Tuesday, February 21, 2012

We are what we pretend to be

2/20/12 Monday
It’s getting busy here now. Start working for a friend building oil field trucks today. That will last 3 months or so. On top of that we have been approved for the new business where we will secure and clean up foreclosed homes in a 5 county area and will start that in earnest soon. Things are still in process for the home energy analysis business in addition to building an RV park. I am wondering if we are biting off more than we can chew with all this. Things struggled along for so long and now it suddenly seems to open up. I’m still working on the model AA Ford truck and there is lots of work to do for the two widows we help. Plus we are in training for two Kairos Prison Ministry events coming up in April. Last, but perhaps most important, is this burden on my heart to start a bible study in Stanton that will reach out to all those who are less accepted in the area.

I reached out to the pastor who seems to think so poorly of me again, sent her an email expressing our love and concern for her and those she leads. Here is her response “Bob I quit reading your messages,a long time ago, because they are all alike. They point judgment at all other people. You are supper spiritual and perfect. So you might not want to waste your time writing. We are not the only ones who have released you to find a place you liked better . Because you complained about all of us all the time. I hope you have found a church that you are not condemning constantly.”

How sad this makes me to read. I’m sad and feel bad for her and the apparent blindness she has to herself. She first says I “Point judgment at ALL other people” and in the next sentence proceeds to judge who I am, calling me “supper spiritual” (I’m sure she meant super, not supper) and “perfect”. The fact is I reached out for over a year just to sit down and talk, which she refused and avoided, so she hasn’t even taken the time to know who I am. But this statement from her reveals the opinion she has developed and confirms the gossip she promotes to justify her actions. Somehow, being spiritual is a bad thing and being perfect is a horrible goal to try for. The poison of jealousy and envy have eaten deep into Jannie’s soul and she continues to harden her heart against doing what Jesus so clearly instructed. Here is the email I sent to her that garnered this response.

Dear Jannie, God continues to place you on my heart and I must obey Him for the scriptures clearly say that if someone knows what is right to do and does not do it, he sins. So I will continue to reach out along with daily praying for you and Hosanna. Hebrews 12:14 says Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

You accused me of using the scriptures to manipulate you and others. I simply try my best to live by what the scriptures say, for to do otherwise makes me a hypocrite. Whatever my motive in quoting the Word of God may be, it doesn't change the truth of His Word. Jesus said to judge by the fruits and the fruit of what happened at Hosanna was division. Jesus prayed for unity before He surrendered to be killed, so that we can be free from sin. It is Love that is the mark of a true Christian and the church. The devil steals, kills, and causes division, Christ brings love and unity.

I saw you at the post office the other day. I waited patiently so that I could say "Hi" and show Christ's love. It was with great sadness I watched you work to avoid any contact and ducked out the front door with your eyes to the ground so as to not even look at me. Do you even understand how this must break Jesus' heart?

Do you not realize why your prayers no longer have the power they once did? God sent me to serve you and to help you see. Pride blinds us all when we allow it to have a place in our life. Jealousy and envy are cancers of the spirit that cause much harm to the body of Christ. Gossip is an evil God hates for He knows how it spreads poison.

Jesus was clear many times when He instructed us to talk to each other, to expose what is done in darkness, to reconcile and forgive, and mostly to Love God and Love our neighbor as ourselves. Are you being honest with yourself in this? Do you really believe that what you did and allowed was pleasing to our Lord? I will continue to reach out to you, to try to restore and bring about that unity and love Christ desires.

The one thing you said, as I was being shuffled out the door of the church, was "What about Linda?". I have wondered about that ever since. Of course I don't read minds and you have failed to talk to me about anything so I am at a loss about this. Linda was a sister in Christ whom Cherie and I both helped many times. She was friendly and fine until the day I had a word from the Lord for her. That word was that Satan was at the door and there was sin that would give him opportunity to come in. I now know this word was true and in fact had already come to pass. Linda's reaction was almost violent and from that time forward she cut off all communication. The only other time we talked was when I asked for her forgiveness. Her reaction to that was equally unpleasant. From that point forward we have not said one word to each other. So, what about Linda?

