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Heart Thoughts -Silent Partner


“But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
I’ve mentioned before that I keep a prayer journal. I do so not because I am so “super-spiritual” but because I am so prone in my flesh to not be spiritual at all. One of the prayers I have written down is based on the above scripture, and simply reads, “Father, may I at all times pray in the Spirit, speak in the Spirit, hear in the Spirit, and live in the Spirit.” This is the only way we will not live in a manner that consistently sees to it that we carry out the desires of our flesh. Many of those desires will be good ones. The great problem for us lies in the fact that they are not necessarily God’s desires. Watchman Nee asked the question, “How much of our work for Him has been based on a clear command from the Lord, and how much simply on the ground that it was a good thing to do?” There were many good things Paul wished to do. The Holy Spirit closed the door on all of them in order that he would go to where the Father wished him to be; in Macedonia and Greece. He saw a “wide open door for effective service.” He also saw the “many adversaries” that would be against it.I think we seem much more comfortable in the Church in the west with the idea of the Holy Spirit being a “silent partner” in all we do. This would be true even in those fellowships that say they are Holy Spirit centered bodies. Indeed, the consistent observation of those brethren from non-western cultures who fellowship with us is how much we are able to get done without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. There are a number of books out right now from prominent church leaders saying that the voice of the Spirit ceased at the end of the first century of the Church. That the Lord has said all He needs to in His Word, and He doesn’t need to say anything more. Now scripture is the final authority in all things, especially that which we hear in and from the Spirit, for He will never speak anything contrary to it. This is where spiritual discernment comes in. It’s what Paul meant when he told us to “test the spirits” in order to discern what was and was not from the voice and heart of God. I would also add this to those that hold the view that He no longer speaks to us. In those same congregations, the people are regularly asked to “pray about” how much they should give to building programs, mission efforts, and special projects. Somehow the Lord finds His voice when it comes to money. I’m only partly joking with that.

I heard James Robison say recently in the midst of interviewing one of his guests, that he, “heard the Spirit speaking over their conversation.” What he meant was that in the midst of their talking, He heard the Lord break in and speak into it all. He said that some might find this “spooky,” but that it was his life in Christ reality to hear the Lord in such a way regularly. What struck me was that the Holy Spirit, so integral a part of our three in one God, would be perceived with fear by so many in His Church. So much so that we proceed in our walk, relationships and ministries with far more reliance upon ourselves and our own understanding, than in His leading. We don’t recognize His checks or His voice, and so we miss both His open doors, and His closed ones.To our own harm and loss. He remains our “silent partner.” We mention Him, but we don’t walk in Him. We’re not overly anxious for Him to “show up” either, unless it’s in ways that allow us to maintain control. We build a lot of things, but they don’t last.  In the end they’re just wood and stubble. We miss that which is His silver and gold. If we doubt that, we can simply look at how many of those things we’ve built in our own strength have crumbled after the human architect of the building left the scene.

Paul wrote to two totally different fellowships; the Corinthians and the Ephesians. The Corinthians were a flesh centered fellowship, and though He spoke in love and encouragement, his words also carried His rebuke. To the Ephesians he wrote in exhortation of their going on in the life and fullness of the Holy Spirit. Through those letters, he writes to our own fellowships. Which letter is for us? Corinthians or Ephesians? Wood and stubble or silver and gold? Which are we really, and which do we really want to be? Are we living in Corinth or Ephesus?

Blessings,
Pastor O

(Shared by permission)

The SACK


“At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, ‘Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you have missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram……The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.  What a fool you have been.  From now on you will be at war.’ ”  2 Chronicles 16:7, 9

Chinese Christian Brother Yun, known as the Heavenly Man, tells of this happening in one of the Chinese house churches.  The Chinese believers regularly send off other believers to go into surrounding towns and villages to share the love and life of Christ.  Before each sending, the group would take up a collection for the work.  Many of those who were in attendance had nothing of material or monetary value to give. These believers, with tears streaming down their faces, when the large sack came to them, would literally place themselves in the sack.  Yun said that by doing this, these gentle folk wanted to signify to God that their lives were all they had to give and that they were willing to give all of themselves for His glory.  I’m humbled by this.  Are you?

