Monday, December 28, 2009

bumper sticker relition and politics

“Darwin said it, I believe it, that settles it.” No doubt you’ve seen this one, it’s a “comeback” to the “God said it” stickers. Its funny (or tragic, depending on how you look at it) that deeply complex subjects are often boiled down to cliché sayings.

On that particular one, I always wonder about the owner of that sticker/car? I also wonder what Darwin truly said, what he meant, and finally what he believed himself ultimately in the end? I suspect that nothing is truly “settled”, and true scientists (open minded seekers vs. closed minded people who call themselves scientists) would never be so frivolous with the “truth”. To do otherwise is tantamount to intellectual suicide, I’m sure God doesn’t suggest this.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

a stable, shepherds and the Son of God . . .

The lowliest of the low were first to worship in the lowliest of settings.

Luke 2:4-20 (New International Version)

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

May you experience the true Peace of Christmas in your home and heart.

only by Grace,


Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas 2009

Greetings to all,

2009 has been a wonderful year for our family with 2010 promising even more! Pat & Patti continue to find God's blessings everywhere these days with ministry opportunities in abundance! 2010 holds three weddings for our family! Firstly, Cody will be wed to Daron Johnson in May, then Kyle take Laura Schambers to be his wife in June, followed last but not least with Karly marrying her beau Phillip DeFazio in the summer! If all works out, Pops Watters hopes to take all his "kids" to Kauai for a vacation/multi-honeymoon at Waimea Plantation Cottages! Of course, this all depends on; Kyle's PhD schedule at Stanford, Laura's medical residency at ????, Cody and Daron's animal training career and location, and Karly and Phil's plans to boot! But Pops and Mom are hopeful and leaving it all to God in prayer.

Our blessings in Christ Jesus and hope for a safe and prosperous new year to you and yours.

only by Grace,

Pat & Patti

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lakota Celtic

New web page on Facebook - - check it out!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the humility of Christmas . . .

While I enjoy the extravagant celebrations that surround Christmas, I am always struck by and humbled as I read the words of Luke (chapter 2, verses 8-20.) My thoughts are always, "The lowest of the low were the first to worship Jesus, and in the lowliest of settings." Think of it, the people expected a warrior messiah to ride in on a steed and stomp the Romans into submission. Instead, a baby is born to a humble carpenter and his wife, and in a cave stable for some animals! Oh yes, there was glory that night, but it was Heavenly light and angels appearing to a group of shepherds, the lowest of low in society at that time.

There have been many Christmases where I've desired to be surrounded by those quiet, humble surroundings. To worship as the shepherds did in the simplicity of the moment in that setting. In our western culture where so much materialism and commercialism is accepted and celebrated, I long for the humility of Christ in this season. No doubt I will take in the immaculately prepared worship services and concerts, but I will find my greatest and JOY and PEACE in immersing myself in those words of Luke. I will quiet myself to hear the lowing of the stock, to smell the setting, to feel the "family" there in that cave . . . pondering what it all meant, and the future of this child.



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Merry Christmas!

The following is an email I received this evening from a dear Brother & Sister in Christ, it speaks for itself:

"Wanted to share this amazing experience with you from last Sunday night. I'm still feeling it.

Tonight Shannon made extra food to take to a homeless person; so we as a family got in our van and went down Alhambra looking for someone in need. We want to model serving to our kids. We found a couple and I gave them the warm meal. She told me God Bless You and I replied the same. She responded by telling me "He already has!"
We went looking at Christmas lights and headed home. I decided to grab a big blanket we have in our back room to take back to the couple. Shannon started to put the kids down and I headed out. When I arrived the guy was gone and the gal was very happy for the big blanket.
I asked her if she ever looks into the housing downtown. She told me she had a pass for Salvation Army tonight but no way to get there. Normally I would not do this but I felt God telling me to take her there. So I offered and she got in the car. On the way down I invited her to River Life and we talked about nobody being perfect. Right as we got to 16th She told me someone else had brought her a blanket an hour before and that this was her best day because of the way people were serving her. Then she told me thank you for helping her, but that she was going to help me more. I thought it was kind of strange but said nothing. When we got to the Salvation Army I got the leftover food out for her. She told me that Shannon must be an angel and to tell her hi and then she told me again that she was helping me (it didn't feel like her). She told me to take her sleeping bag and the two blankets to others who needed them tonight and gave me a hug.
As I got in my car I saw guys feeding hot food to people. I asked them if they wanted the blankets. They turned out to be brothers from Bayside Church. I chatted with them and got their phone numbers. They sent me to Gospel Mission. I got there and there were SOOOOOO ,any people on either side of the street. I gave away the sleeping bag and blankets. I felt overwelhmed by the amount of people outside and felt so useless.
As I drove away I was thinking about the lady (she never said her name even though I introduced myself twice). Then it hit me-She knew me-He knows me and it was Him.

God Bless,

Merry Christmas from Chris & Shannon, and all your Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus . . . Emmanuel

"In as much as you've done it for the least of these, you've done it for me." JC

musings of a Celtic Lakota "holy man" . . .

Friday, December 4, 2009

Get close to God . . . the "rest" will come

Are you getting what you want out of life? Or do you feel that the economy, your government, your circumstances, or other outside factors are robbing you of value and joy?

Recently, a polling agency asked 1,000 people what they most desired in their lives. One fascinating result was that 90 percent of Bible-believing Christians said that they wanted these outcomes: a close relationship with God, a clear purpose in life, a high degree of integrity, and a deep commitment to the faith.

Notice that these heartfelt desires are all things we as individuals can do something about without outside human help. No government program will assist here, and tough economic times cannot steal these ideals. These life goals are achieved as we allow God’s Word to rule in our hearts and as we receive the Spirit’s strength to build up “the inner man” (Eph. 3:16), resulting in true joy.

In our complicated world, it’s tempting to put our quest for what we desire into the hands of others—to expect an outside entity to fulfill our desires. While we sometimes need help, and we cannot live in isolation, it’s not outside sources that provide true happiness. That comes from within—from letting Christ be at home in our hearts (v.17). — Dave Branon

Holy Spirit, all divine,
Dwell within this heart of mine;
Cast down every idol throne,
Reign supreme and reign alone. —Reed

If a troubled world gets you down, look up to Jesus.

A close relationship with God will give you a deep commitment to the Faith, a high degree of integrity, and a clear purpose in life . . .this will all together insure healthy relationships with others. This prayer from us to you (Ephesians 3:14-21):

When we think of all this, we fall to our knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth we pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

only by Grace,


Friday, November 13, 2009

Generosity and more

Often, a personal testimony or story of true servanthood for Christ is the best "word" we can hear. This morning in my quiet time God reminded me of a wonderful missionary couple Patti and I met and visited with when we were in New Zealand. Brian and Lyn Drury are in their "golden years", having raised several children, but hey continue to ply their trade and serve communities in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu in South Pacific.

