SOUP OR SALAD

Three friends, whose names I have changed to protect the guiltless and slightly goofy, and myself visited our local IHOP after church one Sunday evening. When our server arrived to take our order we were engaged in conversation about the soon coming of the Lord and the changes we are experiencing here in the States.

Bob’s choice was from the dinner menu. Making note, the server asked him if he preferred the soup or salad with his meal.

“No, thank you,” Bob replied, “that’s a lot of food already.”

“That’s fine, but it comes with the meal if you want it.” The friendly young man was making sure Bob understood there would be no extra charge.

His mother, Naomi, helped talk him into it, “You may as well get it, Bob. If you don’t eat it here you can take it with you and have it later at home.” Bob’s girlfriend Mary seconded the motion.

“Okay, then,” Bob gave in, “I’ll take it.”

“Soup or salad?” The server dared not speculate which it might be.

“Yes.”

Pause for a moment of silence and join four out of five people in this scene who are now looking at Bob through confused expressions, but saying not a word. He doesn’t notice a thing because he’s looking downward across the table as he gathers our menus to return to the server.

“Okay, so you want the soup or salad?” the server tried again.

“I said, ‘yes’, I’ll take it.” Aren’t you paying attention?

“Right, soup or salad?”

Still preoccupied, Bob looks up at the server determined to get through to him, “I’ve already told you to bring it.”

A hushed, but desperate cry for help was evident in the server’s eyes as he looked around the table at the rest of us. “Please, help him understand. I’m a good server. I need a good tip. Pushing him to make a choice isn’t making him happy. Help me.” Yep, I believe all three of us heard the poor guy’s silent plea, the final SOS resounding long and slow in desperation.

Bob obviously noticed the silence and looked up at the rest of us.

Though I instructed my matter-of-fact poker face to expose itself, sheer bewilderment was stronger and pushed out my “are-you-kidding-me?” expression.  After all, this was no dummy here. Bob is intelligent and usually right on top of things, the kind who often catches things others miss. So while I did manage to subdue laughter with a hand over my mouth, I couldn’t help staring at him baffled.

Naomi and Mary could not conceal the fact that they were just as perplexed as I, but their expressions were accompanied by chuckles and giggles they were no longer able to contain. They tried to assist, in unison asking, “Do you want the soup or salad?”

Bob had enough. Frustration demanded, “I said ‘yes, I do,’ so why is everyone giving me such a hard time about a salad?”

Finally Mary was able to dissolve the blockage. “You have to tell him which one. Which one do you want, the soup or the salad?”

The save of a lifetime. Immediately composed, Bob looked nonchalantly up at the server as though the previous minute or two had never taken place. “I’ll have the salad, please, with ranch dressing,” he offered calmly as he handed the menus to the young man.

Anxious to get away from our table, the server expressed his thanks and announced that the salads would be right out. He turned and headed for the kitchen where I’m certain he wiped the sweat from his brow. With him out of earshot, Bob’s exasperation returned.

“I feel like such an idiot,” he confessed as his hands formed a plate sized circle in the air to illustrate. “I thought the whole time he was asking me if I wanted the super salad!”

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

23 Let the person who has ears listen!”
24 He (Jesus) went on to say, “Pay attention to what you’re listening to! Knowledge will be measured out to you by the measure of attention you give. This is the way knowledge increases. Mark 4:23,24 GOD’S WORD Translation

All of us make a lot of mistakes. If someone doesn’t make any mistakes when he speaks, he would be perfect. He would be able to control everything he does. James 3:2 GOD’S WORD Translation

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.   1 Corinthians 14:33

Till next time,

June

Improv Gone Bad

Though I can’t remember why, my young friend Bobby Reynolds and I decided to act out the often told joke Forrest Gump Goes to Heaven at church one evening. A spur of the moment idea with no rehearsal, but we were both familiar with the joke and both a little on the hammy side (Bobby more so than I) so we knew it would be fine.

Young, handsome, and never without a quick-witted response, Bobby played Forrest and I portrayed the angelic host at the pearly gates. “Fine” sounded like this:

“My name’s Forrest, Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.”

