“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,
Now 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 act before we were saved.
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 you do that? Well, don’t some Christians do that with their old man? Put on the mind of Christ that comes from washing your mind with the Word.
It is not a sin to have an evil or bad thought – that is the enemy trying to gain a foothold. But it is a sin to dwell on that thought!
Here are the lines from a hymn we sing here:
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
To finish – Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.
TRAINING............. August 20, 2019
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their
senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14
One of my first days of work in the oil field was underneath a platform. There were a lot of pipes of different sizes coming up from the water and from the wells and they were crisscrossing every which way. There was everything from one inch up to 3 feet in diameter under there.
My boss told us to grab the water hoses and go out on the pipes and wash down the underside of the platform. That meant going out on the pipe with a water hose trying to balance and wash at the same time! Even the 3-foot pipe looked intimidating to me! I never had really good balance
(even when I was young and skinny and before I had back surgery! I’m the one in the middle! This was photo was just a month or so before I went to the oilfields.). But it was part of the job, so I straddled the pipe and scooched gingerly out. I could look down at the water (about 15-20 feet below) and see piping the had been cut off and was now sticking up out of the water. Great, I’m going to get impaled!
The other men I was working with just grabbed their water hoses and walked on out and began to wash the platform and pipes down. Eventually I got out to where I was supposed to be and washed things down.
A couple years later, after being promoted to “Pumper’s Helper” and assigned to a platform, our duties included checking the lines, tanks, and valves on a daily basis. There were things that I did without thinking, checking levels, changing charts, and walking a 2” pipe to get to a valve, and it was several feet above the water.
Yup, I could walk a 2” pipe and usually without using a stick for balance. But I still remembered how my mind imagined me falling off a pipe 3 feet in diameter. The difference?
Well, it didn’t happen overnight! I got accustomed to first sitting on the pipe and bumping along, then developing my balance to walk that large section of pipe. Eventually I found myself scooting along on a 6” in pipe line, standing upright and then the same with a four inch one and graduating to where walking a 2” pipe was done without a second thought.
My point? “have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” The author was talking about Christians who were mature and part of that maturation process was exercising their senses so they knew the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, Godly and ungodly.
How do you do that, Mario? As Pastor Scott would say, “Simple, but not easy.” You must, you have to, at all costs, be in the Word! And you have to talk to God – not just ask Him for things; but talk to Him about those things you are unsure of.
“Father, is this right for me? Is this the time to do this? I need help in making this decision.”
And then wait. Wait for the answer. Don’t put your needs and questions out there and tell Him, “There ya go God! I’ve got some other stuff to do so I’ll catch up to You later and You can tell me the answer. Hasta!”
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength . . .”
“HOW DID GOD’S PEOPLE TREAT THE POOR?”........... August 13, 2019
Today I’m going to start with my story and then give you the Word. In the early 60’s, when Daddy was stationed in Newport, R.I., we lived in a community in neighboring Middletown, R.I. named Marshall’s Village (named for the family that had owned the ground the housing tract was built on).
Next to the housing tract was a potato field owned by the Marshall family and every fall they would harvest the crop. Our first time there my brother and I saw all of the other kids gathering on the edge of the field with paper sacks, buckets and potato sacks.
They told us that after the harvesting trucks made their pass (only one pass and the trucks turned inside the field so the corners were left unharvested) all of the kids from “the Village” were allowed to gather all of the potatoes that were missed. It was a bonanza!
We ran through the fields, bending down and digging in the dirt and collecting as many potatoes as we could hold! It was great! And what was even better was when we came home and presented my folks with this big (in my 8 to 10-year-old mind) bag of free potatoes!
Now for the Word!
And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:9-10
And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 23:22
When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. Deuteronomy 24:21
And when she (Ruth) was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:
And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
What an awesome (act attributed to God) thing God instituted for His people! When they did this, I have no doubt they were blessed because they obeyed the instruction of the Lord. And the fatherless, the widows and the poor were provided for! Blessing upon blessing!
