The Fruit of the Spirit Prayer

Today I’m sharing with you the compilation prayer that ends the chapter of the Fruit of the Spirit from my book 100 Prayers of a Writer. I’m very pleased how well this prayer came together. I find myself needing its message frequently.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Dear Heavenly Father

I come to you filled now. There’s a skip in my step as I approach Your throne of grace. I have consumed Your fruit and found it very good. My walk is lighter. My smile matches Yours. You throw a little tickle in Your hug for me. Thank You for being such a fabulous Daddy. I couldn’t ask for any better.

Thank You for putting all of these aspects of You into a single piece of fruit for me. It’s so like You to give me the whole package at once. You don’t want me picking and choosing which qualities I think I need or want. Grant me the fortitude to put these attributes to use as Jesus did in His life on this earth.

Help me love as Jesus loved, unconditionally. Don’t let my pride or prejudices get in the way of me showing Your love to everyone I meet.

Give me the joy Jesus exhibited, enthusiastically. I always picture Him laughing from the belly when He played with the children. No matter what others thought of Him.

Let me promote the peace of Jesus, unapologetically. Allow me to sleep while the storm is so severe around me others are panicked.

Grant me the patience of Jesus, forever. May I trust that You have everything under control, even when it appears everything is in chaos.

Allow me to show the kindness of Jesus, generously. Let me drop my guard as I reach out in love so people see the genuineness of my actions.

May I live out the goodness of Jesus, authentically. Make my motives so pure I’m embarrassed when others applaud my efforts to make a difference in this world.

Ground me in the faithfulness of Jesus, whole-heartedly. Fix my gaze on heaven while I see the needs on the earth with Your kingdom in mind.

Gift me with the gentleness of Jesus, continuously. Let me see the sinner caught up in the sin before I see the sin itself so I can reach out in love and acceptance of the person.

Build in me the self-control Jesus exhibited, purposefully. Help me drink the cup You place before me in Your time as it benefits Your kingdom, not mine.

Father, I need Your Spirit’s strength to carry out this magnificent calling from You. Your Son left His indelible mark on this world. Use me to carry on His mission as I finish the race set before me.

It’s in the mighty, matchless name of Jesus I pray. AMEN

Man Overboard

“Tarshish? Yeah, we’re going to Tarshish. What you need us to take there for ya?”

“Just me.” Jonah watched the crew loading crates below deck.

The captain looked at Jonah’s small pack. “You sure do travel light. You have family in Tarshish?”

Jonah shook his head. “No. Just been hankering to visit that fine city. That’s all.”

“Four silver coins will get you there. Five will feed ya, too.”

Jonah pulled out a coin pouch and dumped all five of his coins into the captain’s hand.”

The captain smiled. “Looks like your god has blessed you just enough to get you where you’re going. Climb aboard. We’ll be setting off soon.

The crew finished loading the ship and came ashore for final preparations. Jonah climbed up the plank then went below deck to find a good place to settle in. He found a space between some boxes that fit his small frame perfectly. The rocking of the ship lulled him into a deep sleep.

The captain came aboard and waited for his crew to return. He looked around at his men then kept scanning the group.

“What you looking for Cap?”

“Not what, but who. There’s a guy who paid me to take him to Tarshish. Anyone see a little fella carrying a small bag?”

Everybody glanced around. “No sir. It’s just us here.”

The captain shrugged. “I guess I’m five coins the better. We got a schedule to keep.”

They untied and headed west. As soon as the land disappeared below the eastern horizon the wind kicked up in their face.

“Pull the sails down.”

The crew obeyed the captain’s order.

Waves crashed onto the deck.

“We’re going down if we don’t lighten the load. Start throwing cargo out. Everybody pray to your god or whatever you have to do to get this to stop. This is the worst storm I’ve ever seen.”

The men struggled to get crates on deck to save the ship.

One of them called from below. “Cap, you gotta see this.”

The captain went below deck. “What is it?”

“Is this that fella you was lookin’ for?”

The ship rocked Jonah onto the floor. He looked at the men.

The captain looked at him. “How can you sleep through this? Pray to your god to stop this storm.”

Jonah staggered to the deck and vomited overboard.

Somebody grabbed a bag and some stones. “I have an idea. Let’s see who’s to blame for this storm. I have five white rocks and one black one. We’ll each pull a stone out of this bag. Whoever gets the black one is it.”

They all agreed. Jonah took the first stone out. It was black.

The captain grabbed him by the shoulders. “Who are you? Where are you from? What have you done?”

“I’m a Hebrew. Our God made the sea and dry land, people…everything. He told me to go to Nineveh to pronounce His judgement on them. They deserve His wrath.”

The captain shook him. “We don’t deserve your god’s wrath. What do we have to do to stop this storm before it kills us all?”

“Throw me overboard.”

The captain shook his head. “That’s not an option.”

The ship rocked, then cracked.