Here in the west, there are many who are willing to give….up to a point, or as I heard one man put it, up to a tithe.  There are also those who are willing to go…..again, up to a point or a place.  How many of us are really willing to give all of ourselves to all that is Him?  When “the sack” comes to us, are we willing to put many “things” in it, but not all of ourselves?  Is giving, to us, a matter of percentage, or totality?  How many invisible lines have we drawn, and boundaries placed on how much of ourselves we’re really willing to be sacrificial with?  Who are we really more like in Jesus’ story of the rich Pharisee and the poor widow?  Jesus watched the Pharisee give a large amount of money out of his  wealth.
The widow gave two pennies, which was all she had.  The first gave out of his surplus, the widow gave all with nothing held back.  Who are we more like?  When the sack comes our way, to which heart attitude are we really drawn to?  What have we really put in the sack?  Every moment of every day, the sack comes before us.  What’s really going into it.  A percentage or a person?

This is not just a matter of our resources or time.  It’s a matter of the self.  All of the self.  The past, present and future.  They all go into the sack. Our motives.  Our dreams, desires, disappointments.  People.  Both those we love, and those we perhaps do not love so much.  All of it goes into the sack.  When the sack comes to us, we cannot stop with a check or a volunteering for some needed church ministry or job.  We cannot stop with a part or percentage.  It cannot be the part. It must be the whole.  The whole of us.

Asa the king had trusted God with much.  He could not trust Him with all.  “War” was the fruit of that.  For us, this means that all that we hold back from him will be under attack from our enemy satan, and we will spend ourselves on trying to protect in our strength what can only be kept by His.  If this is not so, just think on how much unrest is in our lives as the result of trying to bring about the results we desire by our own efforts, be they relationships, professions, and especially ministries.  Like Asa, we suffer constant “war” and have no peace because of it.

The Lord continues to search the world for hearts fully committed to Him.  As He searches, what does He find in ours? Percentages?  Bits that are His, but pieces that are not?  Asa lived in this way, and the Father called him a fool.  What does He call us?

Blessings,
Pastor O

(A special thanks to my brother in Christ and friend for allowing me to share this devotional message.)

What Is Your ALL IN?


God is so cool. Seriously, haven’t you noticed that HE loves to be in the details of our life? Last night in our Bible study we continued a conversation about our “All In’ or full surrender. For context we were discussing Jesus in the garden prior to His arrest and how it was there that Jesus surrendered His all to the Father’s plan. Knowing before hand that He would suffer unimaginable pain and that ultimately His life’s blood for all of humanity! The only thing that would resolve the Father’s requirement for the restoration of mankind back to Himself. Jesus made His commitment in the garden, it was settled.

On the heels of that we have this verse from a devotional this morning:

“After visiting Ephesus and Macedonia, the Apostle Paul got an “ask” from God the Holy Spirit to go on to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21). The Spirit warned him, however: if he went there, he’d be arrested. Paul’s friends begged him not to go. Paul answered: “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

We will all come to our time in the garden, some reading this may have already been in the garden.  As we discussed last evening, in this life’s journey, we will find ourselves in the garden many times as the Holy Spirit speaks to us about the things that stand in the way of our “ALL IN”.  The question is will we trust Him and surrender that which prevents us from being completely emptied of self and open to the fullness of HIM?

Blessing and Peace Always,

~Robert

Glory to God Alone


As a New Years Resolution, no as a LIFELONG RESOLUTION… ALL GLORY TO GOD ALONE.

In seeking a verse for this year and maybe now my life verse, I’ll wait for HIS direction on the last part, several thoughts have formed a recurring theme in my mind.  Since I’m not given to simplicity, wish that I were…, below is what is on my heart, mind, and soul for 2015 and beyond.