Now, to that family in Rhode Island, I do not know if or how they were blessed because they followed a biblical mandate. This I do know; God does not forget acts of kindness or obedience!
God saw how the Marshall’s obeyed His instructions and I have no doubt that their crops fared well and that they received honest and good pricing for their crops.
Lastly, remember that because Boaz was ancestor of King David, of whose lineage our Lord was descended, mercy and grace was extended to a Gentile – Ruth! And that the blood of Jesus offered in sacrifice was all sufficient for Jew and Gentile alike because the blood of both ran through His veins!
Thank God for His love, mercy and sacrifice!
"HAVE YOU LOST YOUR SENSE OF DIRECTION?".......... August 6, 2019
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; Ephesians 4:14
Working in and around the Mississippi river, when a boat or ship leaves their dock or pier, or if they enter the Mouth of the river, the Skipper will get on a specific radio channel and notify the Coast Guard and others on the river, what boat/ship they are and the direction on the river they are heading, North (“up” the river) or South (“down” the river).
The Mississippi is a river full of curves and turns and as a matter of fact New Orleans is nicknamed, “The Crescent City” because of the way the river curves around it.
A man, fairly new to notifying folks on the radio, got on one evening to report and here was his conversation.
“Delta Diamond One, northbound on the river.”
“10-4” (Coast Guard response)
A little while later, “Delta Diamond One, eastbound on the river.”
There was a slight pause and then, “10-4”
Sometime later, Delta Diamond One, northbound on the river.”
There was another pause and then, “10-4”
And again, “Delta Diamond One, westbound on the river”
Just then a Cajun boat skipper got on and said, “What! You lost my boy, hanh?”
Everyone laughed at that and when the story is told, people still laugh! The man thought he had to report in every change of direction without realizing he was just supposed to say what his overall direction was – northbound!
Do you still have your sense of direction? Are you Christ bound in your life? Does your compass point to Him? Remember, a course correction in your life is as easy as asking Him, “Am I going the right way Lord?”
What is your compass? The Bible, because it always points to Jesus.
DEFENDING THE WEAK................................. July 30, 2019
For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord;
I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.
We speak of God as our Father and we see, sometimes, in our own fathers some of the Godly attributes. Defender of the week, having compassion for those that are in need, taking on bullies.
A group of young boys were having a snowball fight one winter afternoon and as it happened my youngest brother was the target. He was backed up against our storm door in the kitchen, unable to defend himself or even gather any snow to make snowballs to fight back.
Daddy had watched the boys for quite a while (he was making supper) and finally he had enough and opened the door and took up Jonathan’s cause. “Why don’t you boys pick on someone else for a while?”
Daddy could be a rather imposing force to say the least! All of a sudden, they started picking on another one of the kids and the snowball fight moved on while Jonathan came inside.
In April 1963 we were being transferred from Rhode Island to the Bay Area, San Pablo. We left in the afternoon and it was just starting to snow. The further we got from our old home, the worse the storm became until it was a full-blown blizzard. It was, as the old-timers would say, a “So’ wester” and it was dumping inches of snow.
I forget where we were but it couldn’t have been more than a few miles and there was a small hill we were trying to get up over. Traffic was unbelievably heavy and it was slow going.
A car in front of us started slowing down and then its tires began to slip on the packed snow which was turning to ice on the roads. Daddy had put the chains on our car (a ’56 Pontiac Chieftain) so we had traction but we couldn’t go around the other car.
Daddy stopped and started stomping in frustration toward the other car, mumbling under his breath, got up to the driver’s door. It was a woman and now she was stranded and crying. She had chains but didn’t know how to put them on and she had to be at “X” and, and, and.
We could see Daddy’s shoulders droop and he got her keys, opened her trunk and got the chains out.
My friend, if you have never had the “opportunity” to put chains on a car, especially one on a slippery roadway, in the dark with an 18-inch blizzard coming down, you haven’t missed a thing!
