Beginnings are not endings

“I was born a slave … I am not sure of the exact place or exact date … My life had its beginning during the most miserable, desolate and discouraging surroundings.”

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Booker T. Washington* described his start in life as such: “I was born a slave … I am not sure of the exact place or exact date … My life had its beginning during the most miserable, desolate and discouraging surroundings.” I have known personally many people in my life time who start life in difficult and incredibly ‘unfair’ circumstances. Rejecting parents of one child over another and ignored by parents who are involved in an addiction. Then there are those born with crippling and debilitating diseases. Or in the prime of their life are struck down as paraplegics. [Joni Erickson-Todda] There is absent parent[s] who are in prison or too sick to care for them. In today’s chaotic culture, many grow up in families surrounded by family who are murderers, child abusers and con-artists. Some grow up in or are sold into a type of slavery like sex-trafficking, even here in the US.

Consider Joseph, who is held up as a hero of the Bible. Jacob, his father, grew up as conniving and treacherous man. He took advantage of his father’s blindness and stole his older brother’s inheritance. Jacob’s father-in-law Laban cheated him several times with livestock and marriages.

Jacob’s sons took after their father. Joseph who was the 11th son born, was the youngest. Jacob played favorites with his sons. He was not shy about showing favoritism toward one child over other ten brothers. He did this in different ways: Jacob gave more affection, more privileges and less discipline to Joseph who was his favorite. Is it any wonder that this created animosity and jealousy among the other 10 older? One day when Joseph was a young man they saw an opportunity to be rid of him. They sold Joseph into slavery to some Egyptians slave traders. To cover their crime, they created an elaborate story, complete with hard evidence, to convince their father of Joseph’s unfortunate demise by a wild animal attack.

Joseph, the favored son with the nicest clothes, started life as a loved and cherished son. Suddenly he finds himself in a foreign country as a slave among foreign gods. But did he focus on yesterday? No. Let me say this, I believe that there is only one reality, today. Yesterday and tomorrow are not reachable. I cannot change the past or the future therefore, they are not in my realm of reality. All I can change is what is in front of me at this moment.

Back to Joseph. He remained faithful to his God and the Bible says “The Lord was with Joseph…” [Genesis 39:2] That is a game-changer in any circumstance. What changes, if I choose to believe God, is my attitude. Jesus levels the playing field. He is the only One who can change tomorrow. Someone said that “People go through life looking at the wrongs people do to us in the yesterdays.” How sad. They fail to see that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Hebrews 13:8 ESV] We may not escape the circumstance we are born into or the circumstances thrown at us either by whim or design or our ignorance or stupidity. The good news is that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” [Romans 8:31 NIV]. When everything is all said and done, if God is in us then it does not matter who is against us! Beginnings are not endings!

There is a principle …

“If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.”

There is a principle that states: “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.” Maybe you have heard this before. We live in a chaotic world with regular mass shootings, police brutality, countries rattling swords and other countries, and world-wide bigotry. There is no peace. Purpose for living seems allusive. And that seems to be the very theme I encounter in ministering to others. People young and old are searching for purpose and peace. And there seems to be no end to the different avenues people take trying to obtain what they want.

Just recently a young [30ish] Christian man [I’ll call him Joe] contacted me wanting help. His complaint was that he was under spiritual attack and depressed. I knew Joe was part of a ministry in the church we both attend. I asked him what he tried to do about it and he said that he would go and have the prayer team pray over him and that seemed to help, and he would feel better for a while. But then it would start all over again. The other thing Joe said he was doing was spending time with friends into wee hours of the morning talking and talking, trying to understand why this was happening. I asked him how that helped, and he could not answer me.

 

We set up a day to meet at a local coffee shop and he picked 8AM as the time. 8AM came and went and finally at 8:15 I called him. No answer. Then about five minutes later Joe called me, profusely apologizing and said he would be there in 20 minutes if I could wait. I did. He said he slept through his alarm because he had been out with friends talking till two or three in the morning. We set up second meeting and the same thing happened and no meeting. I tried one more time with the same outcome; same reasons and no meeting.

Later that week I sent him a text with this question: “Are you allowing God’s enemy to rob you of the very things you desire?” Then I shared this verse: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” [2 Timothy 2:15 ESV] Then I asked him if he was spending any time in the Word daily. He said he did not really have time.

We talked about “not having time” to spend time with Jesus. We have time for other important and not so important things. I shared with him that there was only one primary source for understanding how to live as Christ-follower. Sure, friends are important, but they are a secondary resource.