Jannie, you are the shepherd of God's sheep at Hosanna and thus will be held accountable for what you do and what you lead them to do. I fear for you and wonder if you truly understand that God holds you to a higher standard because of this. You know what is right to do, what God desires. I am always here, ready and hoping for resolution and restoration, for God to be exalted in our hearts as we surrender our will to His. Again my number is XXX-XXX-XXXX and you know my email address.

I went to a funeral this weekend. It was the brother of some old friends, who suddenly turned on us, going from “We love you guys” to “You are not our friends anymore” when we refused to sign over the control of our mineral rights to them. They also wear the big holy Christian label, when it is convenient. I reach out to them too, sending emails on occasion to show Christ’s love despite how they treated us. It is sad to watch such blatant hypocrisy, to see the look on their face as they avoid contact, but I continue to pray for them, to hope for the best. The problem is it is hard to change when you don’t, or won’t, recognize you did anything wrong. There is the pride, the hardened heart, and the stiffened neck, that refuse to bend or acknowledge the truth. These are the things that lead to death. It’s nothing new.

I am acutely aware of my shortcomings and examine myself daily, for I know that I will stand before God, who sees the heart and sees right through the fake front we put up, the show for others. I suspect that in trying to fool others we often deceive ourselves into thinking we are what we pretend to be. God said that what can be shaken will, that all our works will be tried with fire and when that happens only that which is true will survive. I remind myself of that, and I refuse to not be afraid, for the fear of the Lord is what keeps me on the right path. Jannie may have hurled the accusation that I am “Super spiritual and perfect” at me, thinking perhaps this would hurt or revealing her opinion of who I think I am, but I know I am a worm, not worthy of any of the many blessings I have. Jesus told of the rich Pharisee, the religious leader whom everyone looked up to, and the tax collector, who understood who he was. This is found in Luke 18.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' 13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' 14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Here is a core principle of our faith. The last shall be first and the first last. The greatest the least and the least will be lifted up. Jesus, the son of God, washed His disciples feet, saying this is how we should act towards others, as servants. How is it that this integral key to life is so seldom a part of our life? Why do we not hear this message often preached? Because it’s not comfortable and requires sacrifice. Sacrifice is that missing ingredient. We so often are happy to be Christians, as long as it doesn’t cost us or isn’t inconvenient. But Jesus was clear, He said we should count the cost before we even start, He said we need to die in order to live, to surrender it all.

Gotta go to work folks, bye

Monday, February 13, 2012

Life gets in the way

...2/13/12 Monday
The weeks seem to fly by. Hard to believe it’s already Monday. We had moisture yesterday. It came in the form of some snow, and then sleet. I’ll be scraping ice off Cherie’s truck this morning. It was pretty cold the last two days and I had to go get some more firewood as we already burned what I had gathered for the winter. The latest person God has found for us to help needs wood cleaned and cut from her now dead pecan orchard, just another example of how our needs are met, through helping others.

Today I plan to work on that 1929 Ford truck. The starter is fried so it got sent out for a replacement. I was blessed with a trailer to use for cleaning up the land of that person we are helping. There is lots of work to do there and some of it involves heavy lifting I am not capable of. A way will be provided, of that I am sure. She has some old vehicles out there that need to disappear. I looked carefully at them, hoping they would be worth working on but I don’t have the time or money to do so. The insides of all vehicles are trashed, from Texas heat and sun to rats, the damage is done.

This Ford Falcon is in great shape as far as the body is concerned. I think it’s a 1961 model. She doesn’t know where keys or titles are for any of these are, but they can be acquired. Most of the tires are flat so moving them will be a definite contest. The trailer I have isn’t heavy enough to haul a car or truck. Even if it was I don’t have the means to drag them up on it. Too bad I had to sell our other trailer cause it could haul a back hoe. Perhaps the person I sold it to would let me borrow it. I don’t know. If anyone reading this has an interest in any of these vehicles please let me know. They were all running when parked. The Falcon belonged to the widows mother. She had bought it new so it’s a one owner classic.

The RV they had bought with dreams of traveling, but they only used it once. He worked through his retirement, got sick, and eventually died. Unfortunately there is a leak in the roof and as a result a lot of water damage inside. The cabinets are made with particle board and that doesn’t do well with moisture. It’s sad to see this damage but such is often the way of things. Life gets in the way of plans made and dreams hoped for.

One of the seniors we help told me that she wanted to die a pauper. At first such a statement is a shocker but when she explained this more it made sense. We have all seen the problems that rise up upon someone’s death. All too often there is a seemingly sudden rise of greed and avarice, all kinds of fights, bitterness, and anger appear, causing division and broken relationships that sometimes are never resolved. To disperse the inheritance prior to death often will prevent such things from happening. On the other hand we have seen those who hang on to their possessions till the bitter end, fighting to keep what they have acquired over a lifetime, seemingly unaware that they can’t take it with them when they die. I greatly understand the fondness for those items that have strong emotional memories tied to them, mementos of good times gone and have a few keepsakes of my own. But if something has outlived it’s usefulness, no longer contributes to daily needs, and doesn’t have strong value as a memento, I would rather find someone in need to bless with it. I came into this world naked and when I leave the only thing that matters is what pleases God, the lives I touched while here on earth. Not only is it better to give than to receive but in giving there is great blessing for we share life and the goodness we have, thus expanding the good.

Had an interesting experience last week. Went to the post office to get mail and pulled up to the glass doors and wall in front. Before I got out I saw the pastor of the church that had escorted me out, saying “Don’t come back”, inside. She looked out at my truck and scurried into the post office’s counter area. Curious to see what she would do I sat there in my truck waiting, and watching her. She waited too and then finally came out of the office area, walked quickly past the doors to the other side, where she was out of sight. I debated walking in to get the mail but decided to allow her to avoid having to face me so stayed seated in my truck. It was quite a wait. Finally she figured out I was going nowhere so she rushed out the door, studiously looking at the ground so there would be no eye contact with me. How sad this is. Here is a leader in the church, a person who is bound by God to show love to all, that is running and hiding from the fruit of her actions. “Is she ashamed?” I wonder, “or perhaps embarrassed?”. I really don’t know and have a hard time understanding this level of hypocrisy. But it makes me sad to see and I can only imagine what God feels.

I have decided to go to Mary’s and work on cleaning her property instead of working on the old truck. The trailer I have is on loan and thus I feel a responsibility to make use of it as quick as I can for he may need to use it for his tree business. Plus there is so much to do there it will keep me busy for a while. Enough time writing, got to get moving.

Monday, February 06, 2012

And we are off, the start of another week

2/6/12 Monday
Monday, the start of another week. What shall I talk about? There is so much on my mind and so many things coming to fruition. Unfortunately some of the wonderful things God is putting together I won’t talk about till they happen, for there are those who would rather see us fail than succeed. This we have seen many times so have learned to keep things close to the vest, so to speak. But it is exciting to see things coming together. On the other hand we also see an increase in things that must be overcome. There are times when circumstances seem overwhelming and with that comes the battle with frustration and depression.

I remind myself daily of the scripture that says “If God be for us, who can be against us”. We still need to find a church home and there is a loneliness that comes from living in a remote location and finding it so hard to develop relationships locally. The rejection of the church people we reached out to here in Stanton still has a sting, but mostly it brings a great sadness in me. Sadness that those who publicly profess the love of Jesus in reality show none, except for those they know and like. Sadness because I know God and His word, and that there is a judgment regarding how we treat others. How I would love to reach out and talk with them, to have a conversation face to face where everything is out in the open and in the light, instead of gossip behind closed doors and hidden. It’s real simple folks, that which cause division is not from God but that which brings unity and peace is His will.

We were blessed with another person to help. Unfortunately she fell last week and broke her foot and clavicle so I plan on building rails she can hold on to as she walks out to her car. Her husband had been a farmer and she asked if I could clean up the tons of stuff laying around and take it to a scrapyard. Much of it happens to be farm equipment such as discs and livestock feeders that I need for our future hopes and plans for the farm. This is a double blessing, we can minister to and assist an elderly person and we also are provided with equipment I can’t afford to purchase. It’s old and half buried in the sand but I’m confident I can make most of it workable. The only obstacle now is I need a trailer to haul this stuff away and I am not physically strong enough to lift much of it so we will pray that God provide the means for me to do this.

We have formed and registered a company, called Westbrook Management. Under this umbrella we expect to operate several enterprises. Funding for one of them has been made available and we are working with the state of Texas on funding for another one. The third requires I find some equipment, such as a mobile air compressor and a trailer to haul lawn and maintenance equipment to job sites. It is exciting and a little scary right now. I still have great difficulty following through on tasks and the short term memory loss is a constant problem. As I write this I just remembered something I was asked to do for the State, that I had totally forgotten about and had neglected to inform Cherie. Typical in my life. I called Cherie and let her know. There is no question I depend on her a lot to keep me on track.

