The Hidden Truth Within

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Above is an actual electron microscope picture of a protein molecule called Laminin. Next to it is the molecular drawing that biologist developed to show its actual chemical nature and structure. It was discovered by a molecular biologist several years ago, and it has rocked the scientific community. This protein is the framework upon which all human life hangs. It is the biological equivalent of the reinforcement steel that builders use to strengthen and tie together cement.

This unique protein is unlike any other structure in human beings. This is because it is the only one of its kind that is found in every human cell, tissue and organ of our body. Without it, the physical body, and everything that makes it up, would literally fall apart. How amazing is it that God would design this specific molecule, in this specific shape, to be the literal, invisible foundation and glue to hold us all together. How ironic that God’s design in every human, be they muslim, atheist, satanist, hindu, spiritist, or anything else, holds them together by the cross. This truth, now confirmed by science, is literally hidden within every cell of every human being on planet earth.

Psalm 19:1-2 saysThe heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to-day pours forth speech, And night to-night reveals knowledge”In addition  Romans 1:19-20 says, ….because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  The above scriptures identify the fact that both day and night are filled with the knowledge of God. All of creation is declaring Who God is and what He has done.

Scientists agree that there is perfect balance, timing and symmetry found in the universe that can’t be explained naturally. This absolute gravitational perfection, and perfect synchronizing of every moving body, is mathematically impossible. Yet there it is for all to see. And now, that which is know about God through the cross of Jesus,  has indeed become evident to us. The discovery of Laminin is in fact the very thing God made evident within us all. In other words, the things God made, that we now know about, declare Who He is. Laminin is just one more voice calling out from creation that confirms God and His Word to be true. We will either hear that voice or ignore it.

Acts 17:28 says “In Him we live and move and have our being”. For thousands of years theologians thought this was simply an analogy designed to point out a purely spiritual concept. Now it is quite evident that this passage of scripture is so much more than that. With the discovery of Laminin, that verse has taken on a literal context that no one could have ever imagined. For years ministers of the Gospel have been telling the world that the cross of Christ is the answer that holds everything together. It is God’s answer to overcome sin and death so we can have life itself. Apart from the Cross, there is no real life. Little did they know how true that was, right down to the physical, sub-cellular level.

What about you? You have the cross within every cell of your body. It’s power to hold you together is real.  The fact that you live because of it, is a scientific reality no one can deny. However, the Cross of Jesus also needs to be a settled issue in you heart so that you have real Life.  Did you get that? You really do live because of the cross, but do you have the Cross that gives Life? The first cross is yours by birth, but the second cross is yours by choice.  You can actually decided which kind of life you want operating in you, and both of them depend on the  cross.

My question for you today is quite simple. Why choose to live a natural life through the connecting power of one cross, when you can live a supernatural Life through the cleansing  power of the other?  How sad it will be on the day of your death, to discover your life was held together by a cross. It was there within every cell of your body, yet you rejected the Life and forgiveness of God that it was pointing to. Let me encourage you today to accept that second Cross of Christ and become the forgiven, whole person God intended. The arms of Jesus were open wide on His Cross to embrace you at any cost. Why don’t you receive His love and embrace Him back?

Want to know more about this? Send me an email with your address and I will give you some free materials that will help you understand the Cross of Jesus. My email address is wemmons@gmail.com . Now go have a wonderful day and think about the hidden truth within you.

When You Have To Make A Choice

It-is-not-hard-to-make-decisions-once-you-know-what-your-values-are.Over more than 40 years of counseling and personal ministry, I have noticed that sometimes there are no easy answers to the thorny problems of life. We can do our best, try our hardest, and give it all we have, but in the end we may still come up with the “short end of the stick”. There just may not be enough time, wisdome, knowledge, finances or personal skills. Like it or not, when that happens, we are put in a position where a decision must be made. That hard choice is always based upon the reality of what is, even if we don’t like where “it” is going.

This is especially true when that place of hard, naked reality is caused by someone you know, love and trust. If that happens, it can feel like such a punch in the gut that we can become stuck in the quicksand of life. Unfortunately, every action we take from that point forward, seems to make it harder to think clearly. It becomes more difficult to have good judgement so we can move forward in the right direction. When life, or someone in it, gives us a raw deal, it can hold us captive and produce what I have come to call “SP”, or  “Situational Paralysis”.

The inability to make a decision, or move in a defined direction in traumatic situations, causes “SP” to set in. This can be a painful and frustrating thing for everyone involved. It makes some feel trapped in an invisible prison, where there is no key to unlock the door. For others, it becomes a reality where life is frozen in place, and emotions are locked to an event that is re-experianced almost daily. The twilight-zone of existance this creates is nearly impossible to break out of, and many have succumbed to it, literally putting the rest of  their productive lives on hold.