“Cap, we’re all gonna die anyway. Let’s try his suggestion.”

The captain looked up. “Forgive us god of the Hebrews for this man’s life. We’re innocent of his blood.”

They grabbed Jonah and tossed him into the sea.

The wind stopped. They watched Jonah sink. A huge fish swam by. Jonah was gone.

“The Hebrew God is real, men. Let’s worship Him.”

************

You probably thought the story of Jonah was about a disobedient prophet, didn’t you?

I think it’s more about God getting the attention of Gentiles.

The men on that ship sure found God in a big way. So will the folks in Nineveh once God gets Jonah where He wants him.

Running away from God won’t stop His will from being done. It will only delay it.

It will also affect others in the process, sometimes positively, like here, or more times than not, negatively by reaping consequences of turning away from God.

I’ve seen people claim to not feel good about a decision they’re making, but they carry it out knowing it’s against God’s will because they feel a peace about their decision.

I have news for those misguided folks. God’s truth expressed in the Bible trumps all peace we work up to fit our agenda every day of the week.

Jonah thought he would thwart God’s plan by running the opposite direction. When that failed he expected his death by drowning to end the conflict.

God’s will cannot be stopped. He could have used another prophet to carry out His agenda, but He didn’t.

God chose a way that would not only show his control of every aspect of creation, but would also lead to an object lesson about how long Jesus would remain in the grave after His death.

You see, everything worked together to accomplish God’s ultimate plan in spite of Jonah’s lack of cooperation.

Is there something in your life you’ve been fighting God over?

Have you been running away from a task you know you need to do for God’s work to be accomplished?

Is there something in the Bible you don’t want to agree with even though you know it clearly states it’s God’s will?

I hope you know you can’t win over God. He will win in the end if not sooner.

Too many people quench the Holy spirit’s work in their life to fit in with the crowd they run around with.

There’s no better place to be than in God’s will.

Crowds are made up of individuals led by fickle emotions and whims.

God is the Creator who has a plan for every aspect of His creation.

The more people who work with God’s plan the better this whole planet will be.

Turn your will over to fit God’s will.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Be Careful What You Stand On

I thought about calling this post “Slippery Footing.” I think the title I chose fits better.

I’ve had trouble standing lately. Not literally, just figuratively.

About the time I think I know what to expect in my life the unexpected occurs.

When the unexpected happens so many times a fella realizes it’s actually normal for him. At least I do now.

Y’all know about my unexpected unemployment in early October. If you didn’t, you do now. We’re far enough along into November that I can safely say I lived to tell about that event.

Now I have companies calling me while I’m driving for someone else. It never rains but it pours.

The Apainter Paul has work coming in, too. So I’m helping him so he can help me, too.

I hope that’s not too many too’s for y’all. If it is then that’s too bad.

One of the first driving assignments, after my mini-unemployment, I accepted was for a company I hadn’t driven for before. It began as a five day gig. Then it became a one day deal. Then a two day thing before it ended up at three days. I felt like I was stuck in an auction on that one.

“Do I hear five days? No, then can I get one day…how about two. I have two can I get three days? Sold at three days.”

The next week Paul found a lady who had neglected the shrubbery around her houses for too many years. He told me I could work there as long as I wanted to or until it was caught up. I just finished clipping the shrubs around the front house when she came out to pay me for the day. She didn’t want to leave the two dogs alone while she was gone to work. She feared they’d tear the inside of the house up in their panic.

That was rug number two that got yanked out from under me. Three if you count the unemployment spell, which I won’t so don’t.

There was that couple excited about buying the Webster family farm in October. They were scheduled to sign papers November 1. It’s still the Webster family farm the last I heard. That influx of cash sure would have been a welcomed sight to my budget, but it isn’t so it ain’t.

Yet another rug gone.

Paul had a couple of jobs come in almost at once so he asked me to commit to him for the remainder of last week. I already committed to a company for Monday and Tuesday. Then company A called and asked if I could drive to Houston for them on Tuesday. I felt like a ping pong ball in a fierce competition.

I made great progress on the house Paul left me with by the end of Friday. I called The Apainter and asked if I could borrow his taller step ladder and extension pole to finish up on Saturday. He was impressed and said. “Sure thing.”

So I drove by his place, got his stuff and drove home stopping for gas and some groceries now that the previous week’s check was posted into my account. As I was on the final leg of my drive home Paul called…gulp.

“I got to thinking about how work is looking for next week. I’ll be done with the house I’m working on Monday. If you finish your house tomorrow I won’t have anything to do the rest of the week. Can you stop by after church tomorrow and return my ladder so I have it to finish that house you were working on?”

I’ve heard people say they regret things they’ve said occasionally that they wish they hadn’t let slip out of their mouths.

After a few seconds Paul had one question…”Wade, are you still there?”

“Yeah. I’m here. Sure, I can swing by after church tomorrow.”

