Independence Versus Dependence

Fourth of July is a time in America in which people celebrate the independence of America. It celebrates when the young nation had broken away from England to become its own country. They did not want to be controlled by or depend upon any other nation in the world. This new country wanted to be self-sufficient, self-sustaining–independent.

Parents push their children for independence. Once a child gets past the initial baby stage, they strive to work with their child to gain independence. The child learns to hold the bottle himself. Later the child is taught how to walk without holding a hand. Learning to eat with a spoon and fork is taught.

Learning to be independent does not end as a person grows up. It continues as an adult. People have to learn how to work a job and manage their money so that they can live on their own. Most do not want to be dependent upon others to supply their needs and desires.

While it is good to be able to work on your own and provide for your own needs, it is not totally correct.

Just working a job for money, means you are dependent upon someone else. You are dependent upon the boss providing the job with a paycheck. You are dependent upon people purchasing the services of  your boss, so that he can provide the job and the paycheck. You are dependent upon the job that the people have that purchase the services that of your boss so that he can provide you a job and a paycheck. And the connection goes on indefinitely.

No one can really survive completely independent of anyone else. The person who lives alone deep in a forest is still dependent upon others to some degree. Most likely he has a gun or a frying pan that he did not make himself. He relied on someone else to make. He was dependent upon that other person.

Most people will not try to live alone in the forest and may say that this illustration does not apply to them. How many people drive a vehicle to work? Each person that does, is dependent upon those who made the vehicle. They are dependent upon those who made and maintain the roads.

The ultimate dependence a person can have is on God. While people can provide some things and can meet some of the needs of a person, only God can provide absolutely everything. He is the One who gives each person the ability to provide something for someone else. He is the One who provides the materials for anyone to make anything.

Think about it, without God there would be no earth or air. Without the earth or air, you could not exist. God provides the very air you breath and the ground you walk on.

God gave you life when you were born. He breathed life into the body you are now using on this earth.

While independence sounds good, it is not a reality. Everyone is dependent upon someone else. No person is truly independent of anyone else, whether they allow God into the picture of their life or not.

Believers know that they are supposed to be dependent upon God for everything. However, many do not live in that dependence. Many try to do things on their own, and only when it gets really ugly do they cry out to God for help and guidance.

How many times do you try to do something on your own, and then after you fail, you pray to God for His help and favor?

It is easy to think that you can do it. That is the way the world has trained you to think. And there is actually an element of truth in saying that you can do it. You can do all things. However, do not forget the reason why you can do all things. It is because God is with you.

In Christ Jesus you can do all things, because it is He who gave you the ability and power to do them. Again, you are dependent upon Jesus, it is not your own doing or power.

Rely on God to give you the strength, wisdom, and power to do what needs to be done. Do this for everything you do. Live this way each day.

Without God you really cannot do anything. As you rely upon Jesus for your forgiveness of sin and your salvation, so also rely on Him to provide you for your daily needs and guidance.

God is there for you and is not kicking you out to have you be independent. He is not raising you up to be independent. He wants you to be dependent upon Him.

As you celebrate, if you live in America, the independence day of America, remember that you, and America, are still dependent upon others. Keep your dependence upon God, the only One who has absolute power in this world.

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Isaiah 5:4 What More Could He Do?

What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Isaiah 5:4

God had built Israel up from a small group of people who were really nobody important. He provided everything that they needed. The nation was very strong and had abundant protection and food. There was absolutely nothing that they needed that God was not willing to provide.

Yet, the people turned away from Him and began to follow idols and other gods.

As God looked down upon Israel, all He could see was corruption and sin. There was no good fruit being produced in the land. This led the Lord to destroy Israel. He would bring destruction and death across the entire nation. The purpose of the destruction was to wake up the people and get their focus back on Him.

Israel was not the only nation that God had provided abundant blessings for, only to be rejected. Nations today are in the process of rejecting Jesus more and more each day, chasing their own sins. Many of these nations had followed God as a whole at some point in their history.

It is easy to look at the nations as a whole and see nothing but corruption and sin. Many try to blame the government or corporations for all of the sin being done. However, each of those nations are made up of individual people. It is the individuals who actually do the sin and promote the sin.

Now the question comes down to the individual. Jesus had died on the cross and rose from the dead for each and every person on this earth. He provided salvation for everyone who would accept it. If He can provide eternal life, the things needed on this earth are small and easy to meet.

Jesus said that you are not to worry about anything, that He would provide for all of your needs. Since God is providing for all of your needs, are you producing fruit for Him?

Is your life one of being a daily witness to this fallen world?

Or is it focused on pleasure and meeting personal needs?

What more can Jesus do for you, so that you will give Him your everything?

