Itchy Feet

*** Before you close this post, it is not about athlete’s foot.***

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In the summer of 1997 my best friend came and knocked on my apartment door.  It was not the best place, but it was all that I could afford at the time.  He began to tell me that there was a mobile home that he thought I might be interested in.  The owner was willing to sell it to me on a rent-to-own basis.  So, I decided to take a look at the place.  It was far larger than my current accomadations.  After looking through the home I talked to the owner and decided I would take it.

In mid August that year I moved in.  I didn’t have much for furniture so the place looked relatively empty.  Once settled in I made a phone call to my mother.  I went through the niceties then I told her about my decision to buy the mobile home.  Her reply to the news was simple, “don’t get itchy feet“!

She knew me. She knew that when I would find that when I faced tough situations I would pack and run from it.  Truth be told it was my way of not facing hard situations head on.  At other times I would just simply ignore the situation which just caused more damage.

I have just recently learned that we all have built into us a fight or flight response.  For me nine times out of ten I would choose flight response.

There have been times while living in my current home where I was facing a tough time that I wanted to just run away.  Yet, every time I gave thought to running I could hear my mother’s voice in my head.

“Don’t get itchy feet”!

p.s – I just finished twenty-two years in this mobile home which I own outright.

Too Critical!

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**Please do not be angry with the following statement”

If I was a believer in the Zodiac signs I would fall into line about the first trait listed. That is Virgos are ‘critical thinkers’.  That is my one big hurdle, I tend to be very critical of myself.

When my grandfather passed away I took up being the pianist for my home church.  It was on the job training.  My mother told me years later that I have tell sign when I am frustrated, I would scratch the top of my head in an odd way.

As a teenager I would attend tent meetings of an evangelist that would come to our city every year.  He had a team of singers and great musicians.  I would often go home and laying on my bed would pray that God would allow me to travel like that with an evangelist.

Well one thing led to the other.  I would practice for hour upon hour at my piano that was given to me.  If I had any hope of my prayer coming true I would have to be perfect.  In 1980 my prayer was answered when an evangelist asked me to join his team to be an organist for his crusades.  I travelled with him across the length and breadth of North America.  During that time I would ask the other members how I did.

Being critical is a trait of mine even at fifty-seven years old.  I want things done just a certain way.  When they seem to go off the rails I start being critical that I can’t do it right.

I not sure if that is one of my triggers, but, I have to think it probably is.

There are other examples that I could write about where I am just too critical of myself!

 

A Practical Gospel

Mar 12:29-31 MSG
29  Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one;
30  so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’
31  And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”

I have always known that the Gospel has to be practical.  People on the whole need help in all manner of things on what to do where the rubber meets the road.

Lesson Learned

These past several days have confirmed to me that people want preachers, pastors, teachers are like them.  No, they want to believe those leaders are not mired in the same sins as those who are listening.

When I was in the ministry I was never open about what was happening in my personal life.  I kept it shielded, compartmentalized, only let it out when I was by myself or with a close confidant.  I found that many Pastors are in the same boat.  They feel constrained, the burden of ministry weighs on them 24/7.  Some don’t even confide to their wives which starts to cause major problems within the marriage.  Pastors and those involved in the ministry are some of the lonliest people in the world.

Since I have started writing about my problems with depression, bi-polar, etc., the readers have shown me that I made the right step.  It has opened a whole new world to me causing some of my lonliness to disappear.

It now it is my fervent prayer that I can share more of my battles in life, yet at the same time share the Gospel of the Cross to the readers of my blog.

Lessons Learned In The Wilderness – Romans 8:23

cropped-bible-cross1.jpgRomans 8:28 MSG  That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Lately I have been fixated on why certain things happen in one’s life.  For myself it is dealing with health issues, fractures in my back caused by osteoporosis.

I truly believe that God’s word is absolute and it is true.  Yet, the above verse brings somewhat of a contradiction in the way I was taught growing up.  If I believe all other Scripture is truth, then, I must believe that this scripture in Romans is also factual.

I am not quite sure where theology went sideways, but, it truly has.  Somehow doctrine has been subverted.  

It has been taught for as long as I can recollect that any sickness is of the devil.  There are some within the charismatic movement that teach if you are sick there must be sin in your life.  Or if you are not healed you must not have enough faith.  To both of these teachings I say, heresy, false doctrine.

In a previous article I took a look at the life of Job.  He was sinless, yet he went through hell and back.  Lost all of his family, home, crops, and livestock.  The people around him said that God must be angry with him.  His wife mocked him and told him, “curse God and die”.  The true reason is in the first verses of the book of Job.  Satan told God that if God would remove His protection from around Job, Job would turn against God.  God took down the protection so that the enemy could do all he wanted, except for, he could not take Job’s life.  Job came out spotless, sinless, and never once accused God foolishly.  The end for Job was greater than the beginning of his life.

There is another school of thought that declares, if you are sick God must be teaching you a lesson, that’s erroneous.  God does not teach us lessons by giving to us sickness or ill in our body.  We sometimes as earthly parents teach our children how to be safe around the house, but we do not cause them pain to teach that lesson.

So, it is my belief and opinion that when we are faced with such challenges in our life that maybe, just maybe, God is showing the enemy that He has faith in us not to charge God foolishly.

Now, with all that said I would like to bring to your attention the fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew and the record of when Christ went into the wilderness and faced temptation.  It was in this wilderness account that we have lessons that we can learn and apply to our everyday life.

