If Thou Canst Believe

Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

This verse begins with the supposition that “If thou canst believe” then all things are possible.  Since this is the KJV  it may not make sense to you so it can be easily translated to “If you can believe”.  The first question that comes to mind is, Why couldn’t I believe?  What are the qualifiers that limit my believing?

First of all, believing is a spiritual response rather than an emotional or mental response.  It is not based upon anything that lies within us alone but it is based upon our relationship with the Lord Jesus.  No amount of straining or effort will aid us in our believing.  Our predicament  does not necessitate the working of the Lord nor does our desires.  What God will respond to is our faith in Him.  It is our dependence upon His wisdom and ability that produces great results.

In order for us to believe, we must first believe that He is limitless in His power and love.  This comes by our knowing Him.  Experience by experience we grow in our faith in Him.  Time and Time again He has proved his ability to overcome life’s barriers and give what is best for us.  This relationship is built one trust at a time.

The question then becomes, Have you walked with the Lord until you are at rest with Him in charge, against whatever you face?  The possibilities are only limited by your faith in Him.  Do you believe that He has your best interest in His heart?

 

 

Seeing

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God

I was thinking about how amazing it is to be able to see.  I have also tried to comprehend what it would be if you were blind.  It seems that there are several facets to seeing.  There is the physical aspect and there is the aspect of understanding and then there is the aspect of seeing spiritually.

Looking at the physical aspect it is fairly easy to grasp the difference in seeing and blindness by simply closing your eyes.  What happens is that you quickly loose the imagery of sight and your reality takes on a new dimension.   I used to work in the mines in Colorado and have been in total darkness for a little while.  You try to see but you cannot make out any details of any kind.  Your reality lacks definition and you begin to grope about to find anything that you can detect with your other senses that you know and can understand.  It can be very confusing.  There are stories of people who have been in total darkness for extended periods and have gone mad  without light.  Physical blindness is a definite handicap on life but it is not the worst kind of blindness.

I like puzzles and have a number of them in my study.  I find great pleasure in figuring out how the puzzle is  solved.  Solving problems is a big part of what makes our society work.  Understanding is essential in the overall function of all machinery.  It is basic to our value system and defines relationships.  You have all seen the “Ah-ha” reaction expressed in a cartoon as a lighted bulb or the expression of realization with the widening of the eyes in understanding.  This is seeing through the problem to a solution.  The inability to see through a problem is another type of blindness that will greatly limit your quality of life.

Perhaps the worst type of blindness is the inability to perceive the spiritual.  Those who have this type of blindness do not even know that they are blind.  Perception for them is limited to the physical and mental dimensions of the physical world.  They are unaware of the spiritual realm because they do not even have the eyes to see it with.  To get them, a person must be born again.  He gets his spiritual eyes upon his spiritual birth, just as a person gets his physical eyes at his physical birth.  Yes, I know that he has them before his birth, but their function really begins upon their birth.  Until you are born again you are spiritually blind; and that is the worst type of blindness.  This is just one of the reasons that Jesus said, You must be born again!

Enough Time

“I just don’t have enough time.”  Have you ever heard someone say that?  Perhaps you have said that yourself.  Isn’t it is interesting that everyone has exactly the same amount of time, 24 hours a day.  It isn’t how much time we have but how we use it.  I remember riding with a guy once and he was cut off in traffic and his response caught me off guard.  He said, “I wonder how he is going to use the 3 seconds he just saved?”  Every second we have is simply an investment into what we believe is the most valuable.

Then there are those who “have nothing to do.”  There seems to be no urgency to do any particular thing.  They are simply marking time.  Often you see people watching the clock, just waiting until a certain time when they can cease their inactivity to do something else.  I know that sounds silly, cause it does to me, but that is how they live their lives. Their creative juices have dried up.  They are not working toward a goal to improve themselves or their circumstances.  They are dutiful in their work and bored.

Then there are those who are always looking for another existence.  Everything is wrong and they fight the system and the people around them.  They do not have any hope and they just want out.  They are not living life, just trying to escape it.

Occasionally, you run into someone who just seems to be doing everything.  They are excited about everything.  They are productive, happy, energetic and find meaning in every event that comes along.  Especially, the small things, simple things, discarded things, and society’s rejects.  They always have a listening ear, time to help, defend the bullied, etc.

So what is the difference?  It is in their value system.  The things they invest their time in are the things that are often overlooked, or undervalued.  They see Mr. opportunity knocking and respond.  They have the belief that seconds are precious and life is soon gone, never to return.  They have discovered that time is a precious gift from God and the proper use of it is part of their stewardship.

