Bartimaeus, stick a sock in it!

jesus_healing_blind.gifWhat do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked. (Mark 10:51)

Bartimaeus was the lucky guy to whom this question was addressed. He was blind, a beggar, and when he heard Jesus was passing by he began yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

The crowds tried to quiet him. If it was 2008, security would have tasered him. But he was desperate. No way was he going to let this opportunity slip by.

A blind man in that day was helpless, hopeless, destined to sit by the road and spend his pathetic life begging. Bartimaeus knew this might well be his only hope of rising above his circumstances. He kept yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus turned and asked:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Wow! I’m trying to imagine how that must have felt. Like Bill Gates handing you his ATM card and giving you the PIN number. What is it you need? Take my debit card. There’s enough in the account to cover it. Just take what you need!

What lesson can we take from Bartimaeus today? A couple of things. First, seize the opportunity when it presents itself. It may not come around again. Jesus may never have passed that way again. Bartimaeus knew it may be his one and only hope.

The other lesson? Persistence. Tenacity. Forget the detractors. Don’t listen to those who try to hold you back, hold you down.

If there is something you want, if you have a dream, a vision, go after it with your whole heart. Make no room for discouragement. Put away doubt. Cling to hope. Strengthen your faith. Then be ready to hear the words of Jesus:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

He’s still asking that question today of those who cry to him with their whole heart!

Time’s fun when you’re having flies!

FrogWow! It’s been a year since I’ve posted. Where has the time gone? They say, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” or as Kermit the Frog once said, “Time’s fun when you’re having flies.”

I was in a head-on collision last year. Could have easily bought the farm – it was pretty serious. Some folks say they saw their whole life flash in front of their eyes. All I saw was my airbags. It’s probably what saved my life.

I go in for physical therapy twice a week and massage therapy twice a week. They put me on this stimulator machine that sends little shocks to various muscles.  Then there’s the stretching machine. My neck rests in a cradle and it pulls for fifteen minutes. A few more months on that thing and I’ll be six foot six. Of course, eighteen inches of it will be neck.

Thanks to those of you who have written recently and encouraged me to get back to blogging. I appreciate your kind comments. I will begin sharing some of my devotionals again, and I hope you’ll stop by when you can. Thanks, too, for all your prayers. It means more than you can possibly know.  

God bless and Aloha!

Nameless people

As you are walking along,” He told them, “you will see a man coming towards you carrying a pot of water. Follow him.” Mark 14:13 

water-carrier.jpgSomeone should write a book on the nameless people in the Bible who played a roll in God’s eternal plan. This guy was one of them. Jesus was giving His disciples instructions for preparing the last supper. “Follow the guy carrying a bucket of water. He’ll lead you to a room where we will dine.”

When the guy got up that morning, he had no idea he would go down in history. It was just another day. Just going about his normal duties. Probably as a servant. A water carrier. Yet, the Son of God saw him, singled him out, and gave him eternal significance.

What if he had neglected his responsibilities that day? “This job sucks! It’s beneath my dignity. Tell the boss he can carry his own water. I’m outta here!”

Hate to admit it but it’s how I might have felt. I don’t want some entry level position. I want a job where people know my name. Look up to me. Where I can climb the ladder of success.

This guy says, “I’ll climb the ladder and clean out the gutters if that’s what the Master wants.”

Jesus took note. Saw his heart. The heart of a servant.

Standing at the bathroom sink this morning, shaving as I’ve done ten thousand times before, I wonder what my day will hold. Will I live life in such a way that God will take note? Single me out? Use me in His great plan? Or not?

What about you?

Carrying water isn’t glamorous. They may not mention your name. But who knows when God might speak to someone in need of direction and say, “Follow the man, follow the woman carrying the pot of water.”

Wandering in the wilderness

The Lord your God has watched over you and blessed you every step of the way for all these forty years as you have wandered around in this great wilderness; and you have lacked nothing in all that time.” Deuteronomy 2:7 LB

wilderness2.jpgI see the words “wandered around” and I picture a person with no sense of direction. Lost. No goals, no purpose.

