Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Power of a Problem


God designed life so that every problem we face comes power packed with the potential to strengthen us and make us more like Him. God does not bring us problems such as: temptations; tests; trials or tribulations, they come from any number of other places. Nonetheless God is committed not only to comfort His children but also to increase their strength and substance so that the more they are mistreated by this world, the more potential they have to multiply and grow. It is a law of God.

So many times when we encounter problems we never stop to imagine the potential resident in that problem. The potential begins to be realized when we invite God into our problem. He helps us to find victory in the midst of the problem, even before we gain victory over the problem. And, many times we must embrace victory in the situation before we can fully experience victory over the situation.

Problems come power packed with potential. Today we are going to discover how to unleash the power of our problems and turn our trials into testimonies.

Even when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death God prepares a table for you in the presence of your enemies and He also commands goodness and mercy to follow you everywhere you go. We don’t always recognize His promise of provision and the potential in the valley because we get so focused on the problems in the valley.

James, one of the younger half brothers of Jesus, (James being the son of both Joseph and Mary), became the Senior Pastor of the first Church. James was given the responsibility of leading the Apostles, Elders, Deacons and congregation members through those difficult early years of great persecution in Jerusalem. Problems abounded and trouble seemed on every side. Neither the Jews nor the Roman government had much tolerance for these new followers of Jesus. Persecutions and executions were commonly dealt to the Believer along with all manner of temptation which the devil brought during those days.

In efforts to help the Believer focus on the potential and not focus on the problem, Pastor James writes:

James 1
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Pastor James reveals two key elements to unlocking the potential which is resident in temptations, afflictions, trials, persecutions and tribulations. He gave us two factors which turn trials into testimonies are:

1. Trust (faith)
2. Time (patience)

If you are in the middle of a temptation, you can turn that trial into a testimony by discovering and releasing the potential in that problem. You don’t have to be a victim, you can be victorious – even over death, hell and the grave – how much more over the temporal afflictions of this life.

At times it’s hard to imagine a testimony when you are facing a trial.

However, God inspired James to teach us how to walk through difficult places without being defeated by those difficulties.

Every testimony was at one time a trial.

(Room for a personal testimony of faith and patience – trust and time – turning your trial into a testimony – Barrenness; Loveless; Loss)

It is our trust in God which holds us steady on course during the time we are going through some things we do not want, in order to get to some things we do want. Our trust in God enables us to maintain focus on the promise and not the problem. Trust in God gives time to discover the potential and release the power. When we trust God He turns our trials into testimonies.

This was true for Noah, it was true for Job, it was true for Moses and Esther, Rahab and David, it was true for Paul and true for Jesus, and it is true for me and true for you as well.

Trust and time turns our trials into testimonies.

Hebrews 10:36 For you have need of patience, that after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.

Hebrews 6:12 That you be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Psalms 27:13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

There is potential in the problem you face; a testimony hidden in your trial; potential yet undiscovered in the pressures of life; there is victory in your valley. Trust God, invite Him into your problem and be patient. Give Him the time He requires to complete His work in you and on you so He can work for you and through you.

Do you need faith or patience? They are both fruits of the Holy Spirit. These fruits grow quickly and abundantly in the hearts and minds of those who spend time in the Word, Worship and Fellowship of God.

Don’t let the devil convince you that you are a victim or that you’re all alone in your trouble. Reach out to God and to others and keep yourself involved in life, work, family and the Church. God wants to insulate you, it’s the devil who wants to isolate you. Invite God into your problem.

Perhaps God is speaking to some of you right now. You need to turn your problem over to God and trust Him with the outcome. Believe me, no matter how bad it may be right now, you can make it worse. The only thing you need to add to your problems is God … He can make something good out of anything you give Him … even you.

The journey to turning your trials into testimonies begins with the first step. That step may just lead you right down here to the altar. Let’s pray!

Friday, October 29, 2010



Romans 12
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

This past week Brenda and I took a mini vacation. It began with a visit to our Daughter’s so we could babysit four of our grandchildren while she and her husband worked a booth at Ft Hood’s October Fest celebration. Our son-in-law is one of the commanders over law and order on Ft Hood. One of the areas under his command is K-9 – the patrol and special use dog programs for both Ft Hood and it’s deployments to other theaters of operation including Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and such.

Since my initial military career was in the Law Enforcement, I identify somewhat with the job he is doing. Many people don’t realize that a military installation is in many ways like a big city. Whatever you find in a large city anywhere in the world, you find on post.

Does Houston have waste management – so does each post. Does NYC have banks, hotels and places to eat – so do military bases. Does the city of London have shopping centers and residential areas – so do military installations. Does Tokyo have airports, apartment complexes, public transport, schools, parks, convenience stores and hospitals – so does the military.

They have fire departments, water departments, landfills, libraries, street workers and street walkers, drug stores and drug dealers, liquor stores and people who are all liquored up, banks and bank robberies, doctors, lawyers, ditch diggers, sports complexes and car dealerships, fast food chains and hardware stores where you buy your own chains. And on top of all of that, they have a whole lot of people living on many posts who are completely dependent and self sufficient on that post.

The last military installation I was assigned to and lived and worked on was Kirkland Air Force Base south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It covered 52,500 square acres and employed 20,000 people, plus another 5000 military personnel assigned to the base with their families and then added to the daily grind were all the visitors coming on and off the base attending meetings, working as contractors, going to the movies, visiting museums, friends, family, eating lunch, attending university and concerts and air shows and so on and so forth.

To compare a city the size of approximately 53,000 acres: Nederland covers 5.7 square miles which is about 3600 acres. The City of Beaumont has a total area of 85.9 square miles, which is equivalent to almost 54,000 acres, or about the size of KAFB. So, as you can imagine, a lot goes on from day to day on a military base of that size.