Pruning

Joh 15:1-2 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples just shortly before He faced the cross and may well have been His last opportunity to leave them with insights on how to move forward in the kingdoms work.  He was using the illustration of pruning grape vines in order to increase grape production, but it is applicable to all fruit growing plants.

I planted a peach tree in my yard a year ago, I thought it was dead last spring but it began to grow and grew over 4 foot during the year.  In fact it did so well that I had to prune it this spring.  I am not expecting fruit this year and if any does develop, I will knock it off.  Right now I am trying to develop the tree that will be able to support a large crop.  The sacrifice today will be more than repaid in the years to come.

There are two vital principles that are involved in this illustration. One is that the tree or vine will produce limbs and leaves in preference to producing fruit.    It will use the bulk of its resources to produce limbs and leaves and of whatever remains it will produce fruit.  Consequently the fruit is mostly seed, the flesh is smaller and doesn’t taste as good as it should.   It has the mandate from God to grow so it interprets that as producing limbs and leaves with fruit production as of lesser importance.

This could be a description of some of our churches today.  Growth is equated to having facilities, programs and certain doctrines.  It appear healthy and may even be carrying its financial obligations.  But there is a glaring problem.  Baptisms are down, there are additions but there is also a steady loss of members. The membership knows that there is something wrong but cannot identify what or why.  They have fallen into a subtle trap that Satan is using very well today known as program-ism.  It is based on the misconception that God’s delight is in our building churches with full programs that meet everyone’s personal needs.  When it truth, God delights when we grow in faith (Heb 11:6) and produce the fruit of the Spirit.

The second principle is that fruit only grows on new growth.  You never get fruit on last years growth.  Pruning the tree or vine will cause the tree to produce more new growth, on which the fruit will be the natural product. We must be thrust into situations that require us to trust the Lord, for that is where we grow in faith and the fruit of the spirit comes out as a result of faith.  We constantly undergo change and find ourselves pushed to our limits.  Its okay because God is the gardener and He knows how to work all things for good.  We can trust Him.

Get Growing

Nice weather as we have had the past couple days gives me a bad case of spring fever.  Spring is my favorite time of year.  Everything seems to point to New Life as plants and animals awaken from winters hibernation.  The days get longer and milder and thoughts turn to better days.

One of the big events is the garden.  You may say it is way to early to be thinking about that but even before you plant it there is the cleanup from last years garden.  Then there is the preparation of the ground and the starting of the seedlings so that you can get a head start on the growth time.  Today I finished cleaning up from last years garden and even added a new planting area in my back yard.

So why would I go through all the work of working the soil and edging it with the stones?  Because the plants need more sun than they were getting in my existing garden spot.

Just as the plants need a lot of sun shine to be able to grow the vegetables we eat so also we need a lot of SON shine on our lives to provide us the proper nourishment  we need to grow spiritually.  Just as I had to make an adjustment to my gardening we also need to make adjustment to our lives if we are not getting adequate time with the Lord.

The farmer plants good grain and allows it to face the elements and die that it might live again and produce its fruit.  He suffers the loss of the seed because he believes in a harvest.  It is an exercise of faith in God’s goodness to bless us with the things we need.

Prayer Meeting

Yesterday was an unusually busy day.  I never even got to my study until evening and I was so tired I just ate and went to bed.

Still, it was a productive day.  After finishing my morning routine I went to a prayer meeting at the church.  This prayer meeting was first set up as part of the plan for us to look ahead and find out what the Lord was up to.  We were moving to a point of being out of debt and our church wanted to find out what our next step was.  Instead of simply redirecting the funds of the church, we wanted to know what the Lord had in mind so the church requested a number of the members to meet regularly to seek the Lord in prayer to discover His will in the matter.  The group was divided into 4 sets and each one set aside time to pray as well as to meet once a month in prayer together.  Also, each set would take turns so that there was a weekly group meeting.  We were directed to pray specifically for the will of God, the planning committee, specific prayer needs as they arose as well as the whole staff and membership.

These were special times and we discovered the direction we believe the Lord is leading us as well as getting to know each other much better.  I am happy to report that next month our church will be debt free.  We believe that our mission ahead includes supporting other struggling churches and establishing missions and under girding the kingdom work.  We specifically determined that we were not going to try to store up funds for our own use.  We will keep only a 3-6 months reserve of our budget for operations cash flow and then funnel the remainder into mission and the extension of God’s kingdom.