It’s already 12:40 and I haven’t gotten much done. I did take Trixie to the vet this morning. She has been whimpering a little and not as active as normal so we were concerned. Plus the dogs had gotten into the garbage on several occasions and one time got ahold of chicken bones, a potentially dangerous thing health wise. She has a slight pancreatic infection so the vet gave her a shot and some antibiotics.

I need to make a list of things that need to get done. There is a letter that needs to get written to a friend in Ohio, who’s phone has been disconnected. There is wood to cut for a person we are helping out. And lots more that I don’t need to put on this blog but keeping lists is important to help me remember what to do.

I think I will go cut wood and do some work at the house of the woman who fell and broke her foot and shoulder. That way I can check and make sure she is ok. So gotta get going

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Dead dog lessons

2/1/12 Wednesday
Things are busy here on Westbrook Farms. The Lord has blessed us in many ways but challenges always remain before us. I had the privilege of spending two days at the prison in Fort Stockton. Was asked to speak and the subject was on spiritual fellowship. The scripture suggested by the Kairos guidebook is out of Acts chapter two. In it we find a description of the early church forming immediately after Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is fascinating for me to read about how they all gathered together, ate meals at each other’s houses, and considered all their individual possessions as community property. Later we read of how many were selling their property and donating the proceeds to the church. Why did they do this? Why is this attitude so foreign to us in these days? Read what it says in Acts chapter 2, starting at verse 42

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

So back to the question, “Why?” It goes to a question I often ask, “Do you really believe?”. There was this sense of awe, coupled with miracles that cannot be denied, magnificent wonders that there was no question about being normally impossible and coming from the God who created all things. For those who believed and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord there was the clear understanding that they now have the gift of eternal life. As Cherie and I read the bible we become increasingly aware of the living life here on earth do. For most of us we live a “lifetime” that is full of heartache, struggle, joys, and pains, and then there is the inevitable and inescapable end, death. We work to pay bills, and some of us gather great riches and belongings.

If someone among us sold all he had and gave it away to the poor, to others who had needs, they would be labeled as a nut and I am sure relatives or others would take them to court and seek to have them declared incompetent to handle their affairs. I remember a teacher in a Sunday school class one time stating that he was glad that God didn’t require Christians to sacrifice in their giving. In fact he seemed to indicate that it was irresponsible for a follower of Christ to do so. This was quite a while back and I remember biting my tongue, holding my thoughts back because I didn’t want to cause controversy.

Jesus is clear in so many ways on this subject. He said to lend and expect nothing in return, told the rich man that if he wanted to be perfect to sell everything he has and give to the poor, and spoke of the Pharisee who gave money with great show and pomp for everyone to see versus the widow who gave only two mites, everything she had. Jesus said "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mathew 6:19-22)

Then in Luke chapter 12 we find Jesus saying “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What we find here, and throughout the scriptures, is this eternal thinking. For us, here on earth, mired with our day to day tasks of survival, it’s hard to do. What I know is that on that final day, that moment when we stand before the living God, the day of judgment we must all face, on that day what we think is important will suddenly change. No longer will getting that nice car matter, no longer will impressing those around us be important, for to God the only thing that is important is what we did for the Kingdom of God. But along with that we will be judged on what we did not do as well. There is a day of accountability, a day of judgment. The commonly preached concept that if you had an emotional experience at some point in your life and “accepted” Jesus as your savior, there is nothing to worry about, is a dangerous and false doctrine.

You see, throughout the scripture we find that we are judged on what we do, on our actions. Paul, who wrote so much of what we find in the new testament, said that he buffets his body and makes it his slave, lest after having preached to so many he himself should be disqualified. It is stated in the bible that in the last days people, desiring to have their ears tickled, will draw to themselves teachers after their own desires, who will tell them what they want to hear. Jesus said there is a broad and easy path, that leads to destruction, and many are on it, but there it is a hard and narrow path that leads to eternal life, and few find it.

