Remember When

rememberThe older I get, the more often I ask, or I am asked the question: Don’t you remember how it used to be?

This question was repeated several times this morning in a conversation, and it reminded me of a tender scene in The Lion King when Mufasa challenges Simba: “Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one true King. Remember who you are.”

Like Simba, there are times we need to remember who we are—We are children of the King. This is not some simple mantra to be repeated; it is a truth full of practical applications when, like Simba, you lose your way.

When you truly realize you are a child of the King, you can:

  • Worry less by spending more time in prayer as you turn your problems over to God.
  • Stand tall when you feel like you are in over your head; God is in it with you.
  • Remember that God is bigger than any of your problems.
  • Be certain that you will never be so lost that you can’t be found.
  • Be assured that when you feel like no one likes you, God still loves you.

As a child of the King, God speaks to you and says: I will hold your right hand: Fear not, I will help you.

Getting a Grip on Worry

gripIf you could look inside your head, would you find the thought center of your mind dotted with the warts of worry and the ulcers of anxiety? If so, you might find some comfort in the potent promise of Isaiah 26:3: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Here’s the simple truth of this verse: If your mind is not staying on God, it’s straying from Him, and it’s easily disoriented by the worries of life.  Undisciplined thoughts leave room for unfounded arguments that foster fear; however, Christ-centered thinking augments your faith and smothers the fires of anxiety.

Billy Graham has said, Historians will probably call our era “the age of anxiety.” Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and His will for us.

Worry and anxiety are expressions of fear and both can be attributed to a sense of lacking or loneliness. The next time your mind begins to agonize over thoughts like these, mobilize by taking these steps:

  • Focus on God: I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. ~Psalm 34:4
  • Claim the promise of God’s presence: Be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do. ~Joshua 1:9
  • Believe God loves you: The Lord your God is in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; and, He will rejoice over you with singing. ~Zephaniah 3:17
  • Get a grip on life: For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” ~Isaiah 41:13

As you begin this week, it might help to remember that God is holding your right hand, so you don’t have to worry about holding the wrong one.

Jesus said:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

~John 14:27

 

 

A Yellow Rose For Dad

roseHi Dad. I think about you every day, but it’s been quite some time since I last wrote.  I’ve never been much of a fan of greeting cards—Hallmark would go broke if they depended on me.

Anyway, since today is July 7th, and your 88th birthday, I thought it was time for a little talk.  A lot has happened since May 25, 1965—our last goodbye. You walked out the door and headed to Cities Service for another eight hours of work in the oil patch, and you never came home.

You were about two months shy of your 36th birthday, and I was 12 and in 6th grade.  I thought you were old, but now that I’m 64, I know how young you really were—perspective is a strange thing.

I’m thankful for the memories that I have of you.  They were formed through the things you taught me, and I’ve passed those lessons on to my kids.

Speaking of my kids, there’s a little bit of you in both of them.  I coached Wade throughout little league, and he learned to hit, catch and throw the same way you taught me; and he’s now coaching his daughter and son.

I remember how much you loved to whistle and sing.  Jennifer has your appreciation for a good song, and a beautiful voice. You would enjoy listening to her sing.

I never told you, but when you showered, I would sit outside on the patio and listen to you sing: Mocking Bird Hill, Red River Valley, and Get Along Home Cindy were your favorites.

Whenever I drive East towards Eureka, my thoughts still turn towards Sallyards, and your mom’s chicken and noodles, cherry pie, and singing while she played the piano; and, I can’t forget Grandpa standing on the piano bench.  He would have Uncle Jim and Harold Dale standing back to back to see who was the tallest.

By the way, Jim called Monday.  He’s the last of the 6 Seymour siblings, but I guess you know that because the rest are with you.

I hope Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Catherine kept their promises to me.  I spent quite a bit of time with both of them while they were dying, and asked them to tell you “hi,” and to let you know that I still love you.

Well dad, I better wrap this up.  I’ll stop by the cemetery a little later today with a yellow rose; they were your favorite—I still remember.

Happy Birthday and I Love you!

Stan

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. ~John 11:25

 

A Peak Behind The Clouds

double-rainbowTuesday morning, I was driving west towards Wichita and I was blessed with the beauty of a double rainbow. As the dazzling colors shone brightly against the distant backdrop of dark and menacing clouds, I was reminded that life is much like that storm.

Throughout a person’s life, he will experience the highs and lows; the sunny days and the threatening storms; and times of crippling sorrow as well as abundant joy.  Through all of these moments, there is always a rainbow: the promise of God’s presence and providence.