I remember the night and early morning of March 6th and 7th, in 1979. My son, Ashley, was born on the morning of March 6 and that evening at 11pm I was scheduled to go to work. I was the supervisor in charge of the night shift patrol for the base police force on KAFB. I had been working outside of my career field for the few years prior and had only been back in law enforcement for about 3 months, ever since returning from a special assignment in Europe. Brenda had just delivered our son and she was going to sleep most of the night anyway; all was well with our new baby boy and April was with already asleep at our neighbors. There was no reason for me to just sit around the house alone so, I stuck to my schedule and went to work.

At about 1:30 in the morning I heard my dispatcher send a patrol car to an address in response to an emergency phone call. It seems that a neighbor was hearing screams but she didn’t know from exactly which house the screams were coming. The officer who was dispatched was a new guy fresh from Hickham AFB, Hawaii. Since I was his supervisor I thought I’d better drive on over to the area and observe how he handled the situation and be on scene if needed.

When I pulled onto the street, he was driving through the neighborhood looking for the house of the caller, which I found first. I got out of my car with my radio in hand and I radioed him the address. He circled, pulled up and got out. I told him to go ahead and check with the caller while I looked around. There were porch lights on at several of the houses on the block but nothing seemed out of the ordinary for that time of morning. I walked down in front of a few houses and crossed the street and started up the other side when suddenly I heard a loud, terrifying scream coming from a house I had just passed.

I radioed the address and asked for backup without acknowledgment, turned the radio down to silence, and pulled my gun while running to position myself just out of light by the front door. Just as I got there I heard the scream again – it was a woman and she screamed like someone being tortured. I decided not to wait for backup but to go on in. I reached around and put my hand on the storm door’s handle - the main door was wide open but the storm door was locked. I would have to position myself in front of the door, under the porch light to get the grip I needed to try and force the door open. It was not the safest move, but what else could I do.

Just as I moved in front of the door, under the illumination of the porch light, wondering where my backup was, a giant German Shepherd dog jumped up from inside the house and hit the storm door and started barking like he was going to tear me apart. It startled me and scared me so bad. But, that seemed to be just what I needed to make my adrenaline sufficient for me to twist that handle and break the lock on the door. But now, instead of trying to get in the door, I found myself trying to keep the dog from getting out.

With that huge dog jumping every two seconds and hitting the door I was instinctively pushing against the door, holding it shut to keep that barking, growling, snarling dog from getting to me. Then … the screams came again. I had to go in and I didn’t know but one thing to do … nope, I didn’t shoot the dog … I prayed.

I asked God to not let that dog bite me and while I was quickly mouthing that prayer, I made the mistake of looking up and I looked right into that porch light … it blinded me at the very second I had psyched myself up to open the door, bust in, face the dog, and rescue the screamer.

As a result of being blinded by the light, I kind of stumbled in the door into what I found later to be the living room. The lights were off in the whole house and I couldn’t see anything. To top it off, the dog was now jumping on me and barking in my ear. I could feel his wet nose and slobbery lips on my neck, face, ears and even in my hair as he butted my legs and frantically jumped up all around me trying to knock me down and bite me.
I know it was only a few seconds but it seemed much longer until I got focused on the darkness and felt my way to a hallway leading to the back of the house. Unfortunately I left my flashlight in the car when I got out with my radio in hand. Except for the dog barking incessantly, the house was stone quiet. I felt my way down the hall and into a bedroom with my gun in one hand and my radio in the other. I was listening intently trying to discern anything. Did the intruders have guns or knives or ball bats … I was blindly ready for anything – or so I thought.

I hadn’t found a light switch and was about three steps into the bedroom when all of the sudden someone in the dark, right in front of me threw their arms around me and penned my arms to my side and squeezed me with all their might. All in a nanosecond I felt long hair brush against my face and a deep inhale from the skinny squeezer, and then the most blood curdling scream I have ever heard went piercing through me from lips that were so close they were touching my ear. Believe me, it was scary … perhaps the most scared I have ever been in my life – and I’ve run with the bulls in Pamplona.

Then just as suddenly, the arms released and she fell on the floor as if someone had shot her. I pulled my revolver up and steadied and readied myself to shoot anything that moved. Then slowly, still trying to see and half scared out of my wits, I squatted down, put my radio on the floor and started feeling around to see if she was still breathing and if I could find any wound or blood.

I wondered who else was in the house as I found this girl still breathing but completely unclothed. I shook her and spoke to her and tried to get her to respond but she appeared to be unconscious. With the dog still barking and trying to bite me, I got my radio and slipped both hands under the girl’s body and picked her up. I started back down the hallway and into the living room.

As I was walking the dog hit me in the back with his feet about the time both of my legs hit a coffee table just below my knees. With gun and radio in hand and an unconscious, unclad, skinny 17 year old girl in my arms, I fell across that coffee table like a plank. The girl landed on the couch with my arms penned underneath her, my face in her stomach, and my knees on a slightly elevated coffee table. I was helplessly trapped as if cemented in that position.

At that very instant she came to life and with one swift sweeping move she got me in a headlock with both arms and tightened her grip so that in a flash her mouth was right back on my ear where once again she let out the most frightening scream a person can imagine. It went on and on and on until she fell unconscious again.

While I was trying to wiggle myself out of that situation, the dog ran from where he was jumping back and forth over the couch, to the front door. The other patrolman was at the door and found that he too was motivated to hold the door shut in fear of being eaten alive by the dog. I called out to him to radio for more backup and an ambulance and come in and help me. I heard him radio my request and I heard the response from the dispatcher.

Have you ever met someone who wanted to know everything before they would do anything? Well, the dispatcher that night was one of those kinds of people. He wanted information, more questions than we had time for. I finally wiggled loose while the two were arguing about whether or not an ambulance and more backup was necessary.

I was positioned on my knees between the coffee table and the couch when I turned my radio back up and demanded the dispatcher obey my orders – he responded with a question as to what the nature of the emergency was. At that time she came alive once more and grabbed for me, I was ready this time and put the radio in her face, pushed the transmit button, and just let her long blood curdling scream go out over the radio until she stopped and started whimpering and gasping. I followed up by telling the dispatcher, “That’s why I need an ambulance and more backup!”

