Abundance

Christmas has come and gone; we are in the final week of 2016. We’ve experienced an abundance of gifts, food, and family gatherings. The minds of many are held captive as they enjoy playing with their new and cool gifts. Think about a cool gift you received 5 years ago. Does it still capture your attention? Has something newer taken its place?

Think about relationships. That first kiss, or the perfect mate that captured your heart. Years later do we feel the same way? I can remember the joy of meeting Jesus. My mind was like a sponge. I wanted to learn more about Jesus so I spent hours reading the Bible, attending various Bible study classes. I remember listening to various popular and gifted Christian authors and speakers as I drove from place to place.

But then life happens. Things get in the way of the ‘honeymoon’ phase of Christianity. And eventually, the joy that was once there is dulled by things that are not important. Complacency has taken root. In chapters 2 & 3 of the book of Revelation, the Apostle Paul writes letters to 7 churches. The letter to the church at Ephesus address this complacency:

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Rev 2:4, NIV

So, what happened? I believe it is possible for Christians to lose the joy they once had because that is Satan’s goal.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 NASB

Jesus want believers to experience an abundant life, yet Satan wants to rob that from us. Satan does this by slowly attacking us in various ways. I recently read an opinion article on Chrisma News titled “8 Signs You Are Under Spiritual Attack.  The number 1 sign is a lack of spiritual passion.

“The enemy comes to steal your tenacity for the things of God. Suddenly your prayer life seems stalled. Your commitment is tested and you can’t seem to push though. You feel as though you are just going through the motions.”

While reading that article, I thought about the early Christians in Ephesus who were characterized as having lost their first love. Acts 19 tells a powerful story about the spiritual life and growth in Ephesus. Real revival was happening as the Apostle Paul ministered there. People were being saved, they were being baptized in the Holy Spirit, Paul’s preaching reached thousands, supernatural miracles were happening. The dramatic change Ephesus experienced due to the spread of Christianity impacted the businesses related to idol worship. And Satan did not like that at all.

In a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus we read how the church flourished in spite of the stronghold Satan had over the community through idol worship in the Temple of Artemis (also known as the Temple of Diana). Paul offers two prayers of encouragement for Christians in Eph 1:17-19 and Eph 3:16-19. And at the end of the letter, Paul encouraged Christians to remain strong by putting on the full Armour of God (Eph 6:10-17).

Is it possible for Christians to keep spiritual complacency out of our lives? I think it is more than possible. It will take work – and it will be worth it. What must we do to avoid spiritual complacency? I believe we must develop our spiritual muscles by:.

  • Staying Hungry for God
  • Going Deeper with God
  • Getting Revelation from God
  • Living in the Overflow

Come back to find out how we do this?

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.

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The Gift

George Bailey is a man who is dissatisfied with his life and contemplates suicide by jumping off a bridge on Christmas Eve in 1943. If you ever seen “It’s A Wonderful Life”, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, you know the story line of this Christmas classic. George encounters a guardian angel, Clarence, who grants George’s wish that he had never been born. George returns to Bedford Falls where no one recognizes him. After seeing how different his home town would be without George’s influence, he returns to the bridge where Clearance explains to George that he wanted more when he had already been given the greatest gift of all: the gift of life.

Christmas is that magical time of the year filled with colorful lights, last-minute shopping, fantastic food and fun family gatherings. Routine work comes to a grinding halt for many. Children are excited that Santa Claus will visit their homes on Christmas eve and leave gifts for them. Adults also gather with their family and friends to exchange gifts.

In my previous blog, The Visitor, I explained how God gave us His Son, Jesus, as a demonstration of His love for mankind. The Bible is clear on why Jesus came.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). And Jesus came to give believers an abundant life. (John 10:10).

Lost and Found

Early in our RVing travels, Carol and I were returning from Jacksonville, North Carolina to our RV in Maysville, a short trip of less than 16 miles. We were in an unfamiliar part of Jacksonville so I trusted our GPS to lead us to “Home”. After driving for about 20 miles, I came to the town of Richlands, NC and realized that I was lost. I reprogrammed the GPS for our correct ‘Home’ address. We drove about 50 miles instead of the normal 16 miles.

So what happened? I placed my trust and faith in a device that led us astray. This is exactly what happened to me in my early life before I met Jesus in 1972. As a young adult, I had placed my trust and faith in the world and was led astray. I knew of Jesus, but I did not know Him personally.

I consider myself a ‘good person’… won’t that be enough?

  • Romans 3:23 NIV  – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
  • Romans 3:10 NIV  – As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not one;
  • Romans 5:12 NIV  – Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

Is sin really THAT big of a deal? If it is… what HOPE is there?

  • Romans 6:23 NIV  – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

After what I’ve done to grieve God… HOW could He willingly die in my place?

  • Romans 5:8 NIV  – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

HOW can I be saved?

  • Romans 10:9-10 NIV  – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Did God HEAR me? Did He accept me?

  • Romans 10:13 NIV  – For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

What do I do now?

  • Romans 10:17 NIV  – Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Do you know Jesus personally, as a real person? Or do you know of Him? You might wonder how it is possible to know Jesus personally if He is not physically next to you where you can reach out and touch Him. I wondered that as well. Once I accepted Jesus after confessing my sinful life, He delivered a gift to me that is still the most cherished gift I could have ever received. Jesus gave me the gift of the Holy Spirit to reside with me and in me.

“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth [or Holy Spirit]. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
John 14:15-17, NIV

Are you ready to meet Jesus? Follow the instructions of Romans 10:9-10:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

To know Jesus is to know God. The Bible is filled with  promises for all believers in Christ. Here are just a few of my favorites.

  1. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19, NIV
  2. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9, NIV
  3. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Cor 10:13, NIV
  4. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 15:57, NIV
  5. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28, NIV
  6. Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Act 2:38, NIV
  7. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28, NIV

And if that is not enough, Jesus calls us His friend:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:13-15, NIV

It is my hope and prayer that you know Jesus. Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.

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Christmas Fluff

Today, we have a guest post. Justin is a friend of mine from way back – almost 20 years. Facebook is what keeps us connected today. I trust you find his message as appropriate for the season as I did.


“Set aside all the “fluff” on Christmas, get to real thing”
Justin Holloway

For the past several years I have not enjoyed holidays much. Last year, even putting up a tree and decorations was only in my hopes of “feeling” some type of Christmas spirit within me. I could give you a list of all the reasons I have felt this way for so very long, but I have come to the conclusion it is because of the simple word “expectations”. I could easily add the phrase “current circumstances”.

And, this day as I pen these words, the same feelings resonate within me. Last year and the year prior, I told myself “Next year will be better; just you wait and see!” NOPE. This year “circumstantially” has by far been worse. And, my expectations have been reduced to “zero”.

It begs the question I must ask myself – “What is the real purpose for celebrating Christmas?”

Is it the time spent with family aiming to replicate a Norman Rockwell painting version of yesteryear? Is it the expectant spirit of hoping to celebrate days gone by with an even bigger boom than ever before? Is it the hope of celebrating the blessings of the year that have far exceeded any other?

Well, if the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, the reality for most of is “How is that working for you?” Most likely, it is not.

So I am left to conclude for me, if not all of us, it is time to refocus! And, for me, specifically, to remember Christmas has nothing to do with me or even the ones I love on this planet. It truly is a Holy Day. The time spent with family and friends in harmonious relationships is merely an added bonus. And what about your current circumstances? For most of us there are always reasons for rejoicing and times of trial running concurrently . It is called “living in the real world”.

So, what about Jesus; the Christ child? Well, first I can clearly say the Bible does not command we celebrate the birth of Christ on this given day we call Christmas. Yet, I can also tell you it should be a reason for celebration for all Christians every day of the year. I do like the special emphasis placed on Christmas Day based on its original intent.