Daddy and my oldest brother, Michael laid out the chains and had the lady back up and pull forward and back up in order to get the chains just right. The woman was already upset (lots of people behind us honking, but no one, not a single person, got out to help!) and instead of backing up, she pulled forward. Over my dad’s hands.
As he yelled, she got flustered and gave it some gas. That did not help. Finally, with my brother pushing the tires got Daddy’s hands and they got the chains mounted and she drove off.
We had only gotten about 20-25 miles that day, but Daddy decided he’d had enough and we went to a motel and spent the night.
One evening when we had gone down to Alabama to visit with Daddy after Mama passed, we were sitting around telling stories. I asked Daddy if he had ever loaned people money (when he was in the service). Absolutely! You need $5? Go see Smitty!
Then he told us this story. One day after they had moved up to New Hampshire after he had retired, there was a letter in the mail from someone the folks had no recollection of. When they opened it, there was a letter and a check for (I think) $200!
Daddy said it was from a man he had served with during World War II when they were both on a ship in the South Pacific. The man apologized for taking so long in repaying Daddy (with interest) and as a matter of fact, Daddy didn’t even remember loaning the man any money.
Nonetheless, here was a check for money borrowed 30 years before!
Do you see the image of our Father in these stories? God protecting the weak from persecution (my brother). The Father meeting the need of the needy. The Father giving without reservation.
Think of how God has protected you and your family today. Did God ever meet a need in your life that came from unexpected sources? Has not God given us the greatest gift ever? His Son?!?!
This verse bears repeating. For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord;
I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.
"HOW STRONG ARE YOU?".............. July 23, 2019
“And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him,”
“And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.” Judges 16:3
One day working in the gang in the oil field, we were offloading full 55-gallon drums of oil from the work barge to a platform and taking the empty drums and loading them on board the barge. The barge was not self-propelled so we had a “lugger” (do not call it a “tug boat” in the presence of the Captain! That was fightin’ words!) that pushed us where we were needed.
It was hot sweaty work as a full drum weighed about four hundred pounds. Two of us would push the drum on to its side, then roll it to the side of the barge and maneuver it onto the boards and carefully ease down to the platform.
As soon as you got the drum set back up and into position, you would take one of the empty drums (very light in comparison) and bring it back on board. It was making for a long day.
We were all taking a water break on the platform when Maurice (pronounced “Morris” – what can I say, it’s Loo-zee-ana) the lugger skipper came down out of wheelhouse, mumbling about how lazy we “young boys” were and weren’t worth the effort.
He crossed the deck of the barge, said, “this is how a man offloads a drum of oil!” and picked up a drum and threw it across the barge and onto the platform!!!
For just a split second you know what we thought – “how could that old man pick up that drum and just toss it around?!?!?”
Then when the drum hit the deck of the platform and echoed hollowly, we knew. He had picked up an empty one and threw it! But for one brief moment Samson was alive and well!!!
Let’s talk about the gates of Gaza.
“Samson pulled up the barred gate with the side posts attached and carried the whole thing off. It was as if he pulled a flower out of the ground, yet Dr. William Barrick computed the weight of the gate and posts to have been between five and ten tons (“Samson’s Removal of Gaza’s Gates,” drbarrick.org, n.d.) And Samson carried the gate to Hebron, which was 36 miles away and 3,200 feet higher in altitude!” https://www.practicalbible.com/news/samson-and-the-philistine-gate What about Spirit of the Lord moving on Samson to the extent he killed a thousand men and did it with the jawbone of an ass? Now that is some kind of strength!
Consider this though, if Samson looked like the buff Victor Mature (of “Samson and Delilah” fame) or Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, what would be the big deal? Of course, someone who looks mighty and muscular could do these tasks.
One of my professors felt this way though, imagine how impressive these acts would have been if Samson looked like a skinny, buck-toothed, weak-kneed, wimp! Then you can imagine how the Philistines looked with awe at what this man had accomplished powered by the Spirit of God!