The other patrolman had still not gotten up the courage to come inside and we still had to sweep the house for intruders or other victims. I got up, got the dog by the collar while I found a light. I put the dog into a closet and grabbed a coat and covered the girl. By then she was awake but not fully alert. Backup arrived before the ambulance and they checked the house while I stayed with the girl. They found the house empty and nothing else out of the ordinary. One of the patrolmen had training as a dog handler and I gave him the responsibility of the dog. I don’t know what he did but that was no longer my problem.

When the ambulance arrived the girl would not let go of me. All while they checked her out she clung to me and would almost loose it and begin to hyper ventilate and I would talk to her and calm her down. It was spooky … she would look into my eyes as if she was looking right through me.

They finally pulled her away, loaded her up and took her to the hospital. As they were putting her into the ambulance she lost it again and really freaked the ambulance guys out. That was the first time they heard her really cut loose – it was a good thing they had her strapped.

I went by the hospital to get more information for my report. Then I went up to see Brenda and check on our new son. A couple of weeks later Brenda and I were out and about, doing some shopping on base, when we ran into this young girl. I had told Brenda about the incident that night and was glad to see that this girl seemed to be doing much better now. Much to my surprise the girl recognized me and thanked me for helping her.

I told her that I had checked with the investigation but there was nothing in the report that told what caused her to behave like she did. She told me that she had taken a part time job at a local mental hospital in Albuquerque that specialized in training psychologist. She said her job entailed reading the case history of a mental patient and then acting out that patient’s problems so that others might attempt to diagnose the mental condition.

She went on to tell me that she had noticed that the more she got into the character of another person and acted out their mental illness, the more she found herself being drawn into that very same condition without her will. And, that particular night she had lost herself in the case history she was reading about a woman who had gone crazy and had killed her parents and siblings with a knife while they slept.

While I listened to her story I knew that it was not just a coincidence that I had been the one who responded that night and neither was it a coincidence that Brenda and I just happened to run into her while shopping. I felt destiny at work in my life to save this girl from certain disaster.

You see Brenda and I had been attending a discipleship course at our church and one of the subjects I had been studying with my pastor was the power of the mind. I knew that God had prepared me to speak to this situation with all boldness and all authority. I had the answer. Remember:
Romans 12
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Well, it works in reverse too:

Romans 6
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

I told that young girl that she had opened her mind and her life up to the devil and mental illness and that whatever you open your mind to, you are open to. I told her that the devil was real and that she had yielded herself to him and his power over her mind and body. I commanded her, according to Acts 17:30, to repent, which she did.

Acts 17
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent:

The Lord gave me several more opportunities to meet with her over the following couple of months wherein I took the time to teach her what I had been learning about the power of God’s Word to renew the mind. I was honorably discharged in June of that year and Brenda and I, along with our two children, moved back home to Texas.

I have often thought of that experience as an important point in my personal discipleship in Christ. There are three significant life lessons I learned as a result of that encounter.

1. If you yield, you will serve. (Yield only to God’s will for your life.)

2. Prayer works. (Even quick ones and quiet ones are heard by God.)

3. The dark is a more dangerous place for those who have seen the light. (Don’t go stumbling in the dark. If you must venture there to rescue some poor soul … don’t forget your flashlight)

Psalms 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rooting for Success

If you have your Bibles you can open to Galatians 5:22 as we will be reading our key scripture from there this morning. I love funny things, so I have a joke I’d like to share with you today. A man goes to a psychiatrist and tells him that after being on a diet for 2 days he is convinced he is obsessed with food and everything he sees reminds him of food.

Perplexed, the doctor decides to test him and see if he can find the root of the man’s problem, so the doctor draws pictures of random things like a car, tree, house, and beach, then shows them to the man and asks, “What do you see?” Picture after picture, it’s the same thing; food, food, food! The Psychiatrist rubs his head and says “you’re right, you ARE obsessed with food” to which the patient replies, “Well you’re the one drawing all the delicious pictures!” I don’t know how that applies this morning, but I love jokes. Have you found Galatians 5? Let’s read it.

Galatians 5:22-23 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us; the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (NLT)

I have been studying the Word of God for years and have come to the conclusion that it is true. Even with that, I have struggled with understanding that if God’s word is true, why do many of us Christians live less than victorious lives in our relationships, finances, and health? After going to God, reading, and listening to others a lot smarter than me, I’ve come to the conclusion that we root ourselves in things that don’t feed us Godly principles, and in doing so produce fruit in our lives that is less than what God has for us. If we are going to have successful, victorious lives we are going to have to pay attention to the root of our lives. Here is another way of looking at it.

Two years ago my wife went to the emergency room with horrible pains in her side. We did CT scans, Ultrasounds, blood work, the whole nine yards, but they couldn’t find the problem and guessed it was an URI. After weeks of talking with professionals, friends, and searching through Google we realized she had gallstones. The doctor’s solution was to have surgery and remove the gallbladder. This was scary for us both. So we did what any Christians would do, we prayed for healing. God was doing something in our hearts, but we couldn’t figure out what. All we knew was that we didn’t have a peace about surgery. So I read and studied for weeks on what causes Gallstones, how to remove them, and how to prevent them from forming and returning. When we eat things with fat in them like oil, the body can’t process and use it. Is doesn’t have a real purpose for it, so the liver makes a liquid called bile. That bile is sent to the gallbladder where it is stored until it is needed. When we eat a fatty meal, the gallbladder contracts and releases bile into the small intestines. The bile is a salt and acts as an emulsifier binding a water molecule with an oil molecule together forming a jelly like substance so the body can absorb some of it. This is where we get most of our cholesterol from. So, gallstones form when fat in the liver stays and gets coated with bile like an M&M then passes to the gallbladder, where it stays for years and years hardening. Only about 20% of people, who have gallstones, actually have an attack where one or more of the stones breaks free of the gallbladder and gets stuck in one of the tubes that connect the Liver/Gallbladder/small intestines together. The liver continues to produce bile, but the gallbladder becomes like a balloon and the tube dilates causing horrible pain in the right side, under the ribs and around to the back. Hopefully, the stone will pass, but sometimes it doesn’t and it becomes life threatening. Well, 1/3 of my wife’s GB had stones in it. She was scared, I was scared, but we knew that God had His hand on her. One morning I heard God’s voice that it would be ok, so I began to encourage my wife that she didn’t need surgery, she needed a life change. She changed her diet to zero fat, and began a natural way of flushing the stones out. For the next year, we struggled with GB attacks, doctors, fear, and others all pushing her to have the surgery, but God wouldn’t release us from it. He had something he wanted us/her to learn. I would sit beside the bed and cry out to God all night sometimes as she would lie there, trying to endure the pain of a stone obstruction. God was in it though, and this past April marks the 1st year of her being stone free. You see, God wanted more than just the symptoms addressed. He wanted the problem fixed. The problem was her high fat diet. The gallstones were only a symptom. If she would have had her GB removed, she would have never changed her diet/lifestyle, which would have served her more problems in her future with high blood pressure and things like diabetes and High cholesterol and even heart disease.