One of our commitments includes a mission that we are helping to also become debt free.  To do that we are committing an additional $100,000 to their budget so that they will be enabled to extend this plan even further.  We will not lessen our current efforts in missions or in our other efforts to minister to the multiple retirement homes, teaching, training, mission trips, etc but will seek to improve them as well.  Another one of our missions reported that they will move into their own worship facility this next Sunday.

Because the prayer effort was so effective, we also decided to make it a permanent part of our operation as a church.  It is such an honor to be a part of this church as we endeavor to carry out our Lord’s great commission and to see it being done effectively.  Only to God be the glory.

Broken Rules

My dad was one of the wisest men I ever knew, even though he only had an eighth grade education.  He had a lot of “country sayings” that he would bring out just at the right time.  I remember one time I was working on my car and he asked me what was wrong with it.  I answered nothing, to which he responded, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.   I was able to put together these “Broken Rules” from such experiences and a little of my own learning.

It came out a bit fuzzy so I retyped them below so they are more legible.

Broken Rules

  1. Don’t fix it if it’s not broke.
  2. If it is broke, figure out if it is worth fix’en.
  3. You can’t fix it till you know what is broke.
  4. Don’t try to fix what’s broke till you know how.
  5. If it’s broke, fix it, don’t punish it.
  6. Fix what’s broke.
  7. Fix what broke it.

Life can be quite complicated sometimes but when the rules are simple we seem to do better at life.

Firewood

I was raised on a small farm with rocky ground and poor soil.  Farming was a lot of hard work and little money.  To make it even worse we lived in a depressed area at the end of WW II.  I remember the rationing of gas, the tokens made of plastic, tires were next to impossible to get, jobs were nonexistent, etc.

Our small home was not insulated and we didn’t have the basic essentials that many others had, such as electricity, indoor plumbing, a steady income, and the like.  Basically, we were poor and just getting by.  I tell you this to accent the impact the following event had on me.

My dad did not just tell me the difference between right and wrong but showed me the difference and how it works. He not only saw to it that we were in church on Sunday, but he took us to Church.  My mother was the church pianist and my dad was active in the leadership of the church.

I remember that one year our family income for the year was $500.  Even though we had needs a plenty, dad still took three days to cut wood with a chopping ax for three sisters that lived together with no other support.  They didn’t even have wood to warm themselves and were worse off than we were.  Dad didn’t just do the right thing, he used the situation to teach me the importance of ministering to others.  He made me go out in the cold with him and stack the limbs that couldn’t be used for firewood and to load the wood on the truck.  Then he made me go with him to deliver the wood.

I will never forget how those women showed us their appreciation.  After we unloaded the wood, we were invited in to share in some homemade pie.  I still remember dad looking quite serious when asked what type of pie he liked and he said, I only like two kinds.  They then asked him what they were and he said, hot and cold.  Everyone had a good laugh and the pies were great.  I even had seconds.  I will never forget the warm feeling I had inside as we rode home.

Charging the batteries

This was one of those days where I spent the day in my office.  At one time I could have called it a wasted day but now I find it to be one of the most productive days.  It wan’t wasted because I was busy with study, listening to spiritual music (for me it is southern gospel) working on my blog, studying the Sunday School lesson and researching several items on my list of interest.

I also took a 15 minute power nap.  That is something that I rarely do.  I find that sometimes it is like a shot in the arm.

I also received my first comment on my blog.  It was encouraging to me that it is being read.  If something is a blessing to you and you let me know then I will get a better picture of your interest and will use that information to improve this site.  Also, if you have a suggestion of something you would like to see added, just let me know and I will see what I can do.  I will respond to your request.

Lighting it up

I just had my neighbor, who I trimmed the cabinet door for, stopped by to thank me for the few minutes work I did and then she requested to buy a copy of my book.  She also shared with me that both her and her husband have been spending a lot of time in the Doctors office so they aren’t able to be as active in the Lord’s work as they want to be.  When I see these Christlike characteristics I just Praise the Lord.

Today I am spending most of my time in the office doing final preparation for tonight’s class.  Later this evening I will meet with FYI to set a time for tomorrows meeting on the Chinese translation and to look ahead to a mission trip sometime this fall.

I am also looking at other blogs and guidelines for improving this site.  I got one suggestion from a friend in Maryland who said I should add a picture of myself to the about me page, which I did.  I had another suggestion from my brother-in-law to add the section called Q & A which I also did.  Let me know what you think about these changes.  I am considering other changes as well so please send me your ideas.  I am not promising to use them but I have already incorporated two of them so I am open to them.