My parents are living on a farm in Zolfo Springs with my brother Nate and his wife Melissa. Recently, their guard dog Shepherd was killed by the alligator living in the pond on their property. Less than a week later, Nate’s longtime companion, Minnie, was hit and killed by a truck on the road outside their home. As my parents were out walking alongside a ditch looking for Minnie, a car stopped and the driver asked what they were looking for. A conversation ensued in which the driver asked about getting permission to fish in the farm. Dad explained that he was the owner and he would agree for Alex and his wife Elisa to fish as long as they were willing to let him share with them about Jesus. They decided that was a fair arrangement and after fishing a couple of times at the pond and catching nice Bass, Alex one afternoon sat down on the farm porch and conversed with Dad about John 3:16. He ended up placing his faith in Jesus.
Matthew 6:10—Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
2 John 6—And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love.
The first Biblical reference to love God is recorded in Exodus 20:6. Moses teaches the Israelites to keep God’s commands and thereby demonstrate their love for Him. So, when John defines love in his letter to his readers, he is not sharing with them a new concept. But, as we all know, it is hard to walk in love with God. How do we strengthen willpower to be better God-lovers and, in the process, improve loving others and ourselves?
Joe works hard at work and by the time he gets home he is exhausted. Too often he is impatient with his children and snaps at his wife. When he loses his temper and yells at her it is not because he wants to be a jerk or to act in such an unloving manner. The fact is his willpower is nearly sapped. Unfortunately, because of this, he is also insensitive to the fact that his wife, Alice, is also exhausted from watching high-energy children and operating at the tail end of being sick. Her willpower and ability to understand his feelings is also at a low end.
For ten days I underwent training to be an assessor as part of my responsibilities for a new job I will be taking with the military. By Friday night of the second week I was exhausted. This job is intense because it requires me (when I am on call) to make a final recommendation to senior U.S. or Canadian leaders at the critical point of what appears to be an enemy attack. Because I have no experience in aviation, I have to learn new terminology and methodologies in order to make key decisions for terrible contingencies that can occur rapidly.
I had the privilege for several weeks of working with four Army generals. In discussing the importance of a good reputation, several of them shared why it was vital to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Their conduct was measured not just by standards but also the perception of those standards. Aside from their own moral and spiritual convictions what they were willing to do or not do was tied directly to the people they served. I was encouraged that powerful men modeled integrity with humility.
Samson amazingly typified the nation of Israel. He was specially chosen by God, and empowered with eye-popping strength. Yet, like his countrymen, he chose the cravings of his flesh and failed miserably. What prompted the man set apart for God to make decisions set apart from God?
Labor Day is a holiday celebrated in America the first Monday in September. It is unclear who first conceived of this day but for over 100 years it has served as a tribute and dedication to the social and economic achievements of American workers. Regardless of what country we live in, work is an important facet of our everyday lives.
Each year senior military officers attending the Army War College choose a gift to present to the school. Because of differing tastes, this exercise of selecting a gift proves to be the most contentious challenge each class will face. Typically, students pick a reputable artist and commission that artist to paint a historical event the class chooses. Civil war themes are by far the most popular and sell the most prints. One year when the artist revealed his sketch, one southern student on the selection committee complained that there were no confederate soldiers present. Another member objected that no black Americans were depicted. So they sent the artist back to his canvas. Imagine their surprise when the clever painter produced a beautiful portrait of black Union soldiers guarding sullen Confederate prisoners!
Psalm 32:5,10--Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not conceal my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You took away the guilt of my sin. Selah . . . Many pains come to the wicked, but the one who trusts in the Lord
will have faithful love surrounding him.
I was supposed to go to Hawaii for two weeks of military duty. I’ve always wanted to visit that island paradise so I was pretty excited. Until I received a notice in the mail telling me my orders were rescinded. When I called the people responsible for issuing them I discovered that another person with the last name of York was supposed to have his duty cancelled but mine was mistakenly revoked. It was too late to correct the mistake. Instead, the Army sent me to North Carolina. Because of that snafu I ended up attending a Civil Affairs course. This in turn enabled me to join a unit less than seven miles from our home and ultimately to leave the Infantry to become a Civil Affairs officer. In the course of the last five years, God has given me wonderful opportunities to meet people and serve in challenging assignments all because of a clerical goof. Looking back, I see the hand of the Lord at work redirecting my steps.
