Sunday, August 18, 2013

Your kids will love you for it (someday).

I wrote a few days ago about “Spiritual Headship”.  I believe this is a dynamic that affects every person’s life, whether they are aware of it or not.  When you walk into a store you can tell instantly whether it is a pleasant place to work or if those who are serving you can barely wait until it is time to go home.  In some stores that atmosphere is mostly created by the manager of a section who gets along well with those working along side him or her.  In a smaller, family-owned or run businessA, that atmosphere usually comes directly from the owner.  I deal with different paint stores and there is a huge difference between the service I get from a big box store, a national francize paint store chain that sells only paint, and a locally owned, family operated paint store that works very hard at keeping my business.

            My point is this.  The spiritual atmosphere created at the top of the organization I have to deal with is largely created by the attitude of the boss in charge.  It is not hard to tell if that person is an angry person who is hard to please.  Or if he is a fair minded person who is open to suggestions from those around him. 

            I’ve done a lot of reflecting about this because my father-in-law just passed away two weeks ago.  Lots of nice things will be said about him at his memorial service this afternoon, as should be the case.  This sweet, unassuming 92 year old pastor had a true servant heart.  He was dearly loved at the nursing facility where he spent the last 20 years of his life.  But I can testify that without being dictatorial about his faith, he set a tone of tenderness toward the Lord’s voice that has brought his Faith in Jesus Christ down to our generation.  Now it is our turn as patriarch and matriarch of our family to continue our influence toward godliness, faithful obedience, joyful submission to do everything we can to make following God the most attractive lifestyle possible.

            There are so many applications of this principle.  How about applying this to our homes?  Am I, as father to my children, seen by them as a tyrant who is difficult to please or am I approachable by my kids, willing to listen to their suggestions and ideas?  Is it okay for them to offer an alternative on how to get a chore done or is it Dad’s way, period, end of discussion?  Yes, there are times when I need to say. “No, I want it done this way.”  But if I have worked at creating a trusting relationship, hopefully those times when I need to set my foot down will be few and far between.

            Is my home a place where it feels comfortable?  We have had a few people over the years comment on how “peaceful” our home feels.  (That could be the absence now for several years of no toddler’s or rebellious teenagers.)  But even when our kids were in that age group, there was very little rebellious behavior because they knew we loved them and respected them as delightful young people.

            So what kind of persons are you drawing them out to become.  What is the spiritual atmosphere you are creating?  You can do this!  Day by day, one attitude at a time, based on one thought at a time, taken captive to the obedience of Jesus, the Lord of my home.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Spiritual Headship

One of the great motivators in my life is based on this question:  “What is the spiritual atmosphere my life is creating that will impact my wife, children and grand children?”

            I don’t know if you have ever considered that question, but it is something I think about every few days, if not nearly every day.  It is based on the concept of “Spiritual Headship”, which is a fancy word for saying that how I live my life in the spiritual realm will have a profound impact on my family, my business, and ultimately everyone my life touches.  I am the spiritual leader of my home.  I set the tone, whether we will be a family who honors God or just spends its time in recreation or pursuing the “American Dream”.  What I set as priority for myself will affect directly what atmosphere is dominant in my home.  If I spend more time with the sports page than with God’s Word, that will show up somehow in the spiritual level of my home life.
            This gets really convicting for me, personally, when I think about the secret sins in my life that no one else knows about.  Yes, it is possible for me to sit piously in church on Sunday, looking very saintly, holy to the core, raising my hands in worship at just the right moment so everyone will notice—while entertaining lustful thoughts about someone across the room.  Yes, it is possible for that to happen.  But if I allow that to happen, and the decision is totally up to me and me only, it will set a limit on my true spiritual condition.  If I allow that lust to remain, it will take over more and more areas of my life until finally, it breaks out in open sin others can see.  The great spiritual leader/pastor who suddenly runs off with his secretary and leaves his wife and family to pick up the pieces did not do so on a whim of the moment.  He lost that battle against lust over and over, maybe hundreds of times, when no one was looking or knew what spiritual battle he was fighting.  He should have been doing warfare against that spirit by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 

            When applied to my family, this template for personal holiness is the only way I know to set a spiritual atmosphere that my grandchildren will be drawn by Holy Spirit to follow hard in righteousness after God.  I work very hard, every day, at keeping my mind and spirit pure, unblemished by sin.  In doing so, I am directly contributing to an atmosphere of holiness that covers my wife, children, and grandchildren. 