Brian and Lyn run a little souvenir store (Mountain View Souvenirs) in Kaikoura, N.Z. The store is their "tent making" business which supports their periodic missionary trips to New Guinea and Vanuatu. In their early lives they spent many years raising their children in Papua, sadly it was there that they lost a six year old son to malaria. Yet, even amidst many struggles they remain faithful to this day. They reflect the gentleness and humility of Christ at all times. They are not, nor will probably ever become famous, but they will always be good and faithful servants. When I think my life is rough at times, or that others lives are especially difficult, I remember Brian and Lyn who continue to surrender all to God, and who know beyond a doubt where they are going on this journey . . . and they look forward to it with glad hearts.

By the way, they don't own a house, drive a beaten up old car, and pretty much put everything back into their ministry . . . "tithe" doesn't mean anything to them.

The ACLU and the dweeb

So a while back a friend of mine in the DA's office attempted to implement a successful program from San Diego County, "Pastors on Campus". The idea was to have local church pastors mentor and guide simply by their presence on local high school campuses. Unfortunately, the ACLU filed suit and quashed the whole program before it ever had a chance to achieve the success in S.D., and now the ACLU is after the program in San Diego! Personally, I'm beginning to believe more strongly than ever that the ACLU is a front for the evil dweeb and his minions!

Monday, November 9, 2009

some real "food" to begin your week and sustain you throughout . . . from some hard lessons recently learned personally

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
1Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

9Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.

11Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

1 Peter 5:1-11
1To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

5Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
"God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble."[a] 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Pastor A. W. Tozer (1897–1963) read the great Christian theologians until he could write about them with ease. He challenges us: “Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.”

So, lastly this excerpt from Book 1, Chapter 13 of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a' Kempis:

Resisting Temptation

So long as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and temptation. Whence it is written in Job: “The life of man upon earth is a warfare.”4 Everyone, therefore, must guard against temptation and must watch in prayer lest the devil, who never sleeps but goes about seeking whom he may devour, find occasion to deceive him. No one is so perfect or so holy but he is sometimes tempted; man cannot be altogether free from temptation.

Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and instructed. The saints all passed through many temptations and trials to profit by them, while those who could not resist became reprobate and fell away. There is no state so holy, no place so secret that temptations and trials will not come. Man is never safe from them as long as he lives, for they come from within us– in sin we were born. When one temptation or trial passes, another comes; we shall always have something to suffer because we have lost the state of original blessedness.

Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more deeply. We cannot conquer simply by fleeing, but by patience and true humility we become stronger than all our enemies. The man who only shuns temptations outwardly and does not uproot them will make little progress; indeed they will quickly return, more violent than before.

Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you will overcome them, by the help of God rather than by severity and your own rash ways. Often take counsel when tempted; and do not be harsh with others who are tempted, but console them as you yourself would wish to be consoled.

The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in many ways. Fire tempers iron and temptation steels the just. Often we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are.

Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.

Someone has said very aptly: “Resist the beginnings; remedies come too late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength.” First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.

Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of their conversion, others toward the end, while some are troubled almost constantly throughout their life. Others, again, are tempted but lightly according to the wisdom and justice of Divine Providence Who weighs the status and merit of each and prepares all for the salvation of His elect.

We should not despair, therefore, when we are tempted, but pray to God the more fervently that He may see fit to help us, for according to the word of Paul, He will make issue with temptation that we may be able to bear it. Let us humble our souls under the hand of God in every trial and temptation for He will save and exalt the humble in spirit.

In temptations and trials the progress of a man is measured; in them opportunity for merit and virtue is made more manifest.

When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of adversity, there is hope for great progress.

Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great ones.

truly, only by Grace,


Thursday, November 5, 2009

a Heavenly perspective . . .

People who only engage life intellectually live a very shallow existence, for the deeper things of life are only discovered, truly only discovered, when the heart and soul are opened to God's voice. Anon E. Moose

Thomas Merton on a heavenly perspective in battles with cancer and other struggles in this world. God uses them to purify our souls, if we will let Him. From The Imitation of Christ concerning the illness and eventual death of his earthly father:

“Of us all, Father was the only one who really had any kind of a faith. And I do not doubt that he had very much of it, and that behind the walls of his isolation, his intelligence and his will, unimpaired, and not hampered in any essential way by the partial obstruction of some of his senses, were turned to God, and communed with God Who was with him and in him, and Who gave him, as I believe, light to understand and to make use of his sufferings for his own good, and to perfect his soul. It was a great soul, large, full of natural charity. He was a man of exceptional intellectual honesty and sincerity and purity of understanding. And this affliction, this terrible and frightening illness which was relentlessly pressing him down even into the jaws of the tomb, was not destroying him after all.

Souls are like athletes that need opponents worthy of them, if they are to be tried and extended and pushed to the full use of their powers, and rewarded according to their capacity. And my father was in a fight with this [cancer], and none of us understood the battle. We thought he was done for, but it was making him great. . . and his struggle was authentic, and not wasted or lost or thrown away.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Review of Thorlo Hiking Crew Socks

Originally submitted at REI

This hiking crew sock keeps feet dry and comfortable.

Thorlo are always a best choice!

By PnP from Sacramento, CA on 10/21/2009


5out of 5

Gift: No

Fit: Feels true to size

Pros: Good Design, Durable, Wicks Away Moisture, Comfortable

Best Uses: Hiking, Running, Daily Use, Backpacking

Describe Yourself: Casual Adventurer

Thorlo socks are always a best choice for any activity, and they cover all the bases for fit, etc. BTW, if your socks "get a funky smell", the problem is your feet, NOT the socks, especially Thorlo!



Honesty and Trust are hallmarks for any healthy relationship. But we are imperfect people, so accountability and forgiveness are also needed. It takes self sacrifice and perseverance, but the blessings are worth it.

"Five Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Was Married":

#1: Marriage is not all about you. It's not about your happiness and self-fulfillment. It's not about getting your needs met. It's about going through life together and serving God together and serving each other. It's about establishing a family. It's about committing your lives to each other even though you may be very different in 10, 20, or 40 years from the people you are now.

#2: You are about to learn a painful lesson--you are both very selfish people. This may be difficult to comprehend during the happy and hazy days of courtship, but it's true, and it shocks many couples during their first years of marriage. It's important to know this revelation of selfishness is coming, because then you can make adjustments for it, and you will be a lot better off.

#3: The person you love the most is also the person who can hurt you the deepest. That's the risk and pain of marriage. And the beauty of marriage is working through your hurt and pain and resolving your conflicts and solving your problems.