I have seen the hardiest of souls crumble, and watched them flounder in life like a wounded bird, wasting precious time by wondering what to do next. It could have happened because of personal ignorance, lack of information or unmet expectations. It may have been the result of thoughtlessness, the uncaring actions of someone who is focused elsewhere, or through perceived or genuine trauma. However it happens, it is a painful reality, and until it is dismanteled and overcome, those suffering under it are virtually held captive for life.

The key that unlocks this demonic trap is quite simple, once you know it. I have discsovered that what sets people free to begin making good decisions again, is knowing what their values are, and holding to the convictions that are anchored to them. Values and convictions don’t just define who  we  are as people, they actually define the life we live. These are the foundation stones of everyone’s character, and the reality is, character is what makes us who we are. More than that, it is what makes our life what it is.

We all have character within us, in one form or another. It is there from the earliest stages of our life. Every mother will tell you, even in the womb, their children all behaved differently. Every mother also knows their newborn children were all distinctly different at birth. The Bibile says that difference is the inborn character God gave them.  Psalms 149:13 says, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb” The Hebrew words, “formed” and “inward” mean, to gather and bring together the mind, heart and feelings of an umborn child. It is a very intimate, first-hand knowledge of that child’s nature and personality.

In case you missed it, this is the bedrock of who we are, and how we make decisions, and it is fused into the reality of how God made us. What people don’t realize is when we ignore our Creator, we also defy the design for wholeness and unity He placed within us. This produces a break from reality, and it disconnects us from the truth of who we are in any crisis. When crisis happens, especially in important relationships, it strikes at the root of our innermost need for unity and security, and this is the reason why we become paralized in such situations.

When people begin to refine their character, values and convictions according to God’s design, and His eternal word, nothing shakes them. The faithful, unchanging love, and absolute truth of God, becomes an anchor for the soul, and the calm in every storm. The mighty wind that destroy others, is simply a powerful force that is harnessed to propel us forward into our destiny. For those who are securely embraced by the truth of who God made them to be, it is impossible to stop them from moving forward. It is impossible to take away their vision, or hold them captive by anything in this world. Why? Because they may be in this broken, beautiful world, but they are not of it. That, my friends, brings the untimate freedom, and it releases everyone from every captivity.

Are you suffering under the bondage to “SP”? Are you paralized by some past situation, feeling emotionally stuck to it, and lacking clear vision for the future? Prehaps it is time to go back to the roots of who you are, what your real values are, and who God made you to be. Psalm 139:14 says; “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well”.  It’s time to hand your life back over to the One who made it. He is the only One who can lift you up, pull you out of the mirey clay and set your feet upon a rock. He has already broken the power of everything that wants to hold you back.

How do you do this? Just invite Jesus into your life. Surrender every situation, every hurt, every place you are stuck, to Him. Give Him your weakness and failures, and he will give you His love and strength. In that wonderful exchange, you can start to move forward through His never-ending strength, and begin to step into all that God has prepared for you, from the foundation of the world. He has been waiting a long time to pour His love out on you. Go ahead and receve that love and forgiveness right now……

If you invited Jesus to take over your life, shoot me an email with your address. My email is wemmons@gmail.com.  I have some great, free materials to send you that will help you as you walk forward with God in this new life.

 

 

Potatoes Of Change

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Those of us who have vegetable gardens in the Northeast, enjoy the seasons as they come. Each has it’s own design in the life of any piece of ground. For us, winter is the time of rest for the soil. It freezes up and specific kinds of plants die off, while other plants, like garlic, go into hibernation until the spring thaw arrives. The frost and snow-filled days of winter kills off many kinds of bacteria and fungi that are a problem to those who garden in the warmer climates. This dormancy of the land, though it appears to be a wasted, non-productive time, is actually very good for the soil. Beyond that, it is good for those types of seeds that need the cold to germinate. The fact is, what you see all around you is not always a true reflection of what you will get.

In the Adirondacks, especially around the little village of Gabriels, NY, potatoes are a very important crop. The Young and Tucker farms have both been successful in growing these tubers for several decades. These families realized that the rocky, well-drained soil of the area is ideal for growing “restaurant” grade potatoes. Each year, they ship their produce to local stores and restaurants all over our area, and around the nation. Both farms specialize in large, mealy, white potatoes that have a rich texture, and a nice full flavor. The qualities I mentioned are present due to the unique minerals in the soil, and the unique abundance of clean rain that falls in the Adirondacks.

