Thursday, January 24, 2013

Focus on the Father Part 9 of 10 , using the Epistle of Ephesians

Focus on the Father
Part 9 
Now, chapter 5 verse 21 is what I would call the key to this section concerning Christian family structure. This section carries over into chapter 6 verse 9. It is verse 21 that speaks forth the Fathers Heart. [Eph. 5 21 says, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ]. 

My personal belief is that this section beginning in verse 22 is one of many scriptures that get used out of its context. The easy target is the word “submit”. When our fleshly bodies and our mental psyche see that word, immediately we think we are the one who must be submitted to, and rarely do we have the right attitude about submission. 

The subject in this section is the submission in the husband and wife relationship. Possibly the phrase “sacrificial service within marriage,” as paralleled by Christ relationship to the Church would be a more apt description of verses 22 thru 33.  

Just a passing thought here. We who are married are still trying to understand the balance in the marriage relationship. Whether a marriage is of one year or sixty years, there are still times of tension to be dealt with. 

The apostle helps us by quoting Genesis 2:24, letting us know “this is a great mystery.” Is the mystery in “a man shall leave father and mother and be joined to is wife, and become one flesh?” From our human view the statement, “becoming one flesh” is a great mystery. And yet greater is the mystery that the Apostle uses to parallel this relationship. More than the mystery of creation, more than the mystery of the redemption of mankind and all that it includes, even greater than these is the relationship between Christ and His Church. 

Look at verse 21 again. Submit [yourselves, inference here is mine] to one another. If you wake up all out of sorts, submit yourself to the loving mercies of Christ, if your emotions are callused and you feel ill will towards others, submit those emotions to the One who can, and will, renew your mind. If you struggle with the idea of accepting a Loving Heavenly Father, submit yourself to Christ. You may be a believer and struggle every day with this Christian life. Do not let the enemy of your soul beat you up about these struggles, submit your self to the care of  a Heavenly Father, if for no other reason do it out of reverence for Christ.  

This section relates human relationships in family settings. Failures will come and consequences will be borne by us. But the love of our Heavenly Father will never leave us or forsake us. As we in the Church submit, and “become one with” or “cleave to” Christ, the One who perfected submission, let is learn the lesson of submission from the One who submitted perfectly to His Father’s will.  

Jim Mussetter


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Flying Blind

I am having trouble giving this thought process a title; maybe it will work itself out as I get started. Maybe, “The best laid plans of mice and men.” Or to quote the song; “God is in Control.”

One of the memorable trips that Sweet Pea and I took during the NASCAR show car stage of our lives had a couple unique twists to it. We typically would leave one show site and head toward the next one. Some shows had two or three days between them; it did get to be busy sometimes but I would never complain about doing that job.

This particular trip was in the winter. We just had about ten days off and came back to Bill Elliott Ford in Georgia to pick up our truck and trailer. The gentleman who scheduled our shows informed us that there was a show to do for a McDonald’s owner in Tyler, Texas. So off we go; feeling pretty good about ourselves, having done about seventy five shows by this time. We were confident in our ability. We were expecting a smooth trip to Texas, and after ten days in Ohio enduring a blizzard, the weather would certainly be better.

Twist number one would come in Vicksburg, Mississippi. We were parking in the hotel parking lot; the local news was talking about a storm moving in from the west, with the possibility of rain and ice. By nature I like volatile weather, Sweet Pea does not enjoy even the mention of it. After retiring for the evening, I knew Sweet Pea would be up all night thinking about the weather. Sure enough, at about six thirty in the morning she awakened me and mentioned that the rain had begun and it was near freezing.

After checking out, we pulled out of the parking lot and the exit went right to the on ramp for I-20 west. At that moment we could see straight up the westbound lanes of the bridge crossing the mighty Mississippi, and there were cars and trucks headed in every direction. Trucks were sliding into the guard rails on either side of the bridge; some cars had stopped and couldn’t get moving again. I didn’t have time to look over at Sweet Pea but in my mind I knew she was about to cry. In that instant my foot did not leave the accelerator; “the foot” knew that to stop was trouble. We moved slowly but steadily up the bridge, never turning the steering wheel, never spinning a tire. At the peak of the bridge I took a deep breath and looked over at Sweet Pea who was crying and praying or praying and crying, I don’t know which, but it worked either way. On reaching the top, one quick breath was all we could get in because going down the other side was just as dangerous but, God again protected us. That image of cars and trucks on the bridge that morning is one I will never forget; nor will I forget God’s favor toward us in that situation.