            You can, from this day forward, choose what your internal spiritual house will look like.  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  Write me if I can be of help.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What's important

I just finished reading three books by Eric Metaxas.  The first, Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, on the life of Deitrich Bonhoeffer ought to be required reading of every serious disciple of Jesus.  His absolute commitment to living out a life that reflected the character and calling of Jesus is as convicting as anything I’ve read in the last 20 years.  Next came Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce’s battle to end the slave trade 200 years ago in England.   Then lastly Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness.  Two of the seven were covered in the other two books, but the scope of the seven men is astounding—from politicians (George Washington) to sports figures (Jackie Robinson), Metaxas shows the character qualities that made these men truly great figures.  I want my grandsons to read these books—these are character qualities that have largely been lost in our 21st Century culture, for which we are paying a very dear price.

            I have been doing a lot of reflection these past few weeks as I have faced a health crisis that the doctors basically have given up on.  (No, that is a good thing!  Now any improvement and the renewed health I believe God is going to give me can be credited to the right Source.)  During these reflections, things have come more clearly into focus than ever before.  What is important, what needs immediate attention, what can be eliminated.   Here is my short list:

            What is important:  My relationship with God.  My relationships with my family.  My relationships with other people.  Relationships!  That is what real life is all about.  We have had some wonderful, intense times with our family these last few weeks and I treasure every moment with these amazing children of God who are living out His call on their lives.  Nothing gives me greater pleasure or joy.

            Now every moment I have to speak to a neighbor is precious.  I pray every word will find fertile soil and that they will see Jesus in me.

            And my relationship with God.  I can’t say it has changed a whole lot.  I have been in the practice for more than 40 years of spending quality quiet time with Abba in the early morning which includes large doses of His Word, prayer, listening for His voice.  That hasn’t changed.  What has changed is the depth of the love I feel from Him.  The intimacy with Abba Father, and with my big brother Jesus, and with the indwelling Presence of Holy Spirit—all have taken on a new intimacy.  Just this week He revealed a facet of His love for me that was so overwhelming that it literally took my breath away and I have been basking in the glow of that insight ever since.  Maybe one day I will feel at liberty to share it here—but for now it is something I must treasure and meditate on.

            I would urge you, my friend, to take time to cultivate your relationship with Abba Father.  Don’t wait for a life-threatening illness to get your attention.  He is waiting there wanting that depth of friendship with you that will take you beyond the limits you have placed on your relationship with Him.  You won’t be disappointed.  If you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rumble Strips

            Rumble Strips.  You know, those irritating grooves they put in the pavement just outside the white painted line that marks the edge of your traffic lane?  Yeah, I know they are put there for my safety and to wake me up should I dose off driving and to warn me that my tires are dangerously close to the edge of the pavement.  But they still bug me.

            I’ve been breezing down the highway with Jesus for a long time.  We are close and I enjoy my times with Him—when it is just us two and we can talk about a verse I read earlier in the day or I can just tell Him how much I love Him and how grateful I am for His tender care over me day after day.  Or I can listen for His voice and have my heart warmed as He tells me how much He loves me.

            But yesterday, flying down the road without a care in the world, I suddenly hit a rumble strip.  I heard it faintly in the late afternoon when I was with family, but when I got up around 2 a.m. to hit the bathroom, the rumble jarred me fully awake.

            I am sharing this here so that hopefully it will help someone else, but I also share it to make myself accountable to those closest to me.  What happened was that I read a joke on Facebook that struck me as hilarious.  Later I shared it with others in my family and their reactions ranged from “mildly amused” to “I could have gone a long time without that in my mind.”  Rumble strip.

            In the process of showing it to one of my children, one of my grandchildren got curious and wanted to see it.  It was an adult joke that I immediately realized was beyond this grandchild’s maturity, RUMBLE STRIP, so I refused to show it to this grandson.