He didn’t want to know the names I had for him that I left silent in my brain. Since he’s done so many huge favors for me I was grateful prudence won that round.

After I punched the “end call” button on my phone I sent up a prayer complaint.

“You know, God, that first rug being pulled out from under me was bad enough. This has gotten old in hurry. When is this going to stop? Where can I stand that’s safe from these falls?”

He knew I knew the answer to that question before I let it slip out of my noggin.

That rock is Jesus. Ain’t nobody nor nuthin’ going to let me slip off that foundation.

I got a call Saturday afternoon for a possible assignment driving to Shreveport that evening. I took it to shore up my budget constraints.

These unexpected things to me aren’t any big surprise to God. He’s got this all worked out for His glory.

All I have to do is keep standing then putting one foot in front of the other.

I’m in His will even when I fall.

I just have to get back up…and so do you my friend.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Stress is Spelled M-Y L-I-F-E

Thursday I drove from Ft Worth to Amarillo. I’ve done it several times and lived to tell about it. So, what made it so different this time? It was 86 degrees when I left Thursday afternoon. On Friday morning it was 38 degrees.

Being a native Michigander I knew enough to check the forecast before I left. Still having permafrost in my bones from four decades in the frigid winter wonderland I knew well enough to dress in layers when it’s cold.

I didn’t bring a dress, but I did bring extra layers of clothes to add during the night. That north wind still blew right through this Texan’s scrawny body.

My illustrious illustrator contacted me during my trip north by northwest. Normally that’s a good thing, but this time a series of miscommunications and misunderstandings only added to my stress level after one of the most challenging months of my life…and that’s saying a lot.

The good news is that it sounds like we’re nearing the home stretch on the storybook app that’s been three years in the making so far. The bad news is this came close to derailing it.

We both agreed it sure felt like there were unseen forces at work during this episode to end all episodes.

Prayers are appreciated as I decide how to program this app so it’s the best it can be.

On another front of my life I’m glad I didn’t spend that inheritance money from the sale of the family farm just yet. The folks who were so eager to buy it a few weeks ago have gone AWOL.

They’re scheduled to sign the papers and pay for it on November 1. They had a death in the family. The realtor hasn’t been able to get in touch with them at all. No deposit was collected.

Pray for God’s will here. The realtor has someone else interested if this falls through. Maybe they’ll pay more for it. We’ll see.

I’m counting on living off some of this money while I focus on making the app. It’s all coming together in God’s timing. I’ve just become used to His time clock running a lot slower than the one in my life.

Yeah, it’s frustrating, but I trust God with all my heart, soul and life. He’s always come through for me. Even during this most financially difficult month in my life.

I had an interesting experience Sunday morning at church. Our church puts food baskets together for poor families in our community each November. I handed out reminder cards to folks as they entered the sanctuary.

Having experienced near bare shelves in my own pantry recently I have a special kinship to these needy folks.

I prayed for an extra dose of generosity from our generous congregation this time around.

Most of the people thanked me as they took the card from my hand. They’ll likely respond positively.

Some couples grabbed the church bulletin from the first greeter then got tunnel vision as they almost sprinted past me.

Being a fairly small person to begin with I’ve felt invisible in the past, but this wasn’t what I expected from God’s children on Sunday morning in God’s house of worship.

I admit, I don’t know how much, or what kind of stress they’re facing in their lives right now. They might want to trade Octobers with me in a heartbeat.

I prayed for God to open their eyes to the world around them and for an extra dose of grace as they heard the message from Pastor Chuck.

I can’t change what happened in October. There are some things I definitely wish I could have a do over.

I don’t know when I’ll have all of the ingredients I need to finish Have You Heard of the Herd.

I do know it will all work together in God’s timing for His glory. He promised me that in His word.

If your life feels like a freight train about to crash find a promise in the Bible you can claim for your situation.

Don’t tell me there isn’t one there.

There are 365 “Fear not” statements scattered throughout the sacred text.

That’s one for each day of the year.

Just hold on to any one of those little nuggets.

God is bigger than any problem you face, my friend.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Battle Song

“I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.”

King Jehoshaphat kept walking back to Jerusalem. He couldn’t shake the prophesy of Micaiah about King Ahab dying in this battle. “Why weren’t you fighting at the time?”

“My brother just received a gash on his leg before it happened. I pulled him to safety. When I turned around I surveyed the scene to see where I should go back to fight next. That’s when I watched one of their guys draw back on his bow and let an arrow loose over everyone’s head. That arrow had Ahab’s name on it from God as far as I could tell cuz that’s where it came down. Hit him square in his chest.”

Jehoshaphat shook his head. “It split right between that narrow slit in his armor.”

The remainder of that walk was conducted in silence.

Jehu met the king at his house. “God is not pleased that you allied yourself with Ahab. But He’s happy you took down the idols as you seek Him.”

