Looking Back With Grandpa…

Jesus answered, “Anyone who starts plowing and keeps looking back isn’t worth a thing to God’s Kingdom…”  Luke 9:62 CEV

When I was 13 years old, we had been out on the West coast for several years, and my Grandma Jones called up from Michigan and asked if one of us kids could come back and help Grandpa on the farm for the summer.  They had found some gall stones and he was going in for surgery and couldn’t keep up by himself.  I wasn’t the oldest, but I’d saved money from my paper route & volunteered and I talked my folks into letting me take the Vista-Dome Empire Builder train from Seattle to Chicago.  What a great adventure.  I’ll never forget going across the Great Plains in the middle of the nite with all those stars.  Grandma & Grandpa Jones picked me up in Chicago and we drove back to the farm in Battle Creek and I went to work the next day with Grandpa; he had a few days to show me things and rest up before he went in for surgery. 

 Plowing and cultivating were things I’d done with Grandpa as a young boy sitting on the fender of the Allis Chalmers tractor, but now it was finally time for me to sit in the drivers’ seat and Grandpa to sit on the side while he made sure I learned to do what he wanted me to do while he was getting well.  We’d spent the morning cultivating corn, but after dinner break we were back out by 1pm to one of the fields that had lain fallow from last year and Grandpa wanted it plowed.  He had me stop on the lane that ran along the top of the huge rectangular fields, and he walked over to the center of the field, and hung his old red hat on the fence post.

 “What are you doin’ Grandpa?” I asked.

“You’ll see Brucie” ” he said as he climbed back onto his spot, “just head on down to the other end now”.  So I did, going up one side of the field where it was smoother.   Then when we came to the fence at the other end, he had me follow it toward the middle, and then we turned back toward the way we came and stopped.  There we were way down on the opposite end of the field right in line with his old red hat.  Grandpa reached over and turned off the tractor.

 “Now Brucie, I’m going to teach you how to plow right”.

“I already know how to plow Grandpa.  I’ve plowed with you dozens of times sitting right where you are!”

“Yes, you know how to plow Brucie, but I told you that I’m gonna teach you how to plow right.  There’s a difference.  And if you’re gonna plow for me in my fields your gonna plow right Brucie.  Okay?”

“Okay Grandpa” I said, but I remember thinking I didn’t really understand why Grandpa was so intense about this; it was only plowing.  How hard could it be?  I was anxious to go and kind of bouncing up and down a little in the big old springy steel tractor seat, just waiting for the word to start.

“Now look at me and listen Brucie”, and when I did his eyes locked mine with an intensity I rarely saw in Grandpa.

“When cutting a field like this, the first row is the most important row.  Every single row you plow will follow the first row you do, because your left front wheel will always ride the furrow of the rows you’ve done the time you went around before, right?

“Right” I said, and that made sense.  Once you got a field started, the left front tire simply followed in the furrow of the previously plowed row and it was very easy to simply go up and down the field like that.

“So, look down there at the end.  You see my hat on the post?”

“Yup, course I see it Grandpa”

“When we start, I want you to drop your blades, and from when they touch till you lift them at the edge of the lane at the other end; never take your eye off that hat.  Can you do that?”

“Yup, sure I can.  You ready to start now?” I said and I started bouncing a little again, anxious to get this thing going.

“I’m ready Brucie but I mean what I said.  Don’t take your eyes off that hat”.

“Okay Grandpa” I said and I put-er’ into gear and eased out the clutch and started rolling, and dropped the lever putting the plow-blades down.   Grandpa watched closely and in a couple seconds goosed the throttle up a little to give us a little more speed for smoothness; and I was plowing.  I was plowing just fine all by myself! 

 My eyes were watching the old hat real good and Grandpas’ tractor sounded just fine. The sun was bright and warm and the bugs were kicking up out of the clover we were turning under and you could smell the sod and new earth that was being turned-up, and after about 50ft I turned my head to look back at….

“DON’T TAKE YOUR EYES OFF MY HAT” Grandpa screamed in my ear before I could even get a quick glance backwards.

“KEEP YOU EYES ON THAT HAT AND DO NOT LOOK BACK” he screamed in my ear as I hung on to the steering wheel for dear life drilling both eyes into that hat ¼ mile away.   At that distance it was really only a red dot; but I had it and I wasn’t about to try to look away.