When we look at a glass to fill it we stop pouring before the water reaches the top of the cylinder. When we stand on the staircase and contemplate jumping (for those of us who have not yet attained full maturity), we only leap as far as we believe our legs are able to sustain the impact of landing without incurring injury. When we drive an automobile, we know what speeds to go to operate the vehicle safely. When given a task by God, we measure what we will do by what we determine is our capacity. And immediately we superimpose our notion of our capability upon our Creator.
On Oct. 9, 2001, Old Guard 1st Sergeant Robert Watson stood rigidly at attention ready to receive a freshly folded American flag from the casket of a soldier killed by the September 11 attack on the Pentagon. But as a member of the prestigious detail moved to hand Old Glory to Watson, he refused to receive it. A small sliver of white was visible in the triangular fold. Only the blue and white stars should have shown. With his hand he could have covered the mistake and few if any would have noticed the flaw. But while the family waited and a number of VIPs, to include the Chief of Staff of the Army watched, 1st Sgt. Watson stood unmoving.
“Strength as One” is a great class motto. Attending my 20th West Point reunion was a fresh reminder of a unique gathering of unpretentious classmates who are a joy to be around and a blessing in so many ways. By measured statistics, the class of ’81 is special both in service to our country and in generosity. I found myself again humbled that God would allow me, a scrawny missionary kid from the Philippines, the privilege of spending four years of my life with such outstanding people.
Bettis hates God. He thinks the whole concept of yielding one’s heart to a Divine Creator is bunk. It’s heavenly tyranny foisted on earth. He didn’t choose to be born so where’s the fairness in damnation if he opts not to play by God’s rules? He resists the notion of truth being defined for him. He’d rather rebel.
We may think Bettis is nuts to scorn a loving God, to literally play with fire. But he holds the God-given right of refusal. The beauty of free will is that we canrebel. What value would there be in creating creatures devoid of the ability to choose to love?
Fulfillment is about bringing closure to what was initiated. It also means “to measure up, to satisfy.” How we define being fulfilled dictates what kind of life we will lead. Say I determine that I am my own captain, then my fulfillment is confined by what I can and cannot do. If I concede control of my life to others then my fulfillment is defined by the will of those in power. If I believe that God is the One leading me then my fulfillment rests in gripping firmly the rope of His will.
Hank Acephalous graduated near the top of his West Point class. As a newly commissioned second lieutenant, he continued to excel by earning the coveted ranger tab. He was set to join the elite Ranger battalion at his new post. Life was good.
Imagine you’re a 42-year-old man and you’re unemployed. Your boss wanted help pilfering the company’s money and your integrity cost you your job. You can’t get hired because being a Christian proves you are an intolerant bigot. You had to step down from your position as the outreach leader in your church because the pastor’s brother moved into town and liked the position you labored to create. Now your wife thinks you’re a wuss because you let the bullies push you around.
In the course of life, I've learned that my Mind daily receives an unwelcome visitor. On some days he keeps to himself and is hardly noticeable. On other days he's obnoxious, devious and overbearing. Sometimes he boasts while at other times he is smooth and spellbinding. The Mind's manager, Will, knows not to underestimate his ploys. Even still he inexplicably will entertain this unsavory fellow or give him the room with the largest view. Until the Owner returns, he cannot throw him out for he retains his own hidden pass key.
Haughty hears Wisdom reveal what’s at stake
but he scorns being told what path he should take.
“Turn right,” says the Son, but left the man goes.
“I like it my way, the way that I chose!”
Off the edge he plunges with a cry of dismay
For left without Wisdom there is no right way.
Man’s perceptions are often not in line with God’s intentions. Had Jesus chosen to heed the opinions of his key men, the dynamic dozen when they: