Saved By Grace

Saved By Grace

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Worry........ what is it good for?........ Absolutely nuthin.
That almost sounds like a song from 1969.

Worrying about anything that cannot be changed is a recipe for failure. Worry is assuming that something is going to turn out badly. The world presents plenty of opportunities to be anxious: jobs, kids, finances, health, terrorism, climate change, and an assortment of other things. Worry or fear is the opposite of "Faith in God". There are plenty of Scriptures about "Worry-Fear-Anxiety" and how to deal with WFA.

Philippians 4:4-8
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

When we start to think about God, our brains are swamped with "other things", often things we want such as: A meeting to go well, the new car we’ve been shopping for, vacation plans to fall into place, the new smartphone that’s coming out, the big event you've planned for Saturday. 

It’s not that these things are bad in and of themselves. But they ‘choke the word’ in us. Jesus is the Word. The Word lives in and through us, but when stuff distracts us, when the thorns get our first attention, Jesus gets shoved to the back of our minds and we’re not fruitful. We’re no longer living a life that attracts the curious "outsider" toward the Jesus in us because He’s not evident outwardly. The Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control are replaced by worry, greed, frustration, confusion, impatience, anger, envy and exhaustion.

Luke 12: 22-31 22
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 

25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you-you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

These are not things that I have mastered, but things that I'm working on.
Much Love, Dennis

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Jesus House

Debbie and Max Carlisle along with Cheri and I managed the junior high youth program at our church for many years. More accurately, Debbie and Cheri did most of the preparation and teaching while Max and I rode shotgun over the rambunctious boys. We made several trips to Branson, Six Flags, Frontier City and other destinations. The Branson trips were in conjunction with an annual Christian youth rally. Frontier City was a day for young Christians and they called it "St.Youts Day". I was told the name came from a line in the movie (My Cousin Vinny), I've never checked on the accuracy of that.

On one occasion we took a group to Oklahoma City. Debbie had scheduled for about three hours of helping at the Jesus house, then lunch and laser tag. None of us had ever volunteered at the Jesus house, so we didn't know what to expect. We took our junior high group of about 20 and headed for OKC. We were escorted to a warehouse that contained lots of shelves, many large containers and a huge dumpster for trash. At one end of the building was a huge pile of  DONATIONS. I use that term loosely.

This was about 25% of the original pile.
Our job was to sort through the pile and place the DONATIONS in the correct bin, shelf, or dumpster. We should have all been wearing gloves because the DONATIONS sometimes contained leftover food, mice, and other unidentifiable items. The first thing that everybody noticed was the odor. Not wanting to set a bad example, our sponsors waded in first and encouraged the Youts to follow suit. I would estimate that 30% of the DONATIONS ended up in the trash dumpster. Some people will abuse anything. Plastic plates with silverware and dried on food seemed to be a popular donation. I remember seeing a couple of lingerie items and many articles of clothing that were put into a bin marked rags. Occasionally someone would scream after disturbing a mouse. We all learned from that experience and I admire those kids for sticking with it as long as they did. I don't think we made it the entire three hours, but we pretty much cleaned up the pile that was on the floor.

I look back at that trip with a different perspective towards those who live their lives helping at the Jesus House. They definitely have a calling to help those in need. I know they are laying up for themselves treasurers in heaven.

Fortunately, we were able to wash up pretty good and eat lunch.

Laser tag was a blast.
Much Love, Dennis 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Max Lucado

Most of you know that I participate in the Fairview High School chapter of the Fellowship of Christian athletes. Being involved with this group of young people is very rewarding for me and I really think that it is the place that God wants me in right now.
I read a lot of things written by Max Lucado. This is something that I read many years ago but I remember it well because of the message it contained.

Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment.  If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?”

The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. 

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”

“Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.

“You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”

The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Yours son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”

The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”

The old man was right. We only have a fragment. Life’s mishaps and horrors are only a page out of a grand book. We must be slow about drawing conclusions. We must reserve judgment on life’s storms until we know the whole story.

I don’t know where the woodcutter learned his patience. Perhaps from another woodcutter in Galilee. For it was the Carpenter who said it best:

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

He should know. He is the author of our story. And he has already written the final chapter.

1.  Ecclesiastes 7:8   Better is the end of a thing than the beginning of it, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

2.  Romans 12:12   Better is the end of a thing than the beginning of it, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

3.  Matthew 6:34   So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.

I know this is longer than most of my posts, but I couldn't resist "a blast from the past". Monty Python is a little bit edgy at times, but they've been making me laugh for many years. I hope you enjoy this.

Much love, Dennis

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rooster Puzzle

A little silver-haired lady calls her neighbor and says, "Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can't figure out how to get started." 

Her neighbor asks, "What is it supposed to be when it's finished?" 

The little silver haired lady says, "According to the picture on the box, it's a rooster." 

Her neighbor decides to go over and help with the puzzle. 

She lets him in and shows him where she has the puzzle spread all over the table. 

He studies the pieces for a moment, then looks at the box, then turns to her and says, 

"First of all, no matter what we do, we're not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a rooster." 

He takes her hand and says, "Secondly, I want you to relax. Let's have a nice cup of tea, and then," he said with a deep sigh ............ 

(scroll down) 

"Let's put all the Corn Flakes back in the box."
Much Love, Dennis