“YOU CAN’T PLOW RIGHT IF YOU KEEP LOOKING BACK” he was screaming again over the roar of the tractor, and even though I had only tried to look back once at that point I wasn’t about to argue with Grandpa. 

 And so we plowed.  I could literally feel Grandpa’s eyes drilling holes into the side of my head as he watched me.  The tractor wasn’t just loud now though, it was roaring, and the sun had somehow became too bright and real hot, and those bugs seemed like they were swarming around me now as I leaned forward, pulling myself up as tall as I could to see that darn hat.  It’s strange how strong the temptation grew and grew and grew to look back at what I’d done.  And even though I knew I shouldn’t, and even though I knew Grandpa would nail me if I did, when we were about 100ft from the end I was gathering myself to do a real quick spin-and-look and out of no-where came,

 “DON’T YOU DO IT!!  YOU PLOW RIGHT BRUCIE.  I’M TRUSTING YOU.” 

 Those last three words rang into my ears clear down to the center of my heart.

 “I’M TRUSTING YOU.”

 What a strange thing to say about plowing….But, well, something happened inside me and that’s all it took.  I knew for sure then that God must be on Grandpa’s side and He was talking to Grandpa or something and I had no hope, and I stayed glued to that old red hat. 

 When we came to the lane at the end I lifted the blades and wheeled left and Grandpa had me stop and then back up till we were even with my first row.

 “Well Brucie, what do you think of that?”  Grandpa asked now that we were stopped, and could look back up the field, and I was amazed.  I stood up to look better and Grandpa reached over and turned off the key and instantly the quietness of the fields grabbed us.  I climbed up on the seat and looked all the way back up the field where we had just worked; and I had just plowed as straight as I’d ever seen Grandpa plow.  It went up and down with the land gently, straightly, and the 3 blades had made 3 perfect parallel rows rolled over just right; and they were mine.

 “Wow Grandpa.  They’re beautiful”, I said.  “Look how straight they are”.  But when I looked down Grandpa wasn’t looking at the field, he was looking at me.  In his weakened condition and in his pain, the intensity of the last 20 minutes had left him drained, and he pulled out his red bandanna and wiped the sweat from his face and his balding head.

 “I don’t need to look back there Brucie, I know how straight they are.  I was watching you and where you were going and I know you plowed right.  Now sit yourself down here so I can tell you something”, so I did.  He tied his bandana around his neck cause he know he’d be needing it the rest of the afternoon and said, “It means a lot to Grandma and me that you’re here to help with the farm this summer Brucie.  But listen now.  You and me only have another couple of weeks before my surgery, and then I’ll be laid up, so when Grandpa tells you that something needs to be a certain way, you gotta listen to me and do what I say.  It don’t matter if you understand it right now.  If you trust Grandpa the understanding will come from the doin’ – not the talkin’.  You trust me, and I trust you.  That’s how it works.”

 “Okay Grandpa” I said looking down, and although I didn’t really understand everything he was saying that day in my head, my heart knew this was really important to both Grandpa and me.  He put a hand on my shoulder and squeezed it hard enough to hurt a little as he said,

“I’m proud of you Brucie.  Don’t you forget what you learned today and you always plow right”.

“I won’t forget Grandpa, I promise”.  And then I started the tractor up and we went back to work till supper-time.

 Not long after those few days together, Grandpa went into the V.A. hospital and the surgery was a complete success and Grandpa did fine.  We laughed and gawked at the gallstones they put in a jar for him when we visited the day after, and then that nite when the hospital called Aunt Jackie’s where I was staying till Grandpa came home, the news that a blood clot had killed him hit us like a ton of bricks.   We all piled into the car and raced the few miles to the hospital but it was over.  Grandpa was Home now. 

I finished the summer and into September helping Grandma and the family that pulled together as I could; bringing in the crops and taking the pigs to slaughter for the last time, and closing everything down and getting stuff ready for auction – and I became a man that summer; and I never forgot.

 I never forgot my Grandpa Jones and how he trusted me and how he taught me that you can’t plow right in this life if you keep tryin’ to look back at what you’ve already got done when your in the middle of the field…and it doesn’t matter what field you’re working in the various seasons of your life.  You might be in a field of joy or sorrow, tragedy or windfall increase, or the field of raising your family, or watching your family raise theirs.  You might be in the field of  bereavement or disease, pain or loneliness or betrayal or financial hardship or fearfulness or just the plain old grinding field of getting’ up each and every day and dealing with too much to do and way too little time-and-money to do it in. 