******

King Jehoshaphat spent the following weeks setting up judges in every town in Judah. “Make sure you don’t take any bribes. You don’t answer to me, but to the LORD Himself. Amariah will be in charge of matters concerning the LORD. Zebadiah will focus on any matters I need to know about.”

******

One day a messenger arrived out of breath. “There’s a huge army heading this way. They’re from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir as far as we can tell.”

King Jehoshaphat stood up from his throne. “Declare a fast through all of Judah. I will seek the LORD’s counsel on this matter.”

Men, women and children showed up from every town. Jerusalem was filled beyond capacity when the king entered the temple.

The priests stood behind him. “LORD God, You drove out the inhabitants of this land You promised to Your friend Abraham for his descendants. You restricted us from attacking the Moabites, Ammonites and the people of Mount Seir. Now they’re coming for us to annihilate us. We aren’t strong enough to win against such a massive army of trained soldiers. Please come to our aid. Nobody can stand against You.”

The silence was broken by Jahaziel. His reputation as a man of God was well known. “This is what the LORD has to say to you, King Jehoshaphat and all the people of Judah. Go out tomorrow to the battle, but don’t worry about the outcome because the LORD will fight for you. You’ll find them at the brook by Jeruel. Don’t be afraid.”

When Jehoshaphat bowed his head so did everyone else. Some of the Levites sang praises.

******

The following morning found everyone ready to leave Jerusalem into whatever lied ahead.

King Jehoshaphat stood at the gate. “Don’t be afraid. Believe the LORD’s prophets. The battle is not ours, but God’s.”

He looked at the crowd. “Who will lead us into this battle?”

“Um, shouldn’t the king do that?”

Jehoshaphat shook his head. “If this was my war I would. Since God has promised us victory and said He’d fight for us we’ll let the Levites lead the charge with praise songs.

The Levites stepped forward singing, “Praise God who loves without end.”

Everyone followed the song’s praise.

Jehoshaphat pushed ahead when they reached the hill overlooking the valley the enemy was in.

The scout stationed on the hill saluted him. “Sir, you’re not going to believe this, but they’re all dead.”

The king smiled. “Tell me when you get to the part where I’m supposed to act surprised. What happened?”

“I was watching them get ready to fight. Then I heard singing behind me. Before I could tell where the music was coming from the men of Moab and Ammon turned on the guys from Mount Seir. Once they were wiped out they turned on each other until nobody’s left.”

The people spent the next three days picking up anything of value the soldiers left behind in what was named The Valley of Blessing.”

************

This is one of those fight scenes the folks in Hollywood would never dream up.

“It could never happen that way. Not in a million years.” They’d say.

That’s why God didn’t use Hollywood insiders to write the Bible. He’s too unpredictable that way.

About now you might be wondering why God stopped this massive army from wiping out the people of Judah.

The short answer is because He wanted to.

The longer answer is because they sought His advice on how to fight against them. King Jehoshaphat was one of the better kings because he did his best to abide by God’s laws and take down any idols anyone might want to worship. From there God stood up for them.

Jehoshaphat’s weakness lied in the fact he supported the northern kingdom too much. They never came around to following God’s decrees.

So, what enemy is coming against you today?

Do they seem insurmountable and invincible?

How long have they been breathing down your neck?

I have some advice for you. Stop looking at the enemy and look to the God of the universe who is waiting to help you overcome them.

Once the people of Judah were assured God was going to win this battle for them they took as unusual an approach to going out to battle as anyone I ever heard of. They sang a praise song before the fight.

Have you ever thought of doing that?

Two weeks ago I was facing some unexpected unemployment with growing debt. I sang the hymn It Is Well on my way home from church that Sunday. God has showed up in mighty ways ever since that experience.

I’ve read the end of the Bible. Guess what.

Our side wins in the end.

Don’t focus on the problem, my friend.

Focus on the God who promises to move mountains if we have faith the size of a mustard seed.

It actually works.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

The 2017 Stonebriar Men’s Retreat Report

I just got back from another relaxing weekend on the banks of Lake Palestine near Flint, Texas. This country bumpkin always needs this time in the country to recharge my batteries.

Unfortunately I had to work Thursday so I couldn’t go out with the advance team for the retreat. Les Fleetwood is a Canadian so I guess an advance retreat team is something from Canadia or something.

My demeanor going into this retreat was different from the previous seven retreats I attended. I was well rested this time.

Clifford seemed excited to drive back out, too. He didn’t complain one little bit. Maybe that’s because I told the guys last year was likely his last retreat.

I think that just proves that my circumstances haven’t changed for the past eight years. God has been good to me all along.

Les informed me that JR Vassar didn’t give him the theme for the retreat until the last minute.

I think that explains why our t-shirts said Pivot on them and JR never used that word in any of the four sessions he taught. That’s my guess anyway.

Or, maybe that’s just another thang from Canadia, eh.