” Whoever speaks must speak God’s words. Whoever serves must serve with the strength God supplies so that in every way God receives glory through Jesus Christ. Glory and power belong to Jesus Christ forever and ever! Amen.” ~ I Peter 4:11

The overarching theme has been this:

Is there any work I will not do for the glory of God?

Is there any place I will not go to the glory of God?

Is there anyone I will not approach for the glory of God?

Is there any ministry I will not engage in for the glory of God?

Is there any thing in my life that does not bring glory to God?

Is there any thing in my life more important than the glory of God?

Am I truly willing to do ALL HE has and is calling me to do for HIS GLORY and KINGDOM?

At the end of these questions comes the realization that answering in the affirmative is only the first step.  I will have to be dedicated to this purpose above all else!  I will have to engage in the constant practice of being in HIS presence constantly.  I will have to rely on the power and strength of the Holy Spirit more than at any other time in my life from this very moment on.  That this dependency will necessarily grow because the reality of spiritual warfare is in full swing with this decision.

How will I be able to give “Glory to God Alone?”  There is only one way, this must be the only purpose in my walk and then only by the power God provides through the Holy Spirit.

” Whoever speaks must speak God’s words. Whoever serves must serve with the strength God supplies so that in every way God receives glory through Jesus Christ. Glory and power belong to Jesus Christ forever and ever! Amen.” ~ I Peter 4:11

I ask for your prayerful support over the coming days, months, and years.  To GOD ALONE be the GLORY!!!

In Service to Jesus and you,

~Robert

Always Thank God the Father…


I have a classmate from an online class that stays in contact with me.  Today’s post is the result of his challenge to me in that email.  He called my attention to Ephesians 5:20 and believing that God’s word alone can rightly divide itself in context, I backed up to start with verse 17.  I hope you enjoy this and I look forward to your comments.
Turning our attention to the passage you referenced yesterday, it is very familiar to me.  I read it though for the first time in the God’s Word translation and noticed a couple of “new” things.  Here’s the translation for easy reference: 17So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord wants. 18Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit 19by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for your own good. Sing and make music to the Lord with your hearts. 20Always thank God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
First; “Instead, be filled with the Spirit by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs…”.  The NIV says, “…speaking to one another…”  What caught my attention this time is the implication that being filled with the Spirit starts with reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to ourselves, first.  As with everything else in our lives, the spiritual, emotional, and physical all begin from within and work their way our in our actions, deeds, and words.  This is why is it so important that we constantly fill our heart, mind, and soul with God’s word and everything that will edify our spirit.  Jesus said, “…it’s what comes out of a person that makes him unclean.” God’s Word  The original question was about physical food and Jesus declared that what goes into the stomach doesn’t make us unclean.  But, what we take into our souls can corrupt.  So, we must be diligent to feed our souls those things which edify.
Second; “Always thank God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I believe that Job said, both good and bad are from the LORD.  Meaning that HE allows both to come into our life.  Romans 8:28-29, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom He has called according to HIS plan.  This is true because He already knew His people and had already appointed them to have the same form as the image of His Son.  Therefore, His Son is the firstborn among many children.”  Everything that God allows to take place in our life has the sole purpose of bringing us into the image of Jesus.  So even though our life is filled with what we call “good” and “bad,” the best and worst of what takes place (when we are pursuing a relationship with Jesus) has purpose in God’s plan for our life and growth into the image of Jesus.  Every time that I think about this, I am reminded of Paul and Silas singing in the prison.  Arguably, to us, the worst of times for them and yet their joy in Jesus overflowed from their hearts and into the air.
I believe, if we follow God’s word and fill our spirit with only those things that edify and vocalize those same truths, we will soon find ourselves being able to live out verse 20.