Obviously, commercialism and the Old Saint Nick mentality has made this day a dual celebration as secular and Christian beliefs are fused together. Santa Claus is fun and I enjoy gift giving more than anything, especially when my children were young and after the arrival of six perfect grandchildren. I find nothing wrong with this merging of tradition for, symbolically, Christ was the greatest gift we have ever received.

Often times, the expectations, especially for young married couples with children to share this holiday with in laws and outlaws has added to this “repurposing”of what a Christmas holiday should be. There is always the easily offended mother or mother-in-law who wants their kids and grandkids with them for this significant day. The stress added to the holiday is enough to drive anyone crazy. I find it comical that most Dads merely care about the football games and good grub instead.

So, you see, the purpose of holidays, especially Christmas, gets so convoluted. Watered down. Made less than intended.

I would suggest to any and all out there, including myself. “Forget about your circumstances. Forget about your personal heartaches for a moment. Forget about where your married children are spending Christmas and all the reasons you are entitled to have them. Focus on the miracle of the birth of Jesus! Focus on the eternal love of our Heavenly Daddy. “

Thanks be to God for the gift of the Savior who has made a way for each of us to be in right relationship with a Holy, merciful God. Thanks be to God for His sustaining presence through each and every circumstance we face in this life. Exalt our heavenly Father for the expectancy of hope that causes us to walk in peace each moment as we face the trials and suffering of this life. Praise be to God for the joy that is ours in Him alone!

All the rest is “fluff”. Let us join around the Christmas table this year, whether with family or friends, or even if you happen to be alone, and mediate on the beauty of Christmas. Emmanuel; God with us. This, my friends, is THE reason for celebration!

Sacred Lives Foundation is a non-profit organization  founded by Justin after his grandson Brady was born in 2008 at 22 1/2 weeks weighing 18 ounces. They distribute coffee table size books to hospitals and other places where there message of hope and encouragement will help others. Please take a moment to look at their website.


Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.

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The Visitor

There is a knock at the door. I wonder who that could be. Perhaps my family is here to visit for a spell. Maybe it is a delivery service bringing that package I ordered. Or perhaps it is a neighbor or a stranger in distress needing my help.  I may peer through the side window to catch a glimpse of this visitor, but until I open the door and greet the visitor, I have no idea why someone is visiting me.

I love the Christmas story that has been told in many households through the year. The story about the birth of Jesus. The children gather around to hear this story. Soon they will be telling the story to their children and grandchildren.

It began with Zechariah receiving a visit from Gabriel (Luke 1:5-22). God was about to change the world in a dramatic way. Zechariah and Elizabeth along with Mary and Joseph would be a part of this transformation.

Then Gabriel visited Mary (Luke 1:26-38) announcing that she would soon receive a special gift from God – a gift that would change the world in a way that no one could imagine.

I am sure the inn keeper was not thrilled to hear a strong knock on his door after he had closed for the evening. Most likely, he also wondered who would be visiting at such a late hour, especially since there was no room at the inn. Visitors from all over have taken all available rooms. When he opened the door, his heart was filled with compassion and told the young couple, they could spend the night out back where the animals slept. And that is where Jesus began His visit. A visit that changed the world indeed.

So why did Jesus visit?

Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). And Jesus came to give believers an abundant life. (John 10:10). The Apostle John provides a simple explanation:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John 3:16-21, NIV)

God had been silent for 400 years. I am sure many felt God just gave up on His people and the world. Sin came into the world at the very beginning. The Old Testament is rich in history describing how God moved through out the land working to restore mankind’s the relationship between Him. Nothing worked. It almost seemed as if God failed. No, God did not fail; sin had such deep roots that the people were not willing to receive salvation and restoration from God.

