Category Archives: morality

Swimming Upstream: “Are You Prepared for Storms?”

The cell phone rang; I flipped it open. “Hello,” I said.

“I have cancer. Will you pray for me?” she said through panic-weighted sobs.

Though shocked, I replied, “Yes, of course I will.”

This just happened, but over my twenty-four years of being a believer, I’ve heard it often. Storms happen, you know. At times, the storms blow across our lives as financial monsoons. Other times, it’s sickness hurricanes. Or divorce cyclones. Whatever, the storms are devastating when they hit. And the wreckage may be severe.

More often than not, the individual is not prepared. They may be active members of a church. They may be generous givers of tithes and offerings. They may be doing some good works in their communities.

But usually, their prayer lives are three-minute dart tosses each day, aimed at heaven, as in “God bless this meal and us today. Amen.”

And their Bible studies consists of thirty-minute per week workouts, done along with their pastors’ sermons on Sunday mornings. Then, after these exhausting exercises, the Bibles rest on tables until next week.

When the storms hit, what do these people usually depend on? The prayer lives and faith of other people.

Now, this is not to say that storms do not happen to all types of believers. They do. And this is not to say that all believers should not ask for prayer from others. They should.

But when the storm rocked the disciples’ boat and they screamed, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing”, what was the Lord’s reply?

He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?…” (Matthew 8:26)

So, are you prepared for the next storm in your life? Will your prayer life and faith calm the storm?

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Swimming Upstream: “At What Point, Will I Fall Away?”

Anna at Bigger Than Me, has written an article, Spiritual, Supernatural Things (Part 2), which has brought on some interesting comments from truthwalker.

Now I know, it’s easy for us believers, especially me, to point our fingers at truthwalker and say, “You shoulda done this. You shoulda done that. What’s your problem?”

Anna admitted in her article:

And to be quite honest, this scared me. How is it possible that someone who had known the love of Jesus would willingly walk away?…God simply wasn’t there for them when they needed Him. And at this pivotal point, doubt entered in… And what scared me the most is that this could happen to any one of us, even me.

Most of us believers have a little bit of Peter inside us which on the one hand boasts, “Lord, I will never leave you” and on the other hand looks for the next bus out of town when everything falls to pieces.

Of course, maybe you are the rock-solid exception. If you are, God bless you. But for the rest of us, maybe this is a good time to ask, “At what point, will I fall away?”

And if you do not carry your own cross, you cannot be My disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost…(Luke 14:27-28 New Living Translation)

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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Where’s Honest Abe Now When We Need him?

Every once and while, it’s good to look at a politician who framed his decisions based on his character and personal values rather than on public opinion polls or self-enhancing agendas. Thus, the following article about President Abraham Lincoln.

In passing upon a case of a lad condemned to death for falling asleep upon his post, Lincoln said: “I could not think of going into eternity with the blood af that poor young boy on my skirts. It is not to be wondered at that a boy raised on a farm, probably in the habit of going to bed at dark, should when required to watch, fall asleep; and I cannot consent to shoot him for such an act.”

The impressive sequel of this act of mercy was brought to light when the dead body of this soldier boy was found on the field of Fredericksburg, and next to his heart a photograph of the President, across which he had written, “God bless Abraham Lincoln.”

This article was taken from “The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln”, edited by Anthony Gross, published by Barnes & Noble, inc., 1994.

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Swimming Upstream: “Family Can Be Tough”

If you have read my testimony, you will note that one day I was an agnostic and the next day I was a zealous Christian. But what about my family? How did they enjoy my new found faith?

In a nutshell, not well.

My wife thought I was suffering from manic depression, now known as bipolar disorder. She insisted I see a psychologist. I, of course, resisted…that is until I was backed into a corner and forced to see a psychiatrist – or else!

The psychiatrist was a free-association adherent which means he allowed me to speak about anything. I witnessed to him and quoted scripture for forty minutes. At the end, he said, “We’ve made some progress. See you next week.”

The next week was more of the same from me. I witnessed to him for another forty minutes. When finished, he asked, “Will you ever talk about your past?”

“No, my past is dead. My life is Christ,” I said.