I pray today that you will know what Jesus has done for you; that you will know what God provides for you; that you will produce fruit for God; and that you will be His witness to everyone you meet.

God’s Protection And Favor

IMG_1037.JPGWe live in a double-wide manufactured home in the country. We have oak trees all around the house, several within just a few feet of the house. This gives you a slight picture of what our place is like.

This last weekend we had a large storm that rolled through the area. On Sunday evening, at about 7:30pm, we heard a large crashing sound and the house rumbled some. A couple of my boys suddenly noticed that there was a tree laying down on our porch outside.

I went out in the rain and looked at it. Along with that tree on the porch, there was another tree leaning up against the corner of the house. I immediately went back inside to see if there was any internal damage.

At the corner of the house where the tree hit, is a bathroom. Above the bathtub in the corner, the ceiling was partially caved in. Water was coming through in a solid stream. The amazing part in the water coming through, was that it was running straight into the tub and down the drain. This was the first protection of God in this terrible situation, along with that fact that no one was hurt at all.

With it raining hard, I knew that we could do nothing about it that evening. I just praised God that it was draining into the tub.

About one hour later, the power shut down on us. We had no lights and our water supply is from a well with a pump, causing no water available.

As this was happening in the great storm, we lost cellphone reception and all internet connection. We could not look up what was happening or if the power company even knew about the power outage. There was no way of knowing how widespread the outage was or when to expect power back on.

Since it was extremely dark in the house and there was nothing we could do, everyone went to bed around 9-10 pm. I have a family of eight children. All were home at the time this was happening.

Around 1:30 am, I was awoken with a very loud bang that rumbled the entire house. I jumped out of bed and began to head through the house to find out what had happened.

As I was going through by flashlight, the power was still off, I met one of my boys coming towards me with a flashlight, also trying to find out what had happened. I looked outside and could not see anything other than a large tree covering our porch.

I went back in to the bathroom and saw a large surprise…part of the ceiling was completely missing and one wall had a huge hole in it. I could see the sky with no problem through the bathroom.

Going back outside, I went around the porch and the fallen tree to see what had happened. The second tree that had been leaning on the house had fallen the rest of the way. It took out the wall behind the bathtub from floor to ceiling, along with a section of the roof.

The next blessing at this point, that God had blessed us with, was that it had stopped raining.

Four of my children helped me then to start putting a tarp over the hole and roof of the house.

While we were doing that my wife stayed with my youngest children and worked to calm them down. Two of my boys were sleeping in a room right next to the bathroom and so they heard and felt the shake really bad.

It took about 3 hours to get the tarp on the roof and over the missing wall. I knew the plastic that I used was not great, but knew it would be better than nothing. It would at least keep some of the rain out of the house.

At about 4:30am I was able to go back to bed. Since I normally get up around 5am, I was wide awake by about 6:30 and unable to sleep.

I got up and started doing my devotions and normal morning things. At about 7am someone drove up to our house. I did not recognize the vehicle so I went out to find out who it was. It was a friend from our church that had heard of our situation and showed up with a chainsaw ready to work at removing the trees.

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Immediately we set to work at cutting the tree branches down and moving them off the porch. At about 8am two more friends showed up to help. Several more called and said that they would be there at some point in the day. One of the friends that came, had come with two of his friends, who we did not know, to help out. Several people had a chainsaw. Our neighbor allowed us to borrow his tractor to move the parts of the tree to a burn pile area on our property.

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One lady showed up with food and water for everyone to eat. It was enough food and water to feed an army. This provided more than enough food for everyone working. This was the next blessing from God.

By around 2pm, we had both trees completely cut up and moved over to burn piles, the house had two tarps covering the hole in the roof and the wall completely, and the hole inside the house was patched over.

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The amazing thing in all of this was that the weather forecast the entire week was to be rain every day. God gave us the entire day with absolutely no rain at all. It was very beautiful weather to work in, not too hot, not too cold. God was pouring out His blessings on us in the midst of an extremely hard and dangerous situation.

God also blessed us with the fact that during the time of the cleanup, no one was injured in any way.

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Right now we are waiting on the insurance company to get an inspector come out to see what the damage was and how much they will pay. We don’t know how God will get all of this fixed, but we know that He is in control.

Not all of the people who helped us were members of the church that we go to, but they were believers in their own churches. This was a great example of how the family of God takes care of its members, regardless of denominational differences.

Along with this, throughout the entire situation, God helped me to remain calm and not get angry, as I normally would have. I had a peace that was supernatural and a strength that was only from God. God provided help and strength above what I had expected. Without His help and the help of all the friends, it would have taken us several days to get the trees cleared.