Guess what? You, Christian, what has God called you to? Do you feel inadequate? Useless, hopeless, unable to even think about following God? Here you go, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus which strengtheneth me.” Phil 4:13.
"WE ARE ALWAYS DISCIPLING"................. July 16, 2019
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
I have shared before of my Brothers John and Ray and how Ray watched John for six months after he declared he was saved. That led to Ray surrendering his life for Christ.
When you pull out of your house Sunday mornings dressed for church, trust me, your neighbors see you. They know where you’re going. So, in what way are you discipling them?
When you go out to lunch after church, still dressed in your “good clothes”, how are you discipling the folks siting around you, the wait staff and the cooks?
How about if you have to stop at the store right after church? There you are trying to get around folks who have stopped their cart in the middle of the aisle, that person on the electric cart who seemingly has no throttle control, the screaming kid who wants – just wants, and with check stands unmanned, and standing in long lines.
Are you discipling?
Coworkers are watching us. Your neighbors are watching us. Our children are watching us. Our friends are watching us. Christian brothers and sisters are watching us.
We are always discipling – always.
DANDELIONS.................. July 9, 2019
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
My brother Julian and I were given a task one Saturday, go into our front yard and for every empty coffee can (16 oz) we would fill with the yellow dandelion flowers, my folks would pay us the astounding fee of .01.
Yup, a penny for every can we filled. I think I was around 10 and he was 7 and our brains weren’t too quick. Know why? Because being good boys who had been raised in church, Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School and we knew the story, “Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over,” (Luke 6:38)
So, for about the first 15 cans or so, we pushed the flowers down and packed them in! “We’re getting a penny a can . . .” Then it dawned on us, if we don’t pack them in, we can make more can-fulls with fewer flowers!
Upshot was we filled 22 or 23 cans of dandelions (side note, we never did get our 23 cents . . .) and came in satisfied with the who we had done. The next morning, Sunday, as we went out of the house to get in the car for church our entire front yard was full again of those pesky yellow flowers! We had not made a dent in the weeds.
Now then, let’s consider this verse from Paul to the church at Ephesus and think a bit about it. Anyone who has tried to plant a garden or just to have a nice-looking yard, dandelions are frustrating, right?
Cut off the flowers today and they come right back tomorrow. Take a weedwhacker, lawn mower, or clippers and cut it down to the dirt and in the next day or so it will be back. Now that is a persistent plant!
The secret to getting rid of a dandelion plant is to either dig out the root or use a weed killer that attacks the root.
Let’s examine this verse again, “. . . that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,”. We, Christians, need to be just like a dandelion! We need to have such deep roots in the love of Christ, that even when the enemy uses a spiritual lawn mower, clippers, or weedwhacker, you spring back to life the very next instant!
Consider Job, the man who lost everything including his health. All of his wealth, gone in an instant (like having the yellow flower picked off) yet he did not sin and blame God!
All of his children were killed (that’s when the dandelion goes from the pretty yellow flower to the white one that sheds its seeds on the wind), he still not curse or blame God!
Finally, his health and wellbeing was attacked to the extent that even his wife said, “Why don’t you just curse God and die?!?!” (Job 2:9) (The plant is cut down to the earth, no leaves, no flowers, just a nub in the ground.) After all this what does Job say? “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15)
Do you see Job’s roots? So, I say to you, get rooted and grounded in the love of Christ! How? Go to Sunday School! Try not to miss any services; Sunday morning, Wednesday Discipleship, Vacation Bible School and your own personal study of the Word!
"COKE AND BROWNIES"......................... July 2. 2019
When I was in college, my friend, his wife and their 2 daughters, lived catty-cornered from us. His eldest daughter was about 4 years old at the time and Bonny and I would go over to be with the girls while he and I tried to do homework.
One evening, just after their dinner, we came in and while my friend was busy changing the diaper of the younger, the older one came and whispered to me, “If you ask my Dad really nice, he’ll give coke and brownies!”
