Archive for October, 2022

Carry Your Share of the Load

As a 12 year old I considered my grandad to be superman. He had such a zest for life I enjoyed working with him. One summer workday involved building a fence. My goat and his cows found too many ways through the old one. We worked all morning digging fence post holes, and taming them in tightly. By min-morning we had worked our way down to the corner and stopped to take a breather. The entire time under a big shade tree I had thought about the extra large corner post and how we could set it. Thinking about such a challenge caused me to sweat more than the work.

Finally, grandpaw said, “Come on, boy, let’s set the corner post. You pick up your end and I will be behind you picking up my end.”

Knowing the limitations of my 12 year old muscles and the size of that post I hesitated, but grandpaw said let’s do it so I struggled with my end and to my amazement we did it, we set the corner post. The rest of the day I marveled over my might. There was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and a surge of youthful ego. In the early afternoon it dawned one me. When I picked up my end grandpaw picked up his “end” in the middle.

That is the way it is with the Lord. When there is a task, or burden He wants us to bear, if you will pick up your end you can be assured He will pick up His end in the middle. It is He who works in you both to will and to DO.

When compelled there is a task God wills for you to do, you can be confident and rely on Him to do His part, always has, and always will.

You can be confident and “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41: 10)

God works in us in order that He might work through us.

Consider what you think God wants you to do. Focus on it, the challenge and outcome. Now, contemplate what you think He wants you to do as your part to achieve the best result. What part do you think He will do to enable you to achieve the right end?

Then “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16: 3)

Then you can say with the Psalmist: “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” (Psalm 18:32)

Often our self-confidence fails us. Have confidence in the Lord for He never fails us. Depend on His strength. It will strengthen you. Go ahead, pick up your end. Guess who is on the other end having picked up His “end” in the middle?

A Blessing in a Bag

There is no way of knowing what beautiful blossom is hidden in the heart of the most unlikely of seeds. Cultivate the seed to enjoy the blossom. Destroy the seed and with it the blossom. The same is true of human life. There is no way of knowing what greatness resides in the most unlikely of infant lives.

Quantrill’s Raiders were the best-known of the guerilla bands that emerged after the Civil War. These groups were known as bushwhackers. One of the most notorious in the west was led by William Quantrill. At one time Jessie and Frank James were members. They raided ranches and kidnaped slaves to resell.

They raided the farm of Moses and Susan Carver near Diamond Grove, Missouri, in 1864 and carried off Mary, one of their most beloved slaves, and her infant child. Mr. Carver resolved to find her and redeem her. After an extensive effort, he arranged a rendezvous with the raiders to negotiate their release. Mary was never seen again. As they were parting, Quantrill threw a sack to Carver saying, “Here take this.” Later opening the sack he saw a tiny baby inside, it was Mary’s little son.. He held the infant to his chest all the way home to keep it warm.

The Carvers cared for the child resolving to see to it that he was educated. 

The Carvers’ foster child proved to be an excellent student and did well in school eventually graduating from what is now Iowa State University. Because of his knowledge of plants, he was appointed to the faculty after graduation. Today, that infant in the sack is known as George Washington Carver, yes, “the George Washington Carver.” What a loss to society it would have been if that child had not survived. Every person considering an abortion should give thought to “who” they are aborting and what contribution the child might make to society.

George Washington Carver was a blessing in a bag.

He became an inventor, chemist, botanist, and in general a scientist. As a man of faith, he said he prayed, “God, show me the mysteries of the universe.” God replied, “How about the mysteries of the peanut? That’s more your size.” He is reputed to have discovered 300 uses of the peanut and hundreds more for soybeans and pecans, and one hundred uses of the sweet potato. Among the peanut products were peanut butter and healing oils for tuberculosis.

George Washington Carver became an American agricultural scientist and inventor who promoted alternative crops to cotton and methods to prevent soil depletion. He was the most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century.

In 1897, he was invited by Booker T. Washington to be the director of agriculture at Tuskegee Institute where he made most of his discoveries and lived out his productive life. He is buried near his friend and fellow transformer, Booker T. Washington.

He became the first African-American to have a memorial built in his honor; it stands on the farm where he was born.

That little sack of seed produced a formidable crop worth recognizing during Black History Month. Enjoy the blossom.

A More Fulfilled You

Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and abolitionist, once noted that the controlled person is the powerful person. If so, how powerful are you? One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. This means you have an aid in developing self-control. Together you can “Build up your strength in union with the Lord, and by means of His mighty power.” (Ephesians 6: 10 TEV)

Unfortunately most people are pushed and manipulated by emotions of the moment, not regulated by reason. A training period may be required in order to “let the peace of God rule [that is, be dominant] in your hearts.” (Colossians 6: 10)

The expression “rule” in your heart is like a baseball umpire calling safe or out. If you do not experience a peace with God about a matter the call is out. If you have peace with God about it the call is safe. Don’t argue with the umpire, that is, don’t try to correct the umpire’s call.  