I want to encourage you, that no matter what you are going through God is right there by your side. He can give you the strength that you need to make it through your situation. God loves you and I and promised that He will take care of all of your needs. Trust Him today and give Him praise, even in the storms of life.

Psalm 146:3 Who Not To Trust

Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. Psalm 146:3

Trust in a person is something that most people say that they have a hard time doing, yet, do it all the time. People trust that the other person will stay on his side of the road while driving down the road. Trust that the cashier will ring up the products correctly. Trust that the electricity company will keep the power running correctly. Trust that the boss will provide the paycheck with the correct pay.

These things are normal day-to-day things that people trust in others.

There are higher levels of trust, that many people attempt to trust in other people. Those in government positions are trusted to make things better in a city, state, or nation. They are expected to get rid of all crime and bring joy and pleasure to life. They are expected to remove all fear of harm.

The psalmist states that you are not to put your trust in human beings. All trust is to be in God and Him alone.

At first this may sound like something crazy to even consider. Think about it, Jesus told Peter to step out of a boat and walk on water. Moses was to go up against Pharoah with no army. The three Hebrew men went into a hot furnace. These and many more instances were people being led by God to do something that did not make sense. Yet, in each case, God came through for them and provided the needed salvation for them.

God is there for you. The world may say that they have the solution to your problem, but it is only a temporary fix or a cover-up. Another human being cannot solve the problems in your life. No one can bring about the peace and life that you need. Do not place all your trust in the people of this world.

Trust in God. He is the only one who is fully in control of everything. He can meet every need you will ever have. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life of every person that will come to Him and put his trust in Him.

Who do you trust today?

Those in the world, who will fail you?

Or God?

I pray today that you will know the faithfulness of God; that you will trust in God alone; that you will listen to what God says; and that you will point others to God for trust in their situations in life.

Psalm 104:27-28 Getting Your Food

All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. Psalm 104:27-28

One thing that every creature and human cannot live without is food. Housing is good to have, but not absolutely necessary; take a look at all the homeless people surviving. Clothing helps in many different ways, but, again, it not absolutely necessary to stay alive.

Every person and animal can go without food for a time, but eventually needs it to survive. It is what gives the body nourishment to survive and continue to grow. It is what sustains the body.

In this psalm the author writes that every creature on the earth looks to God for food. When they are given that food, they have to gather it up, and then they are also satisfied.

Humans tend to look at things differently. Many want God to hand them their food or other necessary things, but are unwilling to work at gathering up what is needed. Some people are out of a job, but refuse to work a menial job that is presented to them, because it is “below” them.

Others do gather up the food that God gives them, but then complain about it. They want the food from Egypt, what someone else has. Rather than be satisfied, they complain about what they do not have or were not given.

Look at the creatures of this earth and see how they live their lives on this earth. They are grateful to God for the things that they do have. Their focus is on God supplying their needs, rather than they themselves.

God has many different ways to meet your every need. If He can supply the food for the animals of the field, will He not supply food for you?

You are worth more than many sparrows to God. Never forget that God sent Jesus to die for  you. He will provide food for you as He provides food for the animals. If He will provide the food, He will also provide for your every other need as well. Trust Him today.

I pray today that you will see God’s provision in your life; that you will be satisfied with what God provides you; that you will trust God for all of your needs; and that you will gather up what God gives you.

Waiting For The Best

Back in 2014, I was laid off from a very well paying job that I had been at for several years. It was devastating to lose the job and was unsure of what to do next. I had lots of experience in many different areas, but was not great at any of them.

Several other challenges were also present in the process of searching for a new job. One was my age, I am not exactly a young person any more. Another was that I have a large family. At the time I had seven children, since then I have been blessed to have eight total…so far.

With the large family and not great skills, it made it very challenging to find a job that would provide for my family. My wife is unable to work, since we homeschool our children. I knocked on many doors, had several interviews, but will still coming up with no job at all. No one was willing to hire me for various reasons, some of which I knew, many of which I had no clue as to why they would not hire me.

Prior to all of this happening, I have worked with children at various levels and was told that I was good with them. I have also been told that I should be a teacher multiple times. I do love to work with children and I also love to teach people.

Around 2003 I did look into becoming a teacher, but did not have the required degree at the time. That option was not open to me at that time. Since then I did finish out my schooling and received a bachelor’s degree.

A couple of months after being laid off, a friend of mine called me up saying he heard I was searching for a job. He worked at the district level of a local school district. He told me he wanted me to be a teacher in his school district. He told me to get hired as a substitute and then how to proceed to get my alternate certification as a teacher.

After praying about it, I felt that was what God wanted me to do. I was immediately hired as a substitute teacher for the district. Each day I would sub in different schools for different teachers of all grades. The more I did it, the more I enjoyed working with the children. The challenge was that the pay was still very low, making it difficult to support my family’s needs. God was faithful during this time to meet all of those needs in His way.

