Graze: To feed on growing grasses.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

-Ps. 23:1-6

Growing up on a farm, I used to watch the cows, sheep & horses graze in the pasture. Each morning we would open the gate to the barnyard and they knew there was freedom from that small pen they were in. They also knew there was nice green grass beyond the barnyard. Once the gate was open, look out because those animals wanted to get where the tall, green grass grew – the pasture! They would take off sometimes even running up the old fenced lane that went up over the hill through the cornfield to the lush green pasture on the other side of the farm. There they would graze for a while then lay down and rest for a while then graze some more. They did this all day long. Come evening we would go over to the pasture’s edge and call the cows – 'come boss, 'come boss. They would gather at the pasture gate. Sometimes we would have to go round up a few stragglers and when all were accounted for, we’d open the lane gate and back over the hill they would go to the barnyard for the night. The next morning was the same routine, day after day.
What a life, huh?!

Oh that we could just graze and rest in shady green pastures all day long! But we can rest and graze in God’s green pastures and restore our souls . . . The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. (Ps. 23:1) I believe God wants us to slow down and “rest” and “graze” and “feed” on His Word. Life throws so many things our way and we are so busy – busy doing good things. But are we running on empty a good share of the time? Are we feeling stretched to extreme? Are we content with who we are in God’s divine providence? Slow down and take some time to just leisurely graze, rest a while, then graze and feed on the good things God has provided for you. Graze, rest, and enjoy the “shady green pastures” of God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

God Knows

“For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” 

 1 John 3:20

In hard times and good, God knows what you are going through. He weeps when you are weeping and laughs when you laugh, he shares all of our joys and sorrows. In fact every human experience we have ever known has been known by God. You are not alone, HE is with you!

When you are tired and discouraged from fruitless efforts…
God knows how hard you have tried.
When you’ve cried so long and your heart is in anguish…
God has counted your tears.

If you feel that your life is on hold and time has passed you by…

God is waiting with you.

When you’re lonely and your friends are too busy even for a phone call…

God is by your side.

When you think you’ve tried everything and don’t know where to turn…

God has a solution.

When nothing makes sense and you are confused or frustrated…
God has the answer.

If suddenly your outlook is brighter and you find traces of hope…
God has whispered to you.

When things are going well and you have much to be thankful for…
God has blessed you.

When something joyful happens and you are filled with awe…
God has smiled upon you.

When you have a purpose to fulfill and a dream to follow…
God has opened your eyes and called you by name.

Remember that wherever you are or whatever you are facing… GOD KNOWS!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Friends - God

I sat, with two friends at a quaint
restaurant just off the corner of town-square. The food and the
company were both especially good that day.

As we talked, my attention was drawn out the window.
There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his 
worldly goods on his back. He had a well-worn sign that read, 'I will work for food.' My heart sank.

I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of 
sadness and disbelief.

We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car.

Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: 'Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square.'
Then with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the store front church, going through his sack.

I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor.

'Looking for the pastor?' I asked. 'Not really,' he replied, 'just resting.'

'Have you eaten today?' 'Oh, I ate something early this morning.'
 'Would you like to have lunch with me?'
'Do you have some work I could do for you?'
 'No work,' I replied 'I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch.'
'Sure,' he replied with a smile.

As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions.
'Where you headed?'  'St.. Louis'
 'Where you from?'
 'Oh, all over; mostly Florida ..'
 'How long you been walking?'
 'Fourteen years,' came the reply.

I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, 'Jesus is The Never Ending Story.'

Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences.  Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought.

He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God.  'Nothing's been the same since,' he said, 'I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now.'

'Ever think of stopping?' I asked.

'Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me but God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads.'

I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: 'What's it like?'


'To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?'

'Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me.'

My concept was changing, too.. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused He turned to me and said, 'Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in.'

I felt as if we were on holy ground. 'Could you use another Bible?' I asked.

He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite. 'I've read through it 14 times,' he said.  'I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see' I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful.

'Where are you headed from here?' I asked.

'Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon.' 
 'Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?'

No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next.'  He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town-square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things.

Would you sign my autograph book?' he asked. 'I like to keep messages from folks I meet.'
I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, 'I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you; Plans to give you a future and a hope.'

'Thanks, man,' he said. 'I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you.'

'I know,' I said, 'I love you, too.' 'The Lord is good!'

'Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?' I asked.

A long time,' he replied.