            The look on his face was what Holy Spirit finally used to get my attention.  RUMBLE,RUMBLE,RUMBLE STRIP!!!  In the flow of the conversation, we moved on and I shut my Facebook down.

            Now, at 2 a.m., when I finally realized I’ve been driving on the rumble strip in my spirit and doing a pretty good job of ignoring it, I finally come fully awake and realize Holy Spirit is talking to me.

            Okay, Holy Spirit.  You are right.  That was sin.  (But it was just a harmless joke that I’m sure has already been forgotten by those I shared it with—they’ve moved on, so why can’t I?)

            The reason I can’t move on is because not only did I allow a defiling thought to take root in my own spirit, I caused others to be defiled by it also.  And even though I kept my grandson from reading it, he could see through my hypocrisy.  The damage was done.  He saw his Saba laughing at a questionable joke and excusing it as “maturity.”

            I have a filter in place that I let slip but am determined to reinstitute:  If a story or joke cannot be shared with my young grandchildren, as a disciple of Jesus I have no room for it in my own mind or heart.  That filter would have kept me from laughing at this joke in the first place.  This might seem too legalistic to you, but for me it is the way I keep every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

            So, I have gone back to my family members and asked their forgiveness.  This is my way of making sure my umbrella of spiritual purity and protection is firmly in place.

            “Thank You, Holy Spirit, for the rumble strips.  Keep me sensitive to Your voice.
Protect my family from the schemes of the evil one so that we may all share Your glory.” 

            Check out Hosea 6:1-3 and I John 1:9.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013



            Faith, hope and love.  I’ve written about faith in the last two entries of this blog.   I briefly touched on hope in the blog entry about serving a life sentence.  But I would like to address love in this blog.   The many expressions of love I experienced this week have buoyed me up.   I was speechless as so many reached out in love to me.  A friend built a beautiful water feature in our back yard as I lay in the hospital.  Another friend I haven’t seen for several years called to assure me of his prayers and desire to come see me.   Another young man took time from his vacation to come by and pray for me.

            But when I think back, this week is really no different than most weeks.  My church family surrounds me with assurances of their love constantly.  My children tell me of their love regularly.  My grand children also express their love for me in some amazing ways.  And my dear wife of 46 years tells me she loves me every day.

            As grateful as I am of all these assurances of love from people, I have to say I have been most surprised by the depth of love I have felt from my Father in heaven.  I have known the Lord all my life.  I never went out into a life-style of rebellion.  But growing up in the Family of God all my life, I got used to God’s love and probably even took His love for granted.   I don’t think I really appreciated the depth and power of His love toward me until recently. 

            Taking time to be in His presence in a special way the last few weeks has opened up a whole new world to me.  I’ve always known God loved the whole world enough to send His Son to redeem it through His sacrifice on the cross.  And there have been moments when God’s Spirit broke through to me and I have had a revelation of God’s love that has overwhelmed me.  But there is something about walking through pain and trusting my Father in a whole new way that has opened up new realms of God’s love I never knew before.                                    

            Man was designed for intimacy with God.  It was the chief activity of Adam and Eve in the garden—to walk with Abba Father in the cool of the evening and just be with Him.  This surely is a lost art for most of us.  We are never silent long enough to hear Him speak.  If it is not the television, it is the ipod or the computer that fills our ears and minds with clutter.  This inability to be quiet before God creates a vacuum in our spirits that is not content with the noise of the world.  How long has it been since you took a half hour, turned off every appliance, read His Word and just listened?  That last part—listening—is the crucial part.  Even our daily time in God’s Word can be cluttered with thoughts and “insights” that, valuable as they are in themselves, still do not satisfy that place in the heart that can only be filled with focused intimacy with Father God who loves you.  This is one of the things He is looking for:  Jesus said there will even be those who call themselves by His Name, but who will be turned away because they never “knew” Him.  And the Father earnestly seeks those who will worship Him.  Why?  Because He is a megalomaniac on steroids?  NO!  Because He knows that is what we are created for and what will fulfill us best.

