God is Watching the Apples

I love this little gem of scripture that I recently discovered. It’s found in Genesis 25:11, “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.”

Now you must understand something about this quaint little place called, Lahai-roi.  Its name means, God provides, and He sees me.  It is the place where Hagar and Ishmael thought they had come to their end, but God had other plans for them.  After being left homeless, and running out of water, God reminded Hagar that He had heard her son’s cries.  In spite of their horrible circumstances God was ready to move on their behalf.

God performed a miracle that day and created for them a well of water out of nowhere.  They were rescued, and the rest is history.  It is believed by most that Hagar had given this newly founded well its name.  Lahai-roi, God provides, and He sees me!

I read the story years ago about some children that were all lined up for lunch one day in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. After watching the children take more than one apple, the supervising nun wrote a sign and posted it on the apple tray: The sign said, “Take only ONE. God is watching!”

The children kept moving further along through the line, where at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. One of the children looked at the cookies and then wrote his own little sign that read: “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, God is not just watching the apples.  He is watching me and he is watching you.  It does not matter that we don’t have all the answers. We trust the Word, and we believe the Word.  We know what it says!  God is watching us, and He cares very deeply about us!  God was watching over Hagar and He is most certainly watching over us.  That is very comforting to know.  Lahai-roi!

Can You See the TANG???

Robbie and I are in Hawaii for a few days.  We are here to visit and pray for Sister Alva Elliott and her wonderful church in Kealakekua.

Our first morning here we decided to go for a walk.  While on this walk, we saw some of the most beautiful beaches you have ever laid your eyes on.  We just had to stop for a moment and take in all the beauty that was around us.  When we stopped to look around, we noticed a couple of things right away.  First, we saw crabs. Little tiny crabs.  They were everywhere scurrying over the lava rock faces.  Then as we looked over into the aqua blue sea, we noticed a beautiful bright yellow color reflecting off the sun light back at us.  It was hard not to notice.  They were fish.  Little bright yellow fish.  Robbie and I would have never seen these beautiful creatures if we had not stopped to look more closely.

As soon as we got back to the motel room I googled these little bundles of joy to determine what they were.  I discovered that they are only native to the reefs in Hawaii.  They are called Yellow Tang.

Now as Robbie and I were looking intently at the crabs moving on the rocks, a woman came up beside us and asked, “what are you two looking at?”.  I began to tell her we were watching the crabs and the little yellow fish.  She could not see them because she had never taken the time to stop and search for them.  The crabs are very difficult to see because their color blends in so well with the lava rocks.  This woman probably walked by this very spot many times and yet never noticed anything around her.  She was completely unaware of all the beauty, that is until she saw us staring into the deep blue sea.

Isn’t it amazing how that we do this very thing when it comes to the things of God?  We come to worship, but our minds are on other stuff.  We are preoccupied with our own path and agenda that we fail to recognize that God is passing by us.  Or we open the Bible and just see words, we don’t stop long enough to thoroughly see God’s promises.  Or we see an offering as just another offering, never really stopping for a moment to identify the real need that is before us.  We never stop long enough to notice God in our surroundings.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for us to stop and see the Tang!

Luke 10:38-42, As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”  But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details!  42 There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it — and I won’t take it away from her.”  NLT

You Named Me What?

Have you ever stopped to think about what’s in a name?  The history of my name comes from the Germanic name Hrodebert meaning “bright fame”.  I had no idea.  What were my parents thinking?

So all of this got me to thinking about names.  What about the names in the Bible?  One comes to mind.  There was one of David’s mighty men that had a different kind of name.  How about Eleazer?  Eleazer was second in command above all of David’s outstanding men.  His name means, “GOD has helped.”  Now this name was very prominent in the nation of Israel because it was given to thirteen different characters in the Old Testament.  I believe that this name was used many times in order to memorialize the many times that God helped and delivered his people.

In ancient times names meant a great deal to people on various occasions.  Parents would often have experiences in life that were both good and bad, and the parents would then give names to their children that would often reflect these important events in their lives.

For example, Joseph called his first born son Manasseh, which means, Forgetting, for he said, “God has made me forget all of my difficult moments.”  He called his second son, Ephraim, which means, Fruitful, because God made him fruitful in the land of misfortune.

Moses named his first born son, Gershom, and that means, stranger.  He did this because he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.”  His second son was named Eleazer to commemorate Israel’s greatest deliverance of all, from Egyptian slavery.  Every time Moses looked at Eleazer it reminded him of how that God had helped him.

My thinking is that national and personal deliverances by divine help from God may have inspired Dodo when he named his son Eleazer.  Dodo, now there’s another name huh?

This may sound a bit too crazy, but I feel that we are going to have an Eleazar in our CCPCG.  God is going to help us.  But when you think about it, He has always helped us.  If there is one thing I know about God, it is this, God always helps His people.  Even Dodo knew this!

