Sunday, January 26, 2014

Blessings... and Treasures in Jars of Clay

A thought occurred to me a few days ago. It was one of those thoughts with staying power, the kind that keep returning in different ways and at different times.

When God makes His face shine on me, I want to shine back in Jesus.

Why is it so incredible that the God of all time and space would desire to shine His face on us After all, He gave us His beloved Son Jesus.

The thought comes from Scripture; here’s the wonderful blessing from the Bible that you may have heard before, Numbers 24-26:

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

The thought led me to the Blue Letter Bible,, on the Internet. That’s where I learned a great way to enjoy God’s Word. Put the word, shine, into the search bar and then follow the thread through all the scripture it returns! Read the Bible, tracing that thin thread throughout the Bible - see the lives, hear the voices, and touch the minds of those serving God as the story woven through the wonderful tapestry of scripture unfolds. When something’s on your heart… search! Knock and the door will be opened to you!

I’ve gleaned part of that particular journey in the following ideas. After all, the Lord’s face, shining on me; what could be more amazing than the God of all, pure and perfect love, shining on me? David, a man after God’s own heart knew this and even though his transgressions are chronicled for all of us to see, proving him to be a man, like us; he knew to return to God for his provision and to ask for God’s forgiveness and blessing.

Psalm 4, a Psalm of David… eight beautiful verses, David crying out to God in his distress, asking for His favor, and in verse 6, saying:

“Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord.”

And again in Psalm 36, in verse 16, saying:

“Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.”

Again in Psalms, 67, 80, and 119, others asking the same blessings. And then, our Lord Jesus, in His sermon on the mount, just after the Beatitudes where He beautifully teaches us important moral tenets of the faith… as Matthew 5:16 records:

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Shine back! Shine in a way that shows the love you have received and understood, the love that you have learned and shared; is on display for all to see, in who you are and in what you do. But that is all done for His glory, the glory of our Father in Heaven.

Then Paul teaches, encouraging us throughout Second Corinthians Chapter 4, and in verse 6:

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

Verses 4:7-11 continue:

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.”

Treasure in jars of clay, this light from the shining face of our Father in Heaven, bestows a love so great that His Son, was given for us; that He loved us so much His Son was sacrificed for our wrongs that we might have a way to our Father again. It is a story of love, a story of reconciliation, a story of pursuing and sharing that love.

That this treasure might live in jars of clay, that our faces might be able to shine back to our Father in Heaven is a miracle. The light is that of our Lord and Savior Jesus, and it means our relationship can be restored through this love - offered and accepted. When God makes His face shine upon you, may you shine back in Jesus. That’s what I want to do.

Given to us in the Bible, a remarkable and miraculous revelation of God Himself to man, the story of our creation and history unfolds; our foibles and our deceits, our folly and our crimes – transgressions against His perfect love. And of course, the chronicled lives of those who loved Him imperfectly, but for one. It is a story whose tapestry weaves tightly through millennia and on throughout all time to teach the Truth in a way that we might understand and know God. The recorded story lays a red carpet for Jesus, and transcribes the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus, for us to know and understand.

Can we, these jars of clay, shine? Yes we can, the light of Jesus can shine brightly through us. That light shining to the glory of God can change the world and make it better than man can dream. It does that one life at a time, as each comes to know the relationship Jesus has for us, to restore us to our Father.

God Bless.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wrought by Freedom

Typing on a machine with pictures for paper and words, I dreamed. The quiet, quick way words could be wrought, moved and corrected, amazed me. Thoughts raced from the capacity of my mind, to the pages not written anywhere, and the gorgeous, limitless possibilities excited me – for I knew in an instant, a wonderful new freedom existed. I knew what could be.

The dream carried me further, connected me through the machine, to the entire world. Millions, billions, of pages of pamphlets, of newspapers and books, of letters of study and proposal, of research and history, of medicine and agriculture, of government and nations – literally, all that could be imagined at my fingers! You and I, with our lives chronicled nearly day by day as we founded a nation of liberty, it was all there! And not only for students and scholars locked away in hallowed halls – but found in every building and home! I exclaim! I use a mark so often as to devalue the purpose, I know it – but I can do no other thing. I exclaim!

Though I raced from place to place, seizing upon what our children built with the tools of freedom and entrepreneurial effort, I began to hear cries. The creeping unease bringing the tenseness to my body and soul erupted into flashes of insight that all was not well. Freedom? I began to hear louder cries. Honest men cannot even be recognized as such – though they stand in front of giants of evil. Evil, whose only virtue derived from offices created by yours and my and our patriot brother’s minds, pens and arms. Words torn from oppression and valiantly proclaimed to a world enslaved; words upon which a great nation rose, now rendered for the cheapest speeches of liars. And the common man knew them to be so. One of the most common cliches admits “politicians are liars.” Too many words made too little sense and right is now judged wrong by our highest courts. The cries grow louder to my ears and sickens my heart. Though I understand all written words cannot be true, and all spoken, even less likely so; those issues written in actions must be examined honestly. Wars and not simply rumors – but wars of distant madness, made clean for the perpetrators, still bring all the age old horrors unleashed by the worst demons. Saved at the cost of their destruction, but saved nonetheless as it is said –even by presidents! And the ghastly machines of wars, soldiered by those understanding only the elite propaganda; they make war even on the battlefield of the machine on which I typed. No! I cried NO! These actions cannot be those distilled from true values of honest and free peoples. If in ignorance they govern – can we have become so lazy and complacent a people as to accept such failed honor as normal and good? In simplest proof I offer this - that the mightiest dog cannot make every work of his engine of life, the eradication of the single flea, and in so doing destroy its entire pack.

