you are running out."  She went on to say that I did a good thing and there should be more people like me.
No arguments from me.  I totally agree.  At this point I've passed Baretta, Colombo and Jim Rockford and am now sporting a big "S" on my chest. The real me.  What a day or couple of days.

And it's only Wednesday.