Two steps are required for doing this. In order to plant a potentially productive crop, the ground must be cleared. Romans 12: 2 expresses how this is to be done spiritually: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” 

Job, a man experienced in the extremities of stress, suggested the second step: “Acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace.” (Job 22: 21)

First, decide if change is needed, wanted, and possible. Next, flush out old futile philosophies, and preconceived negative concepts from your mind. Your thoughts are your renewable resources. Old thoughts can pass away.

Don’t leave a vacuum. Begin at once to feed your mind on Bible facts.

Load your gumption-gun with good news. 

Desire a change for the good. Increase your “want-to.”

Decipher your opportunities. Evaluate your resources.

Dedicate yourself to working hard for the change.

Discern what you want to be like and do it. Consider what is needed.

Devote yourself to Jesus, and as His servant to people. Know, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25: 40)

Demonstrate your intention by including God in all of your life by praying daily. Prayer is not your last resort — it is your first resource.

Now is a good time “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4: 22 – 24)

That is a wonderful ideal to which to aspire. You can be a better you — a more fulfilled you. 

The Best Time to Make a Decision

Chris Kraft, NASA’s first flight director and the inventor of the mission control, was asked when was the best time to make a decision and said, “The best time to make a decision is before you have to.” He went on to explain that every possible thing that could happen regarding a mission was considered before the mission and a decision was made regarding the response to each. Therefore, when anything happened they had a response predetermined and did not have reason to rush and panic. 

It seems in his classic novel “Pilgrim’s Progress” John Bunyan had this concept in mind when he wrote: “Most Christians are not mortified and crucified to that world, not acquainted with God and the promises as they might be, nor so resolved to follow God, fully, as they ought, and therefore are so dejected and discontented when afflictions come.”

In his Old English style he continued, “So it must be our care to provide for afflictions; for to prevent them altogether we cannot; but prepare for them we may, and must, as was hinted before; to treasure up God’s promise, and store our souls with graces, and to bear up and hold on; we need be but to well shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”

Like Kraft he acknowledges the inevitability of difficulties. Observation and experience teaches us most people are not as prepared as they should be when difficulties come. When God’s word is stored in our memory, it can be pulled out as a resource file in the face of stress-producing events.

Much can be gained by Scripture memorization. This must be followed by interpretation, gaining an understanding of the verse’s meaning. When a provisional promise is understood there is a better chance of its application.

Catalog concepts that confirm character in crisis.

The Psalmist gave us this pattern as a means for making advanced plans. 

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared All the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,

As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” (Psalm 119: 11 – 18)

An example of this is when you feel all alone you know you are not, for the Lord has said He will never leave us. Don’t act like it, act because of it.

There is an ancient prayer which states, “Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values, that I may grow toward the stars on my great destiny.”

How to Prepare for Stress

Everyone experiences stress. An awareness of what goes on in the body when stressed is evidence of how fearfully and wonderfully God has made you.

He has designed your body with a coping system to deal with stress.

When stress begins, the tiny pituitary gland at the base of the brain — the repair-crew foreman — initiates protective response by secreting chemical messengers or hormones ACTH and STH. The blood system carries these agents to two small glands above the kidney and adrenal glands. The outside border of these glands, the cortex, then produces cortisone, and other messengers. The center of these glands produces adrenal hormones. These adrenal hormones instantly prepare the body to deal with the emergency. Proteins are drawn from the thymus and lymph glands which are broken down to form sugar necessary for quick energy. Blood sugar soars. Blood pressure rises; minerals are drawn from bones; fat is mobilized from storage deposits; an abnormal amount of salt is retained. Numerous other alert and standby precautions are made to equip the body for fight or flight.

Fortunately it is not necessary to understand the God designed miracle of all that. It is important to know a lot happens in your body when stressed.

God has provided an even more effective means of dealing with stress. William Wordsworth, the great English poet, descriptively spoke of the effect of solitude. “And I have felt the presence that disturbs me with joy of elevated thought.” Elevated thought is a therapeutic way of relieving stress.

Isaiah was familiar with stress resulting from the conflict with court and conditions. Out of his experience he wrote what was his and can be yours:  “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you. (Isaiah 26: 3)

The evening before His execution Jesus shared with His stressed disciples a truth that remains: “My peace I give to you: not as the world gives, I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14: 27)

Embed these truths and others like them in your mind so they can be drawn out like a file and applied. Thus, His peace can be yours. Much is to be gained from Scripture memorization. You will be amazed at how much you can memorize if you take in bite sizes and let each passage marinate in your mind. Slowly take it in. Continue the process.

Many people are manipulated by emotions rather than being regulated by reason so “….let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another ….” (Col. 3: 15, 16)

Resolve to pre-program your mind to deal with stressful circumstances.

Thus, you can cope more effectively.