“Well, hello Forrest Gump. Welcome,” I looked for his name on my imaginary list. “Ah, here you are. Says here that before I can let you into heaven you have to pass a test.”

“Didn’t know nothing about no test.”

Responding to the concern on Bobby’s face, I continue. “Oh, don’t worry. It’s just three simple questions for you to answer. I’m sure you’ll pass with flying colors. Ready?”

“Except colors don’t really fly. Mama always said stay ready for anything, so ready, set, go.”

“Okay then, the first question is, how many days of the week begin with the letter T?

Bobby – oops, I mean Forrest – tilted his head upward, eyes squinted, and rubbed his chin. “Hmm…days of the week that begin with T…hmm.” A huge smile brightened his face, “I’ve got it! Two. The answer is two.”

“Two. That’s corr–”

“Today and Tomorrow,” he quickly interjected with no doubt in his tone.

“Today and Tomorrow? Well, that’s not exactly…oh never mind, let’s just stick with ‘two’,” I said, shaking my head. “After all, I didn’t ask you to name them, just count them. Moving on to the next question.”

Forrest nervously rubbed his hands together and awaited his next question, which I read from the invisible paper on my invisible clip board. “All right, Forrest, now this one is a bit tougher. How many seconds are in a year?”

Seeing his distress, I reassured him, “Just take your time and think about it. We’re not in any hurry here.”

So he did. He paced and mumbled and worked imaginary math problems in the air with his finger. Then he popped his forehead with his hand as though reminding himself he could have a V-8®. “I know the answer. This was a tough question, but I have figured it out in my head. There are twelve seconds in a year.”

Staying in character despite wanting to laugh at the expression on his face, I asked in bewilderment, “Twelve? How on earth did you conclude there are twelve seconds in a year?”

“We’re not on earth, sir. This is Heaven.”

Oh great, I walked into that one. Okay, I’ll play along. “I beg your pardon, Forrest Gump who people call Forrest Gump. Let me rephrase the question. How in Heaven did you conclude that there are only twelve seconds in a year?”

It was becoming more difficult not to snicker along with the congregation as so matter-of-factly Forrest replied, holding up one finger at a time so we could count along, “January second, February second, March second–”

“Enough!” I grabbed his hand before finger number four could release itself from the fist.

“Maybe I need to be more specific when I ask these questions. However, I am going to give you credit for that since I was not specific and your answer is – well, it isn’t wrong. But now Forrest, it is very important that you get this last question right, and it is the most difficult of the three. So be very careful and remember, you can take all the time you need.”

“Okay, sir.”

“For the right of passage through these great pearly gates into the majestic wonder of Heaven…” I asked as though I were auditioning to host a game show, “tell me, Forrest, what is God’s first name?”

Without hesitation Forrest blurts out, “Oh, that’s easy – Howard,” he rocked heel to toe in triumph.

The bewilderment on my face was not part of the act. “Howard? Howard? What are you talking about, ‘Howard’?”

“That’s His name, Howard.”

It’s not Howard, it’s Andy!”

“Andy?” He was not willing to accept that answer.

Unbeknownst to the people occupying the pews, Forrest and the angel left the building at that moment. Bobby and June now stood before them. I’m sure they were all thinking what great actors we were as our confused tones were now loud and genuine. The debate continued with neither of us willing to budge.

“Andy? Are we telling the same joke, here?” He was as muddled as I.

Uh-oh. The people figured it out. Amidst the hilarity we heard a few call out, “Well? Which is it? Do we call Him Howard or Andy?” “Yeah,” another inquired, “does Forrest get to go to Heaven or not?”

I directed my response to Bobby’s question, “Yes, we have to be telling the same joke. You just don’t know the punch line.”

“Yes, I do,” he argued, “it’s Howard. Andy? Where does that come from?”

Time for a song. I burst into the much-loved hymn, “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me…”

Laughing so hard he had to brace himself on the dais hand rail, Bobby was determined to have the last word, “Oh! I get it.” He composed himself in order to stand his ground, looked me in the face, and assured me I was wrong. Calmly, but firmly, he explained.

