before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”
“DON’T COUNT YOUR LOSSES!”.................... May 12, 2020
“but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before,”
As a young Christian I loved giving my testimony, but I fell into the trap that many have done. I spent more time talking about the terrible things I had done than about God’s saving grace!
I couldn’t wait to tell folks what a horrible person I was. What I had done, when I did it, how many it affected and sometimes when there were others sharing their (same kind of) testimony it became a one-upmanship contest! It was like a group of surgery survivors comparing their scars.
When I began working in the prison, I would get upset at myself when an inmate “got one over on Mr. Smith.” I would do a cell search and find all kinds of contraband and place the things outside the cell (usually tobacco products and needs like papers and matches) for me to grab when the search was over.
All the time I would spend in a man’s cell (with him standing outside the door) finding tobacco, matches, papers, extra sugar (which they would hoard until they had enough to make “squawky” – prison alcohol) and fruit and when I would turn around it would all be gone!
The inmate would kick it over to someone else’s cell and I would be left empty handed. That would just get me down until one of the other officers would tell me, “Don’t count your losses because that will bum you out. Only count your wins!”
It took a little while to learn that lesson and the lesson was this, it is mostly a game. Sometimes I won (found the contraband!) but most of the time, the inmates won. The inmates have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to think of new hiding places, new ways to get around the rules, new ways to get contraband. I usually worked 40 hours a week.
If I spent my time and energy wondering about what could have been, it would have been a very negative experience!
Think about this, in California, law enforcement arrests vehicle fleeing suspects 68% of the time
That means almost 1/3 of them are not caught!
What is more important, know that you caught 2/3 of the suspects or that you lost 1/3? It is important to know and realize that the police were able to catch most of them! Focus on the positive and not the negative! Focus on the what is, not the could/should have been!
So, our testimony should be where we are now, by the grace of God, not how great a slime pit He pulled us out of! What am I doing now, rather than how bad I was then!
Paul was looking forward, not backward! He wasn’t living in the past, he was setting his sights on what God was leading him to for today, tomorrow, and into the Kingdom!
Now, that is a positive!
“THOU SHALL NOT....." May 5, 2019
In the early 2000’s Bonny and I would rent a motel room in Idaho Falls, Idaho, close to the river for the 4th of July.
They had one of the best fireworks display we’d ever seen and one of the local radio stations played a music program that
was set in time to the fireworks.
It was a great time. We were within walking distance from the park area by the river (the streets around it were blocked off)
and around 9:u30 in the evening we would grab our chairs and head down for the show at 10.
There were also signs all along the edge of the property stating there was to be no picnicking on the grounds, lawns chairs,
gatherings of folks, etc.
The first year the green lawns were packed with adults, children running around playing, chairs, tables, coolers, dogs,
and many blankets put down to sit on. People just ignored the signs and at the end of the night, after the show, the place
looked like a mess with trash everywhere, sod torn up, even dirty diapers. It was disgusting.
The next year Bonny and I got to our customary spot and were sitting in our chairs for around 20 till ten. Again, there were hundreds of people moving past the signs, ignoring them. There was laughing and excitement as people were getting ready for the fireworks display. Many had been there many hours, reserving their piece of the ground. They would have best view of the show!
At a quarter to 10 there came a “whoosh” kind of sound and for about 30 seconds the people were looking around trying
to figure out what the sound was and where it was coming from.
Suddenly all of the water sprinklers shot up from their holes in the ground under people, chairs, pushing up blankets
and watering the entire grounds!
Dogs barking, people yelling and cursing, kids screaming and running in circles, folks trying to grab things and run
for the dry sidewalk and street before their radios, pillows, phones, children’s toys got soaked!
It was chaos! But for the people who obeyed the signs it was a great source of entertainment!
Pointing, laughing and yelling at the people who thought they didn’t have to follow the rules. The next year no one sat on
the Temple grounds and anyone who tried to was warned off by those who had been there the year before.
“Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth,
and give them warning from me.”
“So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the
word at my mouth, and warn them from me.”
“Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess
before the angels of God:”
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that
asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”
I Peter 3:15
“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
"Our obligation is to demonstrate Jesus to the World. It is their obligation to accept or ignore Him."
"RUN TO THE BATTLE!”............. April 28, 2020
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called,
and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
I Timothy 6:12
Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war,
and my fingers to fight:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal,
but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
I Corinthians 10:4
Pease AFB, N.H. 1972. We were a SAC base – Strategic Air Command and we had F-111’s with nuclear armament in the alert area ready to take off at a moment’s notice along with KC-135’s – refuelers. In the late morning hours several aircraft landed and down the stairs came dozens of officers and ranking enlisted men. Vehicles came from the motor pool to take them to various areas on the Flightline.
Operational Readiness Inspection – ORI for short. They came without notice and their job was to test our base’s readiness for deployment, security, and squadron preparedness. Wing Commanders had been relieved of duties for a failing grade. Security Police Chiefs had been relieved and lost stripes because of bad reviews.
As a Security Policeman in the Alert Area, a Top 3 sergeant (E-7, 8, or 9) would approach your post and your first job was to identify the person and then inspect their Line Badge to ensure they were allowed in that area.
After you verified who they were and that they had the correct permission to be there, they would hand you a 3X5 index card with a “problem” for you to address. Something like, “an Airman with the wrong picture in his Line Badge has approached you to enter the alert area. What do you do?”
Then they would grade you on the correctness of your response and the response of the Area Supervisor and Security Patrol assigned to the area.
The team usually spent 3 to five days at the base assessing preparedness and, if deployed, the accuracy of the air crews hitting their targets. At some point during the inspection there was a planned “Red Flag” which meant manning every post, increased patrols, and pilots and crews of Alert Area went to their aircraft, powered up and readied to deploy.
Usually the Security Police Squadron was confined to the base and knowing approximately when the exercise would be called, we waited. Because of the ORI, we manned posts that weren’t usually used. Extra troops between the taxiway and the runways, more security around the perimeter of the alert area and the perimeter of the base beyond the runways.
One inspection team came to a young airman just beyond the runway and started questioning him. At some point, one of them asked him to deploy his pen flare (the launcher is pictured at the beginning of this). That meant, “I have a security problem!” and the Security Alert Team was supposed to respond.
In the base Control Tower, there was a new troop also being questioned by members of the ORI team, including several ranking officers. When he saw the pen flare, he hit the “ALERT” button. Out of reflex, one of the officer’s started his stopwatch.
Klaxons going off! Pilots and crews running to their aircraft, ignoring the motor vehicles there for the specific purpose of taking them. Security Policemen running to the armory to receive weapons and then rushing to man posts throughout the Flightline.
Of course, you’re thinking, they would all run to their position. But you see, when people are told when to expect the alert, there is not the same urgency! Yes, people still moved along, but pilots and crews would load up into the vehicles and wait for the assigned driver to arrive.
Security Policemen would mingle around the armory and clearing barrels to check their weapons – but there was no sense of urgency!
Yet this time, unannounced, unplanned, during the height of the Cold War with the USSR, no one gave the ORI teams a second glance. One of the other officers in the tower as the lead investigator if they should shut down the alert and the lead said, “No! This is the best response time we’ve ever seen for the base! Let it play out!”
And so, it did. Our preparedness so impressed the ORI team that they gave us a passing score, recalled their personnel, loaded up their aircraft and left – several days before the usual time.
What has that got to do with the verses at the beginning of this? When there is a spiritual battle taking place in church – the altar call! Run to the battle! Pray for pastor as he makes the call for repentance. Pray for the Holy Spirit to woo the sinner to forgiveness! Pray for the counselors as they minister to the ones coming forward!
This means being in prayer long before the call is issued! Let your prayers be confident! Pray that there will be lost souls that have been led to the church. Pray that the word from the pastor will penetrate beyond natural hearing and into the people’s hearts.
Run to the battle!
"UNCERTAINTY"........................ April 21, 2020
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
I Peter 5:6-7
In his Easter message to Desert Hills, Pastor Scott spoke of how many are saying these are “uncertain times” for the church and Christians especially in view of the pandemic virus. Pastor pointed out that we, Christians, have always lived in uncertain times.
“What will happen next?” is a question many have asked – even from the earliest moments of Christianity.
In the early 90’s, while visiting with my friend George Bacon and his family, told us how people would ask him, “How much worse can it get?”
Edgar Whisenant predicted in his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988 that the rapture
of the Christian Church would occur between September 11 and 13, 1988. After his September predictions failed
to come true, Whisenant revised his prediction date to October 3. And after that didn’t happen, he revised the
date, again, to September 30,1988!
In 1991 Louis Farrakhan predicted that because of the Gulf War there would be the war of Armageddon – the last war.
Rollen Stewart declared the rapture would occur September 28, 1992.
David Berg predicted that the Tribulation would start in 1989 and that the Rapture would take place in 1993.
There are so many, many more predictions of the Rapture, the Tribulation,
the End of the World in almost every century. Many have been deceived because they did not know the Word!
It created/caused uncertainty!
Uncertainty. The Sabbath. The High Holy Day for the Jews. And where were the disciples? Hiding, living
in fear of their lives. Not even being allowed to go to the Temple because they would be arrested, imprisoned
and most like executed.
What were they supposed to do? The Man they had followed for 3 years was taken from them, scoured, beaten, and crucified. They had witnessed Him perform miracles; blind saw, lame walked, dumb spake and the possessed set free. They scattered like a covey of quail.
“Then came the morning Night turned into day!
The stone was rolled away Hope rose with the dawn!
Then came the morning!
Shadows vanished before the sun! Death had lost and life had won!
For morning had come!” (Bill Gaither 1982)
Hope! No more uncertainty! The everlasting morning has dawned!
“REDEEMING THE TIME”........ April 14, 2020
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
We had a set of revivals at Zaragoza and the speaker asked the church how many were saved directly because of the pastor. A few hands went up. Then he asked how many were saved because someone else in the congregation witnessed to them. The vast majority raised their hands at this.
Granted, the Pastor is the one who is seen mainly, but it is the people within the church inviting others even perhaps leading them to the Lord before they come to a church service!
I remember attending a concert of Keith Green and hearing him addressing this issue. What he said, in essence, is why wait until a special speaker comes, or a concert, or a “scheduled” revival (“oh yes, we schedule our revival so that this is the only time in the whole year that God can move!” not spoken - but understood) to bring someone to hear the Word? If you are waiting to bring someone to God (through the Pastor) – what are you waiting for?
Yes, we are to redeem the time and the days! Taking back that which has been stolen by the enemy – but make sure you are prayed up! Have a plan! Don’t walk into the enemy’s territory blind! And be prepared to give account of yourself when someone asks why in spite of troublesome times, you have joy.