The one mistake that young Christians make is not understanding the concept of discipleship. Listen to this Olympic Champion Eric Lindell: “You will know as much of God, and only as much of God, as you are willing to put into practice.” Guess what? Becoming like Jesus can only happen with practice and listening directly to God as the primary source. “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” [Hebrews 4:11-12 ESV]

So “Joe” … if you want to get out of the crazily repeating cycles in your life, you might want to change what you are doing. Just a thought …

WHERE IS OUR SECURITY?

I think that I am reading my bible correctly when I say that God is interested in a person’s character over his action and talk.

In the “end days” Jesus warns us that there will be a game afoot to deceive the church of Jesus. And the game is extended over all denominations alike. People in leadership are saying and doing things that run counter to what God Himself instructs. For example: “You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed. (Deut 18:21-22 NIV)

I keep reading and hearing from evangelical Christians that God is using President Donald Trump without his really knowing it. I find it startling, by all appearances, none of his spiritual advisors are telling him to repent of his habitual lying and mocking behavior. It is incredible to me that this President acts and talks in such an undisciplined manner. The media seems full of outspoken folks identifying themselves as evangelicals, bending over backwards supporting the man and his behavior; doing so without demanding what is central to Christian behavior, repentance and a change in his habitual actions.

I think that I am reading my bible correctly when I say that God is interested in a person’s character over his action and talk. King David sinned flagrantly, and he experienced the consequences. However, he repented immediately when confronted with his multi-level sins. He asked God to “create in me a clean heart.”  Saul, another King, was the people’s choice and had no inclination of repentance. God knows the hearts of all of us just like He knew the hearts of David and Saul You can fool the people some of the time, but you can never fool God.

Evangelicals miss the heart of God and the final instruction of Jesus to us when we equate our security to men in power. China, Russia or the caliphate is not the true enemy to our security. President Trump’s agenda is not out security. If we claim to be Christ-followers, then we need to pay attention to what is on God’s heart, the integrity of His church.

Not only are we tearing ourselves apart as a nation, but we are sabotaging ourselves in the Church from within. When will we wake up and realize that we are in a freefall into Apostasy. Jesus calls us to a different way of life. Listen to His final words to us on earth: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” [Matthew 28:17-20 NIV]

Where are the voices of the watchmen on the wall? There are a small minority of Christians out there who are warning of being wary of the increased selling of God’s security in the areas of political influence, personal gain in health and wealth; or even supernatural power. Are we listening? Are we engaging with the Spirit of truth through the Bible? We need a change of our collective and individual heart. We need to be looking at God’s way that produces holy living. Jesus clearly does not promise a life of ease. Instead, He tells us if we are serious about following Him, then we need to be prepared for a life of losing ourselves and our agendas to authentically be in the game of bringing the lost into His fold.

USS Midway History

I have the privilage of volunteering in the midst of living history. This year the USS Midway turns 75 years old and the ol’ gal is still in pretty good shape. Come on by if you are in the San Diego area and check us out. Check out TripAdvisor to see what they say about us. 

………

The USS Midway was the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. Named after the climactic Battle of Midway of June 1942, Midway was built in only 17 months, but missed World War II by one week when commissioned on September 10, 1945. Midway was the first in a three-ship class of large carriers that featured an armored flight deck and a powerful air group of 120 planes.

From the beginning of its service, the Midway played key roles in the Cold War. In 1946 it became the first American carrier to operate in the midwinter sub-Arctic, developing new flight deck procedures. The following year Midway became the only ship to launch a captured German V-2 rocket. The trial’s success became the dawn of naval missile warfare. Just two years after that, Midway sent a large patrol plane aloft to demonstrate that atomic bombs could be delivered by a carrier.

Midway served with the Atlantic Fleet for ten years, making seven deployments to European waters, patrolling “the soft underbelly” of NATO. A round-the-world cruise took Midway to the west coast in 1955, where it was rebuilt with an angled deck to improve jet operations.

Midway’s first combat deployment came in 1965 flying strikes against North Vietnam. Midway aircraft shot down three MiG’s, including the first air kill of the war. However, 17 Midway aircraft were lost to enemy fire during this cruise. In 1966 Midway was decommissioned for a four-year overhaul.

Over a chaotic two-day period during the fall of Saigon in April 1975, Midway was a floating base for large Air Force helicopters which evacuated more than 3,000 desperate refugees during Operation Frequent Wind.

As potential threats to the Arabian oil supply grew, and to relieve strain on U. S.-based carriers, Midway transferred to Yokosuka, Japan, making it the first American carrier home ported abroad.