About 5 months later, one of the schools (which by God’s favor was my favorite), asked me to become their permanent substitute teacher. It did raise the pay some and provided very secure paychecks. The biggest challenge was that when there was no school, there was no pay either.

Last year, I was able to take the certification tests for core subjects and pass them. This was after a lot of studying and tears, remember I am no longer a young man.

Once I passed those tests, I started to apply for a teaching job. I had several interviews, but nothing would open up. I was not really positive that I wanted to teach any of these subjects, especially with the pressure on teachers to get the children to succeed. Yet, that was all I could see open before me and God had not pointed me in any other direction.

My wife and I often prayed if maybe I was supposed to go down another road, but God kept all other doors closed. I did not have a peace about anything else. And nothing else really presented itself. During this time, I often questioned myself as to whether I had heard from God clearly or not, but I know that I did and was unable to turn to a different path.

This school year presented a new path for me in the school I was at. About three weeks into the school year, I was placed in a Theatre classroom and told I would do all the teaching. I was given the lesson plans on what to teach and how to teach it.

I was game to do it, because I am willing to try anything. But I had no real clue as to how to teach theater. I had been in many plays (years ago), but had never taken or given a drama class at all. I questioned on what and how to do it.

Two weeks into it, the principle asked me if I was certified to teach theater. I told her I was not. She said I needed to be, because several parent’s liked what I was doing and wanted me as the permanent teacher. The other teacher was being removed. She then told me I was to do all the grading, lesson planning, parent-teacher conferences and anything else needed.

I was actually having fun working with the students. It was scary to start lesson planning because I still did not really know what I was doing. Over the time I have learned a lot about lesson planning and teaching theater. I am still learning, but I have having fun at it.

I am also able to be a witness for God to the students in the school. One of the things that I really enjoy being able to do is control what plays are being done. I can have them do plays that are in line with the ways of God.

I began to work on getting certified in theater. It was a very tough test. There were a lot of things I had to know that I had never even heard of before. I took the test in December, 2016 and failed by several points. I retook the test in Feb of this year and was able to pass it.

Almost immediately after passing the Theatre Teacher Certification Test I was hired as the full teacher for the class. I am still learning a lot in how to teach the students, but I am enjoying it.

One of the things that I realized in teaching theater is that I do not have to be concerned about the students having to pass the STAAR test. That is a Texas test to determine if the students are learning or not. It is a rigorous test that challenges every teacher with students who have to take it. This test is only for the core subjects classes.

Even though it took several years to get to where I now am, I am very glad that I trusted God. I had originally thought I would be teaching a core subject. God had other plans. He gave me something that was better.

Not only do I love acting, I have a son who is very active in acting, even as an adult. It made a great connection with my son in doing this.

God has blessed my family and myself in this field.

I want to encourage everyone to trust God’s plan for your life. Wait on Him for His blessing and walk the path He has for you. It will be worth it.

There were times I was scared and questioned God, but in the end it was worth it. God provided all along the way in miraculous ways. It will be worth it for you also.

Psalm 73:2-3 Wanting What Others Have

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Psalm 73:2-3

One thing that is very difficult for many people is watching others prosper and succeed. This becomes especially true when the method of prosperity is done in a very bad way.

The majority in the world do not think anything of being envious of someone else. It is looked as part of the human nature to desire and really want what someone else has. Commercials are geared to bring out that envy in a person. They strive to get a person to want something someone else has so bad that they will do anything they can to get it.

As believers, the view should be different. Asaph, the writer of this psalm, writes that he almost slipped in envy. Envy is another word for coveting, which God said that His people were not to ever do.

There are times when a believer can look at someone in the world and be envious of what that person has or can do. Watching someone go on vacations around the world, drive fancy cars, eat out at fancy restaurants, and have big bank accounts can bring about envy in a person. Believers often struggle with this, when the person is very prosperous with sinful activities. Many will question God as to why that happens.

Some in the church will also be filled with envy for another person’s abilities or position in the church.

You should look at what God has given you in Jesus Christ. You have life for all eternity. The world may have all the fancy cars and houses with big bank accounts, but they will never have the peace and life that Jesus provides. They only have today and tomorrow will be death for them for eternity.

Do not look at their wealth and desire it. Do not allow your feet to slip into the sin of envy. Look at God and the wealth of life that He provides. God provides more blessings than anything in this world can ever provide.

What do you desire today?

More of God?

Or more of this world?

I pray today that you will see all that God has given you; that you will not desire the things of this world; that you will be a witness of what Jesus has given; and that you will know the blessings of God.