Working the back gate at the base in Spain I would sing (surprise!) the scripture songs and hymns. One day one of the Spanish gate guards said (in Spanish) “You are always singing!”
I told him, “Yo tengo Jesus Christo en mi corazon!” – I have Jesus Christ in my heart! That is why I will sing at any moment in time. That is why Pastor Scott calls me Musical Montage Mario – there is always a song for the moment!
Moment by moment I’m kept in His love!
Moment by moment I’ve life from above!
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, Oh Lord I am thine!
(Written by D. W. Whittle in the 1800’s)
Studying the Prayer of Jabez we see that this righteous man asked God to “enlarge” the borders of his tent. In other words, he wanted to impact his area by making his tent (influence) larger.
"A REVISIT ABOUT CONFIDENCE"....... April 7, 2020
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. Psalm 118:8-9
For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
Proverbs 3:26 (caught in a trap)
I underwent 40 hours of training before working solo with the youth at the Department of Juvenile Corrections. The training covered a variety of topics associated with Positive Peer Pressure (written by Harry Vorrath and Larry Bendtro); group dynamics,
the 9 problems (authority, anger, stealing, lying, etc.) and staff roles.
One day in class, Steve, our instructor, said to me, “You come on the unit and there are several of the kids out of their rooms
and one of them threatens you with a chair! What are you going to do?”
I said, “I will tell everyone to go to their rooms and I will take the chair away from the kid and send him to his room.”
Steve looked at me and asked, “Wouldn’t that intimidate you just a little?”
I told him, “I worked the Rec Yard at the prison. At any given time, there would be up to 100 male inmates with access to horseshoes (metal, not plastic!), free weights and baseball bats. One kid with a chair does not intimidate me.”
Steve just shrugged his shoulders and moved on with the class.
I had a similar experience working in juvenile detention. We had a small enclosed rec space with a basketball hoop.
When I first started, I was to “shadow” staff until I learned how things were.
He and I were in the rec area with about a dozen teenage boys and he got called away. A short time later the supervisor
walked by and looked through the window and saw me, by myself, with all of these young boys.
He came in and still watching the boys play basketball he asked me if I was okay? I told him the same thing I had told Steve
I was not intimidated!
Why? Because I had confidence in my skills primarily as a communicator! I had been trained how to talk with people
and calm situations down. I was also confident in my ability, should things go south, to take care of myself (self-defense training).
It wasn’t arrogance! It was confidence in my abilities! Now let’s look at confidence from the Spiritual side of things.
At this moment in time (the Coronavirus issue) many, many people the world over are scared! “Where will my next check
come from? How can I provide for my family when I have no work? What are we going to do?”
People are trusting the government to take care of them. There is an expectation by many that government can take care of
all their needs, whatever they may be.
We have seen, here in the USA, empty store shelves. No eggs today, maybe tomorrow. People fighting over the last case of bottled water. Yelling at cashiers, pushing, shoving, AFRAID.
This whole world situation we are facing is not a surprise to God!
We (Christians) must have confidence in God! As Andrae Crouch wrote:
When trouble is in my way I can't tell my night from day
That I'm tossed from side to side Like a ship out on a ragin' tide
I don't worry, I don't fret My God has never failed me yet
Troubles come from time to time But that's alright I'm not the worryin' kind
Because, I've got confidence God is gonna see me through
No matter what the case may be I know He's gonna fix it for me
I've got confidence God is gonna see me through
No matter what the case may be I know He's gonna fix it for me
Job was sick so long Till the flesh fell from his bones
His wife, cattle and children Everything he had was gone
But Job with his despair He knew that God still cared
Sleepless days and sleepless nights But Job said that's alright
Because, I've got confidence God is gonna see me through
No matter what the case may be I know He's gonna fix it for me
I've got confidence God is gonna see me through
No matter what the case may be I know He's gonna fix it for me
(“I’ve Got Confidence” by Andrae Crouch1968)
Be smart, but have confidence in God!
"WHAT DID YOU THINK I WAS TALKING ABOUT"?............. March 31, 2020
I used to work for a pusher for over a year. His name was Ray and he was a hard task master. Others in our crew was Frenchy (he was from Canada), Peewee, and me, Big’un (my nickname). Thiswas even after I was saved! And our big boss was Travis and all he was interested in was the numbers.
I moved up in the gang and now I reported directly to Travis and he expected more from me. It was always about the numbers.
He would spend hours on the phone talking with someone in New York City about how things were going. Sometimes it was a good talk, sometimes it wasn’t and when it wasn’t, we caught a lot of flak for not moving enough product.
We moved many, many joints in our little gang. We would meet every morning and talk about how we were going to move our product. Where we were going, how many joints to bring with us, and how fast we could get it done.
Dope? It was everywhere and it was used liberally. I even used some. And sometimes we would chase a pig! For hours,
all over our area. We usually caught up to it too.
Are you surprised? Some may even understand what I am talking about, but I would imagine many are thinking I was a drug dealer.
Here’s the truth. I was an oilfield hand. The boss of our crew was the “pusher”, new lengths of 2½” diameter pipe was called “joints”. The numbers Travis wanted was the oil and natural gas production from the platforms. Our particular platform averaged
10,000 barrels (42 gallons per barrel) daily with about 2 million cubic feet of natural gas also.
But, Mario, what about the “dope”? Pipe dope was a thick grey product we would spread, liberally, on the inside of the joint threads as we screwed them together. It was a sealer.
The “pig”? That was a bullet shaped brush that we would send through the main pipe from our facility to the production unit
It would spin its wire brushes and clean out the paraffin from the pipe and clean it so the oil would flow better.
Look at what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. He spoke plainly to them so they would understand everything he said.
There was no “code” or “hidden” words. He didn’t use ten-dollar words. He spoke to them on their level.
Then he tells them the only thing he wanted to know from them was that they believed in Jesus Christ and Him crucified
(because the rumors were circulating that Jesus didn’t die!). Why? Why did he only want to know of Jesus among them?
“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” Their faith (as well as ours!) was to be
in the power of God!
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony
of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with
enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the
wisdom of men, but in the power of God. I Corinthians 2:1-5
Your faith comes from and is in the power of God! Power? What kind of power? The Greek word used here
“dynamis” – dynamite! TNT! The explosive power of God! So, let this be your testimony today!
“KIDS, STORIES, AND GRANDMAS”............. March 24, 2020
A family in our church in Idaho had a 4-year-old daughter who loved being a cowgirl. She knew how to saddle and ride
her horse and enjoyed helping her parents around the home and ranch.
One day a man stopped by and made an offer on the child’s horse. When the youngster began to protest, the man said,
“That’s too much horse for you!”
The four-year-old put her hands on her hips, took a half step towards the prospective buyer and said,
“I’m too much cowgirl for you!”
Yup, the whole church laughed.
Before the days of “cut and paste” (thank you Word!), I would type my verses into my sermon notes. I was teaching a
series on the various offices in the church and their responsibilities.
I was reading I Timothy 3:8, “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine,
not greedy of filthy lucre;” Unfortunately when I typed “wine” I hit the “d” instead of the “e” and following my own notes I said,
“not give to much wind,”
Before I could correct myself, my elder deacon (nicknamed “Swede” because he was), in a stage whisper
(which means everyone could hear him) said, “Ya, chure, the deacon shouldn’t be too windy!”
Yup, the whole church laughed and Mario had a very red face.
When my sister’s husband passed away, I called to giver her our condolences. Sis was a talker and after about 45 minutes
I finally got off the phone with her. I was relating about my brother-in-law’s passing at church and said, “I talked with my sister for
45 minutes and she never took a breath and talked a hundred miles an hour!”
Once again, my deacon “Swede” came to my rescue and whispered (out loud!) to his wife, “Ya, chure, sounds like it runs
in the family!”
Yup, the whole church laughed.
When I worked for Shell Oil, we got paid every other Friday and Bonny and I would make a list and then on Saturday we
would head to the “West Bank” (New Orleans area) to shop because it was usually cheaper to buy up there than at the local stores
Grandma Canton mentioned one time she would like to go up with us and shop. Not a problem! We loaded up in the car
and headed “up the road” to Schwegmann’s (big grocery store!) which was adjoined by a breezeway to a Walmart.
Bonny and I were going up and down the aisles with Grandma in tow. As we were looking around, I noticed Grandma was nowhere to be seen! “Bonny, have you seen Grandma?”
“I thought she was with you!” she said.
Great, I’ve lost my Grandma! Frantically I began racing from one aisle to the next looking for her and Bonny was going the
other way checking other aisles.
“Maybe she went to the Walmart?” I said to Bonny. “I’ll go check; you keep going around the aisles here.”
So, across the breezeway I went and up and down every aisle looking for my 82-year-old, white-haired grandmother.
Back to the Schwegmann’s I went, found Bonny. No Grandma.
On a whim I thought maybe she went back out to the car so I went outside to check. And there was a small bank of payphones (who remembers those days?!?!) and there she was, talking with her best friend from New Orleans asking her to come pick her up because, “My grandson and his wife left me here at Schwegmann’s”!
Funny now. Not funny then. Also, never took Grandma to New Orleans again.
I was busy mowing Grandma’s lawn one Saturday and Bonny was inside visiting with her. One of Grandma’s friends
called and as they were chatting, Grandma said, “I’ll just have to get some strangers to be my pallbearers because my grandchildren don’t know me anymore.”
Bonny said, “Grandma!!!!” and Grandma just looked at her.
“WELCOME HOME!”............. March 17, 2020
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over
a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
My mother and I had a tumultuous relationship partly because of my own hardheadedness and partly because of hers. We argued about a great many things; from sports to politics to how the military should be run. Yet I knew that she did love me.
In October 1971, I came home from Thailand and finally landed at the airport in Providence, R.I. I took the bus home (Portsmouth, R.I.) and got off at the Texaco station on the corner of Melville Navy Housing. I asked Henry (the owner of the station after greeting him) if I could use his phone to let Mama know I was there.
I called the house and before I could finish saying, “Mama, I’m up at Henry’s . . .” she had hung up. As I looked down the road, I could see our car just about flying as it headed towards me.
Mama got out, still in her housecoat (no pics available, but older folks know what I’m talking about!), curlers in her hair, no makeup, grabbed and hugged me and thanked God for bringing her boy home from the war!
She was crying, Henry was crying and my own eyes were leaking just a little. She kept hugging me and kissing me on the cheeks, and smiling.