More than that, what makes these potatoes so desirable is the impact of climate on their growth. The harsh Adirondack winters are actually a blessing in disguise when it comes to producing this particular crop. Certain kinds of bacteria, and specific fungi that attack potato crops in the warmer climates, are not found here. As a result, these farmers don’t have to spray for those things, or be concerned when shipping their crops to other markets. The long, frigid, mountain winters kills off invading species that might try to adversely affect the potato crop when it is still in the ground. This keeps the stock pure, and makes these specific potatoes very unique, and highly sought after, in the market place.

Consider carefully what I just said. The harsh conditions, and huge heating bills that drive the less hardy from the area, are not a problem for these framers. What makes it inhospitable to the bulk of the population, is the very thing that produces such an amazing potato. Think of that for just a moment. A major problem for one person, actually is the solution for the success of another. Why is this? One person sees a problem to be avoided, but another sees an answer that avoids a problem. In other words, how you look at something, and adjust to get the benefit it offers, really determines the outcome of everything. Want to change your life? Change the way you look at life’s problems, and your future will be a success.

In your current situation, what do you see? Is it an overwhelming issue you are trying to avoid?  Is it a problem you just want to get past and hope to forget about? Try looking at your current situation as something that actually has the potential to bring future success. What caused the issue in the first place, and what can you learn from it? What benefit can this be to you in the days ahead? How you look at what you are now facing really determines the future more than you imagine. It will cause you to either be a victim, with your head hung down, or you will uncover the hidden benefit and have a life-changing victory. That choice is up to you, and no one else.

Years ago my father told me, “Bill, the life you have is the life you made. Don’t blame others for what you have done, and don’t expect others to bail you out of what you failed to do. If you want a better life, then make better decisions today and things will be better for you tomorrow.” That was good advice for me, and it holds true for you as well. Use the current problem to make changes that will give you a harvest of “potatoes” tomorrow! The issue at hand is not a problem, it is an opportunity for change. If you will see your “winter” of distress as an opportunity for change, the advantage you gain will let you reap an amazing harvest. This can be your time and place to have success, and thrive, where others have failed. It just depends on how you look at it. Now… go plant some “potatoes”!

A Season Of Being Alone

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Deuteronomy 32:10 says “He found him in a desert, and in a howling waste of a wilderness, He encircled him, He cared for him as the apple of His eye”. What a powerful picture is painted here of God’s concern and care for those who are wandering in a wilderness of life. It does not matter if they chose it for themselves, it happened because of others, or God Himself actually took them there. The point is, they were in it alone, and in His own time God came to them, and cared for them, whether they deserved it or not.

There is a time in everyone’s life when we find ourselves totally alone. This is not so much a physical thing, but it’s more of an emotional and spiritual season of isolation. When it comes upon us, we cannot avoid the impact it has on everything we hold dear. The empty, wandering time of our soul and spirit, might last a few weeks, a few months or even longer. Once it arrives, it does not depart until it’s work is fully done. This lonely plateau in life is identified in the Bible as a place called the “wilderness” or the “waste-howling wilderness”. The point is, we arrive there unaccompanied, in a distracted and unrefined condition, and we do not leave there the same way we came.

In this empty season, no one is there to carry us, guide us, or give us the companionship we have always needed. No friend is there at our side, providing step by step instructions to bring us into the new place we need to be. The fact is, every man or woman who is destined to fulfill their calling, will make this journey. Even those who do not know God, but are hungry to do better in life, will be taken to this place. The truth is, I believe this trip into the wasteland of our soul, is a necessary part of healthy personal and spiritual growth. It is my conviction that there are no short cuts through this, and more importantly, these times of barrenness should not be avoided. They should be looked at with clarity, embraced with sincerity and walked out fully.

It is only during our wilderness experience that we are fundamentally changed within. Our metal is tested, our character is developed and our flaws are painfully exposed. It has the potential to be a powerful time of personal evaluation and transformation. The excess baggage and wrong thinking we picked up in life, is finally thrown off. Those things that are really important, and genuinely necessary, come into clear focus, perhaps for the first time. For some, this brings a shocking revelation of how shallow and self-absorbed they have always been. For others, it is a grand adventure where they rediscover who they are, and begin to build upon that good foundation, to become even better. These are powerful times we enter into alone, and in an unsettled condition, but we emerge from them focused, and quite comfortable in our own skin.