I knew she had not finished her dinner and, in his house, if you didn’t finish dinner, you didn’t get treats. So, I said to her, “Why don’t you ask your Dad?” and she said, “Okay”.
When he came out, she said to him, “When I grow up, I want to be big and strong like you Daddy!” He smiled with approval, but she went on. “And to be big and strong I have to have good food, huh?”
More smiles and nodding his head yes. Then she said, “Not vegetables and meat, I need coke and brownies!”
We laughed and he gave her the brownie and coke.
We can all smile and nod our heads at the ingenuity of this little girl (she is now almost 30!) and how persuasive she was. Children are a gift from God and parents need to savor moments; first steps, first words, first time they hear their child singing “Jesus loves me . . .”, and here at our church we see children receiving Christ in their hearts and those that have received Him get baptized.
The children are a blessing! Take joy in them! And maybe, just maybe, like the 3 young ladies who stood on the platform Sunday, 10 years from now, they will lead us in song and play an instrument – to glorify the Lord!
"BLOOD BROTHERS"............... June 25, 2019
As a child growing up in the 50’s and 60’s and watching those great Westerns, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Paladin, Davy Crocket, Dan’l Boone, there were times when the Cowboy(s) and the Indian(s) would make a peace pact between them.
Many times, they would all sit in the Chief’s teepee and smoke the peace pipe, but there many times where individuals would meet and to cement their relationship, they would become “blood brothers”.
This was way beyond just smoking the pipe and declaring peace between groups. This was two men who had such respect for each and a relationship closer than that of being friends that they would take a knife and slash the palms of their hands and then clasp then in grip that allowed their blood to mingle together, thus making them “blood brothers”.
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:13-14
If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
Stop and consider what these two verses hold for the household of God! We, His children, are cleansed to the utmost! He even, as the writer of Hebrews says, purges our “conscience”. Our very thoughts are cleansed to that we may serve the “living God”! What an awesome thought!
Now consider the second set of verses from John the Beloved. Our very fellowship with each other is able because of the blood of Christ! So not only are our thoughts cleansed, we have fellowship (in Creole, the word fellowship is translated as “Communion” – now there’s a show stopper!) with each other and the blood of Jesus, which has made us “blood brothers/sisters” now guarantees that we are cleansed of most of our sin.
I mean, a lot of our sin, right?
NO!!!! He has cleansed us from all sin! He did not leave anything uncleansed! Now think about that the next time the enemy tries to tell you how unworthy you are. Or the next time someone comes to you with the juiciest gossip about a brother or sister.
We had better realize that it is the blood of Christ that made us brothers and sisters – Children of the Most High Living God!
.....................................June 18, 2019
Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.”
Today I will speak of father, for whom I was named, Hilry Smith. Decorated Veteran of WWII, Korea, Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crisis, part of the fleet that retrieved one of our Gemini space capsules and 30 years of service to this nation.
As my brother has often noted, when Daddy was home, he took us to church – he didn’t just drop us off. When asked to serve in the church, the answer was always yes. Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, and when Daddy got saved, he kicked it up another notch!
When someone in his church family was hurting financially and their food budget was tight, my father would give them a turkey. But first he would thaw it, roast it, make some veggies, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy and then take it to them.
It was said that you could tell the state of the economy by how many turkeys Daddy had in his freezer. The worse the economy was, the more turkeys were in the freezer waiting to be used.
Daddy gave with an open pocketbook to his church as well. My brother recounts how a time Daddy missed church (he was sick and stayed home) and had Julian drive him around till he located his pastor (who was out doing visitation) just to make sure his tithe check was given.
When we had the viewing when Daddy passed, there was a table the picture above of him (many people did not know that he had spent over 30 years in the Navy) and on black velvet there was an unopened roll of quarters and another roll of quarters opened with some of spilling out.