Now imagine, Christian Brother and Sister, that first instant you arrive in Heaven. (There are many beautiful pics of this but because of copy write laws, I can’t put it in) It is not St. Peter who welcomes you into your heavenly reward. There are no gates to pass through (the ones in Revelation refer only to the New Jerusalem), no one taking roll.
Just you and Jesus as He hugs you.
“GOD IS NOT MAD AT YOU!”.................. March 10, 2020
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved.”
There was a couple in a church we attended (a very legalistic church) and living between the Mississippi River and the Bayous we had levees to keep the water out. These parents would tell their children,
“We have told you not to go across the levee into the river. If you do and drown you will go to hell
because you disobeyed us!”
Imagine telling that to 5, 6, or seven-year-olds! In essence what they were telling their children is
in spite of preaching and teaching the love of Christ, if they were disobedient and they died, then God
would be angry with them!
Yet many people, Christians included, think that God is or will be angry with them for something
they either did or didn’t do. Is Jesus condemning? Is God some white-bearded person sitting on a throne
just waiting to squash us like bugs?
NO! And a thousand times NO!!!!
When I worked with juveniles, one of the things that would happen when they broke the rules they would say to staff,
when confronted, “You’re mad at me!” or “You’re angry with me!”
Staff were not mad or angry. Disappointed? Perhaps. But not mad or angry! And we would explain to the youth that we weren’t. Maybe they did not understand the consequences of the actions. Maybe they were just seeking attention, but we weren’t mad!
It is the same with God! Now, some will point to the Old Testament verse that says, “God reserveth His wrath for His enemies.” Nahum 1:2b Old Testament. Old covenant. Things changed when Jesus told Nicodemus the very reason He was sent by God was
to save the world – not condemn it.
God is not mad at you! Whether you are a believer or not – God is so not mad at you that He sent Jesus! Jesus is love personified!
And if Jesus is love, so is God the Father!
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9
How could a God be angry with the very person that He is willing to save? He cannot be! God is not mad at you!
“A STOLEN GLOVE AND TAPE PLAYER”
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly.
1964, Walter T. Helms Jr. High, San Pablo, CA. Grandma Canton (Daddy’s Mama) sent us boys a little monetary gift. I got $5! Want to know how much that was? In ’64 the average price of a gallon of gas was .30 – thirty cents!
A first-class stamp was .05 – I could have bought 100! Today the price of one stamp is .55, so if I bought 100 of them, I would have to spend $55! (Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this!)
In the letter from Grandma, she told me to buy myself a new baseball glove. I knew, from ads in the paper, that our local store was selling gloves for just a little over four dollars. And one day the folks took us to the store and I bought my new glove. Today I can get a comparable one around $30-50 depending on the quality or name brand.
I took it to school because we played softball during PE and I was proud of my glove. I usually kept it in my book locker at school but being lazy I had my lock shifted to where it was on the last number before opening. And one day – you guessed it; my glove was gone!
Someone had opened my locker (probably had watched me and saw how easy it was to get in) and took my glove. I was devastated, depressed and scared. Scared because now I had to go home and tell my folks. They were not happy with me. I had made it too easy for the person to steal it.
September/October 1975. I was a Staff Sergeant (E-5) assigned to the 44th Missile Site Security Squadron at Ellsworth Air Base, S.D. Missile site security personnel worked a 3 and 3 shift, 3 days at the Launch Control Facilities, 3 days off.
I had bought a brand-new radio/dual cassette player (what’s a cassette Brother Mario?) and took it into the field with me.
I was the Flight Chief (Yes! They trusted me with 5 LCF’s, security over 50 ICBM’s and supervision of 25-30 Security Policemen! In 3 days, I could put well over 300 miles driving to check each LCF, Security personnel and run problems to determine response times by the patrols.) so my music went with me.
Upon returning to the main base, everyone would go down to the Armory and check in their weapons and ammunition. I went down the stairs and at the landing between flight of stairs, I set my bag down with my radio. I checked in my M-16 and .38 with ammo, turned around and – you guessed it, my radio was gone. Stolen. I had left it on the landing and I was around a corner and couldn’t see it. Again, I was devastated, depressed, and ticked off!
How could a brother officer take my stuff?!?!? Better yet, why did I leave it where someone could just snatch it and leave?
Now, I’ve talked before about the verse above and what the enemy does to the Christian – he steals, kills, and destroys. He wants to steal our joy – and he will, if we put ourselves in a position where he can!
Do you leave your joy unguarded? Do you leave the combination to your joy one good yank away from having it taken? This is where Paul gives us the way to keep our joy – using the Armor of God from Ephesians 6!
Put on your helmet of Salvation to protect your mind and to let the enemy know you are a Child of God – your identity!
Study the Word so that when the whispers come you can state what the Word says! Let the power of the Word protect you!
You are the righteousness of God IN Christ! That is your breastplate protecting your heart (which you have given to Him), your lungs (Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord! Psalm 150:6), your very being!
And truth surrounding your midsection! The truth of the Savior! The truth
Prepare yourself to share the Gospel! It is what you put on your feet – meaning wherever you go – Gossip the Gospel! (Didn’t I mention that before? Yup!)
Now grab your weapons! The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word! The Shield of Faith – believe in the Lord who saved you, keeps you and is preparing a place for you – BELIEVE and the enemy will not steal from you!
"GOSSIP THE GOSPEL"..... February 26, 2020
And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. Exodus 4:10
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I,
Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:8
Would you believe I did stand up comedy? There was only 10-15 people in the seats and I gave them the best stuff I could memorize from Reader’s Digest. Okay, it was 1965, summer school and a speech class.
The only joke I remember is, “my dad has a runabout car. It runs about 5 minutes and quits.” I know, I got the same reaction from the class and the teacher, but I did give it my best shot!
Think about this:
“The fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders, or heights. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that public speaking anxiety, or glossophobia, affects about 73% of the population.”
PUBLIC SPEAKING ANXIETY | National Social Anxiety Center
The fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders, or heights. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that public speaking anxiety, or glossophobia, affects about 73% of the population.
Public speaking raises people’s anxiety more than death! More than (full body shiver) spiders! It is classified as a
phobia – people are afraid to speak in public.
Do you have that issue? When it comes time to witness or perhaps Pastor has called on you to pray, or maybe the Sunday School Superintendent has asked you to sub in an adult class?
Don’t feel bad! Even Moses, one of the most revered people in the Bible, had an issue with speaking in public. In the verse from Exodus he more or less tells God (as if anyone has to tell God something!), “hey Man! Not me! Obviously, You don’t know me very well or You wouldn’t have asked me to go talk to people!”
So, what did God do? The Word tells us that God showed Moses his brother-in-law Aaron and the Lord told Moses, “you tell Aaron what you want to say and he will say it.”
Moses had squirmed, hemmed and hawed, trying to get out of talking with people but God kept knocking down each and every excuse Moses had. And in the end, he did become the leader of the Children of Israel and guided them to the promised land (although he was not permitted to enter it – and that’s a whole ‘nuther story!)
In our second verse we see God calling to Isaiah, a man who admitted to having “unclean lips”. But after hearing that his sin and iniquity were removed from him, when the call went out, he answered “Here am I, send me!”
Is God calling you? If He has called you to speak, then the burden is on Him to help you in spite of your infirmities, shortcomings, or your iniquities – those thoughts that trouble you!
Speak, in the name of Jesus! Pray, in the name of Jesus! Teach, witness, Gossip the Gospel in the name of Jesus!
One last story for this. In 1984 Bonny, Wes Stults and I were going to a movie theater. As we were outside trying to decide, a young man came up to us and in a sever stuttering voice he began to share the Gospel with us.
Here was a man who had such an impediment to speaking it was hard not to help him finish his sentences. But he did not let his impediment stand in the way of sharing the Gospel with people.
Is there anything holding you back?
“STOMP”............................ February 18, 2020
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
In the late summer of 1970, at the ripe old age of 18, I went through AZR school (heavy weapons) at Camp Bullis, TX,
(an Army post outside of San Antonio) before leaving for Thailand. Believe it or not, especially for those of you who know me, they let me fire an M-60 machine gun, throw a live hand grenade, shoot a L.A.W. (Light Antitank Weapon), a 90mm Recoilless Rifle (better known as a bazooka!). a 40mm grenade launcher, a mortar and 50 rounds through a 12 ga. Shotgun (yup, had bruises for a while on my shoulder!).
Plus, we went to the range and fired our M-16’s at man-shaped targets at long range; 200, 250, 300 and 500 yards.
I could hit the pop-up target at 200, 250, and 300 yards before they fell, but when it came to the 500-yard target?
Not so much. My first round went just over the head and the second was just a couple feet in front. Down went the target.
It popped up again and I had the same result, one behind, one in front. The instructor tapped me on the head and said,
“Well Son, ya sure scared him!”
Very cool stuff! Toward the end of our stay at Camp Bullis, we had “War Games”. They would load us up on Deuce-and-a-half’s and somewhere in the middle of the ride we would get “ambushed” so we would have to jump out and adopt covering positions.
After the instructors determined we had done a good enough job, we would tramp through the brush to the general meeting area to discuss the night’s activities. We were told to walk through the brush in a line about 2-3 feet apart and watch for rattlesnakes.
As I was walking, I kept stomping my feet every so often and one of the men with me asked what was I doing? I told him that by stomping I was creating a vibration and the snakes feeling the vibration would know something large (no laughing!!!) was coming that wasn’t food and they would leave.
He asked where did I get such a stupid idea and I told him it was from a book by one of the last big game hunters, The Black Panther of Sivanipalli by Kenneth Anderson (especially noted as a hunter who tracked down and killed man-eating tigers and leopards).
In his book, Mr. Anderson told of how foot travelers in India carried walking sticks with brass rings on the ends that would “ring” when they tapped the trail with them to warn snakes someone was approaching. An article from January 2019 reported that there were over 50,000 deaths from snakebites alone!
Did it work? All I know is that I didn’t see any rattlesnakes although some of the other men did.
So, the point of this? Look at what James said to do. What is the first thing? Submit to God. Put anything and everything into His hands. That is called faith and trust.
Then! Then you can (have the ability!) resist the enemy and he will flee! So, when you are faced with a temptation or you know that the enemy and his minions are trying to separate you from God, submit to God! And then you can resist all the wiles of the enemy and emerge victorious!
As a popular shoe company says, “Just do it!”
“POWER”......... February 11, 2020
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:
and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem,
and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
When I worked as a Corporal at the St. Anthony Work Camp, a minimum custody facility, we had two inmates that decided
to “walk away”. It was February and we had plenty of snow on the ground and it was cold as well.