If we don’t take the time to look at the root of the problem, we only are ever treating the symptoms only for them to show up in other areas in our lives.

So, I’ve said all of that to say this: We can know where we are rooted, by looking at the fruit. If you don’t have the fruit of love, joy, peace, etc… then you probably are seeing some different fruit like hatred, jealousy, anger, selfish ambition, envy…
How are we going to get rooted in the right place, where our fruits will be those of the spirit? I’m glad you asked. It is simple. First, we have to deal with the root of the current fruits in our lives.

Your Spirit should control your mind, your mind will control your tongue and your tongue will shape your destiny.

Some years ago, my wife and I had our first son, Boaz. Most of you know him as Luke, but that’s story for another time. He was the hardest baby we’d ever seen or even heard of. He would scream and cry for 18 to 20 hours a day. For 6 months of his life it was hell. During this, my poor wife almost went crazy. She couldn’t sleep, eat or even have a bath without a constant fear or reality of him screaming. If he was asleep, the whole house shut down. No one in or out, no talking, no TV, no playing, the phones were turned off. It was horrible. He was horrible. But my wife heard a story from my grandmother about my dad who was born addicted to valium and would scream until he passed out and how she never said anything but good things about him, and would tell him he was a good boy. Well, this changed the way TK thought and spoke about Luke. And do you know what, things changed! Today, ask anybody about our son Luke and they will tell you, he is a great boy. Sweat and soft spoken. He gets that from me of course.
You see, your tongue has the power to change things. One of my life’s confessions is Romans 8:39, “I cannot be conquered, I cannot be defeated”. The Bible says you will have whatever you confess. In the beginning was the Word. Jesus was, is, and will always be the Word of God. The Word rewrote destiny for us. We were heading for destruction and now we are bound for glory. Your words whether good or bad will show where you are rooted and will shape the fruit of your life. From salvation to promotions, from relationships to healing, life and death are in the power of the tongue. If we are going to be able to control what we say, we will have to go back to the source, our will to let our spirit have control of our thoughts, words, and actions. How can we strengthen our spirit man?


If you will do this, your spirit will grow stronger and stronger, your flesh will grow weaker, your thoughts will change, what you say will conform to the word you will be rooted in Christ.
So how does one know if they are rooted in Christ? What are you thinking, feeling and saying? Look at the fruit of your life.
We have to deal with the root first. Pruning the fruit is not enough. What happens to a tree that is pruned? It grows back with new branches, but the same old fruit. The same thing is true in our lives. If someone has a problem with anger and it shows up in their marriage, often times they end up getting a divorce, but just because they’ve stopped being mean to their spouse, they have not dealt with the root.

1. Identify the Root
Look at your Fruit to know your Root. What are the things in my life that don’t line up with the word of God? Why? It almost always comes down to one thing, selfishness. Pride, greed, jealousy, rage, bitterness are all fruits of the flesh which exposes the root of selfishness in one’s life. The root of the problem most of the time is not your boss, coworker, friend, enemy, or spouse… the root is often times you. No one can make you feel something. You always choose how you feel. If someone punched you in the face, what would you feel? It’s your choice! What did Jesus feel on the cross as he looked at those who mocked and beat Him? I think the words were “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

2. Sever the Root
Deal with the root first using the sword of the spirit. The Word of God will cut through the roots of selfishness. The great thing about it is you can start anywhere in the Bible and the Word will begin to cut on the root of your life causing a softening of the heart and an openness to change.

3. Prune the Fruit
Start dealing with the issues where the fruit is showing itself. Being angry at your spouse, being impatient with your children, or being bitter with your job are all fruits of being rooted in the flesh.