“The correct answer is Howard. And not because of some song, but because the Bible says so. Our Father who art in heaven, Howard be thy name.”

Touché Forrest, touché.

I will bow down [in worship] toward Your holy temple And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word together with Your name. Psalm 138:2 AMP

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6 KJV

Robert “Bobby” Reynolds, I am blessed to know you. Thank you for your dedication and service to God, country, family, and friends.

Till next time,

June

 

 

Seven Principles of God to Make Your Dreams Come True, Part 4

It’s been too long since Part 3, so let’s bring everybody back up to speed. The entire purpose of this post is to point out that God created everyone for success. He plants a desire in our heart, a dream to pursue, then He helps us bring it to pass.

The key word there is “helps” – He doesn’t do it for us, He does it with us. We have to do our part. My intent is to give you a starting point with seven Biblical principles that must be in play if you are indeed going to see your dreams come true.

As said before, there is much to learn and practice about each of these seven principles, but this post provides you a great starting place. The fundamentals are here, and actually if you took to heart just what you’ve read in this series and put it into practice, it would be enough. But the Bible has so much to say about each of them that I cannot possibly include it all. Continue to seek God, learn all you can and apply what you learn. Then you will remain enthused and hopeful. Your faith will abound more and more.

We have addressed five of the seven principles:

  1. Dream. Your dream can’t come true until you have one. It’s in there…seek God to find out what it is then set it free regardless of what anyone else says or does.
  2. Have faith in God. All things are possible to them that believe (Mark 9:23)
  3. Persevere. Remember the age old adage, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.”
  4. Be led by the Spirit. There is no problem God doesn’t have a creative solution for. It may seem totally ridiculous in the natural, just the opposite of what a wise person would do. But remember, the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 3:19). Trust God to know what He’s doing, and follow His lead.
  5. Guard your mind. In so doing, you guard your heart, and as you think in your heart so are you (Proverbs 23:7). Change the way you think. Replace every negative, hindering thought with promises and counsel and encouragement from the Word of God. Your thought life is vital to your success.

Now we continue with the sixth principle:

Speak Only Life and Victory

An evangelist friend of mine often makes this statement, “Your tomorrow is waiting to hear what you say today.”

That is a truth of God’s word.

Because of erroneous teachings the power of our confession has developed into a controversial issue among Christians. So much that I spent four consecutive weeks at my own church teaching in detail what Scripture does and does not say about it and combatting some of the common notions that are verbalized when the topic arises. I can’t do that here, but what I can do here is try to get through to you the validity of the power in our words.

And well, the only way to do that is be blunt. Do you take God at His word or don’t you? If so, you cannot ignore Scriptures such as these:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)

For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Mark 11:23

And those are only two of several. Remember, God created this universe with His word. When the Holy Spirit came to live in you, with Him came that power to create through your words. What we experience in this life is highly dependent upon what we let come out of our mouth.

We can be working hard and making wise decisions and doing everything right, but if all we are saying is, “I just can’t see this happening for me,” then it won’t. If we keep saying we can’t afford to pursue our dream, we’ll not be able to fund it. Or, that we just don’t have time (my big downfall which I really have to work at), then a myriad of seemingly more important things will flood our lives.   If we speak failure, we create it.

On the flip side, if we speak God’s words of success, health, provision, and possibilities, we will begin to see doors open and ways made where it seemed in the natural there was no way.

The thing is, just mouthing empty words does us no good. It’s the words spoken in faith that move mountains. So what if you’re not convinced? What if in your heart you still don’t think your dream can come true? What then?

First of all, be slow to speak (James 1:19), which will be easier to do if you have started thinking about what you’re thinking about (5th principle).

You see, it is out of the abundance of our heart that we speak (Luke 6:45). In other words, whatever is settled most in our hearts is what will flow naturally out of our mouths. You don’t want words of defeat coming out and empowering failure (death) in your future, so don’t react or respond without first stopping to think about what you are about to say.

Then speak only life. Speak the promises of God. His words are spirit and life, so speak them (John 6:63). Speak in confidence the fulfillment of the hope God has planted within you.