As we were minimum custody, the inmates were free to walk around the grounds, but not leave! So, these two took off
and went downtown (St. Anthony population was around 3,500 so downtown was a single street with only one stop lightand it was the only stop light in the county at that time!) and saw one of the other corporal’s pickup truck at a car dealership.
“I can hotwire this truck!” said the smart one. “And you can push it to jump start it!” (I know, I know, these two were not the brightest and best)
They got one of the doors open and the first one went underneath the dash and began splicing the wires while the other
one went to the back and got ready to push.
“Okay! Start pushing!” said the first inmate. The second one began pushing with all of his might and got the truck rolling.
Every now and then the driver would pop the clutch but it never caught.
“Go faster!” he yelled and the other inmate was giving it his all. Push, pop the clutch, nothing. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Eventually they gave up and decided to cross Henry’s Fork River that ran through the middle of the town.
Remember it’s February, it’s cold, and there’s snow on the ground and thin ice on the river.
They were only dressed in prison dungarees, prison thin shirts, and a thin prison jacket. Half way across the river
(it was shallow enough they could walk most of the way across) it got too cold and they were soaked to they came
back to the same side of the river they got in at.
And were promptly apprehended by the local police department.
When tales and details of their exploits were made known, the corporal whose vehicle they tried to steal, just laughed and laughed and laughed. To the point where he was tearing up and having trouble breathing. Of course, as we watched him laughing,
and not knowing why, we began to laugh as well.
Then, when he caught his breath, he told us why he was laughing. He was buying a new car from the dealership and
brought in his truck as a trade-in. The first thing the dealership did was remove the engine!
That’s right folks, here were these two young men, so smart that they could just “walk away” from the Work Camp and
thought all they had to do was connect wires and jump start the truck.
But there was no power! No motor! Nothing under the hood! And what is worse is they never thought to check!
Now, let’s look at the Word. When we become saved, we receive “power” – those are Jesus’ words not the disciples,
not the other believers, “power”! Power to do what?
Warm a pew every Sunday? Nope.
Read what Jesus said, “and ye shall be witnesses unto me . . .
“Not could be, should be, might be, “shall be”. To get a sense of this phrase here is more from the Word using it.
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36
Would you take “shall be” in these two verses to mean, “could be”, or “might be”? No, these are statements of faith from
our Lord Himself! So, now, think about Acts 1:8. The Holy Spirit has given each one of us who claim the name of
Jesus the POWER to be His witnesses.
"CALL UNTO ME, AND I WILL ANSWER THEE”........... February 1, 2020
There was a bank robbery in American Falls, Idaho when we pastored there, and a mother and daughter (who attended the church) were there when it happened. Two men rushed in with guns in their hands and one of the men fired a round into the floor as they demanded cash from the teller.
Of course, our friends were very frightened and didn’t know what would happen next.
The men got their money and left. As they were leaving, one of the tellers pushed the emergency button and almost immediately the alarm company called. This is kind of how the conversation went:
Alarm Company, “Are you being robbed?”
Alarm Company, “Call 911!”
Wait, wut? That was it? Think about it. Here is a bank that pays, who knows how much, per month/year for an alarm service and when an event occurs, a robbery, their “help” is “call 911.”
Now, I realize that part of the job the alarm company is paid to do is to alert the police (and more than likely they would call the bank president first) when the bank is closed and someone tries to break in, however, when an alarm comes in from a bank that is a customer,
in the middle of the day, shouldn’t they notify the police first and thencall the bank?
Imagine the look on the teller’s face when they were told, “call 911”! “What are we paying you for? If all you’re going to do is tell me to call 911, I would have done that before calling you!”
But! But! What does God say? “Call unto me!” I love the hymn, “Just a little talk with Jesus” because that is what we’re supposed to do. Having a bad day? Call on God! Having a good day? Call on God! Your kids are driving you to distraction? Call on God! Your spouse is getting on your last nerve? By now you know what to do!
Call on God!
“BURY THE OLD MAN?”........................ January 28, 2020
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Let me tell you a story Bonny told me from a ladies meeting she attended. The speaker was talking about the Old Man being buried and how sometimes we act like we used to.
The speaker talked about having a favorite pet dog that she loved. One day her pet died and she had to bury it.
Then she told the group to imagine maybe days or weeks later going out into the back yard to the grave of that dog, digging it up,
giving it a bath, combing/brushing its hair and bringing it back in the house and putting it on display!
It would stink! And it would be very nasty looking no matter how much soap you used and regardless of how much air freshener you sprayed it would look dead and smell dead.
Why would we do that? Well, don’t some Christians do that with their old man? “Now Lord, You know how bad he is treating me! Can’t I just resurrect my Old Man for a few minutes? I promise I’ll be right back!”
The Word states that we are to put on the mind of Christ and how do we do that? That comes from washing your mind with the Word. Washing gives the sense of flooding – you need to flood your mind with the Word!
“That he (Jesus) might sanctify and cleanse it (the church – from the previous verse) with the washing of water by the word,” Ephesians 5:26
Are you a part of the church? I’m not talking membership! I mean, are you saved? Have you accepted the gift of salvation?
If so, then this verse means YOU!
No pun intended – it’s time we (yup! Putting myself in there!) clean up our act! Thoughts become action! How do you control
your thoughts? Wash your mind with the Word!
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:1-5
The Mind of Christ.
Learn to be the servant of all
Paul wrote to the Philippians, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”
An evangelist shared the story of speaking at a large church in Texas and that night following the first service,
the pastor, an older Brother, took him home and upstairs to his room.
The pastor told the other man to leave his shoes in the hall and the evangelist supposed that the pastor didn’t want
the shoes to dirty the run and floor in the bedroom, so he complied.
Early the next morning he heard a noise outside his bedroom door and quietly opening the door he saw something that
moved him. The older gentleman, the pastor of this big church, was sitting on a little stool polishing the evangelist’s shoes!
Now that is being a servant!
“POTENTIAL”.......... January 21, 2020
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil,
to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11
I was a very poor student in school. I failed the 7th Grade and only passed because I took summer school. Part of it was my own unwillingness to do the work in class or the assigned homework. Some of it was due to a physical issue, being so nearsighted that the Navy doctor who gave me an eye test told my father, “Chief, you son is blind!”
Remember in school when the teacher would say, “Now, if you can’t see the board, move to the front of the class.” Right! Like I’m going to embarrass myself like that! And with a last name of “Smith”, invariably I sat in the back of the class.
My grades were very poor, unless it was something that I really wanted to study, and even the promise of financial reward (my brother and I were told we would get .50 for every B and $1 for every A on our report cards. In the total of 12 years of school I got .50 total) I just didn’t care.
My teachers and my parents would all tell me that I had such great “potential”. I could be or do anything I wanted – except for music (parents) because that will never do me any good (in spite of the fact that both of my folks were musicians). You know what? I knew that. I knew I had potential, but only to do what I wanted.
When I began working adjudicated juveniles in the corrections system, I tried avoiding using the word potential as I knew almost everyone of the young people, I worked with, had heard that word describing them – over and over and over, ad infinitum.
I am thankful and grateful that my Father, God the Almighty does not remind me of my potential! “Well, Mario, I had great things in store for you, but you didn’t live up to your potential.”
Instead, God and Jesus our Savior, constantly tell us in the Word what their potential is that is available to us!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings
in heavenly places in Christ:” Ephesians 1:3
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and
revelation in the knowledge of him:” Ephesians 1:17
“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;” Ephesians 2:18-19
This is a few of the verses from the first two chapters of Ephesians that Paul wrote to that church and they are just as valid today as they were the day they were penned! These promises are based on His potential – not ours! And His rewards are great! What or who can compare with them?
In God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit there is awesome potential!
“INTEGRITY”.............. January 14, 2020
The integrity of the upright shall guide them: Proverbs 11:3
I worked as a Drug and Alcohol Facilitator for a county in SE Idaho. I taught educational classes while men were in the county jail for D&A offenses. Occasionally I also taught the woman’s course when my supervisor was busy elsewhere.
After they completed the classes in the jail and were released, the people in our program were also required to attend at least 12 Aftercare sessions at the probation office.
One of the things my supervisor and I committed to was that we would not release any information about a client to their probation officer, law enforcement, or the courts. We were allowed to say whether or not the client attended the courses and if they were doing okay – nothing more than that.
It was something that we impressed on the members of our groups, our notes and anything said to us was under privilege and it was our integrity that was on the line. If we talked with their p.o. about them how could they trust us?
Frequently someone in the program would come to us and tell us that they had a problem and had used. Our advice was always, always, tell your p.o.! Don’t let it be a surprise. Don’t let them find out about you Monday morning when they opened the paper and saw your face or name on the front page.
My supervisor was called to court numerous times to testify about our clients. As long as it was general knowledge questions, she would answer. However, if the judge or the prosecutor’s office began to ask questions that delved into privilege, she would not answer except to say it was covered under privilege.
That garnered us respect both with our clients and with law enforcement/courts. We kept our word. This opened the pathway for the people undergoing treatment to come to us and talk about things in their personal life that they might have not discussed had we broken that trust.
Now, in Luke 19 we have the story of Zacchaeus, the wee little man (as we sang about in Sunday School so many years ago!), who had a meeting with Jesus that changed his life! So you’re probably wondering about how integrity comes into play in this story from the Word.
Consider this verse: “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”
“So what, Mario?” One huge word in this verse and it is only two letters, IF!!! “. . . if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation . . .”
We know that publicans were among the most hated people in Jewish society at this time, perhaps as much as Samaritans were. It was common knowledge that the people were cheated by many of the publicans – and Jesus even had one of them in His inner circle! Matthew! He even identified himself as a tax collector in his Gospel!
In this meeting between Jesus and Zacchaeus, the tax collector almost shouts to the crowd, “If any man believes that I have cheated him, lied to him or about him, then I will repay 4 times what he believes I took from him!”
In essence this hated man proclaims his innocence and his integrity! “I took no more than what was required!”
Jesus was God in the flesh and being God He knew all things. Everything! Jesus would know, even before he said it, whether or not Zacchaeus was lying! Yet there is nothing in the Word to indicate that Jesus contradicted or accused him.
Based on the Word, I can only say that Zacchaeus had integrity! And no one in that crowd challenged him! On top of that Jesus tells him in verse 9:
“And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”
Wow! Zacchaeus was accepted by the Lord and Jesus makes a statement to the crowd – “He is also a son of Abraham”! Zacchaeus was just as much a Jew as any in that town! He was a member of the family!
How stunned the people must have been! This was a man everyone knew because he was a tax collector and how they hated him for that and now this man, Jesus, who had healed people in this town, was telling them that Zacchaeus was numbered among the Children of Israel!