I was in such a season not long ago, right after I got back from a powerful ministry trip to the Philippines. Myself and Apostle Rick Callahan did two national conferences and ministered at numerous church meetings in that country. When I returned home, my wife then flew off to California to be with our daughter, who was having our 10th grandchild. I was alone in our house, after all the attention and activity of successful ministry, and I was surrounded by the “stuff” of our lives. There was an absolute quietness all around me, and the impact it had went deep within me. It became a time of introspection, where I sought God, ponder my life and ministry, and consider what brought me to this place. I reflected on the family I grew up in, the wilderness seasons I had been through, and the lessons I learned that made me the man I am.

I had time to think about my father, and the example he set, both the good and the bad, that served to shape me in ways I am just now discovering. Among other things, he taught me the wholesome value of a strong cup of hot, black tea, and a slow cooked venison stew. He taught me the blessing of honest work, and the need for personal sacrifice when it comes to family. He showed me that failing to plan for retirement meant you could never really retire. He showed me how to love the wife God gave me, and how to care for my family, no matter what the personal cost might be. He demonstrated the value of living debt free and within our financial means. He also showed me why it was important to pay cash for the things we needed or wanted, rather than go into debt by using credit cards. In essence, my father taught me how to be a real man by the way he lived, loved and died.

Because of that, I became the kind of man my sons could look up to. I showed them it’s OK to not always be right, but it is good to always try to make things right. They learned how to be the leader in their own homes, and the voice of reason to their own children, when it is needed. They were shown how to love their wives and children in ways that were meaningful to them, and to do what must be done to provide for their families. Most of all, I taught them not to see the government as a source of income, but to seek God, plan with care, work hard and invest well. These good things brought them all the provision they have ever needed.

How did I learn the above, you might ask? These truth’s were life lessons learned during my wilderness wanderings, when there was no one but Jesus to prop me up and carry me to safety. It was forged in the time I found myself needing a teaching job. I prayed and sought God, and the perfect job just opened up where there had been none the week before. It was the time I quit my teaching job, at age 35, and my family followed me to Plattsburgh, NY where I went back to college to get my Master Degree. I learned the lesson when we needed a place to live in Plattsburgh, and out of nowhere a place opened up near the college that we could afford.

Fresh instruction came when our cupboards were totally empty, and I gave my sons the last of the powdered milk and instant mashed potatoes for breakfast. I went to school hungry, but when I returned home in the evening, food filled our shelves, our hallway and every counter top in our kitchen. I told no one but God about our need that day, and He showed me how His faithfulness went way beyond my imagination. It came when I quit a great teaching job in Westport, NY, where I was loved and wanted, because God called me to pastor a church of 3 people in Johnstown, NY. Three years later the brand new $250,000 building and all the surrounding land was given to my 60-member congregation, debt free.

New lessons were learned about forgiveness when those I trusted, lied to me, lied about me and then stole money and financial records from the church to cover what they had done. Then, to add insult to injury, they systematically went after the good people in the church and spread gossip in the community in order to pull away even more people and further hurt those who remained. That was a tough one, but we got through it and grew in love and kindness because of it. 

Without those wilderness journey’s my knowledge of God, and experience with Him, would be sorely lacking. Unless I had been willing to walk through those barren wastelands, I would have never seen God’s ability to bring such abundant provision and healing. My faith was built up, my trust was properly anchored, and my life story was enriched, all because of a desert journey. How grateful I am that many times God has led me into a waste-howling wilderness, to be emptied, tempted, tried and tested. At times I failed, but even in my failures, I learned valuable lessons that changed my life forever. The truth is, I would not trade those experiences for any amount of money, because they made me, and my family, what we are today.

Right now are you looking at a dry, sandy landscape, where there is no water, and everything looks dead? Are you feeling alone in a barren land, with no answers, and lots of questions about where God is in all of it? Let me suggest to you that your current condition is actually designed by God to change you in ways you don’t yet understand. He is simply doing with you the very thing He did with Jesus, Moses and David. Like them, you also need to walk it out one step at a time, and pray with an honest heart. You need to gave your weaknesses, and find the place of rest God has for you. Until you are willing to change, embrace your own flaws and exchange the whole mess for God’s strength, you will find yourself a resident of the desert, time and time again.

Perhaps it’s time to embrace the truth about yourself, and be willing to change so you can live out the rest of your life with passion, clarity and vision. Remember, there is a whole world out there waiting for someone just like you to emerge from their dry season. Why? Because who you really are, will emerge as well. The best is always ahead for those who are able to grow in their season of drought. It’s time to enjoy the journey, and let it change you along the way.  By doing so, you can finally break free from your cocoon of self-doubt and secret failures.

