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Accountability: helping each other carry the cross

Accountability: helping each other carry the cross

Engineering is somewhat defined as “someone trained in a practical application of the sciences, to design, construct, and set up the procedure of use and maintaining of machines engines equipment and various systems.” Hey hold on don’t close me down, science and the bible actually fit hand in hand they are not enemies so hear me out. Science is really just the process of repeat-ability. Like Jesus has never left me or forsaken me, therefore I can trust that will continue, not to mention the Bible told me so. OK

First of all let me say I am not an engineer, but have worked closely with several for about 20 years, and have a great respect for them. They are usually extremely smart, and great with math. Some of the old school engineers did not even have a high school diploma, but their common sense and craft skill, like machining landed them high level jobs and pay. My good friend Shawn’s father was such a man. I don’t think he made it through high school. He worked in Wichita in the aircraft industry and was amazing, He could design anything, and after his retirement they had to bring him back in for several years to train his educated replacements. So what in the world does engineering have to do with a mans spiritual life. I would suggest, lots.

If you are reading this looking for some tips on keeping your walk with the Lord fresh and moving forward, I am going to presume you read your bible daily, and pray daily as well. I will also assume you are in a healthy relationship with the body of Christ. I am assuming you are in some type of small group that is encouraging you to grow in Faith in Jesus, and His plan for you. So if not then back up and start there. If you don’t have followers of Jesus to be in relationship with, then ask the Lord for help. With all that said, we as men need to engineer in safety factors for our lives while we are clear minded and ready to do business with our flesh. I will be giving suggestions from my personal experiences which is the only thing I know about, God has been faithful to help me. My testimony.

Let me start with some scripture.

Luke 14: 25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. 34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Jesus is actually telling us that bearing the cross is discipleship. Discipleship must include counting the cost, making plans and following through with them to the end. That is what I am calling spiritual engineering. Men, we have to be deliberate and intentional in our spiritual life, but even more so in the hum drum of everyday work and play. We can pretend we walk in the spirit from the time our eyes open to the moment we fall asleep, but lets be real, the devil waits for a weak moment and eventually we give him one. What I am suggesting is, we engineer into our weekly routines safeguards. Here are some I personally live by.

Accountability would be first on most everyone’s list, but I would like to throw in a little twist. First off if your accountability partner has some hidden mess in His own life, then its safe to say he is not going to dig deep in your life, for fear of his own mess being found out. This is actually a huge problem so starting off right, is the thing to do. If not, it will end up being a guys night out, and you might as well go play golf. Complete disclosure from the beginning. Yes it can cost you everything that is the point. Let me share a bit of my story here. This is how you make accountability work.

Appreciate  History I love history and especially church history. I am in my 50’s now and have actually seen a little history myself. My wife had a brain tumor back in the mid 1980’s and had not been given much hope. By the 1990’s I felt so desperate that I became one of those revival chasers, running from city to city getting my wife prayed for. Pensacola Florida, Toronto Canada, and Smithton Missouri. She never was healed BUT the Lord has been amazing, sustaining her life through 3 brain surgeries and eventually having Her pituitary glands and Adrenal glands removed and She is still plugging along. We spent many years in Kansas City during the Kansas City Prophet days before Mike B. ever started IHOP. I remember being there on a Sunday night when one of the big “Prophets” had been exposed for used his gifting to do some inappropriate things. I remember Mike saying this is what happens when you refuse to be accountable. I had studied church history and knew the stories of great Men like AA Allen who started well BUT ended their lives as drunks. Many men have lost their way by chasing women or worse. Not just a few but many. I thought I don’t ever want to be in big ministry, let me stay hidden, yes one of those nameless faceless ones. At the same time we must be careful not to live our lives by fear, but by faith. Let me say I am concerned with my own history even more than someone else’s. I have never hidden the fact that in my 20’s before Jesus I was deep in sin. I am not proud of it and my wife endured a lot of pain because of me, But thank God the Lord and my wife forgave me. The key here is, I have not turned back to that life in 32 years. Not because of my strength actually the opposite, my knowledge of my weakness caused me to be transparent and open and ACCOUNTABLE. Through the years I have had several great accountability partners. Just a few months ago I lost the best accountability partner I ever had, Bob Hagberg who went to be with Jesus. Especially in the 90’s when we were living near one another He saw the broken John Gross many times, and nursed me back to spiritual health, and helped keep me from going back to the mess I once had. Thank God for Him. I hope you have someone so dear to help keep you moving in the RIGHT direction.