That’s curious, you might wonder. Well, when we started having the new state quarters coming into circulation, Daddy would go to his bank and buy several rolls of them. Wherever he went, to the store, church, doctor’s appointment, wherever, he would ask people (especially young children with their parents) “How would you like a brand new, shiny quarter???” and he would hand them out.
My father became known in Decatur, AL as “The Quarters Man”. Our family had many, many people we did not know come to his viewing (and some came to his funeral the next day) because of kindness. Many from the local store he used didn’t know him by name, instead he was “The Quarters Man” and with tears in their eyes, shared with us stories of Daddy and them.
Sometime after Mama passed, I called Daddy and asked what was happening. “I’ve got a brand new big screen TV, I’m holding the remote and there’s no one to tell me what channel I want to watch!”
After Mama had passed, my father was that elder who sat in the front pew of his church and when the pastor made a good point, it was Daddy who banged his cane on the floor and in his deep voice, shouted, “Amen!” or “Preach it!”
This is the kind of Christian man I would be, one who supports his church with faithful attendance, giving of himself and of his wallet. A Godly, saved man, that’s my Daddy.
“STOP BLAMING THE DEVIL”............ June 11, 2019
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44
We were living in California and I was a young teenager that didn’t think before action (still kind of do that). My brother Julian was standing on a small throw rug and I thought to myself, “If I pull the rug out from under him, will he bounce?”
So, I did but he did not. He yelled, a lot and loud and for a while. Mama came into the room and demanded to know what I had done. Julian, with tears staining his cheeks and sobbing out his story, told her what happened.
So, I looked at Mama and before a famous comedian made the line his, I said, “The devil made me do it!”
Mama took off one of her flip-flops and began smacking me on the “seat of learning” all the while saying, “Well, the devil made me do this! And this! And this!” All the while I am making laps around her at the end of her other arm that was holding me. You get the picture.
First thing about this verse from John is that when Jesus said, “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” He was saying that lying is native language of the enemy.
Too often, though, Christians want to blame the enemy for everything from a hangnail to cancer to (fill in the blank). We, Christians, need to stop giving that entity credit for stuff!
Terry, Sunday School teacher, has spoken on this often. The enemy is just one thing! He is not Omniscient (all knowing), or Omnipresent (everywhere) or Omnipotent (all powerful). All he can do and does is lie.
He tries to convince us that we are not saved (yes, he does – he plants those seeds of doubt in the believer, “Are you sure you’re saved?”). He tries to separate us from fellowship (“Those people in that church don’t really love you, they just say that out of a sense of duty.”).
He tries to convince us that the Word isn’t completely true (“Well you know, there isn’t any evidence of a world wide flood and they never have found the true cross Jesus was supposed to have been killed on so we don’t really know . . .”)
Now the other part is this, Christians blame the enemy for things they do to themselves. “That ol’ devil is stealin’ my money!” Then stop giving it to him. “That police officer is just an arm of the devil stopping me for no reason and giving me that ticket!” Maybe you should have your license and registration and insurance up to date?
“The devil gets me so mad I yell at my kids!” Uhhh, that would be a “no”. He cannot make any Christian do anything! His only power is deception! Stop giving him credit! Maybe you yelled at your kids because you were having a bad day and instead of asking God for help, you yell and then blame the devil!
What do you think Adam and Eve did? “The woman (you gave me God), gave it to me!” Uhh, so it’s God’s fault that He gave you a helpmeet?
“The serpent fooled me!” Oh, I see, the serpent picked that piece of fruit off of the tree, put it into your hand, flopped your mouth open and shoved it in and made you take a bite? Then the serpent forced you to give it to Adam?
“The devil made me do it” doesn’t fly my Brother and Sister.
