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.
"LETTING YOUR WITNESS SPEAK FOR YOU"....... May 21, 2019
Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
One day while working for Shell Oil, we were tasked with digging out the sand that had settled in one of the oil/gas/water separators. It was hot, smelly, and dirty work. I’d fill a wheelbarrow with the sand and a young “summer hand” (typically college students on summer break working to earn money for the next year) would shift it over to a pile for the backhoe to load up and take away.
My supervisor, Tommy, knew I was a believer (I’m making a distinction because the church his wife belonged to considered themselves “Christians” but did not believe in the saving grace of Jesus or that He is coming again) but never really made a big deal of it.
As I was digging, the young man working with me started asking me questions about my faith. Instead of stopping shoveling and talking about my faith, it was as if the Spirit told me, “keep working!” so I did. As I dug up the sand and loaded the wheelbarrow, I kept sharing with the young man about my faith.
He admitted that he had gone to church as a youngster but when he got older into his teens he stopped going. As best as I could remember, I quoted from the Word to him – all the while filling up the load.
All the time, Tommy, stood, listening and watching us work. After about an hour of work, and while the hand had gone to dump a load, Tommy said to me, “As long as you keep working, you can talk to him about whatever you want.”
I never saw the young man again after that day, but I know that what I told him is what he needed to hear. And Tommy also heard the truth. The decision is theirs.
But I do know this, Tommy respected me because I did not stop working! God knew what Tommy was thinking and had I stopped, leaned on my shovel, Tommy’s respect for my faith would have been affected.
The first verse in Titus 2 says, “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.”
When given the opportunity to witness, let your witness speak for you.
"THE TELEPHONE GAME"....... May 14. 2019
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Proverbs 30:5-6
What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Deuteronomy 12:32
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6-9
I was a Field Training Officer for the Idaho Department of Corrections and as such I taught classes on communication skills. One night, with my sergeants’ approval, I did the “Telephone Game” and I called the first unit and said something like this:
“There is going to be a training next Tuesday at 8 a.m. for all male officers.” And then I instructed them to call the next unit and tell them. We had a total of 10 units that were to be notified with the last one calling me back and giving me the message.
So, ten posts, ten calls, beginning with me and ending with me. It took about
an hour for everyone to be notified and to pass along the message. The last unit called me and said something like this:
“There’s going to be training next week, not sure of the day or the time, but everyone will be notified.”
One of Bonny’s favorite programs was Little House on the Prairie and I remember an episode where Laura (title character) went to another community to teach and there was a woman in the town who was portrayed as a strong Christian.
This woman would quote from the Bible (usually a condemning word) that she carried (but never opened) and every time she did, there was just something a little off with the verse. Finally, Laura had enough and asked the woman to open the Bible at random and read from it.
She could not read! She was taking a little from this and a little from that she had heard and making her own verse to suit the situation!
Don’t let someone come to you and just tell you “The Bible says . . .” without giving you the verse and the context of what was being said. Religions have been formed based on some people’s “private” interpretations of the Bible. They will search out a Greek or Hebrew word and find the most obscure meaning and use that to create something that isn’t there.
That is why we are encouraged to read the Word ourselves and when Pastor (or our teachers) give a reference, it is a good thing to hear the pages turn!
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11
"SEEING 20/20" - Part II................. May 7, 2019
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. I Corinthians 13:12
Abram, Jacob, Saul of Tarsus, Sarai. What do these people have in common? God changed their names. It was not a whim, or an afterthought. His name change had a purpose.
Abram - "exalted father" according to Strong’s Concordance, became Abraham - "father of a multitude" (same reference book).
Jacob - "heel holder" or "supplanter" became Israel - "God prevails". All renamed with a purpose!
“but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:17 (emphasis mine)
I have mentioned before how that after I was saved, I went from being “Smitty” to “Mario”. I had a name change! I went from being a generic Smith to Mario! God allowed people to see me in a different light and when I get to Heaven, Jesus Himself is going to give me a name that only He and I will know!