It was the promise of God’s presence and the hope of His providence that sustained the Apostle Paul in the many heartaches and trials that he endured:

I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong. ~2 Corinthians 12:10 The Voice

When the tough times come, and they will, remember to peak behind the clouds—God has a rainbow-full of promises just for you.

. . . when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll remember my covenant between me and you . . .

Genesis 9:16 The Message

The Ups and Downs of Life

rcWhen I was a freshman in college, one instructor required his students to memorize a motto of his.  I did, and I have never forgotten it:  It’s not what I can remember, but what I can never forget that constitutes knowledge; therefore, drill, drill, drill, and review, review, review.

Over the years I have been able to memorize many Bible verses, because I drilled and reviewed them until they were tucked away in my mind.  One of these is Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

When I meditate on a particular verse of Scripture, I focus on the individual words within the verse so I can understand the specific meaning of each one of them.  The word “through” caught my attention this morning, so I reflected on some verses that use this word:

  • God led Moses and the Israelites through the Red Sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:22).
  • The Israelites were led through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 29:5).
  • In Psalm 23, the Good Shepherd leads His flock through the valley of the shadow of death.

There are times when life seems like a roller coaster and you are tormented by a series of bone rattling, and hope shaking ups and downs.  These are the times that you need to kick the “I can’t” thoughts in the seat of the pants, and focus on the “I can” of Philippians 4:13.

 

The you should review its truth and drill its meaning:

  • Through Christ, I find the strength to face the obstacles of life.
  • Through Christ, God lavishes me with his strength to overcome (Ephesians 1:7-8).
  • Through Christ, you are blessed with God’s unwavering love and mercy (Psalm 103).

When you live your life through the strength of Christ, you will be thoroughly blessed:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

    and the flame shall not consume you.  ~Isaiah 43:2

A Special Day Everyday

BirthdayplateWhen I was a kid, Mom made birthdays special by allowing her children to pick the menu for supper.  A few days in advance, she would ask: “What do you want me to cook for your birthday?”

I knew if I asked for Mom’s special chocolate cake, I would receive it for dessert. Asking with the hope of receiving is part of life’s journey, and it’s one of  the themes of the Bible:

  • Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you (Matthew 7:7)
  • If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you (John 15:7).
  • If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5).
  • Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).

A wonderful promise found in Psalm 55:16 encourages you to call out to God: As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. This verse is evidence of God’s desire to have a relationship with you.  When you call to Him:

  • You can enjoy the blessings of an abundant life (John 10:10).
  • God will help you face your fear and give you the strength you need for your journey (2 Timothy 1:7).
  • You can be assured that God will be a place of refuge for you (Psalm 46:1).

Why limit yourself to just one special day out of the year, when everyday can be a special day with God?

Just Like My Dad

Like_Father_Like_SonYesterday was the first day of 2016, and it’s the day that many people announce their resolutions for the coming year.  I you read this blog yesterday, you know that I encouraged you to “join me in making at least this one resolution for 2016:  I will be a disciple who glorifies the Father by abiding in Christ.”

I based this resolution on John 15:7-11: “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.  I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me; remain in My love [and do not doubt My love for you].  If you keep My commandments and obey My teaching, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.  I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.”

When I was studying this Scripture, I read the Amplified version, and it offers some interesting concepts related to our resolution:

  • This first item is the one that caught my attention: Jesus said, “I love you just like My Dad loves Me.”  This is an eternal, never-ending, and unfailing love.
  • The word “remain” is used several times. In many versions of the Bible, it appears as “abide,” and the idea isIf you abide in Jesus, and His words take up residence in your life, you will attentively observe His teachings and strictly maintain a walk that is in step with Him.
  • An obedient life is a prerequisite to answered prayer.
  • Remaining or abiding is not a Sunday experience, but a lifestyle.

When you think of the 4 points above, I hope you realize that joy, not happiness, is the focus of each of these.  Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.

The Bible only uses the word “happy” or “happiness” about 30 times, while “joy” and rejoice” are found around 300 times.  You will never find true contentment in the contents of merchandise that has been neatly packaged and gift wrapped.  It is not the result of the final score in one of the many football games played at this time of the year, and its not found in the empty promises of politicians.

Joy can’t be purchased and it’s not the victim of circumstances; it’s the fruit of a genuine relationship with God that perseveres.