Remember, it’s the fight to get out of the shell that makes every chick healthy enough to survive in this world. When people “assist” in that shell breaking process, the young bird will be weak, under developed and prone to sickness all it’s life. But, when they are left alone to struggle their way out of the confining, restraining shell, they will emerge exhausted but strengthened to meet the challenges of life. So, let me encourage you to walk through your wilderness with great expectation. Look to emerge from your shell really changed, and with strength to meet and overcome every challenge that may come your way. Enjoy your season of being alone, because you will not be there forever!

The Aroma Of Love

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            Many of the memories I have fixed in my mind from my childhood come directly from our home. It was a place of activity and laughter, but it was also a place that was clean, quiet, neat and orderly. We never had what the world would call wealth, but our life was still abundant. Many in our community had a great deal more than us, but we still felt like the richest people in town. No doubt this was a result of the tireless efforts of my mother. Her touch was upon everything, and our home was a reflection of the beautiful things God had placed within her. She, in turn, poured out that rich treasure upon us in many different ways.

            Our home became a sanctuary of security that was filled with the most delicious smells. My mother was continually trying out a new cookie recipe, pie filling, stew or delicate pastry. She took great delight in getting our opinion on each new creation, and we enjoyed tasting each and giving our expert advice. This was a normal part of life for me as I was growing up and I never considered that some day it might come to an end. For me, two things were absolutely certain, no matter what else happened in this uncertain world. I knew that my mom would wake long before the rest of the family and spend time in prayer for all of us. The other thing we knew, as sure as the sun came up each day, my mother would be in the kitchen making fresh Italian bread or soft roles for us to have with breakfast.

            I can still remember waking up in bed and smelling the delicate, moist aroma of yeast and flour as it baked in the oven. I knew something wonderful was waiting in the kitchen, and my mouth would begin to salivate before my feet ever hit the floor. I am sure mom knew exactly what she was doing, since she never had to call anyone down for breakfast more than once. Before the first loaf of fresh bread was out of the oven, we were sitting at the table waiting to get a soft, steaming slice of that mouth watering delight. The smell of hot bread, and the anticipation of what it signaled, was the best alarm clock anyone could have. It never failed to do it’s job on even the sleepiest members of our family.

            Another thing fixed in my mind is that we never knew what delectable things awaited us when we arrived home from school. Because of this, most of my friends got in line to go home with me when the school day was over.  Many had parents who worked two jobs and our home became an island of consistency, and a haven of family life the way it should be. Little did we know that very quickly this would be eaten away by the fast food lifestyle of a rapidly changing world. Had we realized just how fast those days would be gone, I am sure we would have cherished them all the more.

            When the school day was over we ran home from our three-room school house, by running up a winding dirt path, crossing our back lot and bounding through the back door of our house. Naturally this turned into a contest of speed and agility that was a daily ritual we knew so very well. We would line up at the end of the school yard and dash across the old bumpy macadam road. Once the race was on, we jockeyed for position on the narrow path. Soon one or more of us landed in the bushes with scratched arms and legs. Those who were behind tripped those ahead, and jump over them to take the lead. In a few minutes it was over and whoever reached my back step first was the winner. Even though there was no tangible prize, the knowledge of being first gave a sense of male prowess and personal worth that was unspoken but very real.

            Upon entering my home, the words “Mom, I’m home!” would echo through the rooms. My mother’s reply was always the same, “O.K. dear…I just made cookies, you and your friends can have some, but don’t spoil your appetite! Dinner will be ready at 5:30, when your father gets home from camp.” Smiles of anticipation would sweep across every face. There on the counter was a plate of fresh-baked cookies, covered by a milky sheet of wax paper. We often stood at the door and sniff the air, trying to guess what was waiting for us on that plate.

Each cookie had a distinct smell of its own, and most of the time we were able to identify what chewy delight awaited us. The few days we missed it were the result of a secret “healthy” ingredient my mother was always slipping into the mix. Ground pumpkin seeds, ground flax seed, raisins, coconut, walnuts or ground sun flower seeds were among her favorites. As the years went by, her list of secret ingredients grew, along  with her imagination. Almost to the day she died, at age 98, we never knew for sure what might be in moms “health bars”, “12 grain nut bread” or “sugarless date cookies”.