Do you have a nickname? I did. My mother used to call me “Oh-ho” and it was a term she used in tender moments with me. Bonny and I have nicknames for each other, Bear and MeBear. No one else had better call her MeBear or Bear!
And when Jesus and I meet and the stone is revealed with my new name, that will be a moment to treasure forever – and it will be forever!
I have no doubt that I will be known as Mario (although Pastor Scott loves to call me “Musical Montage Mario”!) to all in the Kingdom!
How do you want to be known as?
"SEEING 20/20" - Part 1......................... April 30, 2019
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. I Corinthians 13:12
We were enjoying a church picnic and several of us were playing volleyball. I enjoy the game and we were all having fun and then Pastor Al came in to play. He consistently missed the ball, every, single time. Of course, we began to laugh and purposely sent the ball his way. He would miss and we would laugh and tease him.
Finally, he stopped and said, “I just got new glasses, they’re bifocals! All I can see is big hands, little hands, big ball, little ball, big hands, little hands, big ball, little ball! I don’t know which ball to hit with which set of hands!”
We all, including Pastor, got a good laugh out of that and having worn bifocals for a short period of time I can empathize with him.
I have written before about being so near sighted I was virtually blind. This verse from Paul, who suffered from near blindness (according to his own
testimony) gives us something to think about. We view things through our physical eyes and we do not always see clearly.
“Since the 1990s, when DNA testing was first introduced, Innocence Project researchers have reported that 73 percent of the 239 convictions overturned through DNA testing were based on eyewitness testimony.” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-the-eyes-have-it/ 2010
Wow! That, means 174 of these 239 convictions were overturned – in spite of eyewitness reports, sometimes 2 or more witnesses testifying!
Our own eyes can mislead us! Indeed we “see through a glass, darkly:” It is a reflection in a brass (which was commonly used as a mirror) mirror, and that is poor. There are imperfections, dimples in the brass, scratches and such on the surface so that what is seen is not a good representation.
That is why we must study the Word itself! Let the Word be reflected in us as it is the true reflection of God! And pray that the world would see Jesus reflected in us!
Next week Part II!
“I’M SO GLAD I’M A PART OF THE FAMILY OF GOD”......... April 23, 2019
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
I John 3:2
The song says,
“I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
Born of the Spirit, washed in His blood.
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel along,
I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God”
(credit to Bill Gaither)
Shortly before getting married to Bonny I was at church one evening with something cute yet true was asked. The church was a family church with most of the people belonging to it being related to each other.
Consequently, people were, “Uncle Brother So-and-So” or “Aunt Sister So-and-So”. Even though I wasn’t related to anyone in the church, I became “Uncle Brother Mario”.
So, this one evening, one of the young ones turned to their parents and said, “When Uncle Brother Mario marries Aunt Sister Bonny, is he still going to be ‘Uncle Brother Mario’?”
We all got a chuckle out of that, but knowing the relationship we, Born Again Believers, have with Christ, we are family! And as Revelation says we all will receive a new name! (Yup! There’s an old Gospel hymn I know – “There’s a new name written down in Glory! And it’s mine! Oh yes it’s mine!”)
Other songs we sang when I first fellowshipped with believers are:
“God is my Father and Jesus is my Brother
and the Blessed Holy Spirit is my guide.
The devil’s no relation, cuz I’m a new creation,
I’m a member of the family in the sky!”
“Now it can be just anywhere Two or three are gathered there
That the spirit of the Lord will be there too.
There's no fellowship so sweet There's no thrill that can compete
With the thrill I feel whenever God's children meet.
I love the thrill that I feel when I get together with God’s wonderful people!
I love the thrill that I feel when I get together with God’s wonderful people!
What a sight just to see all the happy faces, Praising God in heavenly places
What a thrill that I feel when I get together with God's wonderful people!”
Our status in this world, whether we change jobs, get married, go to school, graduate from school, retire, does not change our standing in the Family of God!
Uncle Brother Mario!
“THE GIFT OF WORSHIP”................. April 16, 2019
Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 150
My Brother in Christ, John Bickett, sent me the “book” we used to sing all the choruses at our church, Zaragoza Baptist Church, in the early 70’s. He also sent the cassette tapes that I am transferring to CD so that I can once again listen to my Brothers, Ken Davidson and John singing them.