Do you see what your integrity can bring to you? What does the Word say?
“Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”
II Corinthians 8:21
“Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” I Peter 3:16
“Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” Titus 2:8
"HE WHO BRAGS THE MOST USUALLY DOES THE LEAST"........ January 7, 2020
“Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Let another man praise thee,
and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.”
Most of us are familiar with the phrase; “been there, done that, bought the t-shirt”. Yet there are some people for whom that is their life statement, except they did it better, faster, with less help. It’s like the old joke of a Texan visiting his cousin in New York City.
The NYC cousin showed the Texan the Empire State Building, telling him how tall it was, how long it took to build it and how much it cost. The Texan replied,
“Why we’ve got something in Houston that is taller, took less time to construct it at half the cost!”
They toured a bit further and again the city cousin showed the Texan the mansions of the wealthy describing how many square feet each one was, how rich the people who owned them were, and how long it took to build them.
“Shoot,” the country cousin said, “In Dallas we’ve got rows of homes built by oil barons that have more square footage, took a lot less time to build them, and them barons got way more money than these folks!”
Place after place they went and no matter what the NYC cousin showed the country cousin, in Texas they did it better, faster and cheaper. Finally exasperated, the city cousin took his country cousin to the harbor where the Texan seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time exclaimed, “What is that?!?!?”
The city cousin looked out and said, “Wow! That wasn’t there yesterday!!”
The phrase at the beginning of this story is one my father told me the night before I left for Basic Training and it has stuck with me for all these years – 50 years! While stationed in Spain, I was talking with a friend, Bill S. and he told me he had done one jump from an airplane on a static line (that’s where you hook your parachute in the line so that when you jumped the chute would automatically deploy).
Another friend (already known for tall tales) said not only did he have many “free fall jumps” (you pulled your own ripcord) but that he was a “Master Jumper”. Bill didn’t believe him and asked to see his qualification card.
This other man went through a show of emptying his clothes locker “looking” not only for his sky diver card, but also his certification card for a master diver (deep sea). Going through all of his things, while we stood at the door to his room, watching him mumble “I know I just saw it the other day . . .” was embarrassing
The problem was he was a likeable man! He had a good personality, told funny stories, but his one-upmanship to whatever you said made people ignore him and avoid him.
There are many verse in the Word where we are warned not to be boasters – except for boasting in the Lord and what He has done! There was even one-upmanship in the church at Corinth.
“For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” I Corinthians 3:4-6
It doesn’t matter “who” you follow because they are human, it should be “Who” you follow.
“My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.” Psalm 34:2
“I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.” Romans 15:17
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Galatians 6:14a
"CONDEMMED"................. December 31, 2019
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh,
but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1
The hymn “I Stand Amazed” says it very well.
“I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned, unclean.”
In October 1969 I was assigned to Williams Air Base, AZ (known as “Little Willie to those stationed there). This is a picture of the Main Gate that I spent the majority of my duty as an Air Force Security Policeman in.
Williams was constructed at the beginning of WWII to train pilots for the war and continued to be a pilot training base for many years afterward.
The barracks I lived in at Willie (this pic is of a similar type of barracks at Lackland – Korean War era construction) were decades old and in serious need of repair.
It was a standing joke that every year Civil Engineering would come through and “condemn” our barracks stating it was unfit for human habitation. After the front office received the notification, everyone who was living in the barracks was given sandpaper, paint, and brushes.
We would go into our rooms, sandpaper rough spots and then paint the whole room; walls, ceiling, any pipes, and the window sashes. Then we moved on to the day room, latrine, cells, and front desk (the Security Police Desk was the first thing you saw when you entered the barracks. As the old saying went, “If it moves, salute it! If it don’t move, paint it!”
When everything had a fresh coat of paint, C.E. was called and they would come over, check the building and faster than you can say “re-certify” the facility was labeled as “occupiable”.
Now you and I both know that these barracks were not really in any shape to house folks. A coat of paint doesn’t fix wood rot. A fresh coat of wax and buffing doesn’t solve the squeaks in a floor (because the wood is rotting from underneath).
In the Old Testament when the sin offering was made for the nation, the blood of the bull or lamb only “covered” the previous year’s sin. It did not erase it. Like paint on a dilapidated barracks wall, it made the people acceptable in God’s eyes – for the moment.
But it had to be repeated the next year! Back to the Temple. Watch the High Priest enter into the Holy of Holies and come out with the blood that had been sprinkled on the altar and now on the people. Year, after year, after year . . .
Then along came Jesus and His blood took away my sin! His blood didn’t just cover it, oh no, my friend. The blood of Jesus Christ erased my sin and satisfied the Father! No more sacrifices! No more having to find a perfect lamb, without spot or blemish!
“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:10
“What can wash away my sin? Nothing! Nothing! Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
And now, because of Jesus, I am NOT condemned! I am not unclean! I am not guilty! Do I still sin? Yes! But the blood of Jesus cleanses me from “all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
Do you feel condemned? Then, know, right now, that is not of God! God has said in His Word, There is therefore now (when? Right now! Immediate! No need to wait for dialup!) no condemnation (how much? None, zero, zip, nada!).
As Jesus told the woman caught in adultery “I do not condemn you”. He does not condemn you! And, believer, He never will!
"I BRING MESSIAH"!.................................. December17, 2019
This story is in my first book, “There Are No Coincidences” and it bears repeating. This a wonderful season for us to share the Gospel. We invite the public to come see the Gift of Lights and the Christmas play the young people are doing this year.
Things can happen! Just as we witnessed 3 youth being baptized this last Sunday (December 15) and then the grandmother coming forward during invitation, our church is making an impact here! So with that, here is the story.
In 1987 just after graduating, Bonny and I worked as janitors for the American division of John Labatt called Chef Francisco. We knew all of the Vice Presidents, their secretaries and many of the other office workers. Many just greeted us with a nod or a request for special cleaning when they saw us.
With Christmas 1987 closing in I asked the secretary of the VP’s (his first name was Ted) if I could come in and present a “singing Christmas card” to him. She asked what songs I would sing and I told her it would be the first lines of some of the Christmas hymns.
Then she called in the big boss’ secretary who asked me if I would like to present the song at their company Christmas party. Being the ham that I am I agreed.
At the same time my pastor asked me to speak one Sunday evening service and I chose the title “I Bring Messiah!” I spoke of how wherever we go as Christians we bring the Lord with us. However, believe it or not, I was a little intimidated about singing in front of all these muckity-mucks from work.
Bonny reminded me that this might be the first time these people would actually hear the words of the Christmas hymns.
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
God rest you merry, Gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born upon on Christmas Day.
To save our souls from Satan's power,
When we had gone astray.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy comfort and joy!
Oh tidings of comfort and
Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room
And heav’n and nature sing
And heav’n and nature sing
And heav’n and nature sing
There were other great hymns with these that I sang the first line of that told of Jesus and who He was and the reality of me having the privilege of bringing the Messiah to these people was humbling.
The day came and I put on my tuxedo and Bonny had on a formal gown and we showed up at the party (which was being held at a local restaurant in a back room). We stood around for a couple minutes with people who saw us every day nodding in our direction but obviously not recognizing us.
The secretary “dinged” her glass and then said, “Does everyone know who these folks are?” pointing us out. People shook their heads and she said, “These are our janitors Mario and Bonny Smith.”
Now all of the people’s faces lit up! “Why, of course! They empty our garbage and clean our restrooms. That’s who that is, we just didn’t recognize them all dressed up.”
She told them I had a special gift for them and I began to sing a capella. It got so quiet there and the bartender shut off the muzak for the rest of the place so everyone in the restaurant was listening to me.
After I finished the people outside the room and inside applauded and many came up and congratulated both of us.
From that time forward until we left and moved to Idaho, when they saw us in their offices or in the halls we would be greeted with, “Hi Mario! Hello Bonny!” Good story huh?
It also opened opportunities for us to minister to people because they saw our sincerity of our love for Christ!
December 10, 2019
“And be sure your sin will find you out.”
Are you slipping a bit Mario? Didn’t you already write about this? Well, yes used this verse a little while ago. But here is another “Mario” story that bears this out.
When I was stationed in Spain, most of our aircraft were F-4’s – one of my favorite jet fighter aircraft.
(By United States Air Force - United States Air Force, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3052469
These were the Air Force’s performance group “The Thunderbirds”)
I had always admired the aircraft and one night (graveyard shift) my partner and I (Flight line Security Police) went into one of the open hangers and there was an F-4 with its canopy open. My heart began to race and I said,
“Joe! Take my camera (super 8mm movie camera) and take my picture of me getting in and sitting in the pilot’s seat!!”
Joe tried to tell me it was a bad idea, but this was too good to pass up! So, I climbed up the scaffolding and just as I was swinging my leg over (and that was on film until) . . . in walked my Flight Chief “Sam”. I won’t repeat what he said, but let me say it was by far the best dressing down I ever received!
Suffice to say I was caught red-handed doing something I had no right to do and the rebuke I received was justified. Shamefaced, Joe and I got back into our truck and went back out to the flight line. While I wasn’t written up (and trust me, my Flight Chief could have written a scathing report and possibly an Article 15 (disciplinary report) on me.
There were repercussions. I had lost a lot of respect in Sam’s and Joe’s eyes because of one foolish action. I may have been given some garbage details (it’s been almost 50 years, so I don’t remember) and assignments that no one else wanted or desired.
So how do I relate that to the Word? In II Kings 5 we have the Captain of the Syrian King’s army, Naaman, who was a leper. He had heard about Elisha and that God was with him and Naaman desired to be healed of his leprosy. Elisha commanded him to wash seven times in the Jordan.
After some back and forth with his counselors, Naaman finally agrees and dips himself the required 7 times and WOW! After the 7thtime he came out of the water whole! But that’s not the end of the story!
Naaman and his whole entourage come to the home of Elisha and Naaman wants to (pardon the pun) shower him with gifts! He had come prepared to reward this man of God if indeed his leprosy was healed.
Elisha tells him this in verse 16 “But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.”
So Naaman left (with one more try – please take these two beasts of burden and the scripture isn’t clear as to whether or not the prophet accepted them) to return home – a healed and whole man, to the glory of God!
Verse 20 starts with two words that totally erases the purpose of the prophet and God, “But Gehazi . . .”
You see Gehazi, the servant of Elisha ran after Naaman and lied. He tells this Captain of the Syrian host a tall tale about two sons of the prophets who need money and clothing.
Ready for this? Gehazi only asks for “one” talent of silver (somewhere between 75 and 110 pounds! That’s a lot of silver!) but Naaman so ready to repay the kindness shone to him gives him TWO talents! We’re talking 200 pounds! And he supplies men to help carry everything.
