April 23, 2013

In The Midst Of A Miami Storm!

When I first lived in Miami from 1991-1993, there were always trials & tribulations for me before &/or after significant spiritual moments in my life but we have a choice as to how we respond.

"While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us." — Benjamin Franklin

A few years ago I found a folded up piece of notebook paper with SCRIPTURES hand written in cursive.  I wrote those verses 20 years ago after a second car of mine was stolen within a year.  At that time, a friend had driven down to visit me in Miami & I had all my clothes in my car as I was going to do laundry that day.  I also had all my Christian music, pictures from my various mission trips, etc., as I sometimes was asked by coaches to lead BIBLE studies or give a devotion on the spur of the moment.

Basically, I got a flat on I-95 as I travelled home from Miami Senior High School to North Miami-Dade County.  A flat tire shouldn't have been a big deal but I had a flat the day before & did not have time to get that repaired, so I made my way home & my buddy drove me back to where the car was.

Unfortunately, my car was gone in less than the 20 minutes since I had left it.  All of this happened shortly after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew & I vividly remember the majority of people crying & screaming that they had worked their entire lives for their homes/things & now it was all gone & they didn't know what to do.

However, there were a few people who thanked the LORD that they still had a relationship with JESUS & their families were safe.

I often thought to myself, "It isn't too hard to be thankful in situations like that!" 

Word of advice, be careful what you say or think as the LORD may test you to see if you are able to handle losing all of the things you call dear in this world.

Now I had to get my bicycle fixed in order to pedal the 20+ miles to work the next day as it had been damaged in a hit a run accident when I flew over my handlebars & slid across the pavement on my knees.

That night was horrendous for me but I wrote out SCRIPTURES in cursive on the front & back of a piece of notebook paper as I knew that I had to read those truths over & over, even if I didn't feel like they were true at the moment.

I know that ALL of the BIBLE is TRUE . . . but I didn't feel like it was true at that moment. 

What's the difference? 

Feelings are never wrong . . . they are as many say, "It is what it is."

So, even when I am feeling frustrated & vexed, I am making the choice to believe that the LORD is still in control & HE has a plan for me.

Please believe that those SCRIPTURES I wrote so long ago, would encourage me & you whenever we are discouraged & in the midst of an emotional or mental or physical or spiritual storm!

Why do I believe that something like that is possible?

The day after I wrote those SCRIPTURES, I was asked to go to the bleachers on the practice fields at Miami High to be in charge of detention so that any students who were late to class or disciplined by their teachers would be punished by sitting out in the hot Miami sun.

Wouldn't you know that 3 of the toughest, most disrespectful students spent a couple hours out there with me. 

One of them asked me, "How are you doing today?"

I replied, "I'm not doing too well as my car was stolen yesterday." 

This student look puzzled & said, "Quit teasing me, your car was not stolen." 

I replied, "Yes it was.  I wouldn't joke to you about something like that."

What happened next is something that I will never forget. 

"There is no way that your car was stolen because you are the same today as you were yesterday. How is that possible? You should be angry & mad but you're the same as you always are. How do you do that?"

I sure didn't feel the same as I had spent many hours crying out to the LORD!

As tears began to well up in my eyes & my hands began to tremble, I asked them if they really wanted to know why I am different, they should read this & I pulled the folded up piece of notebook paper out of my pocket & gave it to them.

They sat down to read & as they did it was all I could do to keep myself from uncontrollably sobbing as there were 3 young people who were reading GOD's WORD with the desire to understand the truth.

Who cares if I had to have another car stolen?  

At that moment, I began praying for the HOLY SPIRIT to open up the minds, hearts, souls, & spirits of these students to understand that our HEAVENLY FATHER loves them & cares for them.

They never would have listened to Billy Graham or Martin Luther King or Tony Evans or whomever you think is one of the best evangelists/preachers/teachers in the world!

They had never been to a church & they sure wouldn't have read these SCRIPTURES out of a BIBLE . . . but they were reading the WORD of GOD.

I had spent many nights crying out to the LORD, asking HIM to do whatever it takes to make the young men & women understand that JESUS is our SAVIOR & HE is also our LORD.

I believe that the only time the HOLY SPIRIT gives people who don't yet have a relationship with JESUS discernment & wisdom about SCRIPTURES, is when they are seeking the truth!

These young people were reading BIBLE verses to understand why I was the same today as I was yesterday.

Let me tell you, I didn't feel the same at all.

But guess what?

"JESUS CHRIST is the same yesterday & today & forever." ― HEBREWS 13:8

They weren't seeing me at all!

They saw JESUS in me & HE never changes!

May the truths of these 11 SCRIPTURE passages that I wrote on a simple piece of notebook paper many years ago, once again encourage me & may they also be a blessing to you, if not now, then sometime in the future when you are frustrated & feeling down.

"The LORD GOD is my strength; HE makes my feet like the feet of a deer, HE enables me to go on the heights." — HABAKKUK 3:19

JESUS replied, "You do no realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." — JOHN 13:7

When HE heard this, JESUS said, "This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for GOD's glory so that GOD's SON may be glorified through it." — JOHN 11:4

"Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever.  Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it.  All this also comes from the LORD ALMIGHTY, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom." — ISAIAH 28:28-29

"O house of Israel, can I not do with you as the potter does?" declares the LORD.  "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in MY hand." — JEREMIAH 18:6

"MY sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow ME." — JOHN 10:27

"Sing to the LORD, you saints of HIS; praise HIS holy name.  For HIS anger lasts only a moment, but HIS favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." — PSALM 30:4-5

"GOD is not a man, that HE should lie, nor a son of man, that HE should change his mind.  Does HE speak and then not act?  Does HE promise and not fulfill?" — NUMBERS 23:19

Although the LORD gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.  Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice saying, "This is the way; walk in it." — ISAIAH 30:20-21

"I know your deeds.  I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept MY word and have not denied MY name.  I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown." — REVELATION 3:8 & 11

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the ROCK." — MATTHEW 7:24-25

May we all be filled with the JOY of the HOLY SPIRIT, the LOVE of JESUS, & the PEACE of our HEAVENLY FATHER!