After the “ice-capades” we had endured; getting to Tyler and checked into a motel was what we needed. We were still a day early and could kick back a few hours. That evening we called the contact person to find out the details of where we would set up the McDonalds Race Car.

The young lady at the door was our contact person for McDonalds; she informed us that the show would be at the convention center just outside of town. She wasn’t sure if the McDonalds owner would be able to make it to the show, but everything was ready for us to set up the next day.

The plan was to set the car inside [After another minor “ice-capade” on the way to the convention center, can you believe it, an ice storm hit Tyler Texas that night]. As it turned out we set up the car in a covered breezeway leading into the main show room. Everyone who entered the show had to walk right by the McDonalds Ford Thunderbird. Our God was there in Tyler Texas looking after us.

The second twist came when the McDonalds owner, his wife and daughter, and a friend of the daughter, came in to the show. For this story they shall be nameless. Sweet Pea and I were introduced to them and we enjoyed a great day of talking to people about the race car and meeting some local celebrities, one was Earl Campbell. Enough name dropping,

The McDonalds owner and his wife spent the day with us. They seemed a little reserved but we had just met them. They were dressed in McDonalds Racing shirts and jackets and seemed to be real NASCAR fans. Sometime toward the end of the show we were discussing how and when we would get the car loaded up and whether we would stay in Tyler that night or head out back to toward Georgia, when we were asked to have supper with the owner and his family after the show.

We all pitched in and put away the hats, tee shirts, and other stuff for sale. I brought the truck and trailer around to the half empty parking lot and we fired up the car and drove it out of the building and into the trailer. Five minutes to tie the car down inside the trailer and we were off to supper and an experience we would never forget.

A great supper, and chit chat about what we do, then chit chat about their long history with McDonalds, and we are off to their place to relax for a while. Once we were at their house the mood changed. Somber would be the word. What we found out was that their son had recently committed suicide. This is a good, Godly family, at a loss for why this would happen.

That weekend, God intersected a hurting family with a couple that had an empty tool box [as Sweet Pea would say], and all we could offer was what was needed, an ear to listen, arms for a hug, and agreement in prayer that our God would keep this family in the midst of a great storm of life. The rest of the evening was a prayer meeting. There were new friends praying together, with an audience of the sustaining God. That weekend two families were “Flying Blind but Never Alone.”

Jim Mussetter

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sweet Pea and Me

Let me give you a snapshot of my Sweet Pea. This in no way is a finished portrait of her. It is only one page in a book of over thirty years of being my best friend. Oops I think I mixed my metaphors.

After nearly twenty years of marital bliss [my view may not coincide exactly with hers], we were given a chance to travel around the country with a Winston Cup show car. This would be my dream job, Sweet Pea wasn’t as sure. We needed to prepare to leave our house in Mesa, Arizona, find someone to handle the rental on it while we were gone, for who knows how long, then, drive to Atlanta to start a new season in our lives.

You may be surprised one day as God leads you into a new season of life. He definitely rocked our world that year. Hopefully other stories will give details of God’s hand of favor and protection, and blessing over our lives during these years.

One of our first hurdles to overcome was that Sweet Pea was not at all comfortable with my driving. Now, she is setting in a pickup truck with a forty foot trailer behind it and me driving. After the euphoria of preparing to start this journey, Sweet Pea’s stress level went thru the roof. No pun intended there of course.

By the time our first three shows were over, we had driven from Knoxville to Philadelphia, found out that our credit card was cancelled, the truck broke down on the way, and finally we were on the beltway in Washington D C at 3:00 in the morning wondering if we would ever get back to Atlanta.

When our first weekend in the Show Car Business was over, Sweet Pea was still talking to me. That was more than I was expecting after our beginning.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Water of Life

Water of life

Have you ever seen a flat rock that has been eroded by the weather and will hold water after the rain? That water looks clear and refreshing as it glimmers in the sun light. After it sits a while it begins to stagnate and moss begins to form.

As a mighty river rolls steadily through the countryside, toward its final destination, it surges and than takes a calm respite depending on the landscape. Always moving, sometimes muddy, sometimes clear and clean.

Leaving the screened in porch following the stone path to an area surrounded by trees, we find the old well. This well was dug by grand-pa many years ago. He used river stones to build up the height around it to keep the dirty ground water from flowing into it and polluting it. Water is the basis of life to the natural man. We must have it to live and be fruitful and multiply. We must have it in abundance and it must be clean and pure.