“God has given me a vision. He wants me to be nurse. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to work that out yet, but He is making a way and I am going to walk in it. I will not be just a nurse, but a great one He can use to help and influence people.”

All the while you may be wondering where the money for school is going to come from, how you are going to manage job, school and parenthood. You may be thinking about the difficulty you had in science class.

But you’re also remembering that God said He will provide. He will lead you. He will strengthen you. He will be strong in the areas you are weak.

Why should you speak it anyway when you’re not fully convinced? Isn’t that just a way of getting your hopes up? Yes. And that’s exactly what you want to do.

Faith is the evidence of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). If you don’t start with hope, your faith has nothing to form in your life. And here’s where it gets great and shows yet again just how awesome God is and how much He loves us.

He established His principles of success in our lives so they help one another develop for our benefit.

All you need is this starting point: You must have it established it in your heart that God cannot lie. It is impossible for Him to lie (Numbers 23:19 and Hebrews 6:18).

Even if He could, He wouldn’t. He loves us too much. However, knowing it is impossible for Him gives us the priceless reassurance that we can stake our lives and our futures on His word.

If you’re not fully convinced of that fact you will never abound in faith. So make sure this is your starting point: God cannot lie.

Now, you’re ready to put His word to work for you, like this:

Regardless as to what your mind is telling you, speak the desired end result as though it is a done deal. We are to be imitators of God:

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. Ephesians 5:1 AMP

God calls things that are not as though they already were (Romans 4:17). We must do the same. This is why you must be fully persuaded in your heart that God cannot lie. If you’re not, your heart will convince you that you are talking like a crazy person or a liar.

At the very least, say things like, “This is God’s will and plan for me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Everything I set my hands to do is blessed.”

As you speak – out loud – positive words of victory (the promises of God), you will hear yourself. And guess what? Faith comes by hearing! (Romans 10:17). Instead of hearing negative words of failure and defeat and letting your faith build on that, now your faith will be fed words of triumph and promise and those seeds will begin to grow.

The cycle begins. As your faith grows, it will become easier and easier to speak the positive words of success because faith is connected to speaking:

We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak. 2 Corinthians 4:13

The more we speak, the more we hear, the more we hear, the more our faith abounds, the more our faith abounds, the more we speak… see? Isn’t that great?

Pretty soon, we are speaking words to create a future based on God’s will for our lives to walk in health and prosperity as our soul prospers; to enjoy the plans He has for us.

And we’re doing it naturally, without having to stop and force the words out of our mouth. The words we’re hearing are settling into our hearts, filling it up, and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

The doubt leaves, and we have whatsoever we say.

To take this a step further – remember last time we talked about guarding our thoughts because then we guard our hearts? The important principle then being that as we think in our heart so are we.

The cycle of speaking building faith and faith making it easier to speak also feeds your mind.

Thoughts of failure get pushed to the background if not completely out (which is the desired result), and the man in your heart transforms from the defeated to the victor. Soon you will think yourself a winner, successful, effective, healthy, and happy.

That’s who you will see when you look in the mirror, the person living out God’s plan for their life. Then because that’s who you believe in your heart you are, it will be.

Knowing that we have to learn to walk by faith and renew our minds, God made these principles to work together for our benefit. When used according to His will and based on His word, they join forces to create within us an unstoppable power source.

Dreams come true.

Guard your words. Speak life. If you must make a statement concerning the natural reality, hook on an addendum of faith. “I don’t have the cash on hand to open today, it’s still in the planning stages. I am seeking God and He’s helping me work out the details. It will happen.”

As a result, your heart is motivated to start pursuing the person it believes it is and you start to believe more and more the words you have spoken. They are settling in your heart and pretty soon they are coming naturally out of your mouth, creating good things for the days ahead.

There’s one more part to this series, which hopefully will post soon. In the meantime, start paying close attention to the words you speak. Make sure you choose words of life and promise.

Keep your relationship with God the most important thing in your life, and speak over your dream just as He does.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 NKJV

Till next time,

June  jyBInspired.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the Authorized King James Version.

Scripture marked AMP is from the Amplified Bible. Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture marked NKJB taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.