All that changed when Jesus was born on the starry night.  The heavenly angels announced the beginning of a visitation from God Himself (Philippians 2:6-7). Jesus came to deliver freedom to all and to teach the world how to be free from the bondage of sin.

To be continued…

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Silence

Tales From the WagginMaster has been silent since April 2016. I guess you could say I’ve been in a funk. Not necessarily in a state of depression, but just plain old ho hum funk.

The other day, my youngest daughter ask me why I had not posted in a while. I used the lame excuse, “no topic”.  She replied, “Well, just write about what God is teaching you. That got the gears in motion. After giving her comment some serious thought, I’ve decided it is time to go public with what God has been teaching me. Some may see that as a means of becoming vulnerable. I see this as a means of sharing good news. But first, I must digress and fill in the gap between April 2016 and now.

In my previous post, I reported that I hit the ground running. I can say that I did not stop until mid October when I began to wind down my projects and prepare for our journey to West Virginia for the winter. More on that in a bit. In Manchester, TN I worked as the park’s Handyman. That suited me well since I love to work on projects, large and small. I had full control of my time meaning that I did not have set hours. I did my best to get my weekly activities completed in 4 days so I could enjoy a three-day weekend with Carol.

Carol had an accident in May where Cody (our beloved Golden Retrieve) unintentionally pulled her off the landing at our RV. She fell about 3 feet onto our concrete patio and fractured her right wrist and was bruised pretty badly. (I’ll spare you the photos.) She was out of work for about a week but bounced back just fine.

I worked after-hours on a few projects so I would not disrupt customer activities in the registration office or store. Largest project was a complete renovation of a one bedroom apartment above registration. I had great helpers along the way who made my work go quickly.

About mid summer, we began searching for a winter position. We found several spots and talked to many park managers only to find nothing felt right. In God’s time, He led is to a conversation with Fox Fire KOA in Milton, WV. Carol and I agreed this was the place for us so we began making preparations for relocation. We had to leave Manchester a week earlier than planned but that also worked out well. We did make a commitment to return to Manchester, TN for our summer 2017 spot and are looking forward to returning.

img_0294-2Before we left Manchester, TN. Cody (our Golden Retriever of 12 years) developed congestive heart failure. On Wednesday,October 5th we took Cody to the vet for the last time. He was met at the rainbow bridge by many of our former fur babies. His final resting spot is on the property of Manchester KOA where the owner and his son dug Cody’s grave while we were at the vet.

img_0303A couple of weeks later, Carol and I visited PAWS of Murfreesboro and fell in love with Chessa. She is German Shorthaired Pointer mix and a puppy. Yes, a puppy. She is now about 7 months and is supper smart. She is house broken, loves her crate, and loves daily walks and play time with me. It has taken about 6 weeks for MeiLing (our Chinese Crested) and Chessa to figure out each other.

We still miss Cody dearly but know he is no longer suffering as he had been. There will always be room in our hearts and home for fur babies.

After a short 400 mile drive, we arrived at Fox Fire KOA in Milton, WV the week before Halloween weekend. We stayed in this park in the spring when we traveled from Shenandoah Valley KOA in Virginia to Manchester KOA. It did not take us long to get settled and into a work groove. Carol and I work Thursday-Saturday from 9-6 and every other Sunday from 1-6. We leave here at the end of March and plan to visit the Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, KY on our way back to Manchester.

Ever since our work time in Amarillo, TX (winter 2014/2015), God has led us a great worship spots. In Amarillo, it was St. Stephen Church. In Virginia, it was Grace Covenant Church. In Manchester, it was Christian Life Church. And here in West Virginia, it is New Life Church. Plus Carol and I have enjoyed participating Bible Study Fellowship’s study of Revelation and The Gospel of John. I am also working through some online Bible study courses from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Now, what has God been teaching me? For that you will need to check back for the next post. If you want a clue, take some time to meditate on this passage of scripture.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)

Think about why God sent His Son, Jesus, to the world.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.

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