Gehazi can’t believe his good fortune! He goes home, hides everything and then goes about his business.
“Man, I scored big time! And nobody knows! Naaman doesn’t know I lied to him, Elisha doesn’t have a clue that I went to Naaman and I’ve got clothes andmoney!!”
Oh really? Let’s read.
Verse 26 “And he (the prophet) said unto him (Gehazi), Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?”
Uh oh. God revealed Gehazi’s actions to Elisha. Not only did Gehzai deceive and lie to Naaman, he lied to Elisha and tried to cover his sin away from God. A consequence is coming and it’s not a good one.
Verse 27 “The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.”
Gehazi could no longer be with the man of God because now, Gehazi, was unclean. Now what good would his money and his clothing do him? No good at all. (Although in chapter 8 he does appear before the king to help settle a matter.)
Choices and consequences.
"I SAID, “DON'T”"............................. December 3, 2019
As a family we moved to Brunswick, Maine, when Daddy was transferred to the Naval Air Station there in the fall of 1965. Our house was really nice! It had a huge cedar closet that always smelled wonderful, there were huge trees in the yard and my high school was about 100 yards away.
This house also had a wood burning fireplace! We had never had one before and it was something else. Cozy atmosphere around the crackling fire, the smell of pine burning, and the snapping of the embers and they sometimes popped out of the fireplace and onto the floor.
My youngest brother, Jonathan, was 3 maybe 4 years old when we moved there and the fire fascinated him as we had never really been around one. Many times, my folks would warn him when one of the embers popped out onto the floor – “No, no! Don't! Hot!” they would say.
Finally, one evening it happened. Finn (his nickname) had watched Daddy put logs into the fire or scoop a large ember into the metal dustpan to put back in the fire. An ember popped out and Jonathan reached over to it and picked it up!
Well it burned his fingers so he dropped it – into the palm of his hand! Now he was really in pain because even after he dropped the burning ember onto the floor, his fingers and hand still hurt from the burn.
Ever after that, whenever an ember shot out of the fireplace, he would step back, point at it and say, “Hot!!” and he meant it!
How many times were people in the Bible warned, “Don’t!” by God, yet they chose to ignore and try to circumvent the Lord? To me, one of the best/worst examples is Balaam.
Numbers 22:9-12 And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee? And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying, Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out.
And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.
God told Balaam “Don’t!” That should have been the end of the discussion, but the representatives of the King of Moab came back the next day with more influential princes and the promise of greater acknowledgement.
The lesson continues in verses 18-19 And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.
Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the Lord will say unto me more.
Wait, wut? God already said “Don’t” and Balaam even states that, but then he tries to manipulate God. “Maybe if I ask Him again, He will let me go . . .”
But the story isn’t over yet! In verse 20 God says, “If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them;”
“If . . .” not “Go ahead”, God said “If” but Balaam goes to meet the princes anyway and now God intervenes with the talking donkey. Please read the rest of Numbers 22 and see what does happen to Balaam and how close he came to death.
God said, “Don’t!” Be sure if you hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit telling you “don’t” – pay attention or you might, like my brother, find yourself hurt.
"A LITTLE SMILE FOR THANKSGIVING".............. November 26, 2019
If you can believe it, I was somewhat of a mischievous child. I was often in trouble for actions that resulted punishment.
We lived in Naval housing in the early 60’s and the kitchen was a combo of kitchen and washer/dryer area. It was long
and just wide enough for one person to work. I had been misbehaving and Mama sent me to the kitchen (isolation) and to
sit on my little chair.
The downstairs neighbor came up to our apartment to visit and Mama came in to start a pot of coffee (percolator!).
She gave me the “Mama” look and went back out to the dining room.
I sat there in the chair, arms folded, and a frown on my 8-year-old face. As I thought about how unfair life was, I looked to
my left and saw the pot getting hot enough to start perking. Then I looked to my right and saw the washing machine with the big
box of soap powder.
Coffee pot. Soap. Coffee pot . . . Soap . . . Scoop of soap, take the top off the coffee pot and pour the soap on top of the grounds.
Some time later, and now I am adopting an angelic demeanor, Mama comes in and pours a couple cups of coffee and
takes them out. In about a minute Mama comes back into the kitchen and asked,
“What did you do to the coffee?!?!?”
“I put an whole cup of Tide in it!!” (With a big grin.)
Our neighbor, standing in the doorway, said, “I wondered why the bubbles didn’t go away.”
Yup, I got into more trouble.
Now my brother Julian and I grew up more as friends than brothers. We were our own best friends. One day my dad came
into the bedroom where Julian and I were playing. I was 15 or so and my brother was about 12.
Both of our forearms were scratched and bleeding and looked like we had been wrestling with a mountain lion.
“What are you doing?!?!?”
“Having a sandpaper fight?”
All Daddy could do was hang his head and shake it back and forth.
Daddy was a character himself. We were all watching a very scary movie (“The Birds” when it came on TV) and had all
the lights turned off. Mama was laying in her recliner close to the dining room. Julian and I were sitting on the couch and Daddy was
in a dining room chair right behind Mama.
A very intense moment was coming in the movie (you could tell because the music was getting increasingly scary) and just
as the action happened, Daddy grabbed the headrest of the recliner shook it and growled!
Mama levitated! I mean she went straight up about 2 feet! “Hilry!!!!!!!”
Daddy just snickered and Julian and I also had to wait for our hearts to return to normal.
“NO, NEVER ALONE”................. November 19, 2019
“He Promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone!”
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have:
for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
While working at the prison in Orofino, Idaho, we had recently moved the women to the new prison in Pocatello, so we had an empty unit. Before maintenance came in and repainted the unit and fixed broken items, it was decided that this would be a great training opportunity for our C.E.R.T. (A Correctional Emergency Response Team [CERT or CRT] is a team of highly trained Corrections Officers or Deputy Sheriffs in the United States tasked with responding to incidents, riots, cell extractions, mass searches, or disturbances in prisons or jails possibly involving uncooperative or violent inmates.).
Several of us became “inmates” who were rioting on Bravo 1. I was laying on a bunk in one of the segregation cells (name change from “solitary”) with catsup on my t-shirt and a butter knife (blade bent to an “L” shape so it looked like I had been stabbed) stuck in my chest. I was playing dead.
The Team made entry at several points of the unit, every man had on a helmet, some had shields, others were armed with tasers. When they made entry, it was an impressive sight to say the least! Flash-bang grenades (very bright light and loud noise to confuse people), Team members yelling for inmates to “get on the floor!” and “on your stomach!”.
Quickly they separated the “inmates” and handcuffed them and had medical check them over. Some of the Team was assigned to “clear” the bays and the segregation unit so they came through and one man checked me for a pulse and declared me dead (that’s what the 5X8 card on my body said) and they moved on.
Gradually the shouting turned to “good job!” and “that was cool!” as inmates and team members talked about the scenario. And as the conversations petered out, I suddenly realized everyone except me had left the unit! And they locked every door behind them!
There was no phone, I didn’t have a radio, and I didn’t have any keys either! To get to the common hallway, for the two downstairs units, I would have to gain access through 3 different locked doors. 3 keys and I had none!
A great deal of time passed and I was shouting and banging on the gates to no avail. It was getting close to change of shift so I went to one of the few windows I could access and waited to see someone coming in.
I started shouting to them, calling them by name and the fact that I was stuck on the unit. Believe it or not, the first couple folks never even looked up and kept walking! (The later said that they thought I was just an inmate messing with them!) Now the inmates (the real inmates!) on the other units started laughing at me and saying things like “Now you know how it feels!” and “You’re never getting out!”
Finally, though, one of the on-coming C.O.’s saw me in the window and got the sergeant to come let me out. With the inmates (and now some of my fellow officers) laughing even louder I was “set free”.
One of my mother’s favorite hymns, which contains the lines above, was “Never Alone”:
I’ve seen the lightning flashing and heard the thunder roll,
I’ve felt sin’s breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul.
I’ve heard the voice of Jesus, telling me still to fight on,
He promised never to leave, never to leave me alone!
No, never alone, no, never alone,
He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.
No, never alone, no, never alone,
He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.
There are so many promises from God the Father and Jesus the Son to the believer! God will never forsake us! Jesus is He who is “closer than a brother” and He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
Another song that our group from church (in Louisiana, “Spirit Express”) sang was,
“He didn’t bring us this far to leave us.
He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown.
He didn’t build His home in us to move away,
He didn’t build us up to let us down.”
No matter your struggle, “He is always there, hearing every prayer, faithful and true! Walking by our side, in His love we hide, all the day through! When you get discouraged just remember what to do, reach out to Jesus, He’s reaching out to you!”
(And, yes, that’s another song!)
Jesus will never, Never, NEVER leave you alone!
"SEALED"............ November 12, 2019
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5
Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
II Corinthians 1:21-22
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:20
As many have seen in my writings (and remarked on it) I have tried to find spiritual lessons in everyday things. Even something as boring as sandblasting.
I was working for Shell Oil in the early 80’s and one day my boss gave me the assignment of sandblasting several 4X8 foot sheets of plate steel. There was quite a bit of rust starting on all of them and they needed to be cleaned before we welded them to the underside of our facility.
Then after I got them all cleaned from the rust, I mixed a paint epoxy to “seal” the steel so it wouldn’t corrode again.
So, I put on the hood, gloves, and thick apron. The hood had a fresh air inlet and in spite of the hot Louisiana sun, I had a nice cool breeze blowing on my face. As I began spraying the “sand” (it was some kind of material that was hard enough to blast the rust, but was biodegradable too) I felt the Lord teaching me a lesson.
We come to the Lord with stain of sin on our souls and when we repent of our sins, He sends the Holy Spirit of God to wash us in the blood of Christ! “Are you washed in the blood?” “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” “There is a fountain filled with blood.”
Great! Now we are clean! What’s next? Well I took equal parts of the two liquids, of the epoxy paint, and mixed them together. Then I painted the sheets making sure that every inch was covered, including the edges. After it was dry, I had then turned over so I could epoxy the other side.
When the epoxy dried, the whole sheet was sealed. The metal was protected from the saltwater and the corrosion coming from exposure.
Just cleaning us up is not enough though! After we are saved, the Father steps in and seals us in His Holy Spirit! As Paul wrote to the Ephesians,
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:20
No more corrosion! We are no longer under the Law, which brings destruction because no one can keep the Law (that is why Jesus came, to fulfill the Law), we are under grace and that grace of God brings us into fellowship with Him and we are sealed, protected, watched over by the Holy Spirit – much better than epoxy!