            I urge you to take a new look at some old, familiar scriptures about the love of God.  Take out your concordance and begin looking up every scripture that mentions God’s love for us.  Of course, start with John 3:16, but really meditate on the profound depth of that verse.  So often our view of Abba Father gets tainted by the world that looks at God as a tyrannical judge who can’t wait to mete out punishment.  But the point of verse 17 is that Jesus didn’t come for that purpose—He came to show us God’s love.

            Have you ever thought about how close Jesus is to His Father?  Is there anything they wouldn’t or couldn’t share?  What do you think their time together looks like?  John 17 holds one of the most amazing promises of the entire Bible:  Jesus says of you and me: “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them that they may be one, just as We are one;  I in them and You in Me that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me."

            Amazing!  God the Father, Creator of the universe, Eternal Lord of all, loves you just as He loves Jesus, His Son.  Stop and consider that.  Love is at the core of your existence and it comes from your Father God.  Have you taken time to just soak in His love?  If you find it hard to accept that love because of past hurts in your life, ask Holy Spirit to heal those wounded areas so that you can live in this reality of God’s love.

            Now faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

What is Faith? part 2.

            I feel like I barely scratched the surface of what the Lord has been teaching me about faith in my prior blog entry.  I won’t try to repeat all those points here.  You can go read Part 1 if you’re interested.

            What more can I say about faith?  One point I mentioned earlier was that faith is a gift from God.  God gives to each person a measure of faith and it is up to us to increase the “size” of that faith by taking in large doses of God’s Word, because that is God’s conduit to increase our faith.  I’m not sure what “big faith” looks like compared to “little faith”.   Rather, I tend to think of faith in terms of how effective that faith is. 

            Now that brings up a crucial point.  If I have “effective” faith, does that mean I always get what I am believing for?   This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in this journey I’m on.  No, I don’t believe that you can measure my faith’s effectiveness by whether I'm healed instantly, something I have asked God to do.  If we measure faith by our "instant results mentality", over half of those people listed in the great “Faith Hall of Fame”, Hebrews 11, should not have been included in that list because they did not get what they were believing God for.  So what was the mark of their faith that qualified them as great examples of Biblical faith?

            I believe what qualified them as great faith people was the impact God’s promises had on their outlook on life.  They heard God say something, and it forever transformed how they would approach daily living.  They spent the rest of their lives living in the confidence that God was going to do whatever He had promised them He would do.  It totally changed the way they lived their lives.  They lived from a place of faith, of trust, of confidence in God.

            This is a major paradigm shift for me.  I believe that God is going to totally heal me of cancer.  I believe He has given my wife and me the promise that cancer has been cancelled.  If you replace the “r” in cancer with an “l”, you have the word “cancel” and the last two letters of that word, “-el” is the name of God.  When El shows up, cancer is cancelled.

            What this has done for me is to change the way I look at every day.  I am coming at today from a stance of “faith” that God is healing me.  Now I know that many other people have claimed the same “faith” that God was healing them and instead of the dramatic turn around toward health, they worsened and died.  What if that is true in my case?  What if I get steadily worse and finally succumb to the ravages of cancer?  I will still say that standing in faith made a dramatic difference in my life because I lived my life from a paradigm of believing God is for me, loves me, and is with me.  It gave me hope every morning when I got out of bed.  It kept the demons of fear away.  I eagerly looked for God’s fresh Word of encouragement each day.  Instead of dwelling in fear with each new round of pain, I turn to God's Word--and not once does He say in His Word that sickness is His judgment on me and I should just succumb to it.

            So what is faith?  For me, faith is suddenly making the connection between Matt.  8:16-17 and  Is. 53:4-6.  This one revelation has done more to build my faith than almost anything else.  Many people say Isaiah was talking about “spiritual healing” and that our redemption is the focus of Is. 53:4-6.  They exclude physical healing and spiritualize those words “infirmities” and “diseases” to mean spiritual disease, sin.  But Matthew, under the inspiration of Holy Spirit, does not give us that interpretation.  Matthew clearly connects Isaiah’s prophesy with the physical healing Jesus was doing.  His interpretation of the words “infirmities” and “diseases” cannot be “spiritualized”.  Jesus was literally fulfilling Isaiah’s prophesy by the physical healings he performed.