GOD has commanded us to be strong & courageous!

"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law MY servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go." ― JOSHUA 1:6-9

Whether we believe it nor not, there is a spiritual battle going on & we must be equipped to be victorious!

"Finally, be strong in the LORD and in HIS mighty power. Put on the full armor of GOD so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of GOD, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the SPIRIT, which is the word of GOD. And pray in the SPIRIT on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." ― EPHESIANS 6:10-18

We are able to stand in spite of whatever the devil may throw our way & in standing, the LORD is glorified because there is no earthly reason why we should still be filled with faith, grace, hope, joy, love, & peace.

Recently there have been moments of tears that almost overwhelm me.

"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than 10,000 tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief & unspeakable love." ― Washington Irving

Be encouraged in the midst of trials & tribulations though as satan is not omnipresent like our Sweet Heavenly FATHER, so he has to choose his battles carefully & he will only spend time pestering people who are making a difference in the spiritual lives of others or are destined to do so!

Count it all joy!

"I pray for you, that all your misgivings will be melted to thanksgivings. Remember that the shadow a thing casts often far exceeds the size of the thing itself, especially if the light be low on the horizon & though some future fear may strut brave darkness as you approach, the thing itself will be but a speck when seen from beyond. Oh that HE would restore us often with that 'aspect from beyond,' to see a thing as HE sees it, to remember that HE deals with us as with sons." ― Jim Elliot

An amazing passage from the book "Shadow of the Almighty" was shared with me as I was preparing to live overseas to serve the LORD however HE so desired & it's by Jim Elliot who also wrote the last quote. This is from a letter written to his future bride when he thought getting married might get in the way of what the LORD's plans were for both of them!

"Dearest Betty, I charge you in the name of our Unfailing Friend, do away with all waverings, bewilderment, & wonder. You have bargained for a cross. Overcome anything in the confidence of your union with HIM so that contemplating trial, enduring persecution or loneliness, you may know the blessings of the 'joy set before.' 'We are the sheep of HIS pasture. Enter into HIS gates with thanksgiving, & into HIS courts with praise.' And what are sheep doing going into the gate? What is their purpose inside those courts? To bleat melodies & enjoy the company of the flock? No. Those sheep were destined for the altar. Their pasture feeding had been for one purpose, to test them & fatten them for bloody sacrifice. Give HIM thanks, then, that you have been counted worthy of HIS altars. Enter into the work with praise." — Jim Elliot

How can I do anything but praise the LORD after such profound words were shared with me so many years ago?

"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Hallelujah!" — PSALM 150:6

I shall continue to praise the LORD through the storms that are sure to come.

"The storms of life are sure to come but a world without them would not be the same. As thunderstorms are necessary for flowers to bloom & trees to grow, they also light up the sky in a truly awesome light show. Yet, the sun shall break through the clouds, causing that which has just been watered to grow. May the SON break through all of our storms, causing us to shine & grow!" — BPK 

It's now Thursday October 23, 2014 & my wife & I are living in Key West, Florida exactly 18 months from when I originally posted this on my blog.

Rain, rain, & more rain has been falling throughout the Florida Keys the last few days & will probably do so for at least a couple of more & that is why I felt an urge to not only share "In The Midst Of A Miami Storm!" again but also to add a bit more which I pray will bless at least one person. 

"LORD make my way prosperous, not that I achieve high station, but that my life may be an exhibit to the value of knowing GOD." ― Jim Elliot

I hope & pray that the precious children that my wife & I were blessed to care for now understand the value of knowing GOD!

We did not not shove the gospel down their throats but we tried to live our daily lives in such a way that the house we all lived in became a "HOME!" where our sons & daughters not only felt safe physically but enjoyed being there despite their horrific circumstances because they felt joy & peace.

The first several months we were house parents at the FKCS, we would work 6 days & then have 3 days off as the respite house parents would be at the home.

However, they were eventually let go & I worked 5 months without a day off until I went to the STL for my Mom's funeral.

That left my wife caring for our children until I came back but that only lasted a couple of weeks before I had cervical surgery & 2 days later lumbar surgery which I only did so I could be more active physically with our sons & daughters.

I returned to work at the FKCS less than a month after my surgeries & that same day my wife & I were told that the FKCS no longer wanted us to be house parents.

That was extremely difficult & stressful & if I ever needed a hero, that was the time!

There is a man who was murdered 10 years before I was born & if I would call anyone a hero in this day & age, he would be it!

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." — Jim Elliot

Edward McCully, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Peter Fleming, & Roger Youderian were speared to death on Palm Beach in the jungle of Ecuador in 1956.

"FATHER make me a crisis man. Bring those I come into contact with to decision. Make me not a milepost on a single road. Make me a fork, that men must choose one way or the other when facing CHRIST in me." — Jim Elliot

May the FATHER, JESUS & the HOLY SPIRIT be working in us & through us causing "Another Hallelujah" on a daily basis to be echoing throughout heaven as our lives profoundly touch yet another person with wisdom & understanding.

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