#4: You can't make it work on your own. It's obvious that marriage is difficult--just look at how many couples today end in divorce. This is why it's so critical to center your lives and your marriage on the God who created marriage. To make your marriage last for a lifetime, you need to rely on God for the power and love and strength and wisdom and endurance you need.

#5: Never stop enjoying each other. Always remember that marriage is an incredible gift to be enjoyed. Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, "Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun."

only by Grace & Love, Pat & Patti

Friday, October 16, 2009

All those emails of questionable value . . .

Okay, first a disclaimer or confession . . . I know I am among those who fill up in-boxes with sometimes annoying emails. I do hope, however, that at least some people find a measure of worth in my messages? I often get several emails a day from friends, which are nothing more than the latest "tabloid" cyber gossip. They belong in the same category with FaceBook and Twitter, although maybe not as mundane as some of those posts?! Likewise those "chain emails" of truly questionable "security" that are often used to "search" your hard drive or simply your mailing lists. I suppose for some these are entertaining, but I fail to find the true worth in the circulation of these shallow missives. Again, I hope my own frequent messages hold some treasure, if only for a few? I can usually be confident that if I quote God's Word, I can't go wrong.

So herewith, some great practical and holy advice for living:

Philippians 4:1-9

1Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
2I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow,[a] help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Colossians 3:12-17

12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Encouragement . . .

The following is an excerpt from a recent letter I sent my daughter. I began to realize as I reread it myself that there are many people who need this same encouragement from our loving God. Life is full of struggles and times of stress, we need to "find" those places of peace whenever we can . . . and be thankful.

obG, pat

I have put together some of God’s promises that apply well to your life right now, I hope they will encourage you, as they have me over the years. Whenever you get anxious or stressed, remember that He is always very close . . . take a deep breath and breath out slowly, then let Him fill you back with His fresh air. And, remember all you have to be thankful for . . . you’ll see that in the long run “it’s all good.” So, here you go . . . be encouraged:

First from Isaiah 40, yes you know some of this –

Isaiah 40

Comfort for God's People

1 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.

11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

One of my favorites . . . thanksgiving is the antidote to worry and anxiety:

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:4-7]

And finally, in no special order, here are many of God’s promises if you will only quiet yourself and listen for His voice speaking His love to your own heart:

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God[a]; trust also in me.” [Jesus]

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” [Jesus again]

when you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. [Proverbs 3:24]

I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,

Psalm 121

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over you will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Psalm 139

1 O God, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O God.

5 You surround me with your love—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

"Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.
I've called your name. You're mine.
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.
When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you're between a rock and a hard place,
it won't be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That's how much you mean to me!
That's how much I love you!
I'd sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.” [Isiah 43]

Yep, He loves you that much, and His plans are good (Jeremiah 29:11), to prosper you and give you a blessed future.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Father Knows Best . . .

Getting older means having the blessing of hindsight, being able to see God's Hand in life through many seasons, and realizing that He was in control and having our "best" in mind and heart, even we didn't think so, even when we felt our prayers weren't being answered.

The truth is God knows our future, sees all the obstacles we will face, all the trials, AND also all the joys and blessings. He knows that overall His plans are good and will prosper us, not harm us. We may experience some trials, but through them as we remain faithful and lean on Him, we will grow closer to Him and more like His Son. I spent many years (too many) magnifying my troubled circumstances, catastrophizing things and projecting or compressing things into one present time and becoming overwhelmed by it all. Learning to live each day in thanksgiving and trusting God for everything has taken some time, but I feel like I'm truly there . . . yes, even better than Mom now! I am a mellow old fellow these days. :-)

We are called to trust by and in God. Trust that He knows where you will both be in one year, ten years, and so on. You do the best you can, but leave the rest up to Him. You have a long life and future ahead of ;you, and there will likely be different places and experiences during that time, and certainly many different "seasons" in that lifetime. Learn to "rest" in God whenever you can, little moments or prolonged times, but let Him give you His Peace . . . pray Philippians 4:4-7, remembering to give up all the concerns and anxieties, and at the same time giving thanks for all the blessings He has already bestowed on you both. That thanksgiving is His "antidote" to anxiety. Then meditate on those blessings and think about those things in 4:8-9. This life really is all about surrendering everything to God, then allowing Him to guide us and show us what we are to be doing at any particular time.

Our Daily Bread
September 7, 2009
Unanswered Prayers

An explanation we often hear for “unanswered” prayers is that we don’t have enough faith. But Jesus said in Luke 17:6 that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can command a mulberry tree to be uprooted and planted in the sea and it will obey us. In other words, the effectiveness of our prayers depends not on how much faith we have but on whether we even have faith.

Luke tells of a Roman centurion with “great faith” (7:9). His faith was expressed first as an appeal to Jesus to heal his dying servant. Then it was expressed as an acknowledgment that Jesus could heal his servant anytime, anywhere. The centurion did not ask Jesus to do things his way.

Faith has been described as “trusting God’s heart and trusting God’s power.” Some prayers that seem to go unanswered are simply instances in which God has lovingly overruled our wishes. He knows that what we have asked for is not best. Or it may be that our timing is not His timing, or He has some far greater purpose in mind. Let us remember, even Jesus prayed to His heavenly Father, “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours” (Luke 22:42).

Do we have the centurion’s great faith—a faith that trusts God to do His work, in His way? — C. P. Hia

Unanswered prayers are answered still
As part of God’s great master plan;
They help to carry out His will
To demonstrate God’s love for man. —D. De Haan

God’s answers are wiser than our prayers.

Philippians 4:4-9 (New International Version)

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

love, Pops

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Discernment in the age of Mass Communication