 And It’s not that there aren’t proper times to pull over & turn off the tractor & look back & reflect after the work, but I never forgot that when it’s time to work you need to keep your eyes fixed on what’s up out in front, cause if you try to steer while looking back, the rows you plow will just keep getting more and more crooked.  And I especially never forgot that the understanding does not come from the looking back and worrying, or from the watching and the talkin’; it comes from the trusting and the doin’…

 Years later when I came to God and began to learn His Ways, it became clear to me that these were eternal Truths the dear old saint was building into me; Straight from the Master Gardener Himself.

 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Heb 12:1-3 NIV

 “… Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Phil 3:12-14  NIV

 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.   Col 3:1-4 NIV

 So remember…..

Jesus answered, “Anyone who starts plowing and keeps looking back isn’t worth a thing to God’s Kingdom…”  Luke 9:62 CEV

 He didn’t say that if we keep looking back we aren’t’ in God’s Kingdom; this isn’t about salvation.  His point is that if we want a relevant, powerful life of Service working in the Field the Master has for us; we need to apply ourselves & live our lives here on this Earth according to His Ways and Perspectives.

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Understanding ‘Why’?

 If there was one thing I really hated when I was a teenager, it was getting the 3rd degree from my dad regarding something that I’d done wrong.  The lecture/inquisition was always pretty upsetting for dad too, & invariably he’d wind things up saying something like…

“So just tell me son, why did you do this?  Why?”

“I don’t know dad”

What do you mean “I. Don’t. Know.  You HAD to have SOME reason.  WHY???  Why after all our talking & after all we went thru last time…

“WHY”?

Well, I didn’t know then & I still don’t know the ‘why’ to much of my foolish rebellion/laziness/selfishness etc.  No matter how long the lecture & how many times he asked, I often couldn’t give him any real reason, because I just honestly did not know!

 And of course, ‘like Father, like son’, when my teenagers were winding their way through the dark labyrinth of adolescence, one day I heard myself saying…

 “Just please tell me ‘why son, why did you do this?”  And normally, my kids were just as stumped as I was when my dad asked me. 

 So what’s the deal.  Why? Laziness?  Rebellion?  Meanness? 

 As parents, employers or anyone on authority, we often feel we need to know ‘WHY?’, when something serious goes wrong….  But… do we? 

 Without being disrespectful to the many of us who have felt this ‘need to know ‘why?’, after raising our 3 children who are all now in their 30’s, and after being an employer of 20+ souls for over 25 year; I’ve come to believe that in relational disputes/failures etc, ‘why’ someone disobeyed, gave up, betrayed, stole, lied etc. is not an important question for me to know.  I did NOT say that the ‘why’ wasn’t important; I said I now believe it’s just not important for ME to know, when I’m the one who has a subordinate of any kind of a situation like this.

 Let me explain why (sorry!), I’m thinking that.  In order to do that, I need to go back to the story of the very beginning of the human race we have the Genesis… the story of Adam & Eve and what is called ‘the fall’. Even if you don’t accept the Genesis account literally, it certainly stands as a very real Truth on its own as a simple, clear parable of the nature of mankind & our relationship to our Creator.   A quick overview (as it relates to our ‘why’ topic).

 After the initial Creation stuff, Adam was created & the first thing that happens, God gives him a job; puts him in His Garden & puts him to work, cultivating the Garden.  At the same time, He tells him he can eat ‘freely’ from everything in the Garden except one tree; the tree of the knowledge of good & evil…and if he eats from that tree, he dies that very day (Gen 2:15-17). 

Then, God sees it’s no good for man to be alone, so he creates all the creatures of the earth, & has Adam name them (big job).  Still no helper/companion for Adam, so out of –from- Adam, God creates woman; Eve. (Gen 2:18-25)

 Now they are together, in God’s Garden, tending it & caring for everything in it, and along comes the Serpent.  He sees that the woman is more vulnerable to his craftiness, so he tricks her into tasting the fruit of the forbidden tree… he tricks her into thinking she needed to really know, experience & understand not just Good (she already met & knows God; Who is total goodness) but she also wants to know & understand Evil.   And then so does Adam too.  (This need to ‘know & understand Evil’ has remained a gigantic temptation for mankind. ) Then, they realize their nakedness & try to cover-up what they were ashamed of; tried to hide it with by fabricating a ‘man-made’ solution from leaves.  About that time, the Lord comes for his daily walk with them in the cool of the evening.  And of course being completely ashamed, they hid themselves completely from their God….the leaves alone weren’t doing it. (Gen 3:1-8).