I never know when God will connect me with another one of the guys on these retreats. I spent quite a bit of time with Jim. We roomed together about five years ago.

The four of us who roomed together this go around had a great opening discussion time after the first session. We never got to the questions about the session. Instead, we shared our marital experiences.

We all walked away appreciating women who’ll stick it out no matter what. I know God does, too.

Somehow we got split up after the second session. So I talked with Bob since he didn’t have anybody in his room.

Bob helped with the check-in duties. That’s where we first got introduced.

He shared with me how he met his second wife after the first one died leaving him with two children to raise while he was in the Air Force.

He made sure he told me he’ll be praying for my situation before we left. I’m confident he’ll follow through with that.

I picked up trash on my walk back to the campground Saturday afternoon after my annual stroll to some secluded docks in a quiet cove. My mind was deciding what I would pray before dinner that evening.

Knowing the weather forecast I decided to say how much we need to remain grounded in the Bible because each of us is either coming out of a storm, in the midst of one or we’re about to be hit by one that will rock our world.

There were a few rounds of thunder that woke me up that night. Hopefully others remembered what I said when God woke them up, too.

One of the elders approached me a couple of times. He’d heard about my situation and wondered how things were going for me. I told him things are looking up.

Then he wanted to know about my writing later on. I told him about my blog. If you’re reading this thanks for joining me here Rafy.

Les and I had a semi-private meeting that may prove helpful in a couple of fronts in my life. The business venture might help Stonebriar out soon and my writing may get a huge shot in the arm.

That’s all I’m going to say about that for know. Stay tuned for further details as they unfold.

I don’t know if Clifford, the big red van, will be around to help at next year’s retreat or not, but I sure hope I am.

I have no doubt this country bumpkin will still need that quiet time in God’s country yet again.

You’ll know where to find me in twelve months.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Gentle Voice

Elijah opened his eyes. A hand was on his shoulder.

“Get up and eat this.”

He looked to his left. A small cake and some water sat on a rock.

When he turned back to the man nobody was there.

He sat up, ate the meal then laid back down.

Another hand on his shoulder woke him as the sun was rising.

“Eat this for your journey.”

He saw the cake and water on the rock. The man was gone before he could ask anything.

He ate the food and felt refreshed. He walked south.

******

Forty days later he approached a mountain and felt the need to climb up it.

A cave beckoned him to sleep for the night.

The early morning sunlight shone in his eyes.

He sat up and stretched. He heard God’s voice.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

“I’m zealous for You, LORD. The children of Israel have torn down Your altars and killed all of Your prophets. I’m the only one left so they’re coming for me, too.”

“Stand on the mountain and I will present Myself to you.”

Elijah was drawn out by a loud sound. When he looked to the north a tornado was fast approaching.

He ducked back in the cave as a tree branch sailed by. Two rocks fell over the entrance.

After that passed the ground shook. A boulder tumbled over the cave entrance as it rolled past.

A crackling sound brought him back out. The wind shifted from the south and brought the smoke of a large fire toward him.

He crawled to the back of the cave and prayed for fresh air.

An eerie silence filled the cave. The sunlight was casting a shadow of the mountain peak.

The silence drew him out. A gentle breeze caressed his cheeks.

The LORD’s voice was a whisper. “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

“I’m zealous for You, LORD. The children of Israel have torn down Your altars and killed all of Your prophets. I’m the only one left so they’re coming for me, too.”

“I need you to go to Damascus. Anoint Hazael as Syria’s king; Jehu, Nimshi’s son, as Israel’s king and Elisha, Shaphat’s son, as My prophet to replace you. There are still seven thousand people in Israel who haven’t bowed to Baal or kissed his idol.”

******

Elijah headed north. He came upon some men plowing a field.

One of the men shouted back to the last guy. “You’ll be here til midnight at your pace, Elisha.”

Elijah walked over and laid his coat across Elisha’s shoulders before he continued his journey.

Elisha stood tall. A sense of strength filled him.

Everybody stopped and looked at the man walking away.

Elisha ran after Elijah and stood in front of him. “Can I say good bye to my family first?”

Elijah shrugged. “Sure. This isn’t my idea, but God’s.”

Elisha broke his plow apart and used it to fuel a fire as he offered the oxen he was plowing with to feed everyone before he left.

************

God wasn’t done with Elijah. Not by a long shot. Even if the man wanted to die.

Do you see what God did to prepare him for the next stage of his work?

First thing was to feed the man. Rest and proper nutrition go a long way in rebuilding a person’s vigor. Of course God’s food was far better than anything we can mix up. It lasted 40 days before Elijah needed his next meal.

The second thing God did was give His man some time to think and sort things out. Too bad Elijah wasted that time throwing a month-long pity party for himself. Sometimes solitude doesn’t work for some folks.

So, the next thing God did was give Elijah a sidekick. Someone to teach and help shoulder the load. The man definitely needed someone younger to keep him from becoming an old curmudgeon.