Discernment in the Age of Mass Communication:
As a fledgling Christian, I find myself often conflicted by so much information coming in to my mind for processing. This age of mass communication is fraught with pitfalls and wrong way streets, and for one like myself who is too quick to react, talk, etc. . . . well, it is a perilous journey when I lose my focus on Jesus Christ! Why just today I stumbled in indiscretion and had to ask for forgiveness from a dear sister in Christ, as well as others who were brought into our plight. That said, I have been trying lately to find my way through Scripture, and with the help of Christian saints through the ages, to that place of truth and discernment. The search was prompted by a growing concern with the parade of false prophets, false prophecies and demon/deliverance ministries that seem to be so prevalent in our world today. Before I share what I’ve gleaned from my reading, I should say up front that I was not surprised to find in the end that a focus on Jesus Christ, both historical and living, is the key to living this life of a Christian, this life with God.
So, let me start with a quote from Richard Foster reflecting on J.B. Phillips attention to Scripture. “We now have the dubious distinction of being able to communicate more and say less than any civilization in history. We have become as Clement of Alexandria says, ‘like old shoes – all worn out except for the tongue.’ And because so many words bombard us from so many media we tend to pay little attention to them. Can you or I remember even a single full sentence from the last movie we saw, or the last email we received? What we must learn, therefore, is discernment. Some words deserve sustained attention, others do not. [Right here I’m thinking that’s what most people probably think about all my emails.] The phrase that Phillips uses too such delight – “rich in mercy” – is a reality we all could soak in for a very long time. In contrast, we should probably speed read the latest book from the New York Times bestseller list, for likely it deserves no more than five or ten minutes of our attention. In fact, it is a positive virtue for us to remain ignorant of much of the attention getting, ego driven, greed motivated words that whiz by on the information superhighway. We do so in order to be attentive to words that speak life into our souls. This, too, is a discipline.”
Okay, so we can choose to ignore all the contemporary media hype out there; turn off the TV, read the newspaper less, avoid the magazines and tabloids, but what about finding truth in Christian literature, or even within Holy Scripture which all too often seems to get twisted by Christians?! I think finding truth, God’s Truth, is wrapped up in the life we choose as a Christian. This life of trying to follow Christ, this life in God is a spiritual journey (attested to by many Christian saints through the ages) that requires our focus and attention to discipline (training or “working out”.) Going all the way back to John Cassian (360-435 AD) we find this notion of discernment, to Cassian, “the mother of all virtues”. It is through discernment that we not only find our way in the world, but also our way to God, to an intimate knowledge of God. Gayle Beebe writes in Longing For God, “Discernment is the virtue that keeps us from the snares of the devil and on the path to God. It is the lamp of the body, the guide of life and the source of sound judgment. [I could certainly use more of that!] It teaches us how to make wise decisions in human affairs and also about God.”
Martin Luther recognized and affirmed that Jesus Christ is alive and here to teach His people Himself. Recognizing that ourselves, we always need to reconcile our “experiences” with the testimony of Scripture, and the community of faith. Christ will teach us through the Word and His Body, the church, the community of faith. False prophets, false prophecy, false doctrine, as well as the evil dweeb parading as an angel of light will be with us until He comes to make all things new. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), who started the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was occupied with the truth and actually came up with some wise early steps to discerning the truth:
1. Test claims in light of example of Christ
2. Consult Holy Scripture
3. Consult the saints throughout the ages
4. Consult responsible, leading Christians of the day
5. Pray
6. Study
7. Balance prayer and study with action in order to know God and express His Will
I suppose those sound very familiar to many of us? We also often hear that we should “listen” to the Spirit’s promptings, but how can we discern whether we are “hearing” God’s Spirit, or something or someone else? The steps above are certainly helpful, but I also found some wise words from Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) on distinguishing the voice of God from the dweeb or our own imagination; “When the leading is from God it comes through words that are very different from our common speech. Leading from God comforts us, and restores community. It lingers a long time and becomes an ever more weighty concern. When the leading is from God it also brings a sense of certitude, peace and inner delight. It produces profound breakthrough and fresh new insight. Our spirit-led, trusted friends confirm the leading and our thoughts surrounding the leading dwell on God alone.” So, always this sense of God’s Peace and certitude, which makes sense to me. Even when I’ve been convicted by something, there is always a sense of peace, not judgment or guilt. Yes, I am compelled to repent and seek forgiveness, but always with a sense of trust and goodness at hand. Teresa’s “Bookmark”, a prayer of her own, is comforting; “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing alarm you. While all things are passing; God is unchanging. Be patient and you will gain everything. With God in your heart nothing is lacking. God alone suffices.”
So, this brings me to the area of concern that prompted this search in the first place. What about all these modern day prophets, prophecies, healing ministries and deliverance (demon casting) ministries? What is true, what is of God and what is just nonsense or worse yet a charade to gain people’s trust and money?! Richard Foster writes in Longing For God, “Numerous present day prophets function without any serious accountability or training. They come to a city, deliver their “prophecies” and leave for regions beyond, while local Christian leaders are left to deal with the fallout from those often destructive pronouncements. Some are on the electronic airwaves and so send out their “prophecies” without even meeting the people about whom they are prophesying. There is a legitimate and even necessary place for prophesy in the community of faith. But, to function with spiritual success it needs the discipline and structure of Scripture and the community.” I would suggest that those seven steps of Ignatius are welcome help in this area for all of us.

As I said in the beginning, and I think most of us will conclude, the focus on Christ is key in all of life if we would know God and His path for our lives. From Augustine in the 4th century, through Fox and Bunyan, through Spurgeon and Chesterton, all the way up to Willard, Dillard and Nouwen in our own times, the Christian spiritual life has always been focused on Christ, recognizing his “work” as complete and our life as a journey toward union with His Father, Our Father. George Fox said, “Christ is living and present among you.” He had no time for preoccupation with the dweeb, he was too immersed In Christ, and Christ’s presence was enough to keep the dweeb at bay. Charles Spurgeon little book, (ever notice how little is written on the dweeb by faithful Christians, put him in his place and get back to Jesus,) Satan A Defeated Foe, affirms what Christ has already in His earthly life and His resurrection. Ultimately, there should be far less interest in “casting out demons” in this “already not yet” time we live in, AND far more inviting Christ in! That’s not to say that we are not to be aware of our own flesh and its temptations, which the dweeb loves to use, but we have Holy Scripture (Jesus’ own weapon against Satan), and the testimony of the Spirit with us . . . the dweeb has no chance, we live and fight from a stance of victory in Jesus Christ!
I’ve probably written too much, and many who attempted to read have long since put this down and moved on to other things. For those of you who have stayed on this observation from Julian of Norwich to encourage us:
“In all eternity Jesus will never leave the position which He takes in our soul; for sitting in us is His most familiar home. This was a ravishing and restful sight, for the sight of this sitting gave me certainty that He dwells there eternally.”
I trust Christ is even now “cleaning house” in my heart and soul. Every time I am convicted or challenged in my Christian life, there is a cleaning and movement closer to God. Thank you Jesus for taking up residence in my heart, make me more like you.
Only by Grace,
The Armor of God – Ephesians 6:10-18
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Marriage is 100%/100% proposal . . .

Marriage as ordained by God is not and was never meant to be a 50/50 proposition. For marriage to be a blessing to each partner and those around them, each spouse must give their best 100% to one another. Especially in western society, we have lost the truth that as we give of ourselves sacrificially, God gives back to us out of His abundance and we experience a contentment that the world cannot give or know.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"unfair" opposition to Christians in the USA . . .