Forgive quickly Have you ever played Monopoly? If you have, you know about the get out of jail free card. In the realm of forgiveness you have an out. I ask you not to use the card. I wrote about what some say about “not forgiving someone unless asked.” You can read my words on here. https://riverflowsdown.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/does-god-require-me-to-forgive-if-not-asked-to/ The bottom line is forgiving frees not only you, but the perpetrator as well, and you can not go wrong by forgiving. Here is what I have found, many of the sins we as men deal with come from some type of wrong being done to us in our childhood, and a lie being established to cover it. If that can be looked at, and forgiven it breaks the chains of repetitive behavioral sin. Please take an honest look at your life and see if anything like that has happened. Then bring that up with your accountability partner and pray together to close that door and keep it closed. I have seen many people set free from years of issues by bringing those issues to the CROSS and forgiving.

My own story. I was in my early 30’s and my spiritual life seemed ok. I could see no big issues but I prayed a dangerous prayer. Here is that prayer. Father if you find any wicked way in me please show me so I can make that right before you. Instantly I remembered an event that had not crossed my mind in about 15 years. When I was 17 years old I was a mess as I stated earlier. An elderly lady at the church where my dad was pastor cornered me in the foyer of the church, and with Her finger in my face and in front of those around us, came some hard to hear words. She said “You are a disgrace to your father, this church, and to God.” I was furious and full of hate and pain. It was the thing that turned me away from those three things my father the church and God. I turned back to the Lord when I was 21 But that memory was locked away. Now in my 30’s and after that prayer being prayed I began to weep. I could fell all the rejection. It was not connecting yet, but after forgiving I knew. This is why, any time anyone even attempted to give me a corrective word I would retreat into depression which once given into, a door opened for my mind to run wild in ungodly thoughts. It had been a cycle for years and I had no clue why. But I prayed that prayer that the Lord put in me, and it set me free. Did I mention I went to find the lady to tell her I am a follower of Jesus now, and wanted you to know I held no grudge. I found She had passed away so I called the pastor of the church and told Him the story and asked If I could come to the church and stand in that spot where it had happened and release the whole thing. He laughed and said sure come on up. He was supportive, though I doubt He understood the depths of issues that left me that day. I encourage you to pray that prayer and be willing to forgive.

Love well and on purpose My grandfather loved his children but could never say it, he showed it. For the generation that came out of world war 1 and 2 and the great depression words were cheap, they new action. They poured their lives out as a drink offering for their loved ones. They gave beyond anything my generation or after can fathom. The generations growing up with Donahue and later Oprah have a “poor me” and “no one had it as bad as I did” syndrome. Now words are everything, and real action almost carries no weight. My wife and I have ministered to many women who have been beaten by a man who treated them beyond excuse. But with those words “I love you baby” boom they are right back in the abusive cycle. We have several generations in a row that are in desperate need of men to love beyond words, with righteous action. It was extremely hard for my fathers generation to learn how to use the love language when they had never heard it from their Fathers. Under the circumstances they did a great job in general. However my generation now in their 50′ have been so influenced by media and it has caused a short circuit spiritually.

The realty is, men we must do both, use the love language with your family, but let your actions speak even louder than words. Consistency is the deal, here are a few I have made high priority, we have to settle things before bed, don’t go to sleep angry, never argue with our spouse in front of the children. Never discipline the kids out of anger, go take a walk, cool down and pray, then discipline out of love. Honor your wife don’t let your children disrespect her, and if you don’t start this early you will have more trouble than you know how to deal with. Devotional life in front of and with your family is a must. Never Never turn to porn it will open a door so demonic you will need help closing it. Plan ahead for fun and relaxation it will not just happen. Ask the Lord for idea’s to help you as a Father and Husband. If you are a single guy ask the Lord to build into you these things. The bottom line guys is, it must be done on purpose and it must be planed in.