Or someone at the mercy of their own circumstances. They would like to go far in life, live out their dreams, but they are hindered. By race, poverty, education, disability. Like a boat with only one oar. At the mercy of the shifting tides.

I’m not sure about you but I’ve felt that way a time or two … today. Caught in the spin cycle of the washing machine of life. And it isn’t set on delicate.

The Israelites “wandered around” in the wilderness forty years, yet today’s verse says in all that time, they lacked nothing. Despite all their wanderings, God provided every need. They were lost but not abandoned.

Don’t you like what it says?

The Lord your God has watched over you and blessed you every step of the way.”

He’ll do the same for you and me today!

Somehow, Mom waited

Please note: I was invited to submit a “poignant memory” of my mother, for a book that will be published in honor of Mother’s Day. The following story took place last year, April 8, 2006.

My brother’s voice on the other end of the phone was urgent. “Del, you better hurry. Mom is slipping away fast.” For days, my family and I had taken turns at her bedside, knowing her time was near. She was ninety and had lived a good life. Now she was ready to go and be with the one whom she loved most of all.

I found myself reflecting on the countless days and nights she had stayed at my bedside through long hospitalizations. As a child of seventeen months, I had been run over by a truck. Miraculously, I recovered, only to be stricken a year later with polio.

Each day, she would make the one hundred mile round trip from Hamilton to Missoula to be at my side. But winter was fast approaching and she knew, soon, she would no longer be able to drive those icy Montana roadways.

So she set aside three days to fast and pray. “O God, please strengthen Del enough to let him come home from the hospital.” Then she fasted a fourth day, but spent the entire day giving praise and thanksgiving for the miracle she just knew was sure to happen.

On that fourth day, Mom took a step of faith. She went to JC Penney and bought a little pair of snow pants and a jacket for me to wear home from the hospital. That very afternoon, the doctor met her in the hallway and told her I had made such remarkable improvement, he was going to fit me for braces and send me home.

Now, flying down the freeway, I wondered if I would make it to the hospital in time. My daughter met me out front with a wheelchair and together, we raced through the corridors, practically taking corners on one wheel.

Halfway down the hallway, I began to see family members coming out of her room wiping their eyes. Something told me I was too late. Sure enough, my brother put his hand on my shoulder and told me she was gone.

I went in and stood at her side. She was so quiet. After days of watching her labor for every breath she seemed so peaceful.

Then suddenly… she took in one more breath… and slowly… let it out. And she was gone.

Somehow, Mom waited for me to be at her side.

Don’t drink the water on Maui

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Sitting here at Starbucks, three different ladies have come through in the last ten minutes who were hapai (hah-pie) – they were expecting, and I mean any minute now! Must be something in the water!

Actually, it probably means the fleet came in nine months ago. Here in Hawaii, whenever the fleet returns from maneuvers, a lot of little navy kids show up nine months and ten minutes later. 

Our three children are grown and on the mainland so our child rearing days are behind us and I’m not sure I’d want to tackle them again. It’s not a job for the faint of heart. I give these three gals credit. Many of them are raising their families alone while Dad is on deployment.

Today’s verse is a good one to hold to. God has a plan for our lives, our families, our marriages, and it’s a good plan. Designed to give us a future and a hope.

When I see that verse, I picture a carpenter with a blueprint. It’s a plan to build a beautiful new home. Now, the carpenter has to follow the plan. He can’t make it up as he goes along. And chances are, the plan will require him to first lay a good foundation. Without it, the house will collapse. But as he follows the plan, step by step, the structure begins to emerge.

God has a plan for our lives and we must follow it step by step. We can’t get impatient and get ahead of His plan. We can’t build the roof before we pour the foundation. We must follow the blueprint, and the blueprint is found in His Word.  

May I encourage you again? Don’t neglect your time with Him each day. He will help you build a structure, whether it’s your family, your marriage, your personal life, that will withstand the tests of time.

 God bless you as follow His plan!

What’s behind is behind

And let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… Hebrews 12:1,2

Recently, my devotions found me in the book of Numbers. Now, I have to be honest, I don’t get a lot out of Numbers. Guess I never was that good at math. I sometimes find myself speed reading through some of those passages, Lord forgive me!