Of course, if we are to believe Jesus warnings and "promises", none of us should be surprised at any of this! We are to live out our lives as living sacrifices, speaking Truth and Justice, but always as His ambassadors of Peace . . . even when we are persecuted. Yes, we should speak out, but always reflecting the One in Whose Name we do so . . . even in prayer. As one prone to a critical spirit much too often, I caution us all to keep always focused on Jesus Christ; His character and the Grace, Love and Power He imparts to us through the Spirit. Remember Christ's week of Passion, remember His demeanor before Pilate and others, even on the Cross . . . . "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." If we don't reflect the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ, then we do Him and our Faith great damage, and please the evil dweeb in the process. So, remember to be His "Light" as well as "salt".

only by Grace, pat

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Abdication of a sort . . .

I am appalled at how many men these days are abdicating their responsibility, privilege and blessing of being husbands and fathers, instead abandoning their wives and families for selfish, foolish pursuits! Jerks, cowards and harsher words describe guys I have called "friends" . . . so sad. Come on guys turn your lives around before you live (and die) in regret. Still praying for you, and willing to talk.

Living in victory and confidence without fear

He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Matthew 8:26
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18
26”But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:26-27
17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church; 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:17-23
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, Philippians 2:9-10
"Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 1 Peter 3:14b
Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. 1 Peter 3:22
Satan, the evil dweeb, is truly a defeated foe! Christ has won the Victory over evil and death; He has redeemed us into His Father’s Kingdom forever. Therefore, we can take confidence in all of the above Truths from God’s Word, storing them up in our hearts and minds, and calling them forth in both meditation and proclamation. Claim these Truths and the many others given us in His Word, the “sword of the Spirit”. Put on the full armor (Ephesians 6:10-18), recognizing the Grace and Power in each “piece” . . . focusing on God and His Christ, while putting the dweeb in his place of lowly stature (a troublemaker in this broken world, but without power to possess or control those who are in Christ Jesus.) Practice spiritual disciplines!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Don't give the dweeb more credit than he deserves

“ . . . do not let the devil get a foothold.” Ephesians 4:27
Sound Christian doctrine throughout the ages since Christ’s victory states that the devil cannot personally tempt us. Temptation lies in our “flesh” and the sinful nature thereof. What can happen though is that our flesh tempts us and then the dweeb uses our stumble to his advantage. It is a difficult concept to grasp, but whenever we give him too much “credit” for our struggles we play into his evil plans. Our way out is always through Christ and our Father’s Word, through spiritual disciplines . . . we’ve already been “delivered” out of the dweeb’s clutches . . . he cannot “possess” us nor “enter” into us . . . we quite simply play into his hands via our own sin, whether simple doubt or greater actions on our own part.

Monday, July 20, 2009

We have this knowledge in jars of clay . . .

Moose Musings Summer 2009

“Simplicity” – that has been my wife, Patti’s, word for the past couple years. I agree, and have been trying to live that word out in my life, especially since I “retired” from civil service about a year and a half ago. However, it doesn’t mean “laziness” or boredom or any such thing! I have been very busy, but not burdened . . . blessed but not battered, over the past year plus. The varied ministry opportunities, time to read and study and write, and more, have been wonderful. And, being a house husband is way better than I thought it would be, even if being my wife’s secretary/office manager has its challenges. 
So, while the book (The Narrow Road – A Journey of Hope) is still a vision, the writing continues inspired by the One Who is Father, Son & Holy Spirit. It may all be collected into one publication at some point, but at least it’s all “out there”. Much has been on the Moose’s mind lately, so I thought I would share some thoughts, and hope they will encourage, challenge or whatever God speaks to your own hearts in these offerings.
I was reminded recently how our home has become a Peace-filled sanctuary, so much so that visitors often comment on how they feel very “comfortable” in our home. I trust that is God’s Presence, and I also think “simplicity” has a lot to do with it? One never need be intimidated or worried about looking “all right”, scuffing things up, etc. in our home. This old “place of Peace” is filled with “hand me down” furniture, second hand appliances, etc. Lots of “old”, nothing “new”, lots more “borrowed” and a little “blue” ‘cause that’s my favorite color.
Surrendering to God . . . all of it . . . all we are, and have, and hope to be, to the One Who loves us beyond imagination, has made all the blessed difference in our lives.
There is a Relationship at the center of the Universe. That Relationship created us out of Grace and Love. We find our true meaning and purpose in relationship with that Creator and with one another. The One called Jesus came to reveal that “Relationship” and invite us into it.
Where is God when we hurt, when our loved ones hurt, when we experience loss, when we struggle beyond our limits? He IS in all of it, He walks through it with us, He is our source of strength, comfort and ultimate Peace. We will still struggle, feel pain and despair, but He is our rock and refuge . . . ever unchanging, ever loving, ever enduring on our behalf.
On demons and spiritual warfare much has been written. Can we be possessed by evil, or just influenced? We have the promises of Scripture to sustain us, the truth that we are Christ’s forever . . . Ephesians 6, James 4, 1 Peter and more . . . and if that were not enough, Jesus said, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.” “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” ” I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." The dweeb cannot “possess” us, no way, no how! But often all the dweeb and his minions need to do is place doubts, fears or temptations in our lives . . . then, we simply cooperate with him. But, we always have a way out through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit . . . through prayer and God’s Word. Never forget . . . the dweeb is a defeated foe . . . we live in Victory won by the sacrifice and saving Grace of Jesus Christ!
I have been encouraged more than once to pursue the pastorship . . . to attend seminary, and the thought has crossed my mind, but God has never “called” me to either Christian academia or institutionalized ministry. His “word” to me has always been “I have you where I want you, and that is enough.” I have considered the prestigious and hallowed halls of academia versus my own home, the honored titles (“Dr.” etc.) versus simple humility and faith in the world, a life like Thomas Torrance versus Brother Lawrence. For me the choice has been to sit at the feet of Jesus, taught by the Father’s Word through the Holy Spirit who reveals the Truth. I have chosen in Him to be “in the world, but not of it” by His Grace alone. I confess I love “parachurch ministry” . . . that “work”/”service” that occurs outside of denominational lines and structure, that brings together Christ followers who seek only to obey Jesus. I love this “seminary” of life . . . I study on my own time with the best “doktorvater” anyone could ask for . . . God Himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. [I am reminded of a story told by a renowned Christian theologian concerning an encounter with a brilliant scholar, when asked of the “scholar” where he studied the answer was simple and straightforward, “On my knees on the dirt floor of my home with an open Bible in front of me.”] Certainly, others will be “called” to the “deeper” adventures of academia, but for most of us the seminary of life will be enough.
In closing, I give thanks to God for my wife who is my soulmate and inspiration. For my children who provide both a measure of humble pride (if there is such a thing) and happiness as I watch them grow up. For His revelation to me personally, that sustains and guides me. I too am grateful for the many “little” ministries that have come along since my “retirement”; driving my blessed “customers” around town for United Cerebral Palsy/Paratransit (my own little L’Arche community after Henri Nouwen,) the mental health ministry that continues even if regular meetings aren’t currently happening, the ever present mentoring to youth and young adults, marriage mentoring (two couples right now,) Young Life Urban Sacramento and the blessing of supporting and encouraging Kevin and Sarah Eastway, Tommy, Leanna and Angelina my “Foster grandkids” and being part of their whole adventure, a prayer ministry that is often overwhelming but always carries God’s blessings, and all of the daily opportunities to be the Love and Light of Jesus wherever God has me throughout every one of those days. I understand now Jesus promise to give us life, and give it abundantly. My life is truly “simple”, but oh so full!
I am truly a blemished jar of clay, cracked and inadequate but daily being renewed in Christ for greater works of service, in love and Grace.
Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit . . . blessed Relationship at the center of the universe. May you make me more like you with each passing day, until you make me perfect in you, when you come to make all things new.
And may you all come to know this God who is LOVE.
Only by Grace,