 So now they have ‘the discussion’.  Let’s look at exactly what God asked & said to them after catching them in the most fundamental disobedience of all…  He asks…

  • Where are you?” I think God could physically find them if He wanted to; he was asking ‘where are you in our relationship?’  “Where are you, with Me?” (3:9)
  • Who made you know – who told you- that you are naked?” (3:11)
  • Have you eaten from the tree of which I forbade you to eat?” ( Is this what you did?”)
  • “Just what have you done?” God then asks of the woman after Adam tries to throw blame off himself. (3:13)

 And that’s it.  That is the end of the questions God asks, the end of the questions he requires them to answer.  What has happened has been clarified & confirmed, & then God takes action on the Serpent, on Adam & on Eve with personal ‘curses’ or consequences, & tosses them (and mankind) out of His Garden. (Gen 3:14-24)

 Notice; He never asks them ‘Why?.  He never makes them come up with a reason that they must confess to Him or to themselves.  Never… and I’ve come to believe & understand that’s very significant, and it’s certainly not a mistake or oversight on God’s part.

 He knew they knew what He said, and what He wanted.  And by their actions, they spoke to & totally disclosed their preferences & their loyalties.  They decided to obey & follow the Words of the Enemy, instead of the Words of their Creator; & by doing so made the Enemy the Prince of this Earth; abdicating their position with God & their position on this Earth as His Caretakers of all He created.  And as a kind of last stroke of failure & sadness, God Himself makes some clothes for them by killing something… and the first innocent blood is spilled to ‘cover’ mankind’s shame.

 I don’t know about you, but I sure would have liked to hear Adam & Eve’s answer to ‘why’?  Why did they ‘need’ to embrace the words of the Serpent & abandon the Words of our God?  Why the Tree of Knowledge, but not the Tree of Life?  Why didn’t Adam step in & intervene? (3:6b says “he was there with her” CEV).

  But, God did not ask ‘why’?  He simply makes sure that what was done is clear, & then puts into effect the consequences. 

 Is this an isolated incident, or is this a pattern of some kind God often uses & follows after a deliberate disobedience/rebellion?  Let’s look at a few other significant failures ‘we’ had with Him.

 Gen 4:1-16  Cain & Abel & the first murder.  The Lord approves of Abel’s offering but not Cain’s, & Cain gets angry & downcast.  Before anything serious happens, the Lord does ask Cain Why you are angry & why is your face downcast?  If you do right, won’t you be accepted?  And if you don’t do well, sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it”.  Clearly, God was asking ‘why’ to try teach & help Cain understand consequences before it’s too late & he goes too far.  But it does no good, he murders his brother.  And then after the act, God asks…

Where is Abel your Brother? (4:9)

What have you done?  The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out from the ground”…(4:10)

And then God gives him his Judgment.   Again, no “Why did you do this? 

 Gen 6: 9 – Gen 9:28   The account of all the peoples of the earth turning away from God, except Noah & his family.  God does not gather anyone together to question them.  He doesn’t even ask Noah why he obeys & doesn’t go along with the crowd.  He simply sees things as they are, looks at the fruit in the lives of the people, & takes action; the Flood.

 So, after the flood, God tells Noah & his family to fill the earth again (same words given to Adam & Eve), & he makes Covenant with them.

Gen 9:7-11   As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” 8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you — the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you — every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” NIV

 But once again, mankind turns away from God’s Command & Guidance.

Gen 11:1-4   Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” NIV

 And once again, God does NOT come down to ask everyone ‘why?”… He simply comes, sees our disobedience & then takes action to keep us from doing further damage to ourselves, (like kicking out of the Garden before we eat from the Tree of Life, in a sinful state).