November 5, 2019
It’s a beautiful summer day and you and your friends are playing softball. Your team is at bat, there’s two outs and you’re up next.
What do you say to kid batting?
“Save my ups!!!!”
What? Like they are going to purposely strike out? Maybe hit an easy grounder to the pitcher and get thrown out at first?
“Haha!! You don’t get to bat!!”
Really? Especially when you aren’t that good at hitting (like I was as a kid). Never mind that – save my ups! I want the chance to be the hero! I want to hit the game winning homerun! I want to trot around the bases to the cheers of my teammates! I want the glory . . . oh wait.
Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? I Corinthians 5:6
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:26
Ouch. I cannot afford to take glory – especially that which belongs to the Lord (remember in Acts when God struck down King Herod?
“And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.” Acts 12:23).
So, what does the Word say about glory?
Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. I Timothy 1:17
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. II Peter 3:18
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. Jude 25
Glory in the One Who saved you! Glory in the mighty work of God the Father! Glory in each and every salvation in the church! Give glory to God! As the angels sang to the Shepherds,
“Glo - - - ria, in excelsis deo!”
Glory to God in the highest!
“SHAME”....... October 29, 2019
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
I had planned an evening out for Bonny and I staying at one of the local casinos with a hotel. I had booked and paid for the room online and had enough money set aside for the room for one night and for the buffet (1/2 price!).
We had a friend get out little dog for the night and we packed our little pull arounds, my CPAP and toiletries. We were looking forward to an evening where someone else did the cleaning, cooking and we could take a hot shower for as long as we wanted!
We got inside and I had Bonny go over to the seating area and watch our things as I got the room. I walked up and presented my checking account card, all smiles. That is until the clerk ran my card a couple times.
“I’m sorry sir, there seems to be a problem with your card.”
“What do you mean? I already paid online for the room.” I replied.
“Well, sir, there’s also a $100 deposit.”
The clerk and I went back and forth about if there was anything that could be done. He even called over his manager and pled my case to no avail.
This process took quite a few minutes and every so often I would glance back at Bonny sitting there with our things and she would smile at me. Finally, after everything that could be done was done and we weren’t staying, I turned and started to walk back to Bonny.
This almost 5 years ago and still when I think about the situation and even now as I write this, I once again, feel shame and embarrassment. Not for me, but for my wife. I was trying to give her a break and all we could do was take the luggage back to the car and then go to the buffet.
My face still flushes just as it did at that moment when defeated I had to tell Bonny we could not stay the night. I let her down.
Can you appreciate my shame? Can you empathize with me? Are you a little choked up just reading this?
Then imagine our Savior on the cross. Isaiah said this in chapter 53:3-8
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
So I ask, can you feel how Jesus felt on the cross? Hated, beaten, harassed, made fun of, deserted – His chosen men left Him, His own Father could not be near Him because He took on every sin mankind ever committed – ever!
But! And what a word, But! The author of Hebrews, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God, writes that Jesus despised the shame of the cross because He knew what glory lay beyond it!
The salvation of man made available! No one need suffer eternal punishment, damnation because of their sin because “He who knew no sin became sin”!
Salvation is available through the Lamb of God!
“GOT ID?”................ October 22, 2019
“And take the helmet of salvation,” Ephesians 6:17a
As a military dependent in the 60’s having an ID card was like having the key to Disneyland! So many things were available for us; the movie theater, bowling alley, commissary, Base Exchange, mini golf, swimming pool, library, gym, and much more.
With that card, you could enter almost any base, Army, Air Force, Navy, and enjoy all of the privileges offered. It was your golden ticket!
Then when I enlisted in the Air Force I had to turn in my dependent ID and I received an ID that identified me as an Enlisted Airman in service of my country with even more rights and privileges.
But! There were also responsibilities as well. The card identified you as someone who had the right to be on the base and it served as an ID card for banking and other places that wanted to make sure who you were.
Now, Bonny and I really enjoy watching shows like Live PD and watching officers perform their duties and one of the things that astounds me is the number of people who do not carry any ID! None! No license or other identification card.
Now some of them know that their license is suspended (and some of them have had their license revoked) so they think that lying to the officer that they “left it at home” will make things better – wrong.
Yet there are many who have an ID (for ease let’s consider a driver’s license “ID”) but they leave it at home. Why? (Here are a couple excuses we have heard) “I was only going a couple blocks . . .” “I was just going to (a fast food restaurant) and then right back home.”
Let me go back to childhood. It was understood that anytime I left the house, I carried my dependent ID card with me. Even if I was “just” going to school, church or the corner store for a candy bar, I had my card.
Then in the military, it was more than an expectation, it was a rule. Want to go on the Flight Line? Show your ID. Going to work? Carry your ID. Always. Everywhere.
So, now that you’ve seen my verse above and read this, how do they relate? The Helmet of Salvation is Your ID! We are to wear the armor of God all time and having on the Helmet of Salvation lets the enemy know whose you are!
And – in spite of doctrinal or theological differences, if I meet someone and we understand that we are saved by and through Christ, then we can recognize the Helmet of Salvation in each other! We know that we are members of God’s Army in this world.
Just as the Veterans of WWI and WWII and other wars, soldiers recognize who is a “friendly” force or an “enemy” based on the helmet they wear! The American GI “pot” is distinctive when compared with German, Italian, English, or French helmets.
The Helmet of Salvation, like the ID card, is the gate way to all of the privileges in God’s kingdom! Eternal life. Jesus is my Advocate. The Holy Spirit lives within me. I am granted access to the Throne of God to make my needs know to Him. And the list goes on.
The Helmet of Salvation comes first! Before I accepted Christ and repented of my sin, nothing in God’s kingdom was accessible to me. Nothing. After I received Him? Everything is accessible! Everything!
So, put it on! Let everyone, on earth, in Heaven and under the earth, know Who you belong to!
“THE MASTER’S VOICE”........ October 15, 2019
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
August September 1969, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Basic Training. One of the few things that I loved about Basic was close order drill. Left face, about face, column left flank, etc.
Our Flight (50-60 Airmen) would march to the drill field and there would be upwards of a dozen other Flights drilling and every recruit obeying the commands from their Drill Sergeants.
As I stood 6’3” at the time I was the second person in my Squad, right behind my Squad Leader. Following our Sergeants’ commands as he instructed us in the different orders, hearing him singing out, “Left, Right, Left, Right, Flight Halt! About Face! Left Flank, Move!” and on and on.
One time as we were moving about the field, there came a time that we marched straight ahead for a long time. Suddenly waaaaay behind us we heard our instructor, “Flight, Halt!” Then he commanded, “About Face!”
We turned around only to discover that 12 of us (4 squads with just the first 3 of us in each) had walked away from the rest of the Flight who was about 100 yards away from us. I’m betting that was a Kodak moment and the looks on our faces would have been “priceless”!
Usually, though, we would drill around the field along with all of the other Flights. Every Drill Sergeant, using their Command Level Voice (they were not yelling! As a vocal instructor myself, I know that they were using proper technique; lungs, vocal cords and diaphragm) would be giving their individual Flight direction and remarkably, I do not ever recall any Flight responding to another Flight’s Instructor!
So, now, let’s look again at what Jesus said in John, “My sheep . . .” Who are His sheep? Some say that we are all God’s children, if that were true, then why did Jesus say this right before verse 27?
“Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”
So, then, according to Jesus, not everyone is God’s child! To be considered a sheep in the care of Jesus (read chapter 10 of John to get a picture!), you must be a follower of Jesus!
To be a follower you must needs to be a believer. To call yourself a believer you must repent of your sins and receive Jesus as your Savior. It’s really simple. Then like a military recruit you will be able to distinguish the Master’s voice over every other one!
“REACT OR RESPOND”......... October 8, 2019
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:
and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea,
and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things,
which is the head, even Christ: Ephesians 4:15
I was working for a company in the oil field business and my job one day was moving flexible hoses from one container to another. It was a nice summer day and the other worker and I were tossing those hoses around. Suddenly something small and black began buzzing around my head. I just thought they were dragonflies and brushed them away.
About the time I was thinking that, I got “hit” several times by wasps!
Owowowowowowow!!!!! My shoulders, neck and face. I ran. I mean Brother Mario was on the move!!! I finally got out of their range and my partner looked inside the container and sure enough in one corner there was wasp nest. I had disturbed them!
After I went inside the shop, my boss took one look at me and sent me home. I was swelling, rapidly, and I was starting to feel feverish. When I got home, Grandma sent me to the doctor (staying with Grandma before Bonny and I were married) and he loaded me up with a shot penicillin.
I was so sick the only thing I wanted was milkshakes. Everything hurt and I was running a fever. I wasn’t even interested in steak or fried chicken (and if you know me, you know I love chicken!) just milkshakes. After 3 or 4 days of feeling miserable I went back to the doctor.
He checked me over and told me, “Mario, you’re allergic to the penicillin, you reacted to it.” So, no more of that med for me!
Thirty years later I was having an arthritic flare up in my knee. I usually took aspirin but it just wasn’t working this time. I went into the doctor and he said my arthritis was so severe I couldn’t take enough aspirin to help, so he ordered an anti-inflammatory medication.
Within 24 hours I could walk! It was amazing! Do you know what happened to my body after taking this medication? It responded to the medication!
Do you know where I’m going with this? Jesus commanded us to be witnesses. “You shall be . . .” That wasn’t a question or a suggestion and He didn’t leave room for any of us to say, “But, Lord, . . . ”
Witnessing is what we, Christians, are called to do. Now comes the important part, do people react to your witness or respond? I’m not talking about the message itself, salvation only through Jesus, I’m talking about presentation. Hence the second verse from Ephesians, telling the truth with love.
Not “die and fry” witnessing. Not jamming the Gospel down their throats. Showing them the love of Christ in word and deed. Present your witness in such a way that they want to respond to the Gospel.
“INTEGRITY”....................... October 1, 2019
“One faded blue ink line replaces a thousand memories.”
Corrections Today August 1989
When I worked in the prison, one of my duties at one of the posts was to record room changes. So, when an inmate moved from one unit to another or even from one cell to another, I had to enter it into the log book and mark the inmate’s name at the new cell and take it off from the old.
I also had the responsibility to inform the on-coming shift of the move. It was important because the most important thing we did was take “count” - verifying where every inmate was especially at official count time.
I came in to work one day and my sergeant called me into the sergeant’s office and there was my shift sergeant and the next shift’s sergeant. The other sergeant started lecturing me on the importance of noting room/cell changes and how not letting the next shift know would make their count wrong.