• It’s not what you go through, but how you go through it
So often we focus on the problem instead of the solution. God wants you to have peace, joy and hope even during the hardest times of our lives. We can do this by getting close to God through prayer and reading His word. There have been many times in my life that I could have been upset or angry with the things that were happening.
Once, Traci and I were coming back from my parent’s house with the kids for a family night. As we almost got home I ran over a bolt which sank deep into my tire. I knew if I didn’t get it fixed that night, I would have much more trouble in the morning. I dropped the family off and told Traci not to be upset because what was a surprise to us was a plan to God. I drove off and prayed, telling God I was ready and willing for whatever He wanted done. I called several places, but all were closed. I tried Sears and they were opened for 40 more minutes. I barely made it with the flattening tire. I talked with a pleasant woman in her 50s at the auto shop and they would be able to patch it. I decided to go look at TVs because we were in the market for a new one. I milled around there for a few minutes, but felt compelled to go back to the auto department. As I began to talk with this woman, I quickly realized why I was there. She started opening up to me about her children and their lives. She told me about her two sons and their daughter and how they were raised in a Christian home, taught right, and about what they were doing now. When she got to her youngest son, her demeanor changed. She said he was her favorite kid. He was smart and funny. Had been in the Air Force, lived around the world and had had a good life. She was talking about him as though he was dead. She continued by saying he’d gotten a girlfriend who was also in the Air Force. The girlfriend had a 6 year old daughter to whom he had become a father. The girlfriend had gotten a remote assignment to Guam and need someone to take her daughter, so this young man, being engaged to the girlfriend, took her in and was a great parent to this little for a year. When the girlfriend returned from duty, she had found another man while gone broke off the engagement, took her daughter back and left. This hurt this lady’s son very badly. He got out of the military and moved to Florida. He found another and got married, starting life over. The girlfriend started calling him trying to get back together, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with her. She became angry and decided if she couldn’t have him no one would. She called the police and told them some very horrible and untrue things about what he did to her daughter while she was gone to Guam. So they arrested him, brought him back to Mississippi, and tried him. He didn’t have any money for a lawyer, and the state appointed one was great friends with the DA who wanted to be elected and needed some good wins for publicity. His lawyer, in spite of the lack of evidence and witnesses, from teachers to commanders, got him to plead guilty for a lesser sentence. You see, he was black and the attorney convinced him he didn’t stand a chance of winning being Mississippi and being black. He got 50 years and his wife left him.
Now God had me there for a reason. It wasn’t to make a judgment either way, or to say how sad. I was there because God wanted to minister to this mother’s broken heart, which He did. She hadn’t seen her son since the trial five years ago and has been praying for him every day since.
This all started with a bolt in my tire and a feeling that this may not be about me. How often times do we make life about us. I could have fussed and complained, not done anything about it, or something worse, not had a smile on my face and the love of Jesus went I met this woman. If I’d been rooted in selfishness, I would have not been able to minster to this mother who disparately needed to know that God heard her cry and loved her.
How many people today would say, I see some of the fruits in my life and I’m not happy with them? Here is your chance to change them. God is going to sever some roots of the flesh today. Who would like to be transplanted spiritually and begin developing the fruits of the spirit? It’s easy. You just have to ask. Bow your heads and agree with me as I pray over you.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It’s Easy


To get ahead this morning, you may wish to turn in your Bibles to the book of Numbers, Chapter 13. Allow me to set the stage while you turn …

You know, I have been conditioned to believe that most things in life are easy. For the past 40 years Brenda has told me that something is wrong with me because I always think most things are easy. Without regard as to what we want, need or attempt to do, I almost always see it as easy. Sure it might take a lot of work, money and time, but that’s easy. After all, I have a partner in life and His name is God.

God made us all different and He made me to believe things are easy. And what if we encounter something that is truly hard, as sometimes we do? God will still see us through – however we should not allow one truly hard thing we encounter in life to make everything else we encounter in life hard as well.

Come on now … if anyone has ever done it before, you can do it. You might not want to, you may wish you didn’t have to, but come on now, you can do it. Especially when you don’t have a choice! You just:
• Take what you have
• Start where you are
• Do the very best you can one step, one day at a time.

How could it get any easier than that?

Now as I said, you may not get to choose what you go through but if it is a must, you may as well not make it any harder on yourself or on others than it already has to be. And a big part of making tough things easier is your attitude; how you see things and how you continue to present them to yourself and to others in the process. So, I have always reasoned that if I have to do it anyway, I may as well make it as easy and as enjoyable as possible.

Have you ever been around someone who sees everything in life, or life itself, as being hard; someone who makes things seem worse or more difficult than they have to be? People who borrow trouble which they are never going to experience … drama kings or drama queens. These people can be a real drain on your energy, especially when you are facing one of those critical battles in life in which you really need all your strength to win.

Well, this brings us to our Bible story for today. Have you found Numbers 13 yet?

Between 1450 and 1500 years before Jesus was born, God sent the 80 year old Moses and his brother Aaron to command Pharaoh to release the Children of Israel from their captivity. God wanted them to return to the land He had promised to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. At first Pharaoh refused but finally agreed after encountering the 10 plagues which God brought through Moses upon the land and the people of Egypt.

A simple reading of the Bible gives us to understand that approximately 600,000 Israelite men, along with their families, crossed the Red Sea and went out into the wilderness on their way to the Land of Canaan. They were fed and sheltered by heaven’s own hand as they followed Moses to the mountain of the Lord. God gave them two tablets of stone upon which He wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger. He brought water from a rock to satisfy their thirst and utterly destroyed all of their enemies in this wilderness. All He required from them was their love and trust.

However, even with all His provision many in the crowd murmured and complained. They spoke among themselves how hard life had become since they had been freed from slavery. Many wished to return to their old masters in Egypt and continue making bricks for the cruel Pharaoh. Following God just seemed too hard for them.

Almost 2 years after leaving Egypt they found themselves camped at a place called Kadesh Barnea, which lays a little southeast of the city of Beersheba. It was from there Moses sent 12 spies northward, up to the valley of Eschol, past the hill of Hebron and on deeper into the land of Canaan. These spies were sent to recon the country and bring back a report which was to be used to develop strategy for the impending invasion.

When the spies returned they brought a glowing report of their 40 days in the land. It was just as imagined, a land flowing with milk and honey. To prove the bountifulness of the country, they brought back one cluster of grapes which they had cut from near Hebron. It required two men to carry it. This was truly an amazing country with bountiful goodness, great walled cities and strong armies.

Although every one of the spies observed the same things and brought back the same glowing report as to the bounty of the land, its cities and the inhabitants, they were divided as to their counsel on how to proceed. Ten spies said that the invasion would be too hard, too potentially costly and that victory could not be accomplished. However, two of the spies saw victory, although not without costs, as nonetheless easily achievable.

Why did the ten spies, and ultimately the whole congregation see life so hard and so difficult and victory so unattainable? Because they left God out of the equation completely! You see without God everything suddenly becomes difficult, in fact life is impossible … without God nothing lasts and therefore nothing is worth living, working or dying for … what’s the use?

But two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, did not see themselves without God and therefore they saw what they were facing as being easy.