So I looked again, through the courses and eddies of the river of information - for something, some evidence extant.  I could not be so alone in time; we could not be so alone. For surely some quiet and small set of patriots say no to the every word copied and archived and read by the machines. Then to be spat upon a threshing floor of policing by even more callous oppressors.  Police of a once free people, become an occupying army of violence directed by mindless bureaucrats on behalf of onerous taxes and absurd regulations. Such that even imagined conduction of body language, as if words not said, but somehow otherwise received by an offended and pathetic individual - races to occupy the time of the courts! And the same courts of law and their officers – made ignoble by their decisions and actions, even as they applaud themselves as nobility of the common good.  Their own trivial and incoherent rhetoric and deeds prove them otherwise. Honor vacates such people. 

Some few still say no to such travesty. Others said no while congress introduced bills to strip citizens of their standing; subjecting them to programs of such confinement and punishment that only kings and tyrants of old could understand the whimsy and betrayal involved. Others said no when defense of self and property against the feral and vibrant petty criminals slams them beneath the press of over-vigilant nannies who eschew even the most basic laws of nature, freedom and responsibility. Where is justice to be found in such courts? 

The people, so taxed by the leviathan of our government that fully half stand with their hand out to vile masters called public servants. Indeed, they clamor for a dependent poverty so stupefying that they cannot even conceive its purpose or cause or cure. The mob now voting, promotes more curious and determined evil against the honest citizen than did the French masses we witnessed in their chaos – they only attacked their own aristocratic thieves and uncommitted fellows – but never thought to end the birthright of their own nation!

The love of money is indeed driving all effort of the halls of our buildings in government. 

John, your failure proves out in this dream – that the central power cannot be allowed to coalesce to this end, but must be flung farther and wider than even I imagined. Though in fairness, my failure was also this – that men grow fat and lazy in prosperity derived from the successes of freedom and liberty, and thereby quickly yield honor and virtue. Therefore, each man must completely earn their right to participate in government, and it must be rightly, honestly, and personally earned – and maintained with vigor, lest that same prosperity steal it away.

I end with simply this, that those who say no still claim a spark of the same that burned in us. That spark engulfed a people yearning to be free – and it will again retrieve that liberty from the simple minded governors and kings. And as one dream ends another one begins – I’ll look to the future for the greatness to return to a free people.


Monday, July 1, 2013

The Ark Testimony

One fine sunny day, I chanced upon two friends building something monumental.  I did not understand, but I stopped in momentary isolation, thoughtful. My stressful journey demanded all of my time and my resources as cost; I did not understand what I saw. My wife and I in turmoil tossed, in tired dreams sold to us by generations past, whose guides though well intended, now were lost. I did not understand so I inquired of those leading the effort, “sirs, tell me of your purpose and of the cheery natured crew.” They replied, “together, more may be accomplished – isn't that true? Together, with integrity, effort and leadership, wonderful possibilities renew. Wonderful possibilities seen first in the vision, with integrity sharing and persistent effort caring; leadership guides the process, knowledge, and encourages - preparing. You are not alone with us you see. See the Ark and consider its meaning.”

The Ark, called by two friends teamed who learned to build a vessel to better lives dreamed. In time as others believed, the great ship took shape – a vision conceived. A righteous vessel for all with blessings designed, though some cannot see and many decline. The hopeless offer ridicule and fortune-tellers of failure as judge’s rule - and all joined the song of the denial chorus. The denial sometimes angry, the anger sometimes hateful, hurt many who would have shared the efforts, becoming strong. Who then would heal the hurt when the Ark proved its promise and the nay-sayers proved wrong? Look at those shouting, “it cannot be done!” Do they live their dreams or are dreamers shunned? Look then at the Ark builders, who say, “join us - learn to lead.” Share the wonderful lives of the freed, and ask of the team what they discover. Does the new information transform the laborer into something more, someone better? The joy of the builders shared in positive light made the association grow as the vision shone bright. The vision they shared requires one admission price. Honestly look at yourself and decide to climb your climb to your heights. The biased, first hurdle claims more than a few, by turning away blind – guaranteeing futile review. Will five more years of your current labor; open your dreams – even if yes, how many years later? Or will it see you five years older, tread-milling, with more distant dreams colder? Or can you honestly ask of the Ark-building team, how many years have you labored, to reach for your dreams? Hear when they say two, three or five and make note of achievements that can’t be denied! But all can claim progress - if they applied, the lessons learned by those earlier arrived. The lessons hard learned by the two, then the seven, and soon the million, in time. Change forces change when fierce struggles grow; they need the Ark builders and teamwork to know, how to build dreams to stand free, while learning to serve as they are learning to lead. The Ark, you see, came in opportunity disguised, hidden from the ninety-five but known to the five; a vision of trust to build better lives.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Trust the Tools!