            Love in our home was made real by wondrous smells. Every holiday, anniversary, birthday and change of season had its own mouth-watering aromas. Venison stew in a wine sauce, roasted partridge, baked turkey, roasted butternut squash and baked sweet potatoes ushered in the fall. Fresh hot soups and stews, pots of beans with maple cured ham hocks, honey smoked bacon and the rich taste of Biscuit Tortoni topped with ground walnuts told us winter was here. Roasted chicken, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and baked apples with cinnamon called out at holiday time. Hot rice pudding with cream, or tapioca pudding, fresh baked trout, wild mushrooms and wild leeks announced spring. Apple Rhubarb and cherry pies, watermelon, hand made ice cream, sweet corn and the smell of camp fires told us summer was here.

            In each of these smells, I still find the endless aroma of my mother’s deep, rich, boundless love. Her faithfulness at making a simple meal, a plate of cookies or a loaf of bread demonstrated in a tangible way God’s continuous love for us. It comforted us when we were sick and calmed us when we were scared. It patiently believed the best of us even when we were obviously going the wrong way. It quieted our minds and brought consistency to us in an ever-changing world. No matter what the circumstance, pain or problem, the phrase “have a cookie”, touched us again and again. It transformed our hearts, broke down barriers, showed no favoritism and ultimately changed us in ways I am now just beginning to understand.

            When I am brokenhearted and crushed by grief, when I am feeling alone and betrayed, overwhelmed and misunderstood, do not be surprised if you find me baking a loaf of bread or standing in the door of a bakery. No doubt my eyes will be closed in respect for this private sanctuary as I am being drawn above this earthly realm. Even if a tear is finding its way down my cheek, you must understand what is happening. I am no longer as sad, or hurt, or broken as I was before I entered that place. I am smelling the odor of memories, and feeling my mothers love, that gave me this gift so many years ago. I am being touched and healed in the deepest part of my soul, and the pain of this world is being washed away by the rich, delicate smell of flour and yeast.

Just like the loaves of bread that are rise as they wait for the oven, I always rise in that warm, moist, sacred place. It is here that the aroma of love does its timeless work in me once again.  I find healing for my soul, a refuge in the Lord and peace of mind. Here I feel the heart and prayers of my mother reaching across time, and they are still holding me up before God. There is no doubt that Jennie Emmons knew exactly what she was doing when she showed me Gods perfect love through a loaf of bread and a plate of cookies. Thank you mom!  I am so grateful!

When the time comes for me to meet the Lord, I am sure that the rich, sweet odor of fresh baked bread is the very thing that will fill the portals of heaven. I think it will be the thing that ushers me into His glorious presence. In fact, I will not be surprised at all if His first words to me as I draw near His throne are “Welcome home Bill,… oh….and over there, Jennie is waiting with a fresh plate of cookies”.

Memory Maker

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Here in the Northeast, we are quickly moving into the fall season. The last day or so of August brings a change that says, “Get ready”, because there is a coolness in the air that is unmistakable. We have already seen a few leaves show a seasonal color change that will eventually rival the best imagination. Splashes of red, brown, orange and yellow have come out as the evenings have come more quickly and the morning dew has laid heavy and wet on the ground. Early morning fog now blankets river-valleys and fields in a wispy shroud of white, and the melancholy music of a string of geese overhead adds a hauntingly ancient sound as a backdrop for what is yet to come.

These things herald in a very nostalgic time of year for me, and for those who live in the Northeast. We look forward to it, and even though it means winter is moving in our direction, there are still plenty of clear, brilliantly colored days and brisk nights yet to be enjoyed. We are a hardy bunch, and this seasonal change stirs something in our blood and emotions that is hard to explain. It moves upon us quietly and brings an unspoken inward cry to come home, start the fire and gather the family around us. It causes us to remember life as it was, and as it should be, and we yearn to pass that on to the next generation.

I tend to be the first, of the first, to spot and announce those initial splashes of color that show up on the hills of the Adirondacks. In the later part of August I walk the banks of my trout streams and begin to look for those early “turners”. That’s the lone Maple, or the solitary Birch that seems to jump the gun and just has to change before the rest. I make my way around a bend in a stream and there it is, in all it’s glory. Overnight, an entire branch of brilliant red, orange or yellow leaves is waving in the chilled breeze saying, “Here  I am! Now you can tell everyone that Fall is officially on the way!”

From that point on, every new day brings more and more vibrant colors to the land. I see it move from tree to tree, and hillside to valley. I can smell it on the cooling wind. The aroma of moist earth or a yellow blanket of newly fallen tamarack needles floating  on a cold stream, are all part of it. The perfumed crunch of leaves under foot, and the hint of wood smoke in the air blend together into a rich mixture of smells, sounds and sights that permeates my clothes, my heart and my soul. Long forgotten memories of past autumns are stirred up, when family and friends gathered together and shared life. They bring to mind the laughter, the meals and the stories that were told over a mug of spiced cider or a slice of bread just pulled from the oven.