Plan for early Eternity I may take fire for this one and be accused of not having faith but so be it. I have been to more funerals of people who died way to early, in fact I am amazed at how many. Let me be blunt, anything can happen. Good people doing everything right loose their lives, because someone else is doing something stupid like texting while driving their car. About 10 years ago I was hit head on by car crossing the median at 70 mph. They life flighted that car load of people and miraculously I walked away. It caused me to think a bit deeper. If something happened to me how would I want my wife to live after I am gone. Grieving while trying to figure out how to pay the bills or just grieve. I decided just grieve, and changed my behavior to match my life and after life and made some preparations. I realize this might be offensive, but don’t go on without thinking through it a bit. Does our history match saying yes to Jesus and yes to the cross because it does actually put you in a position that martyrdom could be a reality as well. In many places it is a real possibility so we must live like it, and prepare like it could happen. America is changing faster than I would have believed even 20 years ago. It is coming.

I was recently answering some questions for a man 10 years younger than myself about some of these things that I just consider normal. He asked If I could put some of this down in a blog so I have. I will add some more as time permits but for now I hope I gave someone out there something good to consider.

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My Family Portrait

Most people find their identity and self worth from their job
or in the things they do. It is my desire to paint a picture of my
family with words, discovering in the process just who we are. I
carry the same name as my Grandfather John Gross so let me
start there.

He was a strong man who had married my grandmother Sue
who was 12 years younger than him. He carried in his persona
what had been handed to Him, a strong German work ethic. My
father Ron Gross grew up in those days just after the great
depression and through World War 2. If eyes could see through
that filter you would most certainly understand how love was not
carried in words of sweet containers. Love was shown in those
tuff conditions by working long hard hours just to provide the
simple necessities of life. It was the right container for the times
and most knew it including dad. As it would happen times got
better and dad made his way to Kansas City to find his place in
the world.

It wasn’t long before dad had a job and settled in, until one
Sunday night God called him to preach. That didn’t fit in with
his father’s idea for his future, but dad obeyed God. Now
granddad got over it pretty quick and even showed hints of liking
the idea after awhile.

It was off to Southwest Baptist University for several years
then to Ouachita Baptist University to complete his degree. It
was there that he met my mother Evelyn Holmes who was
working as one of the school nurses. Mom’s family made the
ideal place to visit for Christmas. Her mother Leona
demonstrated the best example of pure love I ever witnessed.
Concerning mom, as they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the
tree

Mom and dad married in 1959 and they were off to Kansas City
for dad to attend Midwestern Theological Seminary. I came
along in 1961 so as I hear it we were very poor but they stayed
the course. While he didn’t spend the $10 for the certificate he
finished with a masters in theology. Dad pastored his first church
in 1964 in Clarksburg followed by Olean, Adrian, Scott City,
Warsaw, and Stockton all in Missouri.

I have two sisters, the oldest is Ginger 3 years younger than me. I
made her life miserable but she just loved her brother and kept
coming back for more. I have in recent years asked her to
forgive me for how bad I treated her and of course she did.
Ginger is married to my old school buddy John Underwood and
they have one daughter, Amber who is in college now she got the
smarts I wish I had. Janelle is my youngest sister and being 10
years apart I have only gotten to know her after we were adults.
She married Mark Gables after getting her teaching degree and
has 3 sweetheart daughters Holly, Olivia and Anna who keep them
active to say the least.
I grew up thinking I was born 100 years to late, you see
fishing and the great outdoors was it for me. Then something
happened to me around 1973, I started feeling rebellious and I
wanted to be a hippy or at least dress like one. But just as I was
felling good in my early teens it all changed with disco but not
with me, I was born to late again. By the late 1970’s I found it,
parties, drugs, what ever, I was in. I kept it secret for a while but
by 1979 when my teenage girl friend Dianna Holland came up
pregnant everyone knew.