As I began to read the songs we sang, “Let’s go up to Zion”, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” and scripture songs, Psalm 100, Psalm 48: 1-2, Psalm 19:1-11 and many others, my mind traveled back in time.
There we were, young, (for the most of us) newly saved, and enjoying our fellowship and our fellowship in worship. Guitars and voices, that was what we had and we made a “joyful noise” unto the Lord.
Even today, if you have read my stories, you see how I write about those songs and the impact they had on me.
Think about what the author of this Psalm is saying to us today (there is no clear evidence that it was King David, just that it was included in the Book of Psalms). The author is calling for all believers to praise the Lord! For any and everything that breathes to Praise the Lord!
"WHISPERS"................................... April 9, 2019
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman,
Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your
eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 1:1-5
The whispers of the enemy. Designed to lead us away and astray from God and designed to appear to grant us something
we didn’t know we wanted.
In the corrections academy we watched scenarios played out for us so that we could understand how inmates could help
an officer compromise. As my friend and I were the only ones in this academy class that would be assigned to the men and women’s prison in Orofino, he was called up the stage to be a part of the example.
One of our trainers was a nice-looking woman and as my friend approached her, she just said, “Good morning officer.”
in a pleasant voice. Next time as he got close to her she said, in a friendly manner and a nice smile, “Hi Officer ______!
How are you?”
By now the class was beginning to see the progression and began to chuckle. Then the 3rd time she approached him,
with a broad smile and as she greeted him, she brushed off a piece of lint (imaginary) from his shoulder. “Here, let me get
that lint off of you.”
Finally, because he had been instructed not to react or respond to her or her advances in the previous scenes, this time as
she got close to him she put her arms on his shoulders and gazed (adoringly) into his eyes with a “Good morning ____” using his first name.
I have spoken before of compromise and how it leads into all kinds of problems and here in this demonstration a person
of integrity can get sucked in and the next thing you know . . .
That is what the enemy does to us! He whispers things that sound pleasing or that massage the ego. We must learn how
to detect those things so that we do not compromise! Train ourselves to see the wiles of the enemy!
That is why Paul says in Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles
of the devil.
Take a read through Ephesians 6 again – just for a reminder!
“I KNOW WHAT TO DO”..... April 2, 2019
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Matthew 28:19
Pastor Roger was speaking at church and he talked about Christians just sitting in the seats/pews/chairs and not doing anything. I thought of the song “I’d Love to Change the World (but I don’t know what to do)” by the group “Ten Years After”.
In college we had Wednesday Interaction Time or simply “WIT” when there were announcements of upcoming events and sometimes skits. One day George (late 30’s) is walking across the front of the platform passing by a small group of students. Suddenly he grabbed his chest and collapsed to the floor.
Every one in the group was very concerned and stood around wondering if they should call 911 or calling for help. They did not know what to do.
From the back of our auditorium we heard, “I know what to do! I know what to do!”. It was George’s wife, Linda, and she went running to the front knelt down beside George and gave him “the kiss of life” and demonstrated CPR.
Of course, we knew it was a skit and the folks were there to encourage us to go to a session where CPR was going to be taught. And many of us still laugh and talk about Linda and “I know what to do!”
But facts are that many people do NOT know what to do when someone collapses in front of them. And it is also true in Christianity. Most Christians have never led someone to Christ and many times it is because they feel embarrassed or inadequate.
“I don’t know any verses. I don’t know what to say to them.”
When Paul talked with the Jews, he used the Old Testament – as that is the only thing that was written down. There was no New Testament. He couldn’t tell the people at Corinth, “Well, if you’d look and see what I told Ephesus in their letter.” Or “Check with Timothy and get a copy of what I wrote him.”
No, several times Paul spoke of that moment of transformation when Christ changed him and he talked of that change in his letters. So, what do you know? Has Jesus changed you?
That is something else Pastor Roger told us, Jesus Christ changes people! He makes them better than the person they were, if they allow Him.