Fall is a time machine. It comes in on the breath of chilled Canadian air, and catches us up in brisk, clear, sunny days. It wraps us in the echoed gunshots on an autumn hillside and the earthy smells of an October forest. It is filled with change and visual images that enrich our lives down to the core. Winter is cold and barren. Spring is lush and muddy. Summer is hot and dry. But fall, …… fall is the memory maker. It is the Creator’s paintbrush, carried on the cooling breeze to the canvas of the earth. It is nature’s perfumer, experimenting with earth, leaves, water, soil and wood smoke. It is the primal symphony of winds that lift the song and the winged wonder of a string of geese as they “v” their way above.

Fall is the time we slow down and enjoy the last, lingering daylight hours of sun and warmth. These remind us that the beauty all around is a fleeting and wondrous thing, and it needs to be savored in the moment. It is the amazing sight of a huge orange moon rising above a harvested field. It is the scurry of squirrels collecting the last of the bounty they will need to carry them through the winter. It is the sight of wood stacked, the drumming a partridge and the smell of stoves and fireplaces set ablaze to drive out the dampness of frost kissed air. It is the smell of apple pies, sweet cider, roasted potatoes, corn, squash and meat cooking in an oven-warmed kitchen. Most of all, it is sharing the food of life with family and friends, and making memories, one slice of pie and cup of hot tea at a time.

This fall, slow down and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Make a few memories of your own. Connect with friends, neighbors, family, food and drink in a deliberate way. Choose to set aside some time to share a meal, or a cup of hot coffee, with those you love. Begin to enjoy the glory of making memories in the colored blaze of an Autumn world. All too soon your time on earth will be over, and then you will wish you had done more. Why? Because, then it will hit you that soon you will be the memory of others. I have learned that many things which seem so important, can actually wait, but making memories is not one one of them!

So in this wonderful season of colored change, put down the cell phone, turn off the TV, shut down the internet and close down your computer. Go meet with loved ones face to face. Share a meal, enjoy the view, tell stories of life well lived, breathe in the aromas of fall and become woven into the fabric of all that is to come. Let the sound, sight, smell, food and feel of autumn get inside you. Let it soak into your clothes, your thoughts, your bones and heart. Once it’s there, it will change everything, because  you will become the stuff of fall memories for those who will follow after. Become the memory maker of others, and you will leave a great legacy behind. Fail to do so, and life will simply move on and fade into the future. Now, go make some memories and enjoy the beauty of this amazing time of year!

 

Walking In Your Wilderness

wilderness

Deuteronomy 32:10 says “He found him in a desert, and in a howling waste of a wilderness, He encircled him, He cared for him as the apple of His eye”. What a powerful picture is painted here of God’s concern and care for those who a wandering in a wilderness of life. It matters not if they chose it for themselves, it happened unexpectedly or God Himself actually took them there. The point is, they were in it alone, and in His own time God came to them and cared for them, whether they deserved it or not.

I say the above because there is a time in everyone’s life when they find ourselves totally alone. This is not so much a physical thing, but it’s more of an emotional and spiritual season of isolation. When it finds us, we cannot avoid the impact it has on everything we hold dear. This wandering might last a few weeks, a few months or even longer, but once it arrives, it does not depart until it’s work is done. This isolated plateau of the soul is identified in the Bible as a place called “the wilderness”. We arrive in this place by ourselves, distracted and in an unrefined condition, but rest assured, we will not leave it the same way.

In this empty season no one is there to carry us, guide us or give us the companionship we think we need. Not one person is there at our side, providing step by step instructions to bring us into the new place we need to be. The fact is, every man or woman of God who is destined to fulfill their life calling, has to make this journey. Even those who do not know God, but are hungry to do better, will be taken to this place. The truth is, I believe this trip into the wasteland of our soul, is a necessary part of healthy personal and spiritual growth. As a result, it is my conviction that these times of barrenness should not be avoided, but they should be looked at with clarity, embraced with sincerity and fully walked out.

It is only during our wilderness experience that we are fundamentally changed. Our metal is tested, our character is developed and our flaws are painfully exposed. It can be a powerful time of personal evaluation and transformation. The excess baggage and wrong thinking we have picked up in life are finally thrown off. What is really important and genuinely necessary comes into clear focus, perhaps for the first time. For some, this brings a shocking revelation of how shallow and self-absorbed they really are. For others, it is a grand adventure as they rediscover who they are, and begin to build upon that good foundation to become even better. These are powerful times we enter into alone and unsettled, but emerge focused and quite comfortable in our own skin.