We are not judged on what we say we believe, though we will be held accountable for every idle word, but we will all be judged on what we do. In the reality of life, what we really believe is revealed by what we do, with the exception of those who put on a big show to impress others. God judges the heart ultimately. Read the words of Jesus as found in Mathew chapter 25.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45 "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Understand this folks, bring it down to your heart. How we treat others, even the least, the one you think so little of, in God’s eyes is how we treat HIM. I feel so sad for those who have despitefully used us, who have had so little good to say regarding me and schemed and gossiped, for they must answer to God. So I pray daily for them, that they may realize what they have done and repent before God, and thus be made whole. They are confident in their religiosity, their self-righteousness, yet are blind to what Jesus thinks regarding it, ignoring the truth they know for it is not convenient for them. Such is the way of self-deceit.

There is so much I want to say, so much on my heart, so many truths that need to be preached, but I don’t want to weary my readers with too much at once. Let me relate what happened in the last two days. I was driving home from getting the mail and as I approached the intersection where our farm is there was a Chihuahua dog running around in the middle of the road. It seemed to have no fear or concept of the danger vehicles posed despite me blowing my horn. I slowed and was careful not to hit it. There was a truck pulled over with a guy who seemed to be rearranging things inside the cab, so I hoped the dog belonged to him and went on. From the house I watched as he drove off and could see that traffic had to slow down and stop so realized that he didn’t take the dog with him. As I plowed later I saw this little dog in the field between our house and where it had been before.

This disturbed me greatly. I knew that this little dog was in great danger, I knew that the odds were against its survival if it remained out there alone. There was the danger of the highway and other dangers as well. Coyotes would make a quick meal of it if they had a chance. I called from the tractor “Here puppy, come here dog” and saw it stop. But it headed back towards the spot I had first seen it. Now I was torn. We have rescued many dogs. Dogs dropped off at the farm or abandoned in other places, but with that has come heartbreak and great sorrow when they were later shot, poisoned, or run over on the highway. There was anger I felt, that someone cared so little for this dog that had obviously not been exposed to the dangers of highways and had probably been a house dog, but their heart was so cold as to abandon it where its odds of survival were so slim.

“Do I go and rescue this dog” I contemplated. “No” was my conclusion as I considered the problems it would cause here at home. Racal was still dealing with the jealousy he has over Duke being in the house and this little Chihuahua would certainly not fit in. Yet there is that part of me that cares for all life I had to struggle with so I hardened my heart and didn’t go get the stray. It bothered me all night. When I headed to town the next day, sure enough, there was the mangled remains of this little dog, run over where it was crossing the highway onto our farm.

It broke my heart but spoke to me as well. There is a lesson here I need to take to heart, and a lesson for all of us as well. Remember that scripture I used a few paragraphs up? The one where Jesus says “I was hungry, and you did not feed me, naked and you did not give me clothes”? This little dog represents all those people out here in our lives, who do not know God. Just as that little dog was lost and in danger of losing its life, so are so many around us. I knew that without help that dog was doomed, but I hardened my heart and did nothing about it. Now it is too late to do anything. The dog is dead. Done. Gone.

Understand how God, who so loves the world that He gave is only son to die, so that we may have life, feels regarding all these people we meet. I bear responsibility for not saving that dog. Oh, you, and I, can rationalize that away and make it OK, make excuses why it was not our responsibility, but the reality was I was the one who knew the dog was there and I was the one who did not want to make the small personal sacrifice to go and pick it up, to save it from death. How much more will God hold us responsible for the lives around us. Think about it. Go and read that scripture again and understand God’s heart and will. The early church was committed to helping each other out, committed to feeding the poor and mostly loving others as God loves us. At the prison this weekend I several times said “We are the only Jesus people here can ever see” for anyone who is a true believer understands that God desires we work to do His will, to bring life and save the lost from the certain death that comes without God.

Pray with us, that God meets our needs. Cherie’s teeth are continuing to get worse. To get all of them pulled would cost a bundle and then she would need dentures, to get them fixed is astronomical, and not something we can come close to being able to pay for. She was in great pain yesterday so I would greatly appreciate your prayers. Also pray that God makes a way for me to start a bible study here in town, for there is great need among those considered less desirable by some.

I have a widow to cut wood for and a 1929 Ford truck to work on today. Time to get moving. Remember, God is, and God loves each and every one of you.