Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Provision Prayer

   Lord.  I sit here at a computer.  Years ago, your disciples had no such technology, but wrote on parchment paper and tablets of stone.   We are so privileged.  Help me be oh so thankful for all of the modern conveniences that we have; even if we feel needy and poor, we still have more than most in the world, and much more than those who preceded us.

  I ask you to read my mind and heart, and give to me according to my need. I ask not for more than I can handle, or more than I can use, and definitely not more than I need. But I ask you to fill me with Your provision, Lord.  Help me to recognize your work in my life, both in the physical and the spiritual.  Help me utilize the gifts that I already have to the utmost, one of which being my time.   I know how wasteful I am so often of this precious gift that you have given each of us.

   Where I feel a desperate need, please fill that need in my life, or show me how my desperation is in vain, and give me a sense of peace to replace that empty feeling.  Your Word has said that You are our peace.

   We are complete in You.   Help me to realize and comprehend these truths and give my heart the assurance of those things. I also confess that You and You alone are our provider, and we need only look to You to sustain us and give us our daily bread.  For that, I am both thankful and needy, and ask you to fill up all of those missing pieces in my life, and help me focus on You as my total provision in this life and in the life to come.  

  Thank you.
Your Son.  Abba Father.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Keeping on Track

Getting Ahead of Myself
    I know myself.  At least I think that I do.  But part of that knowledge is the realization that sometimes, in the midst of the busy-ness of life, my emotional caboose somehow seems to overtake the locomotive and I'm trying to pull the train without the power of the engine.  

    Do you ever feel that way?   Sometimes I begin to lose sight of the journey and get caught up in the moment.  Some say, "Live for the Moment", and that's true with regard to leaving our pasts behind, and being aware of what's going on in the present.  But when THE MOMENT takes over, and begins to consume us, it's not a healthy thing.  We need to have a plan in place, and each moment should fit as a tiny piece of the puzzle into furthering our ultimate purpose.

   Along with this realization comes a sense of fulfillment and peace.  It brings with it a balance and rest, even in the midst of the chaos of life.

Runaway Train
   It is easy to just say, "I'm okay", but sometimes I am NOT okay.  I need to pull that emergency brake, stop the train, get off, stretch my legs, take a break, and then, and only then, get back on that train and resume my journey.  I'm fooling myself if I say, "I don't have time for that", and just run on and on, my mind and emotions running at breakneck speed toward oblivion.

   The nature of our physical and mental health is that we keep on going, seemingly forever, always chugging along, until at some point, the combined stress and wear and tear of the road take its toll and bring us to a sudden and unexpected stop.   It may not be of our choosing.  If we wait until then to speculate, the results may be devastating.

   A much better path is to take periodic inventories of where we are at on our journey, and stage personal yard sales to rid ourselves of all of the unneeded junk and excess in our lives.   
   Often those things we think "we may need" at some point are really just weighing our train down and keeping it from running at its optimum level of performance.   We may think by pouring on more fuel, and gunning the throttle, that we are going to arrive sooner to our destination.  In fact, we may instead become siderailed in some desert wasteland, or run into a brick wall.

   There are occasions when the Engineer calls on us as "workers" and our job is to throw ourselves into what is going on at the moment.  But there are also other times when he tells us, "I've got this," and we go back into the lounge car, take a window seat, and just relax.

   Just a thought.  Perhaps meant more for myself than the reader.  It's difficult to think of slowing down or contemplating our situation when we are in the middle of doing a hundred different things.   

   Go take a look at the personal memoirs of Jesus (the Gospels).  He had a Mission to accomplish.  But part of that was --stopping-- to enjoy a moment, or to reach out to someone in need.

   Take note of his encounter with Mary and Martha. Their house was a favorite hangout for Jesus.  But on one particular visit, he took note of the 'busy--ness' of Martha vs. the 'calm--ness' and peace of Mary.  She recognized it was "more needful" to spend time with their special guest than to be running about, seeing that all of the little last--minute details were covered.

    Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare?   Don't fool yourself into thinking you're ahead of the game, when you may be on a runaway train, hurtling headon toward disaster.

Psalm 46:10- "Be still, and know that I am God."

John 15:5- "Without me, you can do nothing."

A True Friend

© 2015 by Bob Wingate

[This Blog was published in the Salisbury Post on Aug 1, 2015.]

   I awoke early this morning at 3am and almost three hours later, my mind's still racing.  Lately, I find its a rare privilege to find my mind working at normal speed, or at all, much less the overdrive mode it seems to be in right now.