Monday, June 29, 2009

near death and an assurance of Peace

In the summer of 2004 I had an experience that is now a “place” I can return to, and a reminder of God’s Assurance of His Peace. My wife, Patti, and I had just finished an early morning run together. All three of our adult children were home at the time, asleep. Patti and I were walking and “cooling down” when I mentioned that I felt a headache and dizziness. As we approached our home, I felt the need to sit down to keep from passing out. Sit down I did, on the front porch, laid back and drifted into unconsciousness! Patti became terrified, yelling for the kids to call 911, as she checked my breathing and pulse, shallow and impalpable, respectively. She eventually roused our children, and the oldest, Kyle, took charge of the situation. Paramedics arrived and began their work, I “awoke” to a startling scene , but was physically incapable of responding to it any meaningful way. The paramedics placed “lines” in my arms, started some fluids and medicines, and got me into the ambulance. We left for the hospital leaving my wife and children behind, frightened and unsure of what was happening to Dad.

The “ride” in that ambulance was eerily similar to one I had as an eight year old Cub Scout who had just had his head crushed in a rock slide. In both rides I was not afraid, (quite a thing for an anxious person like me.) Anyway, on the adult ride (after having become a “believer” years earlier), I began to calmly “talk” to God, while all the busyness and chatter of paramedics trying to stabilize me was going on around me. I can still vividly recall feeling a total Peace as I expressed my heart to God for my loved ones, while submitting to His Will, even it if meant “my time had come.” It was one of those “out of body” things that remain hard to describe, but definitely Peaceful. My only concern was the grief and loss that my family would bear if I were to die.

Eventually, I spent four days in the hospital undergoing numerous tests. They were never able to discover what had happened! There were no signs of damage to my heart or brain?! That can be frustrating and frightening for most people, not knowing if it can or will happen again. Patti was concerned that I may have had an aneurism burst in my brain or a stroke? However, I have personally decided that it was my God being rather dramatic in “getting my attention.” The experience has resulted in; a renewed personal will to love and serve others, an ever deepening relationship with my wife and kids, and a deeper knowledge of the beautiful but still mysterious Relationship at the center of the universe that I choose to call “Father”. My desire is that others would know Him and His Peace as well.

Only by Grace, pat
P.S. Hindsight allows us to "see" God's hand on our lives in the past, even when we "denied" Him ourselves. My personal trials; divorce, deep depression, my father's suicide, numerous surgeries, walking with my wife and children through their struggles, are similar to those we all experience in life. The difference now is that I can see God "working for the good" in and through those trials . . . trials that He turns to Gold. He remains my Hope and my Refuge, as well as my JOY and the One to Whom I give all praise and thanksgiving.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Shema . . .

All too often we Christians believe we are "following" Jesus fairly well, but the dweeb and this broken world he "works" in can easily lead us astray. We must search our hearts often and long with God's help to "weed" out any falsehood and deception. There are many "gods" which can become the object of our "worship", and they do so very subtly . . . . materialism, worldly comfort, pleasures that only satisfy momentarily.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Exodus 20:4-6 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Deuteronomy 5:8-10 8 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Deuteronomy 32:15-17

15 Jeshurun [a] grew fat and kicked; [comfortable and arrogant]
filled with food, he became heavy and sleek. [prideful and self sufficient]
He abandoned the God who made him [turned away from the One who loved him]
and rejected the Rock his Savior.

16 They made him jealous with their foreign gods [all the pleasures and comforts of this world]
and angered him with their detestable idols.[icons and images and personalities of this world]

17 They sacrificed to demons, which are not God— [the things of this world]
gods they had not known,
gods that recently appeared,
gods your fathers did not fear.

1. Deuteronomy 32:15 Jeshurun means the upright one , that is, Israel . . . [us].

Psalm 18:2

2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.

Selah, Amen, Shalom . . .

Friday, June 26, 2009

One thing

In the movie City Slickers, three friends decide to visit a dude ranch and participate in a cattle drive. They are all at a time of personal crisis in their respective lives, and apparently think this will somehow give them some kind of direction. At one point in the film the character played by Billy Crystal has a "deep" moment of conversation with "Curly", the crusty cowboy played by the late Jack Palance. Billy wants to know why Curly seems so content, (i.e. what the meaning to life is?) Curly raises a gloved index finger and says, "One thing." That's it, no further explanation. Eventually, the characters seem to find their way, including Billy who returns home to love and cherish his own family (as opposed to his work, which has left him feeling empty.)

The once wise King Solomon also struggled with the search for the meaning to life. He wrote down all his thoughts in the Book called Ecclesiastes. His conclusion:

"All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God's providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man."

Get to know this God who created you (and everything else) out of His infinite Love and Grace. As you seek Him, He will guide and direct your steps and you will find Peace and contentment beyond what this world has to offer.

only by Grace,


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I am an outcast, a stranger on this earth
A sinner by choice and an alien by birth
But I've been adopted, no longer cast out
An heir to a Kingdom that I no longer doubt - Anon (with apologies to Buell)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Life in Christ more journeys on the Narrow Road

We recently received a "survey" in the mail from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), (I assume because we are registered Democrats?) Anyway, the survey revealed the two primary foci of the ACLU these days: the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) and pro choice agendas. It immediately struck me, (probably because I've been reading from the prophet Jeremiah), that we are not far from the abberant sexual behavior and child sacrifices of the those Old Testament times. Again, the dilemma for Christ followers . . . speaking the Truth in love . . . loving the sinner, but hating the sin.

only by Grace,


P.S. You know, one of the reasons I "see" the Truth in God is that I've lived the lies in my earlier life. I have been "touched" by abortion, substance abuse, lust, materialism and more. I have sinned in a variety of ways and suffered the consequences (thank God), only to be brought into a fuller understanding of His Grace, Forgiveness and Love for me . . . a sinner extraordinaire! This Hope and JOY I now experience every moment is the driving force behind my desire to share with others.