In 1990 Midway deployed to the Arabian Gulf in response to the Iraqi seizure of Kuwait. In the ensuing Operation Desert Storm, Midway served as the flagship for naval air forces in the Gulf and launched more than 3,000 combat missions with no losses. Its final mission was the evacuation of civilian personnel from Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines after the20th century’s largest eruption of nearby Mount Pinatubo.

On April 11, 1992 the Midway was decommissioned in San Diego and remained in storage in Bremerton, Washington until 2003 when it was donated to the 501(c)3 nonprofit San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum organization. It opened as the USS Midway Museum in June 2004.

Repub from: https://www.midway.org/about-us/midway-history/

KEY DATES in USS Midway History

1946       Operation Frostbite: First Carrier to operate extensively in the sub-Arctic

1947       Operation Sandy: The only successful launch of a German V-2 rocket from a ship, the dawn of naval missile warfare.

1963       First successful landing using “Hands Off” auto-pilot technology.

1965       Midway pilots shoot down first MiG of the Vietnam War.

1973       Midway pilots shoot down last MiG of the Vietnam War.

1973       First aircraft carrier home-ported in a foreign country: Yokosuka, Japan,

1975       Leads the evacuation of Saigon; rescues 3,073 refugees in two days.

1991       Flagship of Persian Gulf air operations in Operation Desert Storm.

1991       Rescues 1,800 Americans fleeing Mt. Pinatubo eruption.

1992       Decommissioned in San Diego, California.

2004       Opens as the USS Midway Museum in San Diego.

2010       Surpasses 5 million visitors since opening.

2012       First Navy ship museum to host 1 million visitors annually.

Not always will it be so …

I was up really early this morning with Kathe. After breakfast, I sat down and continued my reading through Exodus. This morning I find myself at Exodus 15. Thinking about the previous events that God orchestrated, I decided to write my own poem based on Moses’ poem. It really is about gratitude. It was fun doing and helped me to remember that God is sovereign no matter what appears to be going on around me. I thought I would share it with you. I am not a poet … never tried this before. But maybe God will speak to you as you reflect on His work in your life … Enjoy.   

I will sing to the LORD,
For he has triumphed;
As in the days of Moses,
The horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea.
 
The Jesus is my strength and my song,
And He has become my salvation;
You have not left me as an orphan.
This is my God, and I will praise Him,
 
Jesus is a man of war; the LORD is his name.
Remember the fate of Pharaoh’s chariots and his army drowned in the sea,
And his chosen officers were lost in the Red Sea.
They went down into the depths like a stone.
 
Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power,
Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
In the greatness of Your majesty you overthrow Your adversaries;
You send out Your fury; it consumes them like dry hay.
 
At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;
The floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
Fear not, stand firm, and see the work of the LORD,
For the ‘Egyptians’ whom you see today, you shall never see again.
 
The enemy says, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’
But by Your hand they sank like lead in the mighty waters.
 
Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
Who is like You, inviting us personally
To live with You and You will be living in us.
 
You lead today by Your steadfast love
The people whom You have redeemed;
You guide us by Your strength to Your holy abode.
You are bringing us in to Your mountain
 
We tremble at the daily news
Pangs of fear and unrest grip our hearts
Until we stop and be still
Jesus is preparing a place for us in His Father’s house.
 
Not always will it be so …
Terror and dread will fall on Your enemies
They will become still as a stone
As the people You have purchased pass by.
 
Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give to you, certainly not as the world gives
Let not your hearts be troubled or be afraid.
The LORD will reign forever and ever.
 
Sing to the LORD,
Yet a little while and the world will see me no more,
But you will see Me.
Because I live, you also will live.
 

Gratitude

There are two ways we can look during life’s journey. Look up and see the stars. Look down and see mud. We can look up in hope. We can look down in dispare. We can look up and do what Epicurus counseled: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” We only live once on this earth. Why waste time looking at the depressing mud in life. Look up because your Redeemer is close.

What are you seeking?