Think about this, why do people call me Musical Montage Mario? Because God has put music in my heart and I know a song to fit the occasion! You don’t have to know the address of a verse, you just have to know what the verse says!
You can tell people who you were before salvation and who you are now that Christ changed you! Cardboard testimony! This is who I was and this is who I am because of Jesus!
Do we want to change the world?
Then Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Matthew 28:19
"TO BRING A SMILE TO YOU"............ March 26, 2019
Bonny and I were the pastors of a small country church in rural Idaho. There were about 20 members and Sunday mornings we usually saw 10-15 people. One of the church deacons was a WWII Veteran and very proud of his Swedish heritage.His wife of 50+ years was a natural red head that played the piano for worship and was given to laughing very loudly.
They would sit one row back from the front and because they had hearing issues, what they thought was a whisper most of the church could hear. And some of it was really funny!
In those days, before the marvel of “cut and paste”, I would type out the verses I was going to use in my sermons along with notes to follow. I do have neuropathy in both hands but I can’t always blame my typing errors on that!
I was teaching on the duties of a deacon and had the verse from I Timothy 3:8 “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;”. Unfortunately, I read exactly what I wrote: “. . . not given to much WIND”.
People started to chuckle and then “Swede” (as we lovingly referred to him) whispered to Red, “Ya chure! The deacon shouldn’t be too windy!” That brought down the house!
My Sister had lost her husband and when I found out I called her. I told the church (same little country church) that I called her and that she talked straight for 45 minutes at 100 miles an hour and hardly ever took a breath.
Swede, again in that stage whisper, said to Red, “Ya chure! Sounds like it runs in the family!” Ha-ha, Swede, haha.
Feel free to laugh, I did!
"GOSSIP THE GOSPEL"........................ March 19, 2019
and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing
that is in us for the sake of Christ. Philemon 1:6
One of my teachers at Bible College used to tell us that – “Gossip the Gospel”. How many times when we are out somewhere with other Christians, we can get excited about our favorite sports team, or what is going on at work. We laugh, give fist bumps, and high fives, yet when we start talking about Jesus, we get quiet because we don’t want to offend. Well . . .
I shared last week about our friends flying into Las Vegas and how we were going to meet when they got here. Well, we got to the restaurant and there was another young couple at the table with our friends.
At first, I thought it must have been family members who came out to join them, but I was wrong. Boy was I wrong!
The couple had arrived on the same plane our friends were on and actually sat in front of them. Some how someone said something about Jesus . . . and THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES!!!
Our “new” friends are members of a Baptist Church in Atlanta and the husband is one of the church deacons. On top of that, he was raised in Seattle, where Bonny spent most of her early life up to leaving for college in Oregon! There was a point of commonality! That is where relationships can begin!
As the six of us sat around the table talking, we weren’t just talking about the weather, sports, or things like that. We began sharing the Word with each other! And if you know me, the more I talk the more animated and loud I become! And it was matched by the other’s enthusiasm and joy in the Lord!
All of the waitstaff, other customers, and passersby were witness to our witness! We spoke of what Jesus had done and was doing in our lives. We bumped fists over the Word, we talked of the old hymns and how our new friend’s pastor loves to sing them when he is preaching (Hmmmm. Sound like someone you know?).
All followed up with our whole table saying, “God is Good! All the time! And all the time God is Good!
“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” Psalm 34:8
"Another “No Coincidence”".......................... March 12, 2019
In early 2017, Bonny and I were enjoying breakfast at a favorite restaurant. It was getting toward the end of our meal when a handsome couple came in only to be greeted by almost every member of the staff. They were all hugging, kissing the couple on the cheek, shaking hands – including our waiter.
I asked him if they were part owners in the restaurant and wondered who they were (movie stars? Music icons?)
They were a couple who just enjoyed the restaurant and came here (Las Vegas) often (from Georgia).
They had heard us talking about celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary in 2018. The lady, Miss R. asked the waiter if she could meet us and our waiter introduced us to them and she got up and hugged Bonny and said, “I want to pray for you!” And a relationship was born!
What did we have in common? A relationship with Jesus Christ and through that our friendship has grown and g