The Baptist preacher’s kid has gone
and done it and he’s only a junior in high school. Well believe it or not,
We married and 9 days later came John David Jr. [ David ]. I finished
school while Dianna and I worked and all our families watched
David. Most people thought we would last about 1 year, lets see
we celebrated our 30 th year of marriage. Angela came 3 years later
and She was my my miracle baby. My rebelion died with Her birth, we
celebrate the same birthday, her natural my supernatral.

Enough for now you can check out our web page link below and see
what we are up to now but I will be telling more of our story as time permits.

http://www.houseoffriends.org

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I’m up early starting the morning fire in the wood stove. We are so blessed to be warm this morning as the ice storm has taken it toll on many family’s leaving them without electricity. My fire wood is just a little damp so its takes a little more effort to get it going. I was just thinking how relationship compare to a fire. When its working right we warm up to one another and find such comfort. When its not, to be honest we just get burned. I think we all understand that like a fire, relationships need to be cared for and maintained or they just burn out. Every once in a while you find a friend that God himself puts in your path and those we need to pay special attention to. Sometimes it’s through those people that the Lord speaks to us.

If you have the time read with me of my account of the outward spiral of sparks that came from meeting one person and all the threads and connections that came from that original fire. Hang on here we go.

It started with my great friend Kato and His invitation to come with him to His home in Uganda. A few days into the mission trip we were in the home of Tim Way a missionary from Tulsa Oklahoma. We had relaxed after a great meal Tim’s wife Jill had fixed and sit down at the computer to try to send an email back home. Tim asked me if I lived near Kansas city knowing we were from Missouri and if we knew about Metro Christian Fellowship and Mike Bickle “before IHOP”. I said we had been hanging around their meetings for about 10 years but I didn’t know him personally. He then said I think you are suppose to connect with my friends Dave and Joanne Norton who live in Nebraska they have spent time here in Uganda as missionaries and have a heart very similar to yours and looking to connect with Kansas City.

“SIDE NOTE” A few days later we were at John Mulende’s church  “The Trumpet Center” in Kampala Uganda. John asked us if we knew Mike Bickle and we we said not personally but we could get a message to Him. We took a short video of Him addressing Mike with an invitation to come to Uganda. Years later while at a transformations meeting in Kansas city with Wes Adams they meet. As I watched from the back as they shook hands I thought Wild how things connect in God’s timing.

“Back To Tim” Tim seemed so sure of meeting them I dared not contact them. We connected by email first but I don’t email well or often so we decided to meet in person. They came to Kansas city and stayed with Dianna and I and we hit it off, Dave plays the keyboard and is a great worship leader and full of wisdom and humility. Joanne is the christian version of military secret ops with great faith and discernment. Together they make the perfect couple and the Lord seems to have them at the right place at the right time.

Through the years we have connected at key times and I am so thankful for them. Joanne unlike myself is great at sending out emails and I remember time and time again requests to pray for Her friend Susie.

Susie Jones is a trooper but fights her battles with constraints most of us could not handle. Susie is paralyzed and because of her condition she has had frequent health concerns. We have all prayed for her for years but Joanne has been a friend to her like no other. Several years ago I had several dreams about the Mississippi river and wanted to travel up to its source and pray. Joanne reminded me that Susie lived in the region and maybe we could meet there and pray for Susie. We did just that and had a great time. Ever since that time Joanne’s friend became my friend. She loves to pray, I need lots of prayer with all the crazy traveling I do… I know if no else does Susie is praying for me. I left on one trip and asked my Mom to call Susie and give her updates on the mission trip and its seems they have now become great friends and call each other every two weeks. The fire just keeps sparking and igniting new fires of relationship.