Sometimes people get so comfortable with their depression or other destructive habit that they’d rather wallow in it than change.

Elijah told himself he was the last man of God so much he actually believed the lie.

After God assured him there were yet thousands who hadn’t bowed to the false God the man was able to go back to work.

Where are you in this equation?

Are you stuck believing a lie? Is it a lie you tell yourself or something you heard from someone else? Either way you’re losing out on the life God has granted you. Read the Bible to learn God’s truths. He hasn’t changed and neither have His truths.

Shake those chains that are holding you back. God still has work for you, too.

Are you too drained by the stress you live with that you can’t sleep? Is your diet what it can be?

There are many folks offering meal plans online to help you get better nutrition.

There are also ways to de-stress and unwind from the cares weighing you down.

What you need is a lifestyle change more than anything.

A short evening stroll will work wonders to help you unwind at the end of a hectic day. Having someone to tell your troubles to can help, too. God is always available to listen to you.

Fad diets will only work while you’re on them. That’s why you put the weight back on so quickly later. Determine to eat more nutritious meals continuously. That’s a lifestyle change that will make a huge impact.

Surround yourself with folks who share your new commitment to become better. The better your network is the more likely you’ll succeed at it.

Immersing yourself in a challenging Bible study will help you see how God intends for you to live. This one habit should ignite a passion to fuel everything else.

Once Elijah had Elisha to teach God’s ways his life regained focus.

Mentor a younger believer. They’re aching for such leadership.

I told you God isn’t finished with you, yet.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

2 Phone Calls

Last Tuesday I had an appointment at the VA hospital in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Those of you who know me well are wondering where this is going since I never served in any branch of the military.

Those of you who don’t know me well now know that I never served in any branch of the military so I must be up to no good here.

This is my blog so just fasten your seatbelt and hold on tight.

Where was I…oh, yeah, heading up to Muskogee.

I had a load of beds for our veterans to use.

I was told I had to be there by 1:30 pm. So I got to work at 7am. Fueled the truck and hit the road. At 8am my cell phone started chirping like a cricket…not too surprising since this starving writer decided that’s the ringtone that fit me the best.

The fella on the other end said he was calling from Muskogee’s VA hospital. He wanted to know how far out I was. I informed him I’d be there about noon if everything went well.

“But, I thought you’d be here at eight.”

I’m thinking, “must be an Okee.”

We ended that conversation with him saying, “Drive safe and get here as quickly as you can.”

That was my plan all along.

I enjoyed the country scenery that morning and was relieved my phone’s GPS agreed with the VA hospital signs in Muskogee.

As I pulled off the last main road I started getting a bit concerned since I was in a residential area.

“Must be an old military post.” I said to myself.

I had to drive on the opposite side of the road more than once to avoid trailer damage from the tree limbs that were hanging too low for a big rig.

“These Okees in Muskogee sure do love their oaks…and maples and all these other trees.” I drew short of cursing anybody out.

This VA hospital looks like it had been there quite a while. I could almost make out the remnants of a mote behind it near the loading docks.

There was room for about two trucks to unload at a time. I was third in line when I arrived.

A good old boy with a full-sized trailer and over-the-road rig was just fixin to pull out as I surveyed the situation.

All I had to do was avoid driving over the bank into the mote-turned-scenic-valley below me and I’d be fine.

The two box trucks backed up to the dock after my good buddy left. I worked my way to where they were waiting so I’d be lined up to the dock before anyone else came along.

It’s good thing I got there before noon since it was almost one when I hit the dock…but not before almost hitting the mote fence.

The thirteen beds I had turned out to be electric motor powered gurneys. That was good since the trailer was uphill to unload it.

All I had to do at this point was unhook the straps and fold the pads that protected the beds on their gurney journey to the VA.

At about the eighth bed the cricket in my pocket got my attention again.

I hit the green “accept call” button and said “Hello.”

The nice lady on the other end asked me if I could be at our church at 6:30.

I did the math in my head as quickly as I could. “I doubt it since I’m in Muskogee now.”

“Where’s Muskogee?”

I thought everybody knew where Muskogee was…maybe only Okees do. “It’s in Oklahoma.”

Even Texans know where the country of Oklahoma is.

We settled on 7:30 for me to be at Stonebriar. That worked.

I knew the person I was talking to was nice because she’s on the committee that decides who the church will help out when they’re in a financial tight spot. That was me alright.

Things were definitely looking up.

I pulled away from the dock with an empty trailer at 1:15pm and headed back south.

For a reason I can’t recall I flipped the switch to shut the cricket chirp off.

I checked my phone at some point in Oklahoma. My brother Mike left a voice message for me from the country of Michigan.

I decided to call him back when I took a break at the Texas welcome center.

The message said someone made an offer on the family farm. The live call said they’re ready to empty their savings and dip into a 401k to get it. They want to move in on November 1.