Gen 11:5-9   But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” 8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel — because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. NIV

 This pattern of God dealing mankind and/or individuals is very consistent all thru the scripture, from the very beginning as we have seen…Thru the Great Prophets like Moses…

Num 20:11-13   Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. 12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” 13 These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he showed himself holy among them. NIV

 And into the New Covenant & the Early Church, as when Judas betrayed Jesus

John 13:26-30   Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, 28 but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. NIV

 And when the Apostles & God were lied to…

Acts 5:1-9   Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?””Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” NIV

 Consistently, we do not see God focusing in on the ‘Why?’.  He asks leading questions before the sins, to try to Teach us.   He asks clarifying questions during or after the sin so the Truth is made plainer… but no great energy is spent on ‘why’ did you do this or that???

 After reading all the above passages & many, many others, one thing is very clear to me now that never was before, and it’s this; ‘why’ a sin happens, can not negate the sin or excuse the sin… so the great amount of time we Westerners spend on the ‘Why’ of a thing is really quite wasted…because ‘why’ changes nothing.  There is an old saying “Your actions are speaking so loudly, I can’t hear a word you are saying”.  This is very true.  What happened, happened & the ‘why’ of it does not justify it, if what was done was clear, plain rebellion.

 Also, there is another reason I think that the Lord does not dwell on the’why’… and that’s because He does indeed truly see us with completely Free Will, and He never challenges our right to excercise that Free Will.  I think it goes to the very Core of the Nature of God, & His desired Relationship with Mankind & with each of us as individuals. 

 He wants us to Love Him as He loves us; freely & without strings.

 God is more than able to Create any kind of beings he wants.  Many different kinds were Created, but Mankind was the Premier Creation, above all Creatures & Created Beings, Mankind stands supreme, with only God Himself ‘lesser’ or ‘lower’. 

And Free Will is what has made that difference.  Individualistic, absolute free will to choose whatever we want, and to Worship Who ever we want… that is the big difference.

 That is God’s Great Hope toward us; that we would freely, willingly & gladly choose Him over everything & everyone else.  And so, we have the ‘right’ to choose to follow or not; to listen or not.  And all He needs to do is watch how we live, see what we do and don’t do; and our Choices become self-evident as to Who is our Lord.

 Even the final, Great White Throne Judgment on the Last Day will be like that.  Not a bunch of questions about ‘why’ we did this or that, or about what we believed’, or about some kind of sinner’s prayer or church attendance or anything of the sort.  He simply will review with us, and all of Mankind, what we did, and what we did not do; and if our actions show that we did not Love Him as He wants us too… we will be sent away from His Presence forever…

 Matt 25:41-46   “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’  45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” NIV

 There won’t be big dialogue.  We won’t be able to give any big, fancy excuses or explanations as to ‘why’ we neglected those poor souls, and thereby Him; He’ll simply review what we did & did not do, and our actions will show everything.  In fact, our lack of Loving action will show everything even more…

 So… the next time we have a chance to help people in need, in prison, hungry, naked; whatever; I hope we don’t let ourselves get stopped from helping & serving because we think have so many good reasons ‘why’ we can’t spend the time, the money, the attention or effort right now…

 I hope we get bad at asking ‘why’, & get good at just seeking to be like Him… (Matt 7:21-27)

 And, I hope we also get good at helping our kids & our employees & our Team members to not let a bunch of questions (why?) & excuses get in the way of simple obedience, as we lead by example fruitfully with Good Deeds; not with a bunch of words & ‘whys’..

 Matt 5:14-16  “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.   NIV

 Eph 2:8-10  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. NIV

 John 15:16-17 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.  NIV

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A Few Words, On The Radio…

DNP PlumbTrue radio show May 2 2011

Well, this morning was the 1st time that a little Program we are doing was aired on  the radio.  It’s at 8:00am (plus or minus a few minutes) on KCIS 630 AM, Monday mornings.  We avertise a lot on the local Seattle Christian radio stations 630 AM & 105.3 FM, & somehow our Advertising Agency (Jackie Fisher Marketing) got together with them & we are giving a this show a try.

It’s called ‘PlumbTrue’, like this Blog… & like this Blog it’s simply about life & plumbing & being in the Market Place as Christians.  Please give it a listen!

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One Day At A Time….Today

My wife Judy & I have owned a Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Company in Lynnwood WA for the last 25+ years.   My son, Bruce Jr. has been our General Manager for the last 3 years & he’s been doing a fantastic job.  Since he was little, he’s been working at the Company, pulling weeds, cleaning, doing year-end inventory counting during his Christmas Vacation; in fact he’s never worked anywhere else.