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

The Big Letdown

Have you ever been disappointed before?  Have you ever had a big letdown?

Let me tell you a little story that recently happened to me.  Our worship team bass player asked me to help him find the bass guitar of his dreams.  So, we began the search.  Paul, the bass player, was only interested in two American builders.  He wanted a Fender or the more popular Ernie Ball Music Man.  We looked high and low.  Paul and I made a trip down to Guitar Center in Fresno to try out both the Fender P bass and the Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray.  After playing both of those fine instruments, Paul made up his mind to get a Music Man.

Now Paul began a frantic search online to find his bass guitar.  I want to tell you that Paul has the stuff.  He knows how to pick them.  He chose the Ernie Ball Game Changer Reflex 4 Bass guitar.  What a beauty.  Now the challenge was on to buy it for a great price.  Together we googled up a storm till we found the best price.  Paul was so excited.  I know what it’s like to buy your first guitar, what a rush.

For the rest of this story, I personally feel responsible for the big letdown.  I found his Game Changer at a well-known Guitar retail store you can find on the world wide web.  After speaking with them, they told us they had to make a few calls to get the bass guitar.  They gave us a price that could not be beat anywhere.  Paul could hardly sleep that night.

Then came the big letdown the next day.  We received a call from the retail store that Ernie Ball was no longer making the Game Changer Bass Guitar.  Now Paul, is one tough marine, however after I broke the news to him, I thought I heard him whimper a little.  So, the search for that new bass guitar goes on.

Do you know what will never let you down?  The Gospel!  The good news of Jesus will never ever let you down.  Our hope in God will never let us down.

Romans 5:5-8 NIRV,  And hope will never let us down. God has poured his love into our hearts. He did it through the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us.  At just the right time Christ died for ungodly people. He died for us when we had no power of our own.  It is unusual for anyone to die for a godly person. Maybe someone would be willing to die for a good person.  But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I Love New STUFF

If you are like me, I know you must love new stuff.  Anything new is good, for example, a new car.  Don’t you just love new car smell?  Or the new paint on the car, without a scratch on it?  Or how about the new tires?  I love a new Titleist Pro V1 golf ball.  I love new guitar strings, I love how they sound, crisp and clean.  I would love to have a new Les Paul supreme Gold Top.  I love new!

This is the reason I love the new year, everything about it is new.  There will be new opportunities.  We will be able to start fresh with a clean slate.  We can start all over.  I’m truly excited about it.

What about our relationship with God?   It’s a new beginning.  It’s a new season.  It’s a new moment in time to reevaluate our priorities and to begin again to focus more clearly on what really matters.  That priority is our relationship with the Lord.  It is a new consideration of our commitment to the one who gave us life and peace and joy.

What about all the new stuff that the Lord has promised to us?  A new heaven, a new earth, a new song, a new and living way, a new covenant, a new name, new mercies every morning, a new man and a new Jerusalem.  Surely because of all this new stuff, we can focus on a new and exciting relationship with God in this new year.

Are You God?

Early one morning years ago there was an American serviceman who was making his way back to the barracks in London. In his travels, he saw a little boy with his nose pressed to the window of a bakery, he was staring in silence at the delightful pastries. The serviceman’s heart went out to the little boy, who was probably an orphan. The man asked, “Son, would you like some of those?”

“Oh, yeah, I would!” said the young boy.

The serviceman stepped inside and bought a dozen of the treats. He took the bag outside to the boy and said, “Here you are son.”

As the serviceman turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. He heard the young boy ask quietly, “Mister, are you God?”

According to John 3:16 giving is an attribute of God and this is the time of year that we remember how much that He has given to us.  God the Father has given to us His Son.  God loves to give!    As citizens of heaven, we should be givers too, not only at the Christmas season, but as a way of life.  When we give, we act as God does!

Offer Unto God Thanksgiving

This may be the best Thanksgiving scripture of all time.  Here it is, “Offer unto God Thanksgiving.”  That’s found in Psalm 50:14.

I do realize that Thanksgiving is about a lot of things and everyone has an opinion about this great holiday.  I love the fact that we will all enjoy family company, great food, and the most wonderful pies that have ever been created.  And according to Fox News, 32.5 million people will watch the NFL on TV all day, every shopper will spend $320 for their dinner, 95% of Americans will spend Thanksgiving with family, and 46.9 million Americans will hit the road.

Hummmm, Fox news had no statistic on how many Americans would look to God and offer Thanksgiving to Him.  My family will.  We will off thanksgiving to God.  Think about how much God has done for us and be thankful.

I got a chuckle when I read this quote from John Newton, I think it says it all, “The Lord afflicts us at times; but it is always a thousand times less than we deserve, and much less than many of our fellow-creatures are suffering around us. Let us therefore pray for grace to be humble, thankful, and patient.”

Let’s offer up to God thanksgiving on one of the best holidays in America.

Bishop Rob Culver

We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.  ~ Harry Ironside, American preacher