The day we walked into Susie’s house my eyes caught a painting on the wall. All week I would find myself staring at the picture. It appeared light was shining out of it. I would move to different angles to see if that was possibles. Finally I asked Susie what is the deal with the painting I am not and art guy and it seems to be drawing my attention. Susie explained that her son Jay is an artist and that he had given that to her as a gift. She went on to say that he calls it Illumination. I told her that if he ever made prints of it I wanted to purchase one. Long story short that happened and My wife Dianna had it professionally framed and is wrapped up waiting for Christmas morning. I leave in a few days for Uganda and fly in on Christmas eve I can’t wait all my grand-kids will be there opening their gifts and when the last one is open I will open the painting and hang it on the wall near the wood stove. My favorite place snuggled up with Dianna the babies the fire and  the painting reminding me forever the barn for me is my life its old warn full of memories yet still full of purpose. At this Christmas season it will stand as special reminder to me that of all the places God the father could have chosen to reveal His precious son He picked out a stable a barn so to speak. I may be an old barn but the King of Glory resides inside and when you see me shining its not me its the King Shine on Jesus Shine on.

Here is the picture enjoy it, I only ask you be honor Jay’s Art and if you like it purchase one from Him. I look forward to seeing Jay’s art continue to display God’s gift. You may contact Jay by email at  jgraphics@gvtel.com

Dec 2007

illumination.jpg

1 year Later Dec 2008

the-fire

Update the picture is on the wall this Christmas

mydog

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Is 59:19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

 

Isaiah uses the Hebrew word Nahar 21 times which is understood to mean stream or river. Only one time in Isaiah is it translated flood, that is in 59:19 “found above”. God declares in Isaiah 41,42,43,50 “found below” that He opens, makes rivers in the wilderness and desert. He also says He will dry them up. In chapter 43 He says that while we pass through them He will be with us. But the most comforting of all is when the enemy comes in like a flood the Lord lifts up a standard against.

I heard it read one time with the coma moved over like this When the enemy shall come in, like a flood the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. I love it either way God stops the enemy in his tracks that the point. Wow wait a second. there is the first part of the verse. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. Funny or not so Funny what people do with the Lords name when in hot water, high water, or no water at all. Call on Him or curse.Check out the verse’s a bit for your own edification then pick up my story on the other side.

Is 41:18 I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

Is 42:15 I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.

Is 43:2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Is 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Is 43:20 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

Is 50:2 Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.

It was late in the year 1982 and the Canadian river broke it banks in Oklahoma City. I was at work and got a call from my wife, she and the kids had been rescued and was safe in a shelter. Well the little trailer park where we lived was hit hard we lost the house and decided to move back to Missouri. I had just become a Christian and trusting God for a new start for our little family caused us to grow at an accelerated rate. God was so faithful and we now had our own history that declared scripture true in our hearts.

A freak storm came through Kansas City a couple of days ago. It sounded like a train and took a roof off an apartment complex a couple of miles from our house. What? At the end of December that is crazy, yip.

Well I think about 7,000 of us had no power. For us that meant no sump pump, which meant flooded basement. Our house sits on a spring. We ran an inverter to power 1 of our pumps which stopped the rise of water. About 12 hours later power was on and the clean up begins.

A couple of days have passed what a mess. I have an option to complain, NO I refrain; God is so faithful there are so many things that could have been worse. We have turned it into a time to stroll down memory lane pull together as a family and be thankful.

flood

 Floating house plants among the mess

 Let me end here and get back to helping my wife clean

SONG OF SOLOMON 8:7 Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.

 

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January 13th early in the morning my wife Dianna woke me up and told me “you sure are sleeping loud” I knew it was true I had been dreaming I was back in Africa and I had been dropped into the middle of devastation. I was working to get orphans into homes. It was overwhelming, one minute I was in Africa the next I would be back in Missouri. Then the dream slowed down into slow motion. I had been trying to get someone to explain to me what had brought about such devastation in Africa and how I ended up in the middle of it all.

There it was the longest train I had ever seen, it was a old coal burning train. It was pulling passenger cars and on each car was written Show Me Orphan Train. In the windows were little faces pressed against the glass. At this point I am crying looking into the faces of desperation to be loved, it was overwhelming. In the dream Linda a 20 year old Ugandan girl that is living with us while going to college pointed at the children and said “John it’s about them” I woke immediately with all kinds of emotions.