Numbers 13
26 ¶ And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they told him, and said, We came into the land where you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
28 Nevertheless the people are strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
30 And Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we are.
32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Numbers 14
1 ¶ And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! 3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
5 ¶ Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, tore their clothes:
7 And they spoke to all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which flows with milk and honey.
9 Only do not rebel against the LORD, neither fear you the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
10 But all the congregation said, “stone them with stones”. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

11 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?

Why did the people want to stone them … because they disagreed as whether it was hard or easy … and – lest you get on the wrong side of the track here … who was right here? God was looking for those who saw it as easy as bread – all you’ve got to do is keep God in the equation.

God has made and does make things easy – people make things hard by leaving Him out of the equation.

In 1980 I pioneered my first church, Word of Faith in Simms, Texas. Our motto was painted on the wall behind the pulpit . It read, “You Won’t Leave Here Like You Came, In Jesus’ Name!” I had been going to school and working with my dad for about a year as a heavy equipment operator since returning home with my wife and two children after a six year enlistment in the military. He and I had become pretty close during that year. He had fairly recently quit drinking and was on a new path. He didn’t go to church but it seemed he had finally gotten saved and so that year was my opportunity to be a part of his initial discipleship in the Word.

Mom and Dad allowed me to start a home Bible study at their house and they invited friends and family members to take part each Tuesday evening. Life was good and we were all growing in Christ. It was from that Bible study that we later began Word of Faith Church. It ended up that my dad was an elder in that church and he considered me his pastor right up until the day he died. You know, it matters less where you begin your journey than where you end up.

My dad developed a habit of faithfully praying and reading the Bible every day and he would often ask me questions or give me revelation about something he read that morning. Once, while dad and I were working together and discussing the things of the Kingdom, he told me why he had not gotten given his life to the Lord as a younger man.

Like many growing up in rural America during the great depression, my dad dropped out of school at a very early age to help with chores and start carrying his own weight. My dad started drinking moonshine whiskey and taking care of himself at age 10 and by age 13 was living on his own and driving an ice truck full time. By age 18 he was addicted to alcohol, secretly married to my mom, with their first child on the way, and was known to be somewhat unpredictable, a little prone to violence, and seldom sober.

Dad told me that he hated being an alcoholic and hated disappointing his family, changing jobs and moving all over the place looking for geographical cures. Worse yet, he started taking jobs which kept him on the road and away from the family for long periods of time so he would not have to face being a disappointment all the time. According to him, his early life with a wife and children was a miserable time. He wanted to do right, but just seemed unable to get a handle on life and continued to drink in efforts to escape.

In the early 50’s, with 3 children and one on the way, he was a truck driver delivering meat, produce, and materials from coast to coast. The day I was born, he told me, he was in Lampasas, Texas getting a load of Christmas turkeys headed for New York City. When he came through town that next night he just decided to stop, get out of the truck, quit his job, clean his life up and find local work so he could be with the family. He sent that truck load of turkeys on to New York with his older brother J.D. alone at the wheel. My dad got home in time to name me. In fact, I hold the distinction of being the only one of four in our family named by my father.

For years my dad tried hard to stop drinking and be a family man but that demon of alcohol just would not let him go. He needed help but where could he get it? Dad told me that one night, in desperate need of a drink, on his way to the bootleggers, he drove by a small church in the little community where he was born and raised. He turned around and pulled into the gravel parking lot, got out, walked inside and sat in the back pew. He was scared, shaking, needing help and, looking around he knew everybody there that night … and worse yet, they all knew him.

When the preacher finished preaching and opened the altar for people to come and pray through, my dad pushed his pride aside, got up and went toward the front of the church. He wanted to be saved, he wanted to be delivered, and he wanted help. However, that walk to God that night was interrupted by the preacher who stopped my dad at the altar and, right there in front of everyone he publically told my dad that they all knew him; that he was a sorry man who didn’t care about God or his family, a no good sinner, bound straight for hell.

Right there in the altar of that church the pastor told my dad that he could not be saved. He said that he knew my dad had already done too much for Jesus to save him and that he was a soul destined for hell with no hope of change and no help in this life or in the life to come … not for a man like my dad. Then the preacher told my dad to leave the church.

Dad told me that without saying one word he turned and walked out of those doors believing that there was no hope and no help for him. He heard what that preacher said and figured he knew what he was talking about. So, dad made a decision: if God was going to send him to hell, he would just go ahead and live like the devil. My dad left church that night and went out to face his Christ-less eternity. For the next many years he lived his commitment and served his wife, his children and his community disappointment after disappointment, hurt after hurt, all the while dying on the inside, all because someone had made it too hard for him to get saved.

It was more than a quarter century later while I was standing waste deep in water in an old stock pond which belonged to Little Joe Kruse in Simms, Texas; I was preaching about the power of God to save, deliver and set free, and how easy it is to get saved … I told those listening that it only takes one step of faith. Then much to my surprise, I saw my dad believe the word of a preacher one more time. I watched as he dropped his guard, abandoned his pride, and with tears in his eyes, he walked out into that water. There he confessed his need for Jesus, forsaking his sin, and there I baptized him in those muddy waters. I was so convicted and inspired by the moment that when I lifted him up from that watery grave, I turned and ask him if he would re-baptize me – which he gladly did.

I am here to testify that God changes lives and I will stand up to any man and every doctrine of any church to declare with all authority that it is easy for a man to get saved … it is easy for anyone to receive deliverance … it is easy to give your life to Christ. The hard part was done 2000 years ago on the cross of Calvary and I warn anyone who would make it hard to come to Christ not to cross paths with me, not even on a good day. How dare anyone make it hard to receive what Christ died to freely give.

Salvation is a gift given to all who will come without respect as to where they are coming from. The only marching orders God ever gave the church is to go into all the world and tell others the Good News … oh, how easy it is to be born again.

Once you realize that you need a savior, you must only repent of your sins and receive Jesus in your heart. He will help you and you will have a partner in life from that very moment forward and forever more.