   I find myself thinking about how nice it is to really connect with another person in life, either a good friend, or on rare occasions, someone that ends up becoming a lifelong companion.  And how bittersweet, or even heartbreaking, it can be when you think of people you lost touch with along the way, those you were close to at one time, or those you always wanted to get to know, but somehow never did.  There are those people from my life, and I'm sure you can think of some too.

   As I often do, I draw an analogy to God and our relationship with him.  He says that our sin has seperated us, and keeps us from enjoying his presence in our lives.  God's plan included the sending of Jesus, not just as a prophet or teacher, but as a sacrifice for our sin.  As much as we take our lives and problems and try to figure them out on our own, this was, and is, the only way to ever make a bridge between ourselves and God.

John 15:13- Greater Love has no man than this, 
that a man lay down his life for his friends.

   My father was a wonderful man who found the way to God in Jesus.  Since his death in March, we've been going through old boxes of papers and memorabilia, and consequently, a lot of memories.  Today I found a couple of annuals from eighth and ninth grade with pictures and notes from a lot of old friends.  As much as this meant to me, I also found a notebook from a summer camp that means even more, for in it I wrote, "Tonight- August 1, 1972, I trusted in Christ as MY Savior." It's great to find such a personal heirloom as this. I've never doubted my relationship with God since then, but it's nice to see how real it (and he) was to me way back then.

   Perhaps you've never experienced that time in your life where you allowed God access to your life by believing in his Son.  Jesus described it as having a rebirth.  Seems odd.  It did to the man Jesus was explaining it to back then. He wanted to know how he, a grown man, could enter again into his mother's womb and be born again. What a ludicrous thought!  Jesus must've laughed.  No, no.  It's a spiritual rebirth, in which God forgives us and renews our spirit with His spirit.  I trusted in him to do that back in the summer of 1972 and I've never been the same since.  It made me a new and different person.  And whenever I lose sight of him in my life, or begin to drift a bit, I go back to that first night when my life with him began, and look at a signpost to lead me back, and let me know everything's going to be alright.

   As I looked back at pictures from school days gone by, I wondered and thought back to those times.  I miss some of my old school buddies and wish I could see them again.  Sometimes I do, at class reunions or from time to time. And it's good to get together, and renew those old friendships once again.  I cherish many of those friends.  But even better, I have this True Friend that I met back then, and we will never ever have to part, for he is with me each and every day, and I carry him with me in my heart forever.

Hebrews 13:5-- I will never leave you, nor forsake you.


BOB WINGATE is a free lance writer, guitar player and teacher, and music promoter living in Salisbury.  
His web blogs are at --- www.thebobpage.com and www.blogsbybob.com.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Behind the Curtain

   I was just watching a video of a pop singer.  She was performing in concert, and dressed in a bright, shiny jumpsuit.  Her dark, black hair shimmered in the spotlight.  And when she began to sing, the audience suddenly became silent in anticipation.   The time had finally come.  All of her fans delighted in her performance.

  As I listened and watched this, my mind thought of what that star must have gone through to get herself ready for that moment.  Hours of practice.  More hours with wardrobe and makeup.  All for a few moments in the spotlight.  And then what ?

Fans Can Be a Fantasy
  Most of us probably don't have moments in the spotlight, performing before adoring fans. But we do have times of performance, where we have to be at our best.  And our peers and onlookers are not always so forgiving and adulating as a successful pop singer.  We have the pressure of being at our best, and looking our best.  And with that pressure comes stress and anxiety.

  When that star comes off of the stage, there are down times, when there are no fans seeking autographs or longing to hear them sing.  There are lonely times, and other times with friends and family.  Some of those friends, no doubt, are friendly because of what they can get out of being close to someone who is rich and famous.

   It is a rare occasion when one finds someone who is there, loving and accepting us, not because of what we can give back to them, but only because of who they are.  God is like that.  The Bible tells us that the definition of Love is that "God gave."   It is not so much in the moments that I feel 'religious' and close to God, but in those times of deep loneliness and despondency, that I need to know this reality.  He is my best friend.  He is as close to me as my heart. His presence is as necessary as the air that I breathe.

   When the lights go down, the curtain closes, and we retreat off stage to our private lives, it is important that we have someone there to remind us that our worth is not in our performance, but in our essence.  A good friend gives a hug or says a kind word, not for selfish gain, but to encourage.  God has accepted you in his Son, and made you his child. If you are in Christ, you have God's love.

This is Love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son.
[I John 4:10]

   Don't let yourself get in the habit of feeling great when you are congratulated and adored for your good performances, and feeling sad whenever you are without that applause.  When you go behind the curtain, you are still the same person that you were on the other side.  If you understand that, you will seek God's approval and love, and begin to bask and live in it every day of your life.