A couple of days ago Judy & I were having a business lunch with him, and as he was going over some issues he needed to review with us, I was struck with how incredibly fortunate & blessed we are as a Family to be able to enjoy each other & work together all this time. And how we are so blessed that his brother & sister & their Families are all close & healthy & we get to gather often & enjoy each other in many ways.

With one part of my mind I was trying to pay attention to his issues, but mostly I was casting my mind back over the years, thinking about all the hard work, all the long, long days & nites & Holidays spent working & building together,untieing the ‘knots’ of problems that so plague a small business… and I realized that all of it had come quite literally, one day at a time; day by day by week by month, quarter, year after year; daily. 

At times, things were very, very tough, scary & challenging; both personally & professionally.  At the depths of one of the darkest times, I wrote this poem, & it has stayed with me & encouraged me ever since…

Today

Today, I will hope in God

To Help , to Heal, to hold my hand.

Today, I believe.

I will not receive,

The Enemy’s lies or his plans.

Today, I choose Jesus

As Master & Lord,

Through the strength of His Spirit

I Stand.

Today, I’m completed

By Faith firmly seated,

In the Palm of my Father’s right Hand.

Today.

Amen; Bruce Sr.

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No Worries…

Lately, for some reason I’ve notice lots of people who are worrying… a lot.  Worry is one of those things I have personally taken a ‘stand against’, so I guess I have a tendency to notice it around me.  10 or 12 years ago, I started to have some pretty major surgeries; gut, back, heart, ankle, hips… kinda went on & on about one a year, and it was then that I made a choice to stop letting worry fill me & consume me, because although it ‘felt good’ to worry about stuff, especially important stuff  – it turned out to be counter productive…. and worry just led to even worse stuff; like fearfulness & anxiety, which can consume me if I let them.

One of the greatest Teachers  & Spiritual leaders who every walked the Earth, Jesus, had some good stuff to say about worry.  Regardless of what you might think of Him as a person -or a Person- there’s no denying that the power of his influence was amazing & deep.  In less that 4 yrs of public service & Ministry, He changed the world forever & so fundamentally, that after 2000 yrs we still base our calendars on His life & death; everyone does, throughout the whole earth…. and He did it without popular political support, or even without writing down (let alone publishing) one word of His Teachings. 

So, even though He only taught publicly for a very short time, worry was an important topic He spoke to… & I think that’s significant.  He didn’t talk about too many different topics in His speaking… but worry was one of them.  He mentioned several important points about it, & then He said…

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. “Matt 6:31-34  NIV

So clearly, His advise is for us  to spend our ‘energy’ on seeking God’s Kingdom & living rightly (His righteousness) & if we do, all will be cared for.  If we don’t, apparently the very things we are ‘worrying over’ won’t be helped anyway. 

In fact, my experience is that it’s quite the opposite; that worry robs me & my life of energy, creativity, and the most important thing of all; hope.  And therefore it just makes things worse; worrying today about tomorrow actually ruins both today & tomorrow.  Thoughts of worry & doubt give birth to fear; & fear is the dark version of what we all truly need to excel & be fruitful in life; faith.

Hope gives birth to faith; & wonderful things grow out of real faith. 

Worry & doubt give birth to fear; & only dark, negative things grow out of fear.

The tree of Faith, sends its roots down into the ground of Hope.

The tree of Fear, sends its roots down into the ground of Doubt & Worry.

But there is good news, GREAT news…  if we choose to cultivate the ground of Hope in our lives, our conversations & our self-talk; the tree of Fear can not take root in the ground of Hope… and without ever even focusing on ‘not being fearful’ about a thing, we can cause by our choice to hope, to force the tree of Fear to wither & die away…

And of  course, conversely, if we insist on focusing on the glass being ‘half-empty’ & not ‘half-full, the tree of Faith will wither…. Faith will not grow in Doubt and Worry; it can not grow in Doubt & worry.   So, even at the toughest, darkest times of our lives; perhaps even especially then, we should be carefull to ‘watch how we think’… Again, that’s what the Teacher said…

“They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. “Luke 21:12-16  NIV

Good advise for tough times…  May He help us to ‘make up our minds’ once & for all… to Hope & Trust in Him, & to not worry.

Posted in My God, My Work | 4 Comments

Small Groups Help…

I had a great time tonight at the College Career group at our church.  Part of the dynamics of this meeting, is to read/review a passage of Scripture, and then break into Small Groups to discuss and personalize.  Over the years, Judy and I have been part of many small groups and small group programs and have found the following helpful….