Quote:


As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their “right” place.”
Henri Nouwen

Different, Yet the Same


“Just as God formed each rock to look different-some smooth, and some not so-he formed us in the same way. Some of us, like me, were made with rough edges. This toughness allowed me to navigate the streets of a not-so-nice neighborhood, to survive a teenage pregnancy, and to be strong and protect a younger brother. He also toughened me for the ministry to which he would eventually call me.”

via Different, Yet the Same.  ~January Marshall

There is tremendous value in knowing which “rock” you are and how this fits into your place in where you are; home, work, neighborhood, school, work, etc.

We have been uniquely designed by our Father in heaven above and yet He created us all the same.  Where we are the same is in our physical make up, yet we don’t all look the same.  Our personalities are unique, and yet we can experience the same events in life and no two individuals will be impacted the same!

The rough and smooth stones exist together and some might say, the rough ones help make the smooth ones… Can one exist without the other?

If I am a smooth stone, can I stay smooth without the rough stones?  Can the rough stone have a complete purpose without the smooth stones?

The truth is we are all made up of rough and smooth parts.  Some with rougher parts and some with smoother, yet we ARE still the same.  We need each other, no doubt!

Recognize which you are and then apply yourself appropriately!  Ask God to show you how to help glorify Him by being the best you are created to be.

“So then let us follow after things which make for peace, and things with which one may edify another.” ~Romans 14:19

Be the instrument in God’s hand to build up and encourage on another.  He will use you just as you are and where you are, just seek HIS direction in all you do.  He uses us where we are, rough or smooth.  We need only be available and follow HIS leading!

Blessings & Peace Always,

~Robert

Blessings Flowing


So often in our journey through this life, we lose sight of our blessings.  The last couple of months have been especially difficult around our household.  Without going into all the specifics, we lost my mother-in-law on November 4th.  Our loss is heaven gain and we take comfort in the knowledge that her struggles are now at an end.

While she struggled over the past year with cancer and then recovery, we were all witness to her strength and fight.  It was truly inspiring and frustrating at the same time.  Still she endured until our Father called her home.  She was 78 years young and spent 59 years with her love Bus or Mac, depending on who you were talking to at the time.  Together they raised three children on a dairy farm in Cossayuna, NY.  Anyone who knows anything about a dairy, knows this takes a special commitment, it is a life style of long dedicated days and sometimes nights.  She is survived by my father-in-law, their three children, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Blessings Flowing… with mixed emotions, a heart that is at the same time filled with all HIS goodness and a heart ripping sense of loss, yep our Blessings are indeed Flowing!  We were blessed over the past year to see Florence’s strength, fight and humor.  You can’t be a farmers’ wife and be a wimp and you most certainly must have a sense of humor.

Our blessings included being able to see her several times, some under circumstance less than ideal.  The point is our Father made a way for us to meet the needs of my wife’s parents and my wife desire to be there!  We could have missed so much were it not for our Father’s loving care and abundant grace.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of HIS glory in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:19

We were blessed to be a part in the sharing of memories old and new.  Joy in the remembering that turned such a difficult time into a blessing that was shared by family and friends.  The blessing of seeing how she poured her life into so many lives that were touched and blessed by her actions and words.  Kindnesses, graciousness and love met lives any so many ways, Blessings Flowing!

Here we are a few weeks removed and while our emotions are still swinging up and down, the blessings are still flowing.  Bus is doing well and his cousins have stepped in to help him adjust, plus it’s deer season and a regular crowd is coming and going at the farm.  Since Tracy’s brother lives in Florida and we are in Virginia, her sister is left to help.  She and her husband are dairy farmers and the demands don’t change even though life takes a dramatic turn, Blessings Flowing!!

Back here, cards are still coming in and we have our first service at church complete.  Sometimes the blessing of love from our brothers and sister in Jesus is overwhelming.  We wouldn’t exchange the hugs and expression of compassion for a moment, Blessings Flowing!!!

By HIS grace and supply, we are going to head back for Thanksgiving…. We will give thanks!  HIS provision, grace and love will be known and shared.  We will laugh and cry, share great stories and solemn moments.  Still blessings will be flowing!