"FEEL FREE TO LAUGH"........... June 4, 2019
Ahhhh, the summer of 1966 in Brunswick, ME. I had just completed, and barely passed, my freshman year at Brunswick High School. And for the Smith family, at noon, Monday thru Friday, the world would come to a stop. Mama would gather my brothers; Jonathan, Julian and I, give one of us a note pad and pencil and turn the TV on to watch:
Jeopardy!!!!! With Art Fleming as host. Oh, excitement was in the air! We would keep score and you had to answer before one of the real contestants did. Of course, my mother routinely won because she just knew a lot of stuff.
But! I was now a little smarter because I had taken Earth Science, English, Reading, and U.S. History (we won’t discuss my grades) and my knowledge base had expanded. I started doing a good job giving the questions (yes, we were held to the same standard as the TV players) and making better scores.
So, we three boys are sitting on the couch and Mama was in her rocker and we are playing along (Jonathan was only 4 so his answers were random). There was a category: “Food” and man, that was something I could (pardon the pun) sink my teeth into!
Came the answer: “Insect larvae”. (Do not rush to answer!)
With my 14-year-old cracking voice I shouted “What is Pupa???!!!!”
“Oh, sorry, the correct answer is “grub”. (Remember the category was “Food” and another name for food is . . .
I believe Julian went to the floor laughing, Mama just looked at me with the “Mama” face, and said something about an “insipid idiot.”
Even now, although Mama, Daddy, and Jonathan, have passed, someone in the family will call out “Pupa!!” and all will look at me, point and laugh. So do I.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, Romans 1:22
Or as a shirt I used to have said, “Be sure to engage brain before putting mouth in gear.
"DID YOU READ IT ALL?"........ May 28, 2019
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
Before I went to Thailand, I had to go to “AZR School” which was Air Force language for “Heavy Weapons”. Yes, Mario got to use the M-16 on full auto, the M-79 Grenade Launcher, LAW (Light Antitank Weapon), M-60 Machine Gun, Mortar, 90 mm recoilless rifle (they lied, also known as a bazooka) and throw a live grenade!!!
(me, 1971 at NKP, Thailand)
Part of our training was at Camp Bullis, TX (an Army base) involved being ambushed and defending a “base” while laying behind a small bunker of sandbags. We had M-16’s, and a few bunkers with machine gun crews (firing blanks) while the “enemy” threw M-80’s at us and “whistlers”. Those were blank M-80’s so you never knew which one would explode and which would only whistle.
Regardless, when you heard that whistle you ate dirt and tried to make yourself as small as possible!
The evening would begin with 20-25 Air Force Security Police riding in a deuce-and-a-half. Some where along our journey, the “enemy” would ambush us firing their weapons making us dismount and go to cover.
(Similar to what we used both at school and at our base in Thailand)
After the instructors were satisfied we could handle an ambush, we walked through about a mile of Texas brush to the briefing site. We were warned about the snakes in the area, coral, copperhead, and rattlesnakes, and to be watchful for them.
Many years before my parents gave me a book entitled, “The Black Panther of Sivanipalli” by Kenneth Anderson, one of the last great hunters of the early 20th century. In his book he talked of walking the trails in India and how the natives would carry a stick with copper rings that as they struck the ground with the stick the rings would “ting”. The vibrations of the sticks and rings would alert snakes (usually cobras) as to the presence of someone walking and the snakes would move off of the paths.
So, as we were walking along, I would step hard on the ground with one foot or the other every so often. One of the other troops asked what I was doing and why so I told him. He shook his head in disbelief, but it didn’t stop me. And we didn’t see any snakes (at least not then – that’s a story for another day!).
What has this story got to do with anything? Well, look at the verse! “Resist the devil and he will flee.” Stomp your “spiritual” foot at him! Tell him that by the Word he is to leave!
Wait! There’s more! Too often we only read the part of the verse that we want to use. There is a qualifier! Let’s see the whole verse,
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Are you submitted to God? If the answer is yes, then when you resist the devil, he will (not “might”, “should”, “hopefully”) flee from you. So, if you’re in a battle with the enemy and don’t feel like your gaining ground, first submit yourself to God. Place yourself at His disposal, then resist the enemy.