“Then, don’t ever come back,” he said, slamming his folder shut.

Later that day, my wife said, “So, how’d your visit with the psychiatrist go?”

“Great,” I said with my best salesman’s smile. “He told me I didn’t have to come back anymore.”

But naturally, she followed up and learned the whole story. This issue became another nail in my coffin.

As for my children, both believed I was a nut and told me they wanted nothing to do with my faith. Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Never as in never-ever!

The end result was my wife divorced me. My daughter wanted nothing to do with me for ten years. And my son and I had an uneasy truce between us for years.

But prayer and fasting changes almost everything…even though it may take years.

Today, my son and daughter-in-law are on-fire Christians. My daughter loves me and is seeking the truth. And I am happily married to my new wife, Honey.

So, when it comes to family, just keep on seeking the Lord and praying for them.

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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Swimming Upstream: “Slumdog Millionaire Was Good, But…”

Honey body-slammed me and then twisted my left arm behind my back until it touched my nose. All the while, she whispered, “Just surrender, okay?”

I pounded the carpet with my right fist until the pain was too much to bear. “Okay, I surrender!” I screamed.

So, she let me up and pointed to the car keys on the counter. “Let’s go,” she said.

Hanging my head, I obeyed. And to be honest, once we sat down in our seats at the movie theater, I did enjoy myself.  Slumdog Millionaire was better than I thought it would be, but yet…

These fairy tale movies which depict a one in a billion chance of a person raising himself out of pathetic squalor into a life of plenty leaves a person sad after the warm fuzzies wear off.

It sort of reminds me of the the time movie actress/activist, Jane Fonda, joined the Native Americans in their picketing and occupying efforts of taking over Fort Lawson, near Seattle. All went on a hunger strike which lasted for a week. Then, a settlement was made between all parties involved.

The Native Americans then went back to their miserable lives on the reservations or wherever. But what about Jane Fonda? Poor Jane was so exhausted that she rented a villa in Acapulco for a week. How miserable, huh?

And after my popcorn bag was empty, I realized I’m as much a hypocrite as I thought Jane Fonda was back in 1970. What have I really ever done to help the poor people of the world?

Sadly, very little.

…remember the poor…(Galatians 2:10)

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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He’s Alive!

Some like to dismiss Easter as just a pagan holiday, not worthy of Christian celebration. And yes, maybe the name has pagan origins, but who really cares about some dead, dumb god who never had any power. Jesus has reclaimed this day for His glory, and if you doubt it, try to travel somewhere by an airplane today. Almost impossible, right? Jesus reclaimed this day for His glory.  And guess what? He is going to reclaim every other day of the year for His glory.

Why? He’s alive!

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Swimming Upstream: “Before Satan Kissed Jesus, What Happened?”

And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. (Luke 22:3)

The battle in Gethsemane was set. On the one side was God who became flesh so that the works of the devil would be destroyed (1 John 3:8).

On the opposing side was Satan, working through a puppet named Judas. Backing Satan up was a Roman cohort (300 soldiers) armed with swords and spears, and an armed crowd of officers and slaves from the Temple.

Jesus’ motley crew included eleven sleepy men with two swords (Luke 22:38).

As Satan and his group approached Jesus, something happened:

So when Jesus said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:6)

The last thing Satan ever wanted to do was bow down before Jesus, and yet, he was forced to do just that as he approached Him.

Yes, Satan via Judas got up and kissed Jesus. Yes, the disciples fled in fear. Yes, Jesus was tried, convicted and crucified. And yes, Jesus rose from the tomb and sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

But before all this good stuff happened, Satan bowed down before Jesus. And guess what? Satan still bows down today before Jesus.

It’s just that the person Jesus lives within us.

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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Swimming Upstream: “How Barack Obama Set Me Free”

No doubt about it, I was not a Barack Obama fan. His position on abortion alone was enough to set my feet in concrete on the other side of the fence, opposing him.

But now, I have to admit that his election has set me free from something; and I like the freedom.

What is that something? A belief that somehow our government could help usher in a revival and a return to godliness in America.