P.P.S. It is increasingly difficult to be this anomaly . . . a Christian Democrat. :-) (JK)

Every Sunday my church lists prayer requests for people in the bulletin. The list includes leadership at the church, and then all those who need prayers for physical illness/injuries. And when we reach a time of "prayers of the people" we often mention tragedies and catastrophes around the country and globe. Sadly, we never seem to touch on sin. I know this isn't just a fault in my own church, but most others as well. We can readily pray for physical maladies and tragedies in other countries, but it's "taboo" to mention our own sins specifically.

It took a 17 year old young man to teach us all a lesson recently about confession and prayer. How many people "die" every day in sin, and continue to experience that death with each succeeding day that the sin continues?! Yet, we are afraid to "name it and claim it" openly in those places of worship where it should happen. Instead in the interest of remaining "politically correct" (something Christians and our churches should never be) we ignore sin, sweeping it under the carpet where it rots our floors and foundations. We watch and comment in dismay as marriages are destroyed, young lives are corrupted, and more by all kinds of sin.

The challenge . . . people expressing and confessing their sins openly, seeking forgiveness from Brothers and Sisters in Christ and healing . . . a resurrection of the soul and heart. I know without a doubt if I stood up in worship and asked those who haven't experienced sin themselves, or in those close to them, to raise their hands, there would be no hands raised if we were all truthful. Sexual sin; lust, pornography, adultery, etc. are rampant and touch almost all of us at some point or in some way. Sins of greed, power and materialism are just as prevalent; money, toys, cars, homes, prestigious positions/jobs, image!

Yet, our churches seem to be "enablers" in our sinful lives, never requiring accountability and too often promoting materialistic lifestyles so contrary to what Jesus lived and taught. "Get real" has been a comment often uttered when we see shallow behavior or language in others. Well, we should be yelling at our churches (and ourselves) to "GET REAL!" with this Christian life. One has only to read the Old Testament to see how bad things can get when we condone and promote sinful lives . . . read Jeremiah lately?

Sadly, Jeremiah (and others today) are seen as crackpots to be ignored or cast out (even killed), rather heed the messages that God is delivering through him (them.) In Young Life we do something called "real prayer". It is a time of conversation with each other (and coincidentally God) about real things, including sin in our lives. Many of the kids we minister to come from terribly sinful lives (their own and that of their families.) Confession, forgiveness and healing are a huge part of Young Life. All the most successful "recovery" ministries share this important focus as well.

Our churches are "ill", sick with sin within, it's past time to "get real" and quit pretending that things are fine. I thank God for that young man who had the courage (and trust in His Heavenly Father) to "name it and claim it" . . . his actions were "freeing" for all of us, and I know He is receiving healing and has pleased his Father.

only by Grace, pat

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual . . . brokenness, pain and suffering . . . it is with us every day, either personally or with those we care about. Often our own struggles pale in the significance of others; the 21 year old woman with terminal cancer, the father of four with a different rare form of cancer, the mental illness that tortures both the victim and their family, the spiritual desert that so many find themselves in (unable to hear or sense a loving God in any of it.), the broken or breaking marriage. I have experienced most of it in my lifetime, either personally or in my own family. I confess at times being angry with God, then just deciding He didn't exist or care. But, I have always finally sought Him as the only refuge that comforts in those times.

Recently, the youth at my church led worship, and the confession of a young man taught us all a lesson that we often fail to put into practice in our churches and our lives. Living with sin is destructive personally and for those around us. Confession IS good for the soul . . . for the whole body, AND those around us. The theme of "surrender" was paramount during that worship service. It is one of the hardest things for us to do, and many never truly "let go, and let God." Even in utter brokenness, some will continue to "harden" their own hearts rather than submit to God's Love and Grace. I don't understand that stubbornness or inability to relinquish our control. I suppose for many it is the fear of losing one's self, of not knowing what lies ahead in that surrender? It has taken me over half my lifetime to begin to understand this "surrender" thing, but I'm getting it . . . daily. Jesus told us that we must lose our lives to find them, and I get that now too. Every day, surrender to God and find our true being in Him and His plans for us. When everything is going well, and, when everything is crumbling around us.

Faith looks across the storms - it does not doubt
Or stop to look at clouds and things without
Faith does not question why all His ways
Are hard to understand, but trust and prays. ---- Anon

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Divorce – It wounds everyone around it!

What is the current divorce rate in America?
It is frequently reported that the
divorce rate in America is 50%. This data is not accurately correct, however, it is reasonably close to actual. The Americans for Divorce Reform estimates that "Probably, 40 or possibly even 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue.", which is actually a projection.

"50% of all marriages in the America end in divorce."
The above statement about the divorce rate in America hides all the details about distribution, however.

Age at marriage for those who divorce in America




Under 20 years old



20 to 24 years old



25 to 29 years old



30 to 34 years old



35 to 39 years old



The divorce rate in America for first marriage, vs second or third marriage
50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.”

According to enrichment journal on the divorce rate in America:
The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%

The divorce rate in America for childless couples and couples with children
According to discovery channel, couples with children have a slightly lower rate of divorce than childless couples.

Sociologists believe that childlessness is also a common cause of divorce. The absence of children leads to loneliness and weariness and even in the United States, at least 66 per cent of all divorced couples are childless.

In the last 20 years, divorce statistics have skyrocketed. Fifty percent of U.S. marriages are ending in divorce. The trauma to this country is overwhelming. We have to do something about stopping it.

American couples are marrying later, divorcing more frequently, and are readier to live together without marrying. Almost all the large increase in working women has occurred among married women, but the wife's contribution to family income has probably saved many marriages, for people in the lowest socioeconomic groups are more likely to divorce than those who "have it made."


The consequences of divorce are far-reaching. Divorce raises the risk that children won't graduate from high school or will themselves have children while they are still teenagers.

We used to think that preschool kids were most affected by divorce, but studies don't show that to be true. There's not one age that is clearly better or clearly worse. Kids are more at risk if their parents are still fighting after the divorce, especially if they use the children as pawns. Kids caught in the middle don't do well.

Divorce has an impact on these children's future in another way. The kids of divorced families grow up without learning the skills they need in their own relationships.

Divorce teaches them not to trust. When teenage girls become sexually active after their parents divorce, it can be because they reason that relationships never last, so why not?

Economic problems are increasingly given as reasons for seeking a divorce. Husbands complain they are fed up with meeting the mortgage or paying high rents. A growing number of men consider themselves better off single. One husband recently sought advice on divorce proceedings because he claimed his wife had just spent $750 - half his month's salary - on exotic plants for the living room.