Normally, Small Group Leaders should seek to have the role of a Catalyst or Facilitator, rather than a ‘Teacher’ who is in a lecturing role.  The Holy Spirit loves to minister & speak thru the WHOLE Body of Christ, and it’s good and fruitful to make sure we spend times together where that can happen, as did the Early Church, (e.g. Acts 2:38-47 / 1Cor 12 ).  ‘Temple Court’ worship was common but so was ‘meeting from house to house’…

A Small Group Leader (SGL) / Facilitator needs to learn to draw people out, & therefore it’s helpful to remember a few things & a few verbal ‘tools’.

  1. Realize & remember that making strong Statements are like making Challenges; Statements, Facts, quoting lots of Scriptures as facts raises defenses; but asking questions lowers defenses, raises curiosity & curiosity opens minds.
  2. Assume (and have as ‘ground rules’) that we are all here to help ourselves and each other.  Have a clear facilitator/small group leader who can enable the group to discover and explore; allow no one to dominate.
  3. Have a central Word, Scripture, Idea, life Example or Video shared to be the common ground for the time together.
  4. Sit in a circle, and go around the circle asking questions germane to the Topic, and/or allowing each person respond/comment on the Subject.  Each person should normally share.  Allow people to ‘pass’ if they want to/need to, but it should be the exception not the norm.
  5. As each person shares, answers the question, or comments, draw them out if needed with further questions and/or identifying comments that help everyone bond & trust each other, & help the person talking connect deeply.  Examples…  (remember #1)
  • “I see” / “I understand” / “I know how you feel”
  • “I hate it when that happens too’
  • “That’s good; tell us more”
  • “Is this what you are saying?”
  • “…and what do you think about that?”
  • “…and how does/did that make you feel?”
  • “I’m confused/don’t understand, please help me… explain again please???”

Of course, a good & standard question on ‘life issues’ is always…

  • “How can this/does this apply…
    • To you?
    • To your Family
    • To your Friends?
    • To your Work?
    • To your Ministry?

At times, a controversial issue rises up, and/or a very passionate or angry person escalates things into Conflict in a Small Group.  It’s valuable in those times to have a few tools ready to use to help deflate things without shoving them (or the person) aside.   That’s a discussion for another Note….  Bruce Davis, Sr.

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On Love

I was just studying a Teaching I use to share with my kids, and then with various groups for many years.  It’s called, ‘The Mug and the Wineglass’, and it’s about a lot of things regarding ‘our love life’ as men and women.  One central theme plays on the fact that guys are like a big, thick coffee Mug, and our ladies and sisters in the Lord are like a fine Wineglass…. That idea/revalation came to me one long day as I was driving in a caravan of Vans, taking our teens to a Youth Conference in Colorado.  I was meditating on a verse in 1 Peter, 3: 7… and I was thinking about how the Lord made us, and made us differently as men & women….

” You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. NASU

I’d memorized this scripture, primarily because of the warning about my prayers being hindered if I didn’t live with my wife (and by extension, my sisters in the Lord) ” in an understanding way; as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor…” etc.  I’d also studied many of the words in & around the verse, so I knew that the word ‘weaker’ did NOT mean inferiour or lesser in any way; it simply meant not built as strong and big and bulky.  That’s why I thought a fine wineglass compared to a thick mug was a good example; and because we tend to ‘treasure’ the ‘finer’ things in life. In fact we put very expensive, valuble things in a wineglass so we can toast the most important moments of our life.  This reminded me of the Father putting His Son into the vessel of a woman, so the whole world could be connected to and saved by the Creator…

Anyway, it’s been so long since I shared this Mug and Wineglass Teaching, I’d forgotten many of the things it covered & looked at.  One quote that I like but haven’t thought of for years is from CS Lewis, found in his ’4 Loves’ book…”

The only place, outside Heaven, where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love, is Hell…” 

And another I recently came accross…. 

“It is a continual demonstration of the truth that we are composite creatures, rational animals, akin on one side to the angels, on the other to tomcats…”

Leave it to Brother Lewis to nail it so well.

Anyway, I was thinking and studying this because a young couple has asked Judy & I to do their Pre-marital Counceling.  Please pray for us and for them; we are looking forward to it a lot….. Bruce Sr.

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