In a previous life, as a field service engineer for a major oil-field service company, I ran high-tech down-hole logging and directional tools; first for a company called Teleco in Broussard, LA and then for Baker-Hughes-INTEQ. The easiest way to explain it seemed to tell people that we took computers, packed them into heavy steel pipes along with a lot of other complicated electronic equipment and then ran them several thousand feet into the ground at temperatures up to 200 degrees, then abused them with many thousands of pounds of stresses while drilling through rock to find oil. The sensors told us a lot about the kind of rock we were drilling in, the fluids in the rocks (like oil, gas, or water) and also the direction and orientation of the tools so that directional drillers could steer the hole to a desired location where they expected to find oil or gas. The tools also transmitted that information up the hole to computers that interpreted the results in real time.

As a field-service engineer, we were often faced with very difficult judgment calls on what to do regarding running the equipment back down the hole for more work. Should we pick up a new tool that is not yet proven? Should we rerun the previous one that may be on the verge of breaking? The best advice I ever received came from a mechanic that actually assembled the tools in our company shop. Carey told us to always trust the tools. If it was running well when it came out of the hole, then never doubt that it would run again when it went back down the hole. In his opinion, it was always riskier to try an unproven piece of equipment. So, if in doubt – bet on the tools.

I applied that advice many times in my career and never once regretted my decision. In fact, several times I had superiors contradict my recommendation and run new tools when that decision caused problems that had not been anticipated. That’s the law of unintended consequences.

How does this apply to the LIFE business? It’s simple, LIFE is a business built around providing people with great information. The tools are life changing information. Always bet on LIFE’s tools. When you have the best, you don’t need to worry or doubt. When people listen to a CD – they will receive information that will positively impact their life in a good way. When they read a book, they will continue a process of healthy transformation. When they watch a DVD, they will see more good, life-transforming information. The tools work. The tools work very well. Never doubt it.

Always trust the tools. Have you shared some of LIFE’s life-changing information with your family or friends yet? With your co-workers? With those in your church? Listen to all the tools yourself. Make it part of your daily habit, get engaged with great information. LIFE teaches you to read, listen and associate with the community that’s going somewhere! Remember, always trust the tools!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Gathering roses...

The tears force from my eyes though I fight to hold them back.  My Mom changes into dry diapers and clothes, ashamed that she may have wet the seat of my car. I don’t care about the seats of my car and I relax a bit as I realize that my Mom will quickly forget these events. I realize that one day, she will forget me. But not yet. Not yet.

Walking down the beautiful hall to her suite, that we call her apartment, it occurred to me that she would pass away while a resident of this hall. It is a very nice place, but it is still a last stop nursing home; assisted living, whatever. It is, her last home.

The love lived by my Mom knows no bounds. All that I learned early in life about love I learned in our family; the family born through her blood, sweat and tears. The family held together by her wisdom, her work and her will; and the family that one day, must carry on without her.
My tears run for what must come. We remember even as she forgets. Our names that she barely recalls now, will one day claim space on a stone marker like hers. Eileen Stenner Kendrick – a girl born to Ellen Jane Robinson, mistakenly thought to be Nellie Black, of Belfast, Ireland, and Camden, New Jersey and Franz Joseph Stenner of Koenigstein, Germany and Camden, New Jersey. On a great day, May 7, 1923, Eileen entered this world and on a sad day to come, she will leave us. She will join her Lord and Savior Jesus on that day and we will rejoice.

As dinner time rolled by and I just wanted to stay with her, I turned on NCIS which has been her favorite TV show. Over the last 3 years we have watched 9 years of reruns on DVD over and over and over again. And each time the next episode came on she would say, “I’ve never seen this one before.”  Alzheimers is like that.  While at her apartment I found a note that she left for the workers in the facility… it is written by her beautiful though somewhat shaky hands, “Please, please, please don’t take any more clothes. I just have enough to work in decently. Eileen. All were given to me by our loved ones because they were needed.” She does not remember that she hid those clothes, or boxed them up and sent them away with us, or had other friends take them to prevent them from being stolen. She has forgotten.

One day, it’s possible that I will forget just as my mother has. But for now, dinner won’t wait and the tears collect, then fall. As we walk back down the hall together, I lean down to her and quietly say, “I love you mom.” She tells me she loves me more than I will ever know – and I can be assured of that. For that moment, she was right there again.

I will spend as much time as I can with mom, and with my mother- in -law. Love them where they are, while you can. Learn from the experience of others, call your mom. You’ll be glad you did. God Bless.