Jesus said, “out of your bellies flow rivers of living water”. To the spiritual man [or woman] the life is in the flow of the Holy Spirit of God living in us. Like the natural waters in different situations, we can have as little or as much of this Living Water as we choose.

Our Salvation in its most basic idea is to be at peace with God. Needles to say, our salvation is not a one shot deal. Isaiah 12 talks about the “wells of salvations” or “springs of deliverance”. That means to me that my salvation is an on-going lifestyle, fed and nurtured by that spring or well of Living Water.

Like the natural man must live in accordance with the amount of water he has available to him, the spiritual man also lives to the level of Living Water he par-takes of. The spiritual man, who understands that he is already at peace with God, has options. He can choose to do those things that his conscience is telling him to do. Like the Apostle Paul, we know the good [right thing] to do. Our problem is that we do not use the power of the Holy Spirit [Living Water] to overcome the natural tendencies to act in selfish or an unloving manner.

Jim Mussetter

Little Children

Little Children

How long has it been since someone called you a little child? If you were over twelve years old did you take it as a derogatory remark? In the book of Matthew, Jesus rebuked His disciples for stopping parents from bringing their children to Him. Surely the disciples were only thinking of Jesus’ well being. Maybe they thought Jesus was too tired from teaching the crowds. No matter what they were thinking, Jesus rebuked them for not letting the children come.

This may be where we Christians get the idea of dedicating babies. In some other verses we see that He held them, prayed for them, or put His hands on them. That is a subject we will not discuss today.

My real point would be found in verse 14 of Matthew 19, “and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these”.

When Jesus came into Judea once more, there were Pharisees there to ask questions of Him. These two questions found in verse 3 and verse 7, are tough questions pertaining to marriage and divorce. Is it coincidence that immediately following this hard teaching which left the disciples wondering if it were good to marry [verse 10], Jesus is seen with families and blessings the fruit of these families.

My keywords in the phrase mentioned above would be “such as these”. Although we highlight the children, as we should, I want to bring these parents into view. Is the Kingdom for children only? As children are dependent on their parents so these Jewish parents express their dependence on the One that they believed to be the coming Messiah.

Jim Mussetter

Fences need mending

1 Cor. 1:10
“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the Church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”

In our cowboy era here in the United States, the writers and publishers brought an excitement to stories about the Wild West. Although cattle stampedes and gun fights were the exceptions and not the rule of everyday life, they were what the inner man wanted to express, strength, individualism, and the do it myself attitude.

These inner qualities may well be what the Apostle Paul is addressing in the opening verses of 1 Corinthians. The early church was letting the inner man rule in their emotional make up.

For clarification purposes, I am using the term “inner” man, speaking of the natural emotional being that we are. Paul addresses the Corinthian believers as saints, brothers, called by God, gifted by God, and yet he will discuss the failures and divisions with this Church.

In the cowboy era, and the Church throughout history, it isn’t the most exciting things that produce the desired benefit. Cowboys spent a lot of time mending fences to protect the cattle. As we so often see, mending fences in the Church is just as necessary.

Jim Mussetter

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Security

What is my reason to teach Eternal Security? It has been my experience that more likely than not if a person does not believe in Eternal Security, two avenues of lifestyle occur.

One would be that “works” or religious activity is used as a way of keeping score, [before man]. They begin to count up the perceived good things in their lives, like Peter the disciple did. You know the story in Matthew 18, “how many times do you forgive your brother?” Peter was trying to be magnanimous and forgive seven times; Christ would have none of that. Jesus was not telling Peter that forgiveness was impossible. He was comparing the magnatitude of the forgiveness. Man’s forgiveness has limitations; God’s forgiveness is limitless.

The other avenue that people try to maneuver would be the “blame game”. At this point I need to make it clear that I am not perfect, and am not free from some of the “works” and the “blame game” experiences of this life.

The blame game has one premise. If; if God would, if the Pastor would, if my wife, husband, or children would, just treat me the way I deserve to be treated, I would be a better person. The “blame game” lets us move the responsibility for our actions to the actions of others.

Now, we are by nature susceptible to the “works” orientation and the “blame game”. Whether we like it or agree with it, our nature will fail even when we desire to do something else. This is why I would want to teach Eternal Security.