A lot of couples want to live way above their means and they get into the red. For them, divorce is often the easiest way out.

According to popular beliefs, a rise in divorce statistics indicates that couples are not doing such a good job at keeping their vows. If partners love each other unconditionally, there is the understanding that whatever happened in the past, whatever is happening at present and whatever is to happen, will not change a couple s love for each other. This influences the passion with which the vows are made and kept

We can't reverse the historical trends that are pulling the family apart, nor, for the most part, would we want to. Making women subservient to men, restoring tough divorce laws and withdrawing Social Security would certainly force many families to stay together, but the hardship caused by these moves would far outweigh that benefit.

But if something isn't done to strengthen the social family, it will continue to dissolve, says David Popenoe, who has devoted his academic career to studying the family.

The most serious threat to the family - at least as far as children are concerned - is the high divorce rate, but there is currently very little interest in the problem.

"There are no national anti-divorce movements like those for anti-abortion, no national commissions examining the problem of divorce like those for pornography, and few indignant outcries from the pulpit about marital dissolution of the kind heard frequently about premarital sexuality," he wrote in a paper for the Institute for American Values, a nonpartisan think tank in New York that he helped to organize.

He also believes greater efforts should be made to accommodate women in the workplace, so parents will experience less when they try to combine a career with parenting.

Until recently, the workplace has been organized around a single earner married to someone who stays home with the kids.

The goal should be a system that allows both parents to spend more time with their children. The idea of affluence was to provide more leisure time, and yet we're working our tails off and neglecting our children.

The most significant changes must come in people themselves. We should stress that the individualistic ethos has gone too far, that children are being woefully shortchanged, and that, in the long run, strong families represent the best path toward self-fulfillment and personal happiness.

There are many causes of divorce, but the most commonly cited reasons for divorce include financial pressures, unrealistic expectations from one or other partner, media pressure and arguments over the upbringing of children. All valid causes of divorce and all actual reasons people divorce, so let's take a look at them in more detail:

Financial pressures are often cited as the largest causes of divorce.

Most couples experience financial difficulties, whether short or long term. With financial causes of divorce there may be a clash of ideals, with one partner wishing to 'live now, pay later', while the other prefers to live always within their means without borrowing money.

It often emerges over the decision whether to take a mortgage for house purchase, or whether to spend on an expensive vacation. However, spending on gambling, drinking or compulsive shopping can raise equally thorny causes for divorce.

Usually the couple manages to compromise on financial issues, but in some cases the dispute is severe enough to threaten the relationship. There is no 'right' way to handle money, and each couple will make their own arrangements. Some individuals feel that it is helpful to keep some savings in their own name, however close and involved they are with their partner. This may not imply an intention to separate, and is certainly no reason for divorce - and it may actually make separation less likely because the person feels more secure because of the savings.

Expectations fostered by the media can be causes for divorce

Pressures on the stability of relationships are also felt as a result of media publicity. There is at present a tendency to idealize marriage as an institution and at the same time to attack it. The media is full of stories about the infidelities and separations of celebrities, and their reasons for divorce. There are also regular features on how to improve your relationship, how to achieve a better sex life and how to live a fuller life. This carries the risk that couples who read about these things will look at their own relationship and see more causes of divorce, and conclude that, because it doesn't come up to standard, it is no good and they should separate.

It hardly needs saying that you need to weigh these media pronouncements against your own experience, and not disparage the good things that you have in your own 'good enough' relationship. This is one of the hardest causes of divorce to get to grips with, as it's always plastered across some glossy magazine or other each week. Just because someone writes about it in a magazine (and claims it's one of the common causes of divorce) does not mean it's a reason for divorce in your relationship. Don't be intimidated by the media.

Jan Andersen, associate professor at CSU Sacramento, had heard the conventional wisdom, too. Far from being a skeptic, he wanted to prove the link when he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject at Utah State University. Andersen had long taught courses in personal finance and, as the child of divorce himself, liked the idea that improving people's money skills could help their marriages.

Unfortunately, he found research in this area has been thin, to say the least. The only survey Andersen could find that showed a strong link between money and divorce was one culled from data collected in 1948. When this survey of postwar divorced women was asked what ended their marriages, the leading response was "nonsupport" -- meaning their husbands hadn't provided enough money for the basic necessities of life.

Needless to say, a few things have changed since then, including more women in the workforce and less financial dependence on men. Andersen also points out that nonsupport was one of the few grounds for which you could get a divorce back in the old days. What's more, the survey focused only on the women; opinions of ex-husbands weren't solicited.

Look at broader causes of divorce

The more recent research Andersen reviewed relegated money to a lesser role in divorce. Rarely was it ranked higher than fourth or fifth, with other causes -- incompatibility, lack of emotional support, abuse and sexual problems -- typically ranking higher.

Money causes friction, of course. In a study of married couples from 1980 to 1992, 70% reported some kind of money problems. When Andersen looked deeper at that database, however, he found that those problems didn't necessarily lead to divorce.

"As a predictor of divorce, money problems are … so minor," Andersen said. "If we look at all the causes of divorce, financial problems can only account for 5% of the effect."

It's important to note here that Andersen wasn't looking at popular opinion polls -- what people think causes divorce or even what people are willing to tell a telephone survey caused their own divorce. He was looking at sociological research that had some intellectual rigor and scientific controls. He wanted to determine whether money could be singled out as a predictor of divorce, rather than something most married couples struggle with.

Andersen speculates that money may be a socially acceptable reason for divorce, while other issues -- like incompatibility, abuse or sexual problems -- could be harder to talk about.

"No one is going to say, 'I got divorced because I was a jerk,' Andersen said.”It's more acceptable to say, 'We had money troubles.' "

For this husband and father, the bottom line is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor (spouse) as yourself.” When we place God first in our lives, He prioritizes our lives for us based on His good and perfect Will. That Will is focused on His love and design for each of us as His creation.

We will “naturally” tend toward self sacrifice (as opposed to selfishness and self absorption) as we seek Him. The Apostle Paul took the model directly from Jesus Christ when he wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . .” Of course, those words are preceded by the “infamous” (to women’s lib folks) words that wives should “submit” to their husbands, but the context back then had a very different meaning than some kind of subservient, groveling woman.

Anyway, the state of marriage, especially in America, is the responsibility of all members of society. Strong marriages yield strong, healthy children, and strong families are truly the backbone of our society. It’s no wonder that things seem to be crumbling rapidly everywhere the more marriage and family are assailed by popular culture and the media!

Pray, pray and pray some more that God would draw us back to Himself, including in our marriages!

Only by Grace,