And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed. He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, 'See you in the New Jerusalem.'

I'll be there!' was my reply. He began his journey again. He headed away 
with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, 'When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?'

You bet,' I shouted back, 'God bless.'

God bless.' And that was the last I saw of him.

Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them.... a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them.

Then I remembered his words: 'If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?'

Today his gloves are on my desk in my office. They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry. They also remind me God has
given me a calling too; and I must fulfill it whether sunshine or rain, and no matter the appreciation or humiliation.

 'See you in the New Jerusalem,' he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will...

'I shall pass this way but once.. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.'

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Fatherhood Cycle

The Fatherhood Cycle

father-feet4 years: "My Daddy can do anything."
7 years: "My Dad knows a lot, a whole lot."
12 years: "Oh, well - naturally - Father doesn't know that either."
14 years: "Father? Hopelessly old-fashioned."
21 years: "Oh, that man is so out-of-date. What did you expect?"
25 years: "He knows a little bit about it - but not much."
30 years: "Maybe we ought to find out what Dad thinks."
35 years: "Let's ask Dad what he would do before we make a decision."
40 years: "I wonder what Dad would have thought about that? He was pretty smart."
50 years: "My Dad knew absolutely everything."
60 years: "I'd give anything if Dad were here so I could talk this over with him. I really miss that man."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Choosing a Successor

A successful businessman knew it was time to choose a
successor to lead his business. Instead of appointing
one of his directors, or one of his children, he decided to 
call the company's young executives together. He said, 
"It is time for me to choose the next CEO. I have decided to select one of you." 

The young executives were shocked, but the CEO continued.
"I am going to give each of you a SEED today - a very special
SEED. Plant the seed, water it, and one year from today bring
what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will judge
the plants you bring, and choose our next CEO."

One of the leaders, Jim, excitedly told his wife about the plan.
She helped him get a pot, soil and compost, and he planted his
seed. Every day, he watered it and watched to see if it had 
grown. Soon some of the other executives began talking about
their seeds and the plants beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Weeks went
by, but still nothing. Everyone else was talking about their plants, 
but Jim had no growth and felt like a failure.  Six months passed, 
but still nothing in Jim's pot. He concluded he had killed his seed, 
but said nothing to his colleagues.

He continued watering and fertilizing the soil - he desperately
wanted his seed to grow. When the year ended, the young 
executives were instructed to bring their plants to the 
CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife he refused to take an
empty pot to his workplace, but she urged him to be honest 
about what had happened. It was going to be Jim's most
embarrassing moment, but he knew his wife was right. 

Jim took his empty pot to the boardroom. When he arrived,
the variety of plants the other executives had grown amazed 
him. They were beautiful - in many shapes and sizes. When 
Jim put his empty pot on the floor, many of his colleagues
laughed. When the CEO arrived, Jim attempted to conceal
himself in back. 

"My, what wonderful plants, trees and flowers you have grown,"
said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!" 
Then the CEO noticed Jim. He invited Jim to the front - with his 
empty pot.

Jim was terrified. "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will
have me fired!" When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked what
had happened to his seed. Jim explained despite his best efforts,
nothing had grown. The CEO turned to the group and asked 
everyone to sit down, except Jim. He then looked at Jim and 
announced, "Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His
name is Jim!"

Then the CEO explained: "One year ago today, I gave everyone
in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it,
and bring it back in a year. But I gave you all boiled seeds; it was 
not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have
healthy plants and flowers. When you found the seed
would not grow, you substituted a different one. Jim was the
only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with
my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief
Executive Officer!"

It is said: If you plant honesty, you will reap trust. If you plant
goodness, you will reap friends. If you plant humility, you will 
reap greatness. If you plant perseverance, you will reap 
contentment. If you plant hard work, you will reap success. 
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation. 
If you plant faith, you will reap a harvest. So be careful what 
you plant now: it will determine what you will reap later.

"The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked
paths will be found out" (Proverbs 10:9).

"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are
destroyed by their duplicity" (Proverbs 11:3)


Have you ever wished you knew what to do when the pot didn't
produce anything from the seeds??? When no matter what you
planted - nothing came up?  One might think oh, how
embarrassing this plant is - but that is just the way it is! 

But when we stand back and look and listen we can see that this
is just the way it is. It is what it is!  It is all of those little things
that add to great things!  It all comes down to "integrity"! 
That is where it is at for all of us!