I thought about the meeting I have today with my friends from Alma Missouri introducing them to Gizaw my friend from Ethiopia who will be talking to us about the need for orphanages in Ethiopia. I thought about our friends John and Sharon who minister in Kenya that had just been at the house talking about the conditions there. I thought about my own experiences in Uganda, Egypt and Ethiopia.

Then I thought about a teaching that Regina Shank does on overcoming rejection and She tell’s stories about the orphan trains that would move from the east coast to the Midwest dropping off children to waiting families. Of course there are some bad stories about abuse and using the kids as slave labor. As a whole the Midwest provided homes, I myself have a great grandmother who was an orphan and was taken in to a wonderful family in Beatrice Nebraska.

Here is an advertisement below that appeared in the Troy Free Press Feb 11, 1910. Troy is in Lincoln County.

Wanted
HOMES for CHILDREN
A company of homeless children from the East will arrive at
TROY, MO., ON FRIDAY, FEB. 25th, 1910
These children are of various ages and of both sexes, having been thrown friendless upon the world. They come under the auspices of the Children’s Aid Society of New York. They are well disciplined, having come from the various orphanages. The citizens of this community are asked to assist the agent in finding good homes for them. Persons taking these children must be recommended by the local committee. They must treat the children in every way as a member of the family, sending them to school, church, Sabbath school and properly clothe them until they are 17 years old. The following well-known citizens have agreed to act as local committee to aid the agents in securing homes:
O. H. AVERY   E. B. WOOLFOLK   H. F. CHILDERS
WM. YOUNG   G. W. COLBERT
Applications must be made to, and endorsed by, the local committee.
An address will be made by the agent. Come and see the children and hear the address. Distribution will take place at the
Opera House, Friday, Feb. 25, at 1:30 p.m.
B. W. TICE and MISS A. L. HILL, Agents, 105 E. 22nd St., New York City. Rev. J. W. SWAN, University Place, Nebraska, Western Agent

 orphantrain1.jpg

Orphan Train in Black & White – Diamond Someday “above”

Here are the words to a blue grass song: Orphan Train “below”

By (Utah Phillips)

Once I had a darling mother, though I can’t recall her name
I had a baby brother who I’ll never see again
For the Children’s Home is sending us out on the Orphan Train
To try to find someone to take us in

cho: Take us in, we have rode the Orphan Train
     Take us in, we need a home, we need a name
     Take us in, oh won’t you be our kin
     We are looking for someone to take us in

I have stolen from the poorbox, I’ve begged the city streets
I’ve swabbed the bars and poolrooms for a little bite to eat
In my daddy’s old green jacket and these rags upon my feet
I’ve been looking for someone to take me in

The Children’s Home they gathered us, me and all the rest
They taught us to sit quietly until the food was blest
Then they put us on the Orphan Train and sent us way out West
To try to find someone to take us in.

The farmers and their families they came from miles around
We lined up on the platform of the station in each town
And one by one we parted like some living lost-and-found
And one by one we all were taken in

Now there’s many a fine doctor or a teacher in your school
There’s many a good preacher who can teach the Golden Rule
Who started out an orphan sleeping in the freezing rain
Whose life began out on the Orphan Train.

Well I have to get going and get ready for Church, I just wanted to get the dream down before I forgot it. I hope it will stir you up to pray for those all over the world that have no place to call home and no one to call family. They need to know they have a father who has declared so from heaven. Some times we need to be reminded as the church we are His hands and Feet and more than that we are His Family with open arms and open eyes.

Psalms 68:4-6  Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds– his name is the Lord– and rejoice before him. 5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Part 2   https://riverflowsdown.wordpress.com/2008/01/16/show-me-orphan-train-dream-part-2/

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Dianna and I just got back from seeing Bucket List. I feel asleep not because it was boring but because I had been up since 3 am and had worked until noon. It definitely was not a christian movie with some strong language and a soft message that implied all roads lead to heaven. There was however a cord struck in my heart. Living Life unshackled by fear and not waiting until the last moment to do something about it. 