They might think an inmate had escaped and it would be my fault! I sat there and listened to the other sergeant rake me over the coals for not doing my job. My sergeant just sat in his chair listened and watched me.
The other shift sergeant got done and turned to mine and recommended at the least a verbal warning and at best, there should be a letter of reprimand.
First thing I did when he got done was to excuse myself, get the unit keys, grab the log book, opened it to the page I had entered and signed and shoved it into his face and pointed to the notation from the day before.
“I know my job! Don’t ever challenge my integrity!”
My sergeant just smiled and said, “I told you Smitty didn’t mess up.”
You see, we all had a duty to read the log from the previous shift. The Swing Shift officer didn’t.
Consider this: “But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;” I Peter 3:14
Has your “integrity” – your belief in Christ been assaulted? Has someone attacked you because of your faith in Jesus?
I’m not talking about that person you try and witness to just telling you no. I am talking about people who do their level best to demean you and mistreat you BECAUSE you are a believer?
Then rejoice! Don’t think that when someone shuts you down when you talk about the Lord that you are being persecuted. That’s normal! That’s what the enemy does! And don’t be obnoxious! Don’t go out of your way to share Jesus.
Let God bring you opportunity and then (hey! I think I heard this before!) pray for God to give you ability. And if they rail at you, berate you, call you every name in the book, walk away knowing you’ve done your best. And let God defend your integrity!
“ME, POCKETFUL OF PEAS, AND A WASHING MACHINE”.... September 24, 2019
“and be sure your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23c
My mother drilled these 9 words into my head as a youngster and often, deservedly so. I was 7 or 8 and I hated peas. Spinach? Loved it. Corn? Not a problem. Pease? Bleh!
So, I had a method to fix the problem (because in our house you ate everything on your first plate of food before you got desert). I would sneak the peas off of my plate and put them in my pants pocket.
As soon as they were all gone from my plate, I would ask to be excused to use the bathroom and I would drop them in the toilet – problem solved!
That is until one time I went to the bathroom and took care of “business” and forgot the peas.
A day or so later Mama did the wash. I was playing in the house and I heard the sing-song, “Mario” and I ran to see what she wanted. I got to the washing machine, with its lid up, and Mama just pointed.
There, floating on the top of the water, mixed in with clothing, was peas. They were bobbing with just a little bit of soap and I looked at Mama and she looked at me.
What could I say? “That’s not mine?” Uhhh, wrong. “I don’t know how those got in there!” Wrong again.
After that my parents would make me do a pocket check if I left the table to use the facilities.
But I’m in good company (so to speak). In I Samuel we the story of Samuel and Saul, the first king of Israel. Samuel had given the word of the Lord to Saul that he was to utterly destroy Amalek. Every living thing was to be executed whether human or animal.
But after the battle Saul kept all the good things (verse 9) and when Samuel shows up, he asks Saul, “Why do I hear sheep bleating and cows mooing?” Samuel tries making excuses, “I did everything God commanded except . . .”
Then Saul tries to pass it off on the people (verse 15) and adds, “But we were going to sacrifice them to yourGod . . .” Wait, wasn’t He your God as well Saul?
Then make things worse, as if they could be, Saul tells Samuel again, (verse 21) “It was the people man! We were going to have a BIG sacrifice!” Finally, Saul admits his sin and Samuel tells him,
“Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (verse 22)
Yup, I should have just eaten the peas.
"Are You Willing to Give God a Chance?".......... September 17, 2019
“And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's
and he will give you into our hands.” I Samuel 17:47
This last Wednesday, Pastor Scott talked momentarily about divorce. It brought back a memory.
My friend, a pastor, was asked by a couple to counsel with them. Upon meeting them, they both told him they were
going to get a divorce. Taken somewhat aback he asked why they came to him?
Well, that’s just what you did! Even if your mind was made up, you still went to a pastor and counseled with them.
My friend thought for a minute and asked a few questions.
“How long have y’all been married?” He started.
“About ten years.”
“How long have you had this problem?”
“About ten years.”
Now I don’t know about you and me, but this answer was remarkable to say the least! And my friend was stumped.
How do you talk with someone who’s mind is already made up? They would not hear any of the verses addressing divorce.
What would you say? I must confess when he told me this story, I was at a loss and I asked him, “What did you do?”
He asked them this, “Would you give God 10 years to fix what you broke?”
His question was met with stunned looks from both of them. Then they said they would not.
They could not, would not, give God the same amount of time they used to make the mess, to fix the mess.
Then he asked them, “Would you give God one year to fix this?”
This time, a little reluctantly, they said they wouldn’t.
“How much time would you give God to fix your marriage?”
Unfortunately, they refused any help. They were so set in their minds that divorce was the only option,
they would not allow God to help them.
Have you been fighting a battle of your own making and don’t know which way to turn? How long have you been battling by
yourself? Are you willing to give God time to make the situation/battle right?
“The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:14
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
CONFIDENCE......... September 10, 2019
I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.
II Corinthians 7:16
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
I have confidence in you through the Lord,
Some years ago, I was the choir director for a Christian School K-12 and we had close to 30 students. Many of the older youth were fairly accomplished singers and I took that into account when I selected an adult Christmas musical – “Bethlehem Star”. However, I did not tell them it was intended for adults!
Why? Because I knew that if I told them before we started, that it was an adult musical, some, if not many, would have balked thinking they weren’t good enough.
But! Erase that last sentence! I knew they were skilled (all of the school) and that they could do this musical and do an excellent job of it as well. So, starting in September, we began practicing in earnest. Practice, practice, practice.
Then we performed it at two local churches (Lewiston, ID and Palouse, WA. They did a fantastic job! After they were done, we processed the musical. That was when I told them it was an adult musical and their response was what I expected.
“I wondered why the music was so hard!”
Then they (the old kids) asked my why we had done an adult musical. Why? “Because I had confidence in you that you could do it – and you did!”
Look at the verses above. Paul announced his “confidence” in those churches. God has confidence in you! Let that sink in.
Think about it. Ponder on it. Meditate on the fact that God, the Creator of all things, has confidence in you. Now, what can you accomplish in His name with support like that?
"THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES - REVISITED".................. September 3, 2019
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Last Sunday (August 25, 2019) we at Desert Hills, were privileged to hear a message from Bo White, a missionary to the Pakistani people. He shared this two-word message within a message, “opportunity and ability”, telling us that if God gives us an opportunity, He will give us the ability!
Bonny and I were on a trip this past week through Arizona into New Mexico and if you know me, I have a good time where ever I go! On Thursday I was wearing one of our “Ask Me About . . .” t-shirts when we went into a restaurant for dinner. Why didn’t I finish the sentence from the t-shirt? That’s part of the story!
I was sitting at the table waiting to place our order and “M”, one of the waiters, stopped and asked me, “What should I ask you about?” (the back of my chair was hiding the rest of the sentence so it made him very curious!)
I leaned forward so he could see what it said and he said, “Are you a Christian?” I told him I was and that we were from Las Vegas. Then he said, “I’ve been through some rough times, would you pray for me before you leave?” Absolutely!
After we finished our meal we went outside and he shared a bit about his life. Then he asked us to pray. We joined hands and I prayed that God would move in his heart, lead and guide him. He thanked us went back to work and looked like a load had been lifted from his heart.
Opportunity and ability.
A couple days later, we came downstairs for breakfast at the hotel we were staying. The lady who managed the breakfast area was crying and being comforted by the young woman who manned the front desk. We asked her what had happened and she told us that her grandfather had just died and she had just been told.
Opportunity and ability.
I asked if we could pray for her and she agreed. I prayed that the Holy Spirit would come and comfort the family and surround them peace. I prayed a few other things for her and when we finished, she hugged both Bonny and I and thanked us for our kindness.
She went back into the eating area, greeting guests, smiling (sometimes through her tears) and making sure everything met her approval, plenty of fresh coffee, eggs, fruit, etc.
When we getting ready to leave that morning (to return home) she again came out, hugged us and thanked us for praying with and for her.
The next day, still making our way home, we had stopped at a rest stop with a gas station, store, and restaurant. Bonny had gone in to use the ladies’ room and I struck up a conversation with a lady who had just come in. We talked about the heat and I mentioned that we were heading back to Las Vegas and not looking forward to the heat here.
Just then her husband came in and Bonny came out of the restroom. I noticed a police department “star” on the man’s t-shirt and asked him if he was an officer. “I’m retired from the Henderson Police Department.”
We told them that we lived here in Las Vegas and where we lived (by Sam’s Town). In talking they told us that they used to live in the same over 55 community we live in!
Opportunity and ability.
I handed them one of my church business cards and introduced myself and talked about Desert Hills and they said they had visited the church some time before. I told them to stop by again – it’s a great fellowship!
Didn’t get the chance to pray with them, but they know who, where, and what time – so Bonny and I can pray for them and hope that we see them some Sunday!
God is good all the time! He provides the opportunity and He provides the ability! (With a tip o’ the hat to Brother Bo White!)
Now let me tie in the verses above. God has given to the church pastors, teachers, evangelists and other offices to build up the body of Christ in the local church! We are to be edified by the teaching and preaching of the Word! Go out and look for the opportunities God puts in your path – don’t make the opportunities yourself – depend on God to make them for you and as He makes them for you, pray that He would give you the ability in the midst of the opportunity!
"BRAKE LIGHTS"......................... August 27, 2019
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Romans 8: 5-9
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
It is the carnal mind that does not and cannot be trained to obey God. It is the carnal mind that cannot please God. As long as the Christian gives control over to the flesh, then the flesh will control the Christian. That does not mean they have lost their salvation; they are just not letting the Spirit have control.
It is hard to keep the old nature out of control isn’t it? But it is all about choice. Today I will choose to let the Spirit rule. Today I will listen for the Spirit to call to me. Today I will not listen to the old Me! I will not give attention to that voice that tells me to go against what I know is right!
We must develop the art of being prepared for any situation that may arise that our old man wants to come in to play. I have had to take many defensive driving courses in my time and most of them teach you, as a driver, to focus on what is ahead, to your left, to your right, and what is behind you.
Your eyes should be on a constant search for things happening away from you that can affect you. I have learned to watch the traffic on the freeway way in front of me. Brakes lights a half mile ahead tell me something is happening and I need to be ready to take action.
And that action I take will involve putting into practice the driving skills I learned.
So too with us as Christians. Look ahead to conversations you may be going to have with a family member or a friend where you know you will need the Holy Spirit to guide you into what to say or how to act.
We should be focusing on the good things of Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Why? Because we are retraining our minds! Ephesians 5:26 That he (Jesus) might sanctify and cleanse it (the church) with the washing of water by the word,