Jesus, who was always visiting with publicans and sinners, prostitutes and thieves, said:

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Mark 2:17 … They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Matthew 11
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

May God forgive the man and the church that made it too hard for my dad to be saved and may God wipe that doctrine off the face of the earth as heresy and blasphemy against the cross and against the blood of Christ.

And, may God give us all the same faith of Joshua and Caleb who saw what others saw but believed what God said.

Don’t forget … It’s Easy!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Doctrine One God


There is only one God. He is the Creator of the universe. All life along with every object in the universe was formed by Him. There was never a time before God and there will be no time after Him. He is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present. He is kind, loving, gracious, merciful, forgiving and faithful. His Word is Truth.

Since the creation of man and the Garden of Eden, others have claimed to be God or to be messengers of another God. These are but factious representations, demonically inspired non-deities, which are brought on the scene to serve the will of satan and divide mankind from the Creator.

God, the One True Living God, wants you to know the difference between the real and the imposter, between the one who loves you and those who only want to use you, confuse you, abuse you and ultimately destroy you. God loves you and wants to love others through you. He is not a cow; He is not the sun; He is not the wind, the water or the fire; He is not mother earth or a sense of enlightenment … He is our Father, God.

His name is not Allah, and Mohammad is not his prophet; His name is not the Lord Maitreya and he is not the Buddha to come; His name is not Brahma, the deva of creation, and Manu is not his son, nor the progenitor of all Hindus or the great grandsire of all humans; His name is not Satnam and Guru Nanak, the first guru of the Sikhs, born in 1469, is not his divine authority. He did not send Chaitanya with the Maha Mantra, nor did He send Moroni in 1823 to Joseph Smith with golden tablets, or choose Reverend Sun Yun Moon as His representative to introduce some new revelation. And, by the way, neither does He call, anoint, or appoint everyone who calls themselves apostles and prophets to the church in these last days.

In each generation Satan has attempted to deceive mankind by introducing other factious gods, enlightened prophets, or promised messiahs. From Theudas and then Judas of Galilee in the days before Christ, (Acts 5:36), to Bab and his followers in the 1850’s; From the Japanese acceptance of the Emperor’s Deity prior to the end of WWII, to that country’s most current religious movement, “Happy Science”, founded in 1986 by Ryuho Okawa, who claims to channel the spirits of Mohammad, Buddha, Confucius, and Jesus Christ, (I guess he is trying to corner the market), further holding himself to be the incarnation of, “El Cantare”, the supreme spiritual being.

People from all walks of life, from every country, in each generation have just gone crazy in their attempts to invent, create, channel, dream up some new god or some new religion, including atheism which makes man supreme. This new “Happy Science” religion with “El Cantare” as its god has spread to include an International Headquarters office located in central Tokyo. And, they support six Local Temples (located in London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seoul, and Taiwan) and 37 local offices distributed around the world, including India, Bulgaria and Uganda.

What do they do? What do they believe? What do they want? Well, it seems that they have started a new political party in Japan, the Happiness Realization Party … I guess they want happiness and they are willing to do just about anything to get it. That’s about as bad as the current American cult followers of Aleister Crowley and his satanically inspired book, “777”, in which he encourages his followers to “do what thou wilt.” They just come right out and say that they are following satan – no need for a middle man to mess up the religion for these people.

Tell me, which one of these gods made you? Which one formed you in your mother’s womb, gave command as to when you would be born, watched you grow and has prepared a place for you to live forever after you pass from this earth? On which god will you risk eternity?

This evening I want to share Three Truths with you upon which I am betting my eternity and upon which you can also trust. It’s time to get serious …

1. There is One God – The “I Am” of the Bible.

Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

2. He has One Son, Messiah of the Jews, Savior of the World – Jesus of Nazareth.

When God wanted us to know Him, He sent His Son to show us the Father.

John 3:16 God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Son; and whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

3. God is watching, working, and waiting.

Psalms 139 NLT
1 O LORD, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, LORD.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
7 ¶ I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
17 ¶ How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
your enemies misuse your name.
21 O LORD, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies are my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

What other God, were there one, could be so loving, so kind, so merciful and yet powerful? It was He who formed you in the womb and knew you before you came forth. To Him do I ascribe my allegiance and pledge myself to love what He loves and hate what He hates.

I know that He is watching me and everyone else, from the moment of conception; I know that He is working in each situation and every circumstance of life to bring about His will and determination; I know that He is waiting until the time He has predetermined best to bring about the close of this age and the final judgment of all creation.

I know that He does not depend on me, but rather I on Him. He alone is God and all other religions, every teaching and each one who claims to be sent from Him must face the test of His Word. There is no other way.

Do not be deceived in these days or in generations to come. There is One God, the “I Am” of the Bible. He alone is our Creator, He alone is our Father and He alone is God. Embrace no other!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bread and Seed


Isaiah 55
8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

I have always been a “hands-on” kind of guy preferring action to mere words. Whenever possible I attempt to demonstrate a life truth instead of only talking about it. Both the administrative and the pastoral members of our church staff can attest to this. It seems I am always explaining something to them by drawing diagrams on the two, not one – but two, white marker boards in my office. This has been my life practice. My children used to say, and actually still do say, that if you ask me what time it is, I will build you a clock. As I said, I believe actions and demonstration speak louder than words.

Given to this theory, in the spring of 1982 I thought it would be a good time to teach my two young children, ages 4 ½ & 3 years old, a lesson about seeds. We had a disciplined habit of enjoying family bible studies in our home and since the Word of God had so much to say about sowing and reaping, seedtime and harvest, and the like, I wanted them to experience the process firsthand.

I asked one of the deacons in my church, Little Joe Kruse, to bring his tractor down to my place and plow me up a little garden. I was renting a house and 5 acres from Mr. Clarence Poer in Simms, Texas, where we had a peach orchard, golden delicious apple trees, 3 types of plum trees and a good bit of wild dew and black berries. We raised chickens, ducks, rabbits, calves, goats, donkeys and horses. We had a regular Old McDonald’s farm … why not enlarge our garden a bit.