The question is raised if you knew exactly when you were going to die what would you do different. I think the biggest enemy for a christian is fear. Fear of failing. Fear of rejection. Fear of being alone. Fear of making God mad. Unless we have experienced the depths of the Love of Christ we shrink back in fear.

In Paul’s apostolic prayer in Ephesians perfect Love is made clear. 

Ephesians 3:14-21
14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

If we are operating in fear or sitting back doing nothing because of fear realize that’s not coming from God, but the enemy. Power Love and sound mind now that comes from the Lord.

2 Tim 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Fear when it runs its course will torment you, friends the answer is in the Love of Christ, as we return with our whole heart to Him and rest in that Love that fear must flee.

1 John 4:18  There is no fearin love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

With a heart free of fear and made perfect in love we can live life without regret and live life to its fullest. What a difference we can start making in the lives of our family and friends not to mention strangers. They are waiting!!! 

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 Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, and at the same time He was a man’s Man. During His 33 years on the planet He created He related to real every day people and knew how to get to Them. My favorite hook He used was that of the fisherman. Jesus was calling these rough young fisherman to be become His disciples and He caught them with a word picture they could understand “I will make you fishers of Men”.   

Mark 1:14-18, 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. 16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

Let me tell you how Jesus hooked me the same way. It started back with John William Gross my grandfather who by trade was a lineman for Kansas city power and light but at heart He was a river rat. From the time I could cast my zebco 33 grandpa went to work teaching me how to tie a knot that wouldn’t break and how to take a hook out of the fishes mouth without getting stuck. Above all He gave me time and attention.

Years later as an adult I was in the back yard working in the garden when our neighbor Denver Stark ventured over and said “the Flathead are moving up grand river”. I told Him I had never fished for Flathead and asked Him if He could teach me how. He did and that lead to the greatest summer of fishing I have ever experienced.

My wife’s cousin Jeff Arnold and I took His canoe up the river with a 5 gallon bucket of live bait fish and limb lines that we tie off on good green limbs. We set our lines and went to make camp. We had just started a fire when we heard what sounded like a deer crossing the river. As we watching the bank up river about 50 yards no deer came in sight. The splashing continued and we thought oh no that poor deer got tangled in our line. We jumped in the canoe and paddled away. It was just getting dark and the green limb was under water. I leaned over the side and found the line and lifted it up slowly and then the hardest jerk you can imagine sent my heart into fast mode. I reached for the dip net and 20 minutes later Jeff and I wrestled the Big Cat Fish in the boat. Here is the picture of me with my first of many big cat’s.   

flat-head.jpg

Not to far in time from this picture God hooked me. I had been a Christian for about 10 years. I was working with the youth, doing a lot of prayer, writing music, doing jail ministry you know normal Christianity. I had just read a book that had challenged me to ask the Lord if I had any hidden sin issues so deep that I had even hid them from myself. Nothing happened for several weeks then it happened. My wife Dianna had me sit down and told me to brace myself. I was not braced enough. She told me that Her best friend at the time Karen had married my arch enemy Kevin. Karen was a Christian He was not, and She had asked Dianna if I could befriend Him hoping to get Him into church. Dianna had explained there was bad blood between us and that might not be good. I went off, yelling and screaming, then I remembered what I had prayed and could not believe I had so much bitterness built up inside. Even after much prayer and repentance it took two weeks for me to agree to meet with Kevin. We had a meal together, and we both felt uneasy but worked hard, mostly to make the wives happy. We eventually became friends and Kevin starting to come with us to Church and about 6 months later during an alter call He went up. My good friend Steve Lovelace and I prayed with Kevin as He asked Jesus to forgive Him of His sin and asked Him to come into His heart. There was a massive change in lifestyle and we were all so happy. Several weeks later Kevin was killed in a head on collision by an oncoming truck.

You have no idea how glad I am that I asked the Lord to reveal any hidden sin like unforgiveness. I am so glad the Lord was and is faithful and longsuffering. If we want to catch the big fish we MUST lay our nets down and follow Jesus. What an adventure ahead, Happy Fishing.

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