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. 
—Psalm 9:10In my experience the keyword is “seek.” I think seeking, the action of seeking after God, is a discipline. Our hearts are so prone to wandering and getting out of alignment with God’s purpose. And the more we get out of alignment, the more we miss out on God’s love for us and the more we feel like we’re alone in the world. 
But guess what? When I find myself feeling like that it’s I who have moved away, not God. As I look back on my experiences in trying to follow God, I find that when I feel forsaken and abandoned is when I’m assuming that God is just going to pamper me and give me whatever I want whenever I want it. And when he doesn’t, I throw a little tantrum and go off and sulk spiritually. “Seek FIRST me” counseled Jesus, “and every thing else will be added that you need.” (Mt 6:33)

Advocate

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We naturally view God like the hanging judge in the old Wild West. He has itchy fingers for bring the mallet down to wield the death sentence in swift justice. We live our lives sequestered squirming under the harsh glare of guilt and desperately try to weasel out of our responsibility or blatantly deny the charges, invoking our right in our arrogance to defend our selves in God’s court room. As our life unfolds, we find a death sentence hanging over it. God keeps asking us if we want a public defender. He is sitting in the crowd, an advocate of impeccable record, having never lost a case in over 2000 years. All we have to do is admit we are guilty and unable to mount a sustainable defense, asking for help. The Advocate will run to immediately join us, bringing with him the best Counselor known. A few words are exchanged between the Supreme Judge and our new Advocate. Our case is adjudicated and “forgiven” is stamped on our file in blood red letters, permanently sealing it for eternity. We are able to walk out of the Judgement Hall a free person with access to the Counselor who helps us live a God-pleasing life, never to be under the death sentence again.

Wisdom vs. Knowledge

Every so often I find it instructive to pause in QT and consider the world (solar system for ancient writers) that God has created for us. Where we live in the ‘heavens’ is just a microcosm of His creation. Within our limited realm, the big picture is unfathomable. This morning I was thinking about what we know, what we know we do not know, and what we do not know that we do not know. And it too [what we do not know that we do not know] is unfathomable.
Psa 19:1-2  “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” Knowledge does not just appear in our brain. It has to sought after. It has to be dug out like gold-infused ore from the earth. But ore in of itself is just ore. It is ugly and gives little hint that there is something precious buried inside, unless you are searching and know what to look for. Knowledge is like ore, it is raw data that is unrefined. Knowledge is just some information that may or may not be real. Knowledge really has no value until it is tested with fire and pressure. Knowledge under pressure is where experience is born and that is the start of wisdom.
God has put knowledge at our fingertips. Look at the ‘heavens.’ We can see both our solar system and the an unfathomable universe beyond. They “declare the glory of God …” Wisdom comes from how I look at the heavens or anything else that God has created. Do I see a multitude of stars that just randomly happened? Or do I use my mind to test that knowledge of what I see? Am I willing to seek honestly for the end product of knowledge – wisdom. That takes the hard process of burning off the dross [read: letting go of some knowledge that is proven false]. Wisdom is looking at the the heavens and seeing it not as a bunch of stars created by chance. Wisdom is looking at the heavens and seeing the glory of God revealed in His handiwork. We are part of His handiwork and His wisdom is being revealed in us as we allow God to test our knowledge. Under His tutelage, our experience and knowledge become wisdom that reveals His glory in the world [including all people] around us.

Opportunity

Jesus was all about restoration. Doctor Luke tells us about the condition of a woman who needed physical restoration. “… a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.”

How much of the ills of today are the cause of “spirits?” In this journey of faith there is always the opportunity for that voice in my head to say something like ‘You are weak’ or ‘You are not good enough.’ We have been given the ability to make choices by our Creator. We have the God-ordained ability to choose between right and wrong, between truth and lies; whether to seek truth or deception. However, those choices, can open the door for “spirits” to invade our thinking and impact our physical welfare. God has permitted us to choose evil. Those choices if made outside of God’s intention for us, can allow demons to act on and in our physical bodies. Think about it. If it happened in Jesus’ day, what prevents that from happening today. Unaccountable or inexplicable mental disorders … are they still coming from the same source?

We have the ability to make choices that enslave us. The results of our choices made from our own independence and arrogance will lead to slavery of addictions and deep seated irrational fears. There is hope. But we have to look in the right place. Our own counsel will entrap us. God wants desperately for us to be free but He will not violate our independence. The Apostle Paul counseled the Roman Christ-followers in Roman that: The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to son ship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” [Romans 8:15] Freedom of all kinds is what God has intended for us since His creation started.

What happened to the woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years? Doctor Luke tells us that Jesus: “Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.” In order for me to implement change in another, I need to be like Jesus. I need to be consecrated, aligned and rejoicing in the partnership that I am privileged to have with Jesus. That is the faith part. If I am a prince of the Most High, if I am part of the Royal Priesthood, then I need to speak with authority that my position requires. Be prepared because people will push back. The starting place for an authoritative prayer is the prayer Jesus taught prayed over another. Faith keeps asking: “Why not today?”

 

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Songwriters
KOCH, DONALD A. / CRAIG, ANDREW SHAWN

Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group