            When I saw that application by Matthew, my own faith took a giant leap forward.  Now I expect God to heal my body, just as he healed lepers, blind people, etc,   I believe I will see God’s complete healing in my body.  And until He does, my attitude about today  is one saturated with faith, excited to see what all God is going to do in me and through me.  For me, faith is a change of attitude, expectation, and confidence in the character of God as a compassionate God Who can’t wait to send His Word and heal people.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Faith is....

            What is Faith? 

            Faith is so basic to our relationship with God.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  So how does one go about getting faith?

            Faith is a gift God gives every person. 

            Faith grows by hearing the Word of God.

            Faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”


            Okay, so much for the standard Sunday School answers and stuff I memorized in seminary.  The battle I’m currently in with cancer has taught me more about what real faith is than all the theology classes I attended put together. 

            Several years ago I attended a conference in the Mid-West, just after I had been diagnosed with my first bout with cancer.  The attendees were so gracious to pray for me as a group.  I was in a great deal of pain at the time, and in fact had to use a wheel chair to navigate the airport going and coming from Central Oregon.  Toward the end of the conference, one of the brothers “had a word for me from the Lord”, which he had taken time to write out on paper.  I was glad he had transcribed it as I would never have been able to remember everything he “shared” with me.  Boiled down from about four, long pages, the message was pretty clear and simple:  “Brother Wes, if you had enough faith, you wouldn’t be suffering this pain and you would already be healed.”  Clear. Simple. To the point!

            That was like being dunked with a bucket of ice-cold Gatoraide (I guess—having never had the joy of that experience either.)  Suddenly all the bouyancy I had felt as the several dozen other senior leaders had lifted me before God’s Throne in faith that God would heal me was, if not gone, at least greatly diminished.  I came back to Central Oregon sobered by the contrast between the precious spirit of encouragement I felt from the leaders of the conference with this one critical brother who seemed to have “all the answers”.

            In the seven years since that time, I have had many other opportunities to think and pray about what faith really is.  Is real faith: “I refuse to be in pain because that is a symptom from the Devil”?  No, because I’ve been through enough pain to know it is not a figment of last nights’ nightmare.

            Is real faith just taking the Word of God and repeating it over and over, ten-thousand times over, until the pain just gives up and goes away because it can’t stand to hear me say one more time:  “BY HIS STRIPES I AM HEALED”?

            Please don’t misunderstand me.  I am not making fun of standing on the Word of God for healing.  Anyone close to me, especially my family, know that is not in my heart.

But the Word of God does play an important part in obtaining healing from God.  How else would we know that God wants to heal us unless we saw it in His Word?  Before I began this long battle with cancer, I could quote three, maybe four scriptures about healing—you know, all the favorites:  Is. 53:4,5, Mark 16:18 and I Peter (or is it James) 4:14 about any among you sick calling the elders to lay hands on the sick and the Lord will raise him up…”  (It is James.  I just looked it up.  Again.)

            But when I was faced with a health crisis that laid me flat on my back for two months with another 3 months before I could return to work, I got serious about finding out what God had to say about this “faith for healing” thing.  I ended up with three type written, single spaced pages of God’s direct words about healing. 

            Did you know “Healing” is one of His names?  Jehovah Rapha.  He likes to be called that. 

            Did you know that it was the compassion of Jesus that prompted Him to heal those who came to Him in faith?  And that He didn’t even have to be aware of their need for His GREAT COMPASSION to flow out and heal a woman who simply had faith to believe she would be healed of a 12 year flow of blood if she could simply touch the fringes of his garment through the crowd?

            What is faith?  For me, a working definition is:  Coming to a place where I know what God’s will is and then holding on to that no matter what—in the face of overwhelming odds.  This, of course, involves being immersed in the Bible so I can know God’s mind and heart on a given thing.  It also involves listening carefully to Holy Spirit so that I correctly understand the issues at hand.  Then it is standing on the confidence that I have heard from God and He will act on my behalf.         

            What is faith?  I feel like I’m just learning to scratch the surface.  Enough for this installment—maybe more another time.  All I know is, I want to please my Abba in Heaven.  For today, I choose to believe His Word is true, active, dividing between my places of unbelief—strengthening me in those places where I am weak.  Thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your faithfulness!