Even though Paul had been arrested and jailed, he had learned to be “content” regardless of his situation, and He said: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

I hope you use these 4 points throughout 2016, so you can be “disciple who glorifies the Father by abiding in Christ.”

Counting Down The Days

count-downMany people, and especially the kids, are counting down the days to Christmas and know that it is just a couple of weeks away.  A much smaller number of people are eagerly counting the days to another event that will happen eight weeks after Christmas.

In about 72 days, the umps will shout “Play Ball,” and baseball’s Spring Training will begin.  Each of these talented players caught the eye of a scout because he was an All Star during his high school or college years. When he steps across the white chalk line to play America’s Game, he joins the best of the best and the cream of the crop on a finely manicured field of dreams.

Aren’t you thankful that God didn’t scout you and make you prove your worth before He chose you?  He selected you just like He did the Hebrews:

“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” ~Deuteronomy 7:7-9

Even though there’s nothing special about you, Moses says that God has chosen you and made you the special object of His love. If the two verses above were a book, the four chapter titles would be:

  • The Lord Loves You
  • God Keeps His promises
  • You Can Be Redeemed From Whatever Enslaves You
  • God Is Faithful and His Love Is Steadfast

He doesn’t love you because you are good, smart, pretty, wise or because you have great faith. God loves you because He is love; and, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (I John 4:10).”

 

Dude, I Got A Dud

crowdfundingA parody by Stephen Colbert reminded me of a project that projected great benefits to potential investors.  On a recent show, Colbert mocked the Vessyl smart cup. The designers of the cup claim that it can distinguish between a cappuccino or a black coffee with the added benefit of tracking your caloric intake and how much sugar and caffeine you are ingesting.

This full-of-potential-cup has hit the market half empty of promise:  It only tracks how much water you are drinking and sells for $99.

This hoopla and hype reminds me of a crowd funding project that cost me somewhere around a $100 to get 3 or 4 tracking devices.   It sounded like an inexpensive way to track an expensive or important item.  After syncing the device to a smartphone, you attach it to whatever you want to track and then monitor the location on the screen of your phone.

Since Hank, my dog, is a prized companion, I attached a chip to his collar and said, “Alright,” which Hank interprets as, and “I’m free to run.”   I watched the blip on my phone for about 10 seconds and then it disappeared.

After I whistled Hank in, I contacted the company.  I was informed that the device was for finding things like a lost set of car keys in your house, and could only track items within a short distance—10 to 15 feet not a block or two.

Projects like these offer the hope of riches, wealth, and an easier way of life, but they can be empty promises.  When I read the story about the Vessyl, it reminded me of the wise words of Solomon:

  • A greedy person is in a hurry to get rich, but he is ignorant of the loss that is about to overtake him. Proverbs 28:22
  • One man pretends to be rich but has nothing; another pretends to be poor but has great wealth. Proverbs 13:7

The safest investment you will ever make is not going to found on Wall Street or in in a crowd funding project, it will always be Jesus:

“I assure you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children, or fields because of Me and the gospel,  who will not receive 100 times more, now at this time—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and eternal life in the age to come.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first (Mark 10:29-31).”

Piers and the Power of Peers

dockThe answer to the question you may have is, “No and yes.”  There is not a misspelled word in the title of the blog, and I do know the difference between a peer and a pier.  Homophones like “pier and peer” can be a source of confusion:  They sound alike, but they are spelled differently and mean different things:

  • A pier is a structure built on posts that extends from land into the water, and it provides a place for boats to dock.
  • A peer is a person who is equal to you in one or more ways (ability, age, social status, etc.)

This next statement might muddy the water instead of clear it up:  Because a peer is also defined as something of equal worth or quality, it’s possible for piers to be peers.  It’s even possible for you to act as a pier for your peers when you provide a safe harbor for them in the stormy times of life.

As a peer, you exert influence that is either positive or negative.  Solomon paints a powerful contrast of the two:

  • Proverbs 1:9: “My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded.”
  • Proverbs 27:17: “In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.” character?  Have you been enticed or are you the enticer?  Have you sharpened or dulled the character of your peer group?  Are you the shelter in the time of storm or the storm? general

The storms of life are a common denominator of humanity—everyone will face one at some time.  General Douglass MacArthur knew this, and he offered this pray for his son:

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee—and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the weakness of true strength.

Then I, his father will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain. ”

I hope you will do more than just read this and lay it aside and forget it.  I encourage you to peer into the meanings of piers and peers and try to develop a life of peerless character.