Even with splitting things six ways things are definitely looking up.

I used to live my life braced for something bad to happen because I saw too many folks fall apart when that news comes. The way my life’s been the past decade I’ve lived my life expecting things to take an upturn at any time.

I think things are finally taking that upturn.

Now I need wisdom to handle the changes that are about to take place.

Your prayers are definitely appreciated.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Clinically Depressed

Elijah pointed at the prophets of Baal. “Surround them. Don’t let any of them get away. Bring them to Kishon.”

The crowd of citizens did what God’s man told them to do after seeing His fire fall from the sky and all it did.

Somebody picked up one of the knives a prophet used to cut himself. He gave it to Elijah.

Baal’s men were lined up along the brook. Elijah slit the throat of each one of them per God’s instructions in the Law.

Elijah’s eyes were wide. “Tell Ahab to eat and drink because I hear the sound of rain.

The crowd dispersed. Elijah and his friend went to the top of Mount Carmel.

Elijah dropped to his knees facing the temple in Jerusalem. “LORD, evil has been abolished in Israel today. Bring life back to Your people.”

He pointed to his friend. “Look to the west. Tell me if you see any clouds.”

His friend ran off to get a clearer view of the Mediterranean Sea.

He came back breathing hard. “There’s nothing, sir.”

Elijah continued his earnest prayer. “LORD, bring rain.”

He looked back at his friend. “Check again.”

This repeated seven times. The last time the friend reported. “I see a cloud, but I can cover it with my hand.”

Elijah stood. “Tell Ahab to get in his chariot and ride home before the rain stops him.”

His friend ran off.

Elijah sent up a prayer of thanksgiving. The evening sun was blotted out by the clouds. Lightning streaked across the sky.

Elijah picked up the bottom of his robe and tucked it in his belt before he ran down Mount Carmel. He passed Ahab’s chariot before they reached Jezreel.

He sat on a bench at the city’s gate.

A few minutes after King Ahab entered the city somebody brought Elijah a note from Queen Jezebel.

May the gods do to me, and more so, if you haven’t become like one of my prophets by this time tomorrow.

Elijah ran away as fast as he could. His friend followed him to Beersheba.

Elijah turned to his friend. “You stay here. I must be alone with the LORD.”

He wandered south for a day before he fell under a tree in exhaustion.

He mouthed one more prayer. “LORD, it’s enough for me. Make me like my fathers before me now.”

************

Spiritual warfare is demanding work. It was then. It still is today.

Elijah just stood in the gap for the nation of Israel during a dark time in their history. A drought lasted three years because of a proclamation he made.

It ended after false prophets were killed to end their influence on the people.

Not only was it raining. It was pouring down hard.

You would think God’s man would have been so bold at this time that a note from the queen wouldn’t phase him.

I just heard a professional quarterback tell about a time he spoke at a revival. He felt God tell him to stand up and say something as the altar call was being given by the pastor.

He did it and helped at least three people because of his obedience. He said when he sat back down he felt more drained physically than after his hardest football game.

Chuck Swindoll makes sure his schedule is clear for Sunday afternoons and Mondays for the same reason.

I think if we could see all the spiritual war going on around us we’d be too overwhelmed to get anything done. That’s why we aren’t given a view of that part of creation.

That’s why prayer is such a vital part of any ministry.

Don’t think that your prayer support isn’t being used by God today.

It’s more vital than financial support. Keep interceding.

Any spiritual victory you experience will be met with even more opposition from the enemy and his angels.

Remain on your knees and keep fighting.

Elijah’s battle was epic. Elijah’s victory was huge.

It came at a horrific personal expense to the man.

The Bible says he executed 450 men at the Brook Kishon.

I’m sure God’s Spirit emboldened him to perform this task because of the evil they spread. But, that would be an impossible memory to erase from a person’s memory.

How often did he see their twitching bodies on the ground when he closed his eyes? Did their screams wake him up at night?

So, after the spiritual victory for the nation of Israel, which included murder, he spent time in intense prayer to end the drought. Then Elijah ran from the mountain to the city in heavy rain before he could take a break. Just as the exhaustion was setting in he receives a threatening note from the very evil queen. So he takes off running south out of Israel, through the nation of Judah where he leaves his friend and goes another day south by himself before he rests again. Whew!

If you could have taken a blood sample of the man and sent it off for testing I’m sure his doctor would have prescribed every drug in the books for Elijah.

He was extremely clinically depressed.

This is not a point to be taken lightly.

Depression is real and can have tragic consequences.

Rare are the times someone comes out of it without outside help.

Elijah was by himself now, but he wasn’t alone. We’ll see that next time.

Chemical imbalances take place in the brain. That’s why certain drugs can help.

Emotional shifts occur that can be treated with the right counseling help.

When the depression is bad enough a combination of treatments is best.

If you’ve lost the will to live get help.