I know there are those who will point out the William Wilberforce’s, Abraham Lincoln’s, and Ronald Reagan’s as examples of who God can raise up to change nations… and thank God for these men. But for every Hezekiah and Josiah, there have been far more Saul’s, Ahab’s, Manasseh’s and Herod’s who have been enemies of the cross of Christ.

You see, with my freedom I realize first and foremost that I am a citizen of heaven. My hope is in a King, not in some elected officials who will usually let us down with their compromises and broken promises.

Yet, even now, men are positioning themselves for the next election, saying this will be the most important election ever. If only, Christians – like me – will support them, they will return America to a “shining city on a hill” status. These men will use evangelical speak and bow their knees at all of the right altars. And who knows? Maybe they can carry it off.

But as for me, I have been there. Done that. Bought the bumper sticker. I’m not putting my energy, time, prayers or faith in our political system ever again.

I plan on devoting my life to where my true citizenship lies…and to the soon-coming King.

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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Swimming Upstream: “Are Strings Attached to Your Church? Or to You?”

The Executive Branch sent a chilling message to traditional churches and believers last week with its firing of GM’s CEO. Did you hear it?

…the man who supplies the [financial] means exercises authority in the realm to which his [financial] means are devoted…and he dare not receive money from anyone who would use his [financial] gift to interfere with the Lord’s will… (Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Church Life, pp.147)

If the federal government can fire a private corporation’s leader, what will stop the same federal government from actively and aggressively interjecting its beliefs onto traditional churches via its Gestapo arm, the IRS? Nothing. Nothing at all.

In fact, the U. S. Legislative Branch let the cat out of the bag when it it voted a 90% tax on legitimate – though unwise – AIG bonuses. There was no compunction in their use of the IRS. None at all.

Now, maybe tax write-offs are no big deal to you or your church. After all, it’s only a small amount for most believers.

But what if in the interest of obeying new hate laws, you are required to sign a pledge avowing you will not attack abortion or homosexuality or Islam or any politician. Why? So you can receive your Social Security, Medicare, Health Insurance, Tax Refunds, Welfare, Food Stamps, etc.

Then what?

The floodgates are open; and this is the road America is heading down. Can we stop our nation’s suicidal free-fall? I have my doubts. Big ones. What are these doubts based on?

If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now, they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation. (Luke 19: 42-44)

More and more, I’m thinking that America missed its time of visitation on November 4, 2008.

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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Swimming Upstream: “What Does America Owe You?”

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Farmer Larry Who with sister

My roots are small Farmtown, USA, right in the heart of the Midwestern corn belt.

As a kid, I grew up on a farm, drove a tractor before I was six years old, joined 4-H at ten years of age, fed cattle, slopped pigs, gathered eggs, shoveled manure, baled hay, combined oats, picked corn and even attended a one-room schoolhouse until I was twelve years old.

Besides doing chores, my parents made sure that I never missed a Memorial Day ceremony, a Flag Day parade or a Fourth of July celebration. They instilled in me a pride about being an American and loving the freedoms our forefathers fought and died to pass on to us.

Not once did I ever hear my parents  say America owed them something. Not once. They believed (and still do) that it was up to them to plow the fields, plant the corn and if the weather cooperated, they would harvest a crop. If the weather failed them, then it was time to get a winter job doing whatever just to survive until the following spring. Then, the farming cycle started all over again.

How times have changed, right?

Today, almost everybody has their hands out wanting something from America, as in our federal government. Businessmen want bail out funds. Bankers want bail out funds. Home owners want bail out funds. Credit card owners want bail out funds. States want bail out funds. Cities want bail out funds. Schools want bail out funds. America owes us! So, give me. Give me. Give me.

It seems nobody read the fine print on the loans that they incurred with their debts. You know, where it says that  eventually the money would have to be paid back…or else.

So,what does America owe you?

If you have reason to believe you are owed something, you had better scurry over to the federal trough double-quick today because tomorrow will be too late. Our economic system will not survive the hatchet jobs being done on it by the Washington fools who are tinkering with it.

Maybe this would be a good time to check out Matthew 6:33 –

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

And then, maybe we should follow its advice. Today!

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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