Thanks to everyone who has loved us through these difficult times.  Your prayers, words of encouragement and hugs of comfort…BLESSINGS FLOWING

Blessings & Peace Always,

~Robert

Image

Florence P. McIntyre

July 14, 1935 – November 4, 2013

Larry Morrow – Our Loss, Heaven’s Gain


This entry is in Memory of Larry Morrow, husband, dad, brother, coach and friend.  This list could go on and I hope as you read this, you’ll get the point.

Larry passed from our presence yesterday at the age of 67.  We are left with the wonder of why so soon.  It is soon to us and a great shock, truthfully the full weight of his passing hasn’t yet sunk in as of this writing.  Even though he is lost to us, he is at the feet of our Lord and Savior.

While I can’t speak to all Larry accomplished in this life or what impact he had on all who knew him.  Please indulge me as I share my part of his life story….

My first meeting with Larry was in 1971, Garner Little League in Garland, Texas.  God brought us together through baseball.  As a coach, he saw an opportunity to teach me and develop some skills, just maybe….in a scrawny little 11-year-old.  I’m not sure exactly what drew him to choosing me for his team.  I do know that what followed is without question all about God’s plan.

During our first practice, this toddler of a Christian, informed Coach Morrow that he wouldn’t be at any practices or games on Wednesdays!  I told him, “I have church on Wednesday nights and I have to be there.”  He told me he understood and I remember he smiled at me too.  That was settled, I believed.  Years later, he told me what an impact that made on his life and how this one interaction was used by God to draw him back to church.

What follows are the highlights of our journey together for the next 8 years and what I learned along the way…

I played ball for Larry during the next two seasons.  He taught me how to play center field like a defensive coordinator, seeing the whole field.  He taught me how to look at the game as a chess match, working out the possibilities for each batter and play in advance.  How to come in to first base from center field without throwing the ball over the backstop, I seriously tried a couple of times….not pretty!  Under his instruction and extra effort, I learned to pitch a little.  Good enough to throw a no-hitter, I do remember him working really hard to convince me I could finish the game.  The only trouble was, I’d loaded the bases and managed to walk in three or four runs before he pulled me to save the win.  I had lost all confidence, however he never lost faith in me.  I can’t tell you what that meant and still means to me.

During those two years, Larry and his family started coming to my church.  over the next four years God really blessed our ministry together.  You see, Larry and I started working a church bus route together.  We’d go out on Saturday mornings, get the church bus and drive our route.  Knocking on doors, inviting all we met to visit our church and ride our bus.  When we started out, it seems like we would average 10 to 15.  By the time we stopped working that route together, we were making two trips every Sunday morning with passengers. We were averaging 120 riders.  I also, learned that swallowing gold-fish as a reward for reaching goals on the number of riders, wasn’t all that difficult.  It was after all my idea and I was as excited to swallow the tiny little fish as those watching were to witness the event.

Next, Larry gave me the opportunity to work for him in his landscaping business.  Work wasn’t the word for it, landscaping is HARD work and Larry knew how.  He also always knew how to get the best out of me.  Even years later after I’d grown up and had my own son, Larry and I had the opportunity to reconnect.  My folks had moved to Whitney, Texas and Larry and Nancy lived in the area as well.  Larry and I worked together and played golf and even had investments together in an investment club.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here on what we worked on and accomplished together, especially for God’s kingdom.  I hope you are able to sense that he had a hand in developing not just a ball player, he help in molding a young mind.  I will miss him and living in Virginia makes this all the more painful.

I am praying God will bring comfort and peace to Nancy and their children, Eric and Lisa.  They have children of their own and I know they will all be suffering this loss.  In the weeks ahead, I pray we will all share the fond memories and blessings of Larry Morrow in our life.  Please remember Larry’s family and friends during this time.  As heaven celebrates the arrival of another child within the gates, we will mourn the passing of a husband, father, brother and friend.  A coach and mentor to many, he was to me.

~Robert

Brian L Powell

#chasingJesus

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