Pray for God’s strength to take the next step.

Seek professional guidance from a trained counselor.

Suicide is too permanent an option for what can be a temporary problem.

God still has plans for you, my friend.

He’ll use the new you to help others going through the same trial.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

God vs god

King Ahab stepped out of his chariot and approached Elijah. “So, there’s that troublemaker.”

Elijah shook his head slowly. “I’m not the troublemaker. I’m just the messenger. You’re the one worshiping other gods. You know better than that. Call all the people of Israel together on Mount Carmel. Make sure all 450 prophets of Baal come, too.”

******

Elijah waited at Mount Carmel for the contest to begin. Ahab’s 450 prophets were dressed in their finest garments. The crowd of private citizens filled the valley.

Elijah faced the people. “How long will you straddle the fence? Either worship the LORD or Baal.”

Nobody replied.

“I’m the last prophet of Jehovah. Baal has 450 men here. Let’s see who serves the real God. Bring us two bulls. We’ll each set up an altar and sacrifice a bull without setting it on fire. The God who burns the offering from heaven will prove who the real God is.”

The people all nodded. “That sounds reasonable.”

Elijah waved toward the prophets of Baal. “Since there’s more of you I’ll let you go first.”

As the morning sun rose higher the men fashioned an altar and cut their bull up to place it on the wood. They called out to Baal for a few hours. Nothing happened.

Elijah saw the crowd grow restless. He held a hand to the side of his mouth and faced Baal’s prophets. “Yell louder. Maybe Baal is sleeping or having a tryst with Asherah. There must be something keeping him from responding.”

The men began jumping around. Still nothing happened so they grabbed knives and cut themselves to get a response…nothing.

After the sun passed the high point Elijah raised his hands. “Come to me everyone.”

The crowd watched him build an altar with twelve stones. He laid the wood in order and cut his bull in pieces before he laid it on the wood.

He looked at some men standing near some water containers. “Fill four of those big pots with water and dump it on the altar.”

He had them repeat that two more times until the trench around the altar was filled up. “Now stand back.”

He raised his hands toward heaven. “God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel hear me now. Let these people know that I have done this at Your word and that You are the only real God. Turn their hearts back to You today.”

A bright streak fell from the sky. The wood on the altar quickly ignited the meat. Then the stones they were on went up in smoke as the water around it disappeared.”

All the people fell to their knees. “The LORD is God. There is no other.”

************

Here’s another one of those popular Bible stories folks pass by too quickly. We know how it’ll turn out so the surprise is lost on us.

Put yourself in the sandals of somebody in that crowd, or one of Baal’s prophets.

You’ve been told there are many gods. Worship whichever one you like, or better yet, more than one. As long as you’re sincere you’ll be fine.

Sound familiar?

You see. These folks are just regular folks like us after all. Society has led the majority astray. They’re following the crowd, especially when the leadership says it’s good.

That straight and narrow road has always been unpopular.

Baal’s prophets did all they could to get their god to respond. They began talking, then shouting, then jumping around until they got desperate and cut themselves. All to no avail.

Elijah simply asked God to intervene and He did.

Take a breath. God’s got your problem, too.

If it’s out of your hands it’s still in God’s grasp.

Give it to Him and trust His timing.

Do you remember what the rich young man in the gospels asked Jesus?

“What must I DO to be saved?”

We want to maintain control of things in our lives.

We want our efforts to be impressive to God.

We want Him to accept us for what we’ve accomplished.

God is too perfect for us to reach Him by our efforts.

That’s why He came down as one of us and died in our place.

That’s how much God loves you.

He loves you too much to let you waste your life in fruitless tasks just to fall short no matter how hard you try.

Baal’s prophets were even on the government payroll. That didn’t help them.

You don’t have any advantage over anyone else when it comes to reaching God.

Let God be God. You be you.

God has a plan for your life, even all those mistakes.

When you know for a fact you’re on the winning side you have a confidence that stands up against the odds.

Elijah was outnumbered 450 to one.

He taunted Baal’s guys because he knew they didn’t have a God, just a god.

The majority was wrong then. Yeah, don’t trust the majority now.

Being in the minority is hard.

The reason Christians meet regularly is so we can encourage each other to keep on keeping on.

Elijah had recently been involved in a resurrection of a boy from the dead. That’s how he knew his God was real.

This fire from the sky thing had been done before when Solomon dedicated the temple.

That resurrection bit was a new thing.

I got news for you. God is still in the resurrection business.

God can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh in a moment.

Keep praying for that loved one.

Don’t give up on them. God hasn’t.

Jesus died for them, too. His resurrection proved his power over death.

God told Elijah He was going to do something remarkable and He did.

The drought was about to end.

Life was going to begin again.

Take hold of that truth and don’t let it go.

I don’t know when God will turn your situation around, but He can.

Trust Him to be powerful enough to do it.

He can come through for you.

I’ll see you later.   Wade