I was just in such a season not long ago. I got back from a powerful ministry trip to the Philippines. Myself and an Apostle did two conferences and ministered at numerous church meetings. When I returned home, my wife then flew off to California to be with our daughter, who was having our 10th grandchild. I was alone in our house, after all that personal attention and activity, surrounded by the “stuff” of our lives. I was totally alone for two weeks, and the impact this had on me was quite deep. It became a time of introspection, where I was able to seek God, ponder my life and consider how I got “here”. I reflected on the family I grew up in, the wilderness seasons I had been through, and the lessons I learned that made me the man I am.

I pondered how my father was a strong presence of security in our home. He made us feel wanted, valued and safe. He was an intelligent, slender, quiet, thoughtful man who spoke very few words, but meant every word he said. He was kind and gentle, filled with internal strength yet tender. He had a will of iron and a backbone that could support it. He was an outdoors-men to the bone and loved the woods, but could still carry his own with any city dweller. His word was his bond. He had a peaceful stability about him that filled our lives, and had the power to make everything alright, even when it wasn’t. On his death bed, his bright blue eyes looked at me with a calm resolve and they were able to reassured me that even this would be fine.

His example, both the good and the bad, served to shape me in ways I am just now discovering. Among other things, he taught me the wholesome value of a strong cup of hot, black tea and a slow cooked venison stew. He taught me the blessing of honest work and the need for personal sacrifice when it came to family. He showed me that failing to plan for retirement meant you could never retire. He showed me how to love the wife God gave me, and how to care for my family, no matter what the personal cost might be. He demonstrated the value of living debt free, and within our financial means. He also showed me why it was important to pay cash for the things we needed or wanted. The truth is, my father taught me how to be a real man.

Because of that, I became the kind of man my children could look up to. I showed them it’s OK to not always be right, but it is good to always be willing to make things right. They learned how to be a leader in their own homes, and the voice of reason to their children, when it is needed. They were shown how to love their wives and children in ways that are meaningful to them, and to do what must be done to provide for their families. Most of all, I taught them not to see the government as their source of income. Welfare is NOT a lifestyle, it is an emergency crutch until someone who needs it can get back on your feet. They were taught to seek God, plan with care and work hard. They learned from me that these things are more than enough to bring them all the provision they will ever need.

How did I learn these things, you might ask? These truth’s became life lessons during my wilderness wanderings. They became real when there was no one to prop me up or carry me, but Jesus. It was the time I found myself needing a teaching job. I prayed and sought God, and the perfect job opened up where there had been none the week before. It was the time I quit my teaching job, at age 35, and my a wife and three boys followed me back to college. We needed a place to live in Plattsburgh NY, and out of nowhere an apartment opened up near the college that we could afford. It was the time our cupboards were totally empty and I gave my sons the last of the powdered milk and instant mashed potatoes for breakfast. I went to class hungry that morning, but when I returned home that evening, food filled our shelves, our hallway and every counter top in our kitchen. I told no one but God about our need, and He showed me His faithfulness.

Without those wilderness journey’s my knowledge of God, and experiences with Him, would be sorely lacking. Unless I had been willing to walk through those barren wastelands, I would have never seen God’s ability to bring such abundant provision in my desperate lack. My faith was built up, my trust was properly anchored and my life story was enriched, all because of a desert trip. How grateful I am that many times God has led me into a waste-howling wilderness, to be tempted, tried and tested. At times I failed, but even in my failure I still learned valuable lessons that changed my life forever. The truth is, I would not trade those experiences for any amount of money or fame, because they made me, and my family, what we are today.

Right now, are you looking at a dry, sandy landscape, where there is no water and everything looks dead? Are you feeling alone in a barren landscape, with no clear answers, and you wonder where God is in all of it? If so, let me suggest to you that your current condition is actually designed by God to change you in ways you don’t yet understand. He is simply doing with you the very same thing He did with Jesus. What a privilege that is!

You need to walk it out, one step at a time, and pray with an honest and pure heart. You need to get real about your weaknesses until you find the place of rest in God. Once you are open to change and ready embrace your own weakness, you can then exchange your whole, weak mess for the strength God offers. Until then, you will find yourself a desert dweller. Perhaps this is your time to finally change and fully embrace the truth about who you really are. Once that’s been done, you can move on. Never forget that today’s wilderness is the perfect foundation for the God-ordained life you will walk in tomorrow !