It is my objective for the next several writings to take and delve into that account of the temptation of Christ and break it down lesson by lesson.

Matthew 4:   MSG
1  Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it.
2  Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger,
3  which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”
4  Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
5  For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said,
6  “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”
7  Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
8  For the third test, the Devil took him on the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were.
9  Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
10  Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
11  The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.

I would like to invite you to join with me to see what gem of truth we can find in the above eleven verses of Matthew chapter four.

I would encourage you to study this with me, have a pen and notepad at the ready.  Maybe, have a friend or a group to study, “Lessons Learned In The Wilderness”.

 

When The Chips Are Down

*This is not an article about gambling!*

Job 1:1-22 MSG
1  Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion.
2  He had seven sons and three daughters.
3  He was also very wealthy—seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants—the most influential man in all the East!
4  His sons used to take turns hosting parties in their homes, always inviting their three sisters to join them in their merrymaking.
5  When the parties were over, Job would get up early in the morning and sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children, thinking, “Maybe one of them sinned by defying God inwardly.” Job made a habit of this sacrificial atonement, just in case they’d sinned.
6  One day when the angels came to report to GOD, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them.
7  GOD singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?” Satan answered GOD, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.”
8  GOD said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”
9  Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart?
10  Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can’t lose!
11  “But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”
12  GOD replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don’t hurt him.” Then Satan left the presence of GOD.
13  Sometime later, while Job’s children were having one of their parties at the home of the oldest son,
14  a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing in the field next to us
15  when Sabeans attacked. They stole the animals and killed the field hands. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
16  While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Bolts of lightning struck the sheep and the shepherds and fried them—burned them to a crisp. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
17  While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Chaldeans coming from three directions raided the camels and massacred the camel drivers. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
18  While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Your children were having a party at the home of the oldest brother
19  when a tornado swept in off the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they died. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”
20  Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped:
21  Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth. GOD gives, GOD takes. God’s name be ever blessed.
***22  Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God.***

If you were to come and visit me for a couple of days you would find that I am human like the rest of the seven plus billion living on this earth.

When I was in my teens I was learning to play the piano so that I could play when my sister and I would sing gospel songs.  It was not easy learning because I was not being taught by a piano teacher.  There were times I wanted to quit, yet I persevered trying to play the instrument.  I would sit at the old piano that was given to me for hours at a time.  Then come Sunday I would try to play at my home church since there was no other musicians after my grandfather passed away.

I now look back at those days and would not trade one moment of them.  Going through those days as a young teen my mother said she could always tell when I was frustrated.  She said that I would scratch the top of my head a certain way.  I never realized I was making such a motion.  I finally mastered the piano and developed my own style that was fitting to the gospel songs that I sang.  I have come a long way since those teenage years and I no longer get frustrated when playing the piano and now also the organ.

I am no saint and have my weak moments where I may get angry about how someone is driving around me.  I even have moments where I just want to throw my hands in the air and admit defeat.  

I can remember hearing people talk about a person who was dealing in an situation that for many would be total disgust.  They would say, “he must have the patience of Job”.

For the most part it would seem we all have two faces, one for when we are in a social setting, and the other when no one can see us and the door is closed to the rest of the world.  The latter is the face we all need to work on for that is the true person coming out.

Some days I would like to throw my phone out the window because it seems it always rings just when I have my hands full, or when I am trying to watch a program on television.  If I were to guess I am not the only who has those feelings from time to time.

There is one event that shows our true character, it is adversity.  Everyone who lives and breathes will face it during their life.  Aversity will either break you or make you stronger.

I believe the hardest adversity one has to face is parents losing a child due to illness or accident.  I have witnessed two young teenagers laid to rest and the pain and despair on the parents.  No words can ever soothe the absolute sense of loss for those parents.  It is true that parents shouldn’t have outlive their children.  As one pastor said at my cousin’s funeral, “life is not fair”.

For Job it was the loss of his entire family, Job’s response is truly beyond human character.  The last verse of chapter one declares through all the despair Job did not sin.  **22  Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God.***  The King James version says that Job did not charge God foolishly.

I must admit that I am not sure that I could live up to the standard that Job showed to all his friends, and the land he lived in. 

I have a daughter and three grandchildren and the thought of losing them at all the same time would be devasting throwing me into complete and utter despair.  I would hope that I would be like Job and not blame God for the loss of my loved ones.

When I was thirteen years old my grandfather, who I was very close to, died at the age of fifty – seven.  I remember how I felt, I was angry, depressed and many more emotions that would seem quite expected for a teenager to be experiencing.  I did blame God for quite awhile.  At the time I was learning to play the accordian.  I took that accordian and placed it next to the garbage can.  My mom took it and stored it for me.  Yes, it took awhile for my emotions to stabilize.  I now look back and can see the good that came from that event, I learned how to play the piano which eventually led me to be able to travel across Canada and the United States with an evangelist.  So, while it seemed dark and bleaked going through it, it work to God’s glory.

I am now much older and have learned some of God’s lessons and I look at adversity in a different light.  No, I don’t look through rose colored glasses, but rather I look through the lense that God desires for all of us.  We may not understand the trial that we are facing but we should be able to go through it knowing God is holding our hand.  Therefore we can be like Job and not sin or blame God.

Oh, it may look like all the chips are down and would appear that the whole world is against us but remember this:

Romans 8:31 MSG
31  So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?