It turned out that Little Joe had a bigger vision than I had imagined. He liked to pull pranks on the preacher, so when he came to plow me up a garden and found that I was not at home, he just picked out a place kept going and going and going until he had a 5 acre fenced off section of Mr. Poer’s pasture, which was not included in my rental agreement, all cultivated and ready to plant. Now listen, 5 acres is a pretty big spot. I really was not prepared for such a learning experience. It seems that my children were not the only ones who were going to get a “hands-on” education that year.

Well, I called Mr. Poer and made arrangements to give him $5 extra each month for the additional 5 acres and then went to town to buy seeds. I told Brenda and the children, along with everyone else in the church, that they could plant anything they wanted, but they had to take care of whatever they planted. This ended up being easier to say than to manage.

I explained to my children how important it was to get certified seeds whenever available. Certified seeds are guaranteed to produce. We all found some of our favorite foods to grow such as cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, okra, corn, black eyed peas, tomatoes, radishes, and all kinds of peppers. I also got some more interesting seeds to plant like watermelon, cantaloupe, peanuts, and I even found some popcorn seeds.

Several people from the church came out on a Saturday and we all planted the huge garden together. Everyone was so excited to think how much they would enjoy the fruit of their labor, and they were right … everyone would have enjoyed a harvest if only everyone would have worked.

As the weeks went along it soon became evident who was working their part of the garden and who wasn’t. It seemed that a few people had bigger dreams and more initial energy than they could sustain, especially when it got a little hotter outside. I too experienced some second guessing as to how much I really should have planted. However, once in the ground, these bountiful blessings of God deserved to be cared for and not wasted due to my laziness or other distractions.

Yep, we all learned a lot that year, my children, some folks in the church, and especially me. Through the years I have continued to treasure that summer in the garden as one of the best schools I ever attended. It taught me about ministry, it taught me about me, but most of all it taught me about seeds.

Seeds are opportunities waiting for someone to care. Every seed is designed by God who has written into its DNA a prerecorded message of success. Given the chance it will produce every time. Sure, it might take work, but the seed will work as hard as you do.

Seeds are opportunities …

When Jesus wanted to describe what the Kingdom of heaven was like He told His disciples 7 parables of the Kingdom as recorded in Matthew 13. The first 3 of these parables describing the Kingdom of Heaven are about parallel truths concerning seeds.

Matthew 13:1-23 The parable of the kingdom which likens it to 4 types of soil upon which the seed of God’s Word falls.
1. The Wayside
2. Stony Places
3. Among Thorns
4. Good Ground

Matthew 13:24-30 The parable of the kingdom likening it to a man who sowed good seed in his field only to realize that the enemy had come behind him and sown tares among the wheat.

Matthew 13:31-32 The parable likening the kingdom to a grain of mustard seed sown in a field which is the least of all seeds but ends up becoming a tree with large branches.

In each of these parables Jesus portrays seeds as opportunities for the one who is willing to be wise and work hard.

Two days ago I buried my mother.
Just before she passed away I spent a few days with her. Me, my brother and two sisters gathered around her bed and enjoyed the all too rare moments of us all being together in one place, reminiscing, catching up and as always, encouraging one another. We are all basically two years apart in age, me being the youngest. In all my life we have never had a substantial disagreement or experienced anything less than a healthy, mutually respect-filled relationship with each other. Our family was filled with love and we were expected to love one another, as modeled and monitored by our mother.

I sat by her bedside last Thursday and Friday, singing, praying, laughing and recalling so many of the wonderful moments we shared. She was unable to speak but listened tirelessly and seemed to understand every word. I thanked her for leading me to the Lord, and for teaching me about love, faith and patience. Late Friday night Brenda and I a little too tired to drive home and wanting to spend more time with my mom, decided to find a hotel room and get some sleep.

Now, like my mom was, I too am given to dreams – spiritual dreams, not the pizza dreams which make no sense and have no point. And, that Friday night I had a dream. In the dream my mother appeared to me and with her serious, yet caring look she said, “Son, I bought you a truckload of watermelons.”

I thought just a moment as I replayed what she had said in my mind: A truckload of watermelons. Then I looked back at her and she stretched out her hand and handed me one watermelon seed. When I took the seed from her fingers into mine it sparkled with a flicker of light. I looked back at her to see her smile with that glint of almost a wink in her eye like she always did when she knew I had heard what she was hoping to say. Then I woke up.

I got up to the news that my mom wasn’t expected to make it much longer and I headed back to her bedside. We all stood around her and I took her hand. She opened her eyes and looked at me and I told her, “Thanks for the watermelons mom.” She smiled at me before closing her eyes and drifting off to sleep.

I’m here to tell you: My mom bought me a truckload of watermelons. Sure it required work, but everything worth anything does. She paid a dear price for that seed. In fact, she gave her life to give me a chance in this life. It was just a chance, just an opportunity – but it was a certified seed – guaranteed to produce if only I would take the care of it.

I thank God for the opportunity my mom gave me and for the personal price she paid on my behalf. But, it pales in comparison to the price paid by Jesus who gave His life on the cross of Calvary for your sins and the sins of all mankind. Jesus has given you the greatest opportunity known to man, the chance to become a child of God and spend eternity with Him.

Salvation is free but the Kingdom of Heaven is like a seed … if you want all it offers, you may need to work on it. God is looking for someone who cares, someone who will work, someone who will take His Word into their life like a seed and work with it to produce a truckload of blessings, both bread and seed, for a world of sinners who are waiting on their chance of a lifetime.

Don’t miss your opportunity!

While you ponder this reality, let me give you four truths about seeds as I close:

Four Truths About Seeds
1. Where there is no seed there is no future.
2. Every seed has its season.
3. One man’s seed is another man’s bread.
4. Seeds won’t tend themselves.

Gardens take work … even the garden of the Lord – even the Garden of Eden. God put Adam and Eve in the garden to guard it and to tend it … you won’t get a better chance than that! Now, let’s go to work …