But I did slow down long enough to run across an interesting passage:

Tell Aaron that when he sets up the seven lamps in the lamp stand, he is to place them so their light shines forward. Numbers 8:2 (NLB)

I’m not sure why God made that requirement of Aaron but I wonder if he was trying to show us the importance of being forward looking. Not dwelling in the past. Not looking to the left or right in uncertainty. Moving straight ahead toward the goal.

You remember, the Israelites were constantly wanting to return to Egypt. God was telling them, “Don’t look back. The Promised Land lies ahead!”

God placed our eyes in the front of our heads for a reason. He wants us looking forward. He placed our ears facing forward so we will follow His voice, not listen to what others are saying behind our backs.

In fact, there’s really only one part of our anatomy He made behind us… But we’ll save that for another discussion.

Nuff sed.

The little things count

Unless you are honest in small matters, you won’t be in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10

This verse came off the page at me this morning because it’s the small things that are most likely to trip me up. Not the big ones. I mean, I’ve never cheated on my wife. Never robbed a bank. I don’t cheat my boss. I give him a hundred and ten.

But it’s easy to rationalize the little matters. Cut a corner here or there. Who will ever know? No big deal. No one is hurt. If I take an extra five dollar deduction on my income tax, the government won’t grind to a halt tomorrow (not that I do).

Here is the irony. If I cheat someone, that person is not necessarily the one who is hurt. But I am.

If I steal a little two cent trinket from Bill Gates, trust me, he won’t be hurt. But every time I look at it, I’ll know it was stolen and I am hurt. I’ve undermined my character. Forfeited my integrity. And that makes me less of a person than I should be.

And God passes me by on the promotion.

Throughout the Bible, honesty is a major issue with God, after all, His name is Truth.

It should be an issue with you and me as well.

They all look alike to me

He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. Psalm 147:3,4

galaxy.jpgAt first glance, these two verses don’t seem to connect. They seem disjointed. But maybe not. In fact, I think verse four actually validates verse three.

There are billions of stars and for the most part, they all look about the same. Yet, God knows each one by name. As insignificant as some distant star is on the backside of the universe, it is important enough to God to have a name. He made it and it has purpose.

How much more is He attentive to the person who suffers the pain of a broken heart? They are not forgotten. Not lost in the crowd. They are not cast aside like worthless trash, although that may be how they feel. To Him, each person is priceless.

Like the stars, there are billions of people, yet he knows each one by name. Each has significance. Each life has value.

… for I am fearfully and wonderfully made… Psalm 139:14

He knows your name, my friend, and He cares about your needs. “He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds.”

Keep your trust in Him today!

Hidden between the lines

desert2.jpgThe whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sinai, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Exodus 17:1

Discovered this little passage a while back. It’s the kind of verse I would  normally fly right over the top of. But something between the lines caught my eye.

It seems to be saying that sometimes, God intentionally leads us into dry places. Look at the context. The Israelites were following a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and it led them to a place where there was no water.

I’m not sure about you, but in my life, I have times I feel close to God. Other times, He’s light years away.

I love it when my time of devotions is sweet. God is speaking to me, encouraging me, giving me direction. I feel His presence in my prayer life.

But other times, just to be honest, I’m dry inside. Devotions are tedious. Prayer is laborious. Your time with the Lord is about as exciting as kissing your sister. (Sorry about that, Carolyn!)

Usually in the dry times, I blame myself. It’s my fault. I must be crowding God out of my life. He’s displeased with me for something I’ve done.  

But could it be that, like way back then, He is leading us into a place where there is no water?

See, it’s easy to live victoriously when everything is going well. Our faith soars when we are experiencing the blessings of God, when He is answering our prayers.

But during the dry times, all we have to hold on to is our faith. But the faith that really pleases God is the faith that remains strong when nothing is going right, when God is a universe away.

True faith evidences itself in the realm of the unseen.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

I don’t like the dry times but I have come to learn that in those times, God is often doing His greatest work in my life. And if I will remain strong in my faith, well, like in the days of the Children of Israel, a major gush is just about to happen.