Archive for October, 2016

Do You Have A War Room?

Gardeners Touch

This blog post was inspired by the new book by Karen Ehman titled, Listen, Love, Repeat which releases on November 15, 2016 you can purchase a copy at http://listenloverepeatbook.com.

What exactly is a War Room, you ask? Merrimack-Webster defines a War Room as a room where battles are planned that is equipped with maps, ideas, information, etc. Basically a military headquarters where a status is kept on troops that are in battle. The battles I want to talk about, however, are of a spiritual nature and our battles are fought (and won) on our knees.

Do you ever feel like you are fighting a battle with the people God’s placed in your life? Every conversation becomes a way to defend your opinion, justify your actions. Wouldn’t life be grand if everyone saw things your way? These moments can often times put an added stress on friendships and family relationships…

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Count Your Blessings

faucet-with-drinking-water                                            Count your many blessings, name them one by one.

                                                                                                  —Johnson Oatman Jr.

 

Our Daily Bread is one of the daily devotionals I read regularly. A recent piece by David Roper titled Stage by Stage, focuses on the Old Testament book of Numbers 33.  The chapter tells us God commanded Moses to write down the story of the Jews’ 40-year pilgrimage that began with escaping from slavery in Egypt and ultimately took them to the plains of Moab, a strip of land that today is part of Jordan.

Roper speculates that God’s reason for commanding Moses to document this pilgrimage was to allow the Jews to “…retrace that journey in their thoughts and record God’s faithfulness at each location.”  The Seder meal the Jews celebrate to mark the beginning of Passover is closely tied to Numbers 33, which seems to support’s Roper’s argument.  Each course of the Seder meal recalls an event in God’s liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt, as told in the book of Exodus.

God is truly faithful and His faithfulness alone is blessing enough—but there are so many additional blessings in our lives if we will simply look for them. Focus determines attitude.  I’m no spring chicken, so I’ve developed a few medical problems over the years, like having four root canals.  What a blessing to have a root canal!  What did people do a hundred years ago?

I could focus on other, more lingering medical problems and quickly become depressed as I grow older.  Instead, I’ve tried to heed the lesson of St. Paul who says in Philippians 4:11 (NIV), “…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

Focus on the positives in life and you’ll find your blessings. For those of us fortunate enough to live in the United States and other developed countries in the West, it shouldn’t be difficult to compile a long list of blessings. Think about it!

                                              ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free…                                                                             (From “Simple Gifts, a traditional Shaker tune by Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr., 1848)

During my military career I spent some time in Saudi Arabia. Unless you’ve been there, I could never begin to explain how lacking in personal freedom the average Saudi people are.  Saudi Arabia reminds me how blessed we in the Western World are to simply be free.    

Westerners can turn on a faucet and draw a drink of clear, clean water. This truly is a blessing that most people take for granted.  Serving in Somalia when I was in the Army drove the point home, as I watched Somali workers building a bridge drawing water directly from the muddy Juba River and drinking without disinfecting it. I’m frequently reminded of this blessing when I take a drink of cold water.  

Westerners can walk into a grocery store and find food in abundance that, 200 years ago, would have made the great kings of Europe envious.  Here in my hometown of Sioux Falls, S.D., we even have a Christian ministry called The Banquet that serves free meals to anyone who walks in the door—no questions asked (https://thebanquetsf.org/).  

My family and friends are all blessings to me. Proverbs 5:18 tells men to “rejoice in the wife of your youth” (NIV). I’ve been blessed with nearly 40 years of marriage to my wonderful wife who I met when I was 17 years old. We have both been blessed by children and grandchildren.

I have a good number of dear friends, some of whom I’ve known since high school. When I say dear friends, I’m talking about the ones I could easily trust with my money, my house keys, and caring for my children.

One such friend was recently involved in a head on collision.  He was banged up pretty badly, but I’m blessed to still have him around. I have a couple of friends who have died.  I was blessed to have had them in my life. I have another friend who has been blind for life; he taught me what a blessing it is to simply be able to see.

Comedian and actor Bill Murray recently received the Mark Twain Award for humor from the Kennedy Center.  He grew quite emotional during his acceptance speech and closed by saying to the ceremony attendees:  “Look at each other. Look at who we are. Look at how we are all together here right now. Alive! That’s pretty good, right?”

Bill Murray gets it! Do you?

“Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.”

                                                                                                                          –Psalm 40:5 (NIV)

Simplicity is the Goal

Simplicity!

adult-goals

When Politics Divides Christians

This very timely message is reblogged from the “Provocative Christian Living” blog of Pastor Dan Lacich.

Dan Lacich: Provocative Christian Living

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” A portion of Jesus prayer in John 17

For several years I have taught theology and leadership courses at International Leadership University in Burundi, Africa. Burundi is right next to Rwanda and is made up of the same Hutu…

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Love: A Gateway To The Soul

I enjoyed this so much. I’m a native of Harlan County, KY. You have to have been there to truly understand the level of poverty and desperation–words cannot describe. Many churches focus on overseas missions, which is wonderful, but the need is so great right here at home. One of the largest mission fields anywhere is the one right outside the doors of your home church!

Gardeners Touch

My first mission trip was in the heart of Kentucky. Harlan County is one of the poorest counties in the United States and I was joining a group on their 23rd year serving this wonderful community. I was assigned to an outreach group whose job it was to bring needed clothing, school, and cleaning supplies out into the different communities throughout the county.  The first two days were filled with several wonderful experiences.  Not only were we filling a need in people’s lives, but we were able to engage in prayer and conversation with this special community.  This kind of work was well within my comfort zone and I was filled with joy and thankfulness for the work I was given.  The next two days, a storm rolled in and our plans to set up our operation outside had to be adjusted.   We were asked to visit with the…

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