Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Houston's Restaurant & Oral Surgery

Let me start off by saying that this story is not for the squeamish.

I have a bad tooth. It is number 14. It has caused me a lot of pain and a lot of money over the past several years.

About six years ago, my dentist discovered that the tooth had a crack in it and suggested that we crown it. So we did and it was fine for a couple of years until I bit a rock in my food at Houston’s Restaurant in Manhattan Beach on my anniversary. After dealing with the pain in my tooth stemming from that incident, I returned to my dentist. He advised that there was a good possibility that the tooth was damaged beneath the crown and that I would need to have a root canal done on the tooth in the future. Houston’s insurance company gave me the run-around upon hearing that news – even though they had promised to take care of it. At this writing they haven’t done anything or paid anything.

Several months later, in 2004, I ended-up having to have a root-canal done on that tooth and they had to drill through the crown to do it. That was bad enough, but at least the issue was taken care of (unfortunately out of my own pocket).

Then along comes 2008 and I start experiencing pain and swelling in my gums above that very same tooth. It turns out that there was an infection in that area where the root canal had been performed. So my dentist sends me back to the Endodontist to double-check and the Endo says, “you need surgery!” I asked, "How much will it cost?" He replied, "How much do you have?"

So Monday morning I had to go in for oral surgery. Of course, there had to be complications. After using several different power tools along with some other sharp and painful instruments – including what I can only describe as a small mallet used to strike another instrument quite intensely that was attached to the crown which was attached to my tooth which -- incredibly -- was still attached to my mouth – the doctor discovered more trouble than he anticipated. Shocking, I know. (Funny how he seemed surprised that there was a bigger problem than he thought after striking me several times in the mouth with a mallet.) By this time, I had become sufficiently prayed-up and ready for heaven – half expecting to wake up there at any moment.

So the doctor working on me called in reinforcements. The top Endo came in and started prodding and poking around in the canyon that his partner had just excavated with the aforementioned “pain-and-trauma-causing toolkit.” After a few moments of conferring, the two doctors, (who had now ganged up on me), then apprised me that they would also need to do a bone graft in the area. In response, I garbled two words, “More Anesthetic!”

Coming out of the building after the surgery with Karlene, I had an ice-pack on my bruised and swollen face. A guy coming into the building looked at me and said, “What does the other guy look like?”

Anyway I’m home now, letting my face, mouth, teeth and the newly-stitched canyon of #14, heal. I feel like I got punched in the face and mouth several times by a fighter. I look like it too. And hey, I paid good money for the experience! Well, on the bright side, maybe this oatmeal, pudding and ice cream diet will work wonders for me.

Until next time...

“Karlene, where’s the Advil?!”

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My Shower & God's Power

Got a new showerhead for the master bath. It’s adjustable with several spray variations. It’s new, it’s shiny, it has options. It can do quite a bit with water. At least that is what the maker advertises. Unfortunately, it has a built-in “water-saving” device that regulates, actually limits, the flow through the head.

It was intended to save water – because we all know that water needs savin’. However, since the new showerhead restricts the flow of H20, I’ve noticed that I now have to take longer showers. What used to take 5 minutes now takes 10 minutes. The alleged “saving” of water, is costing me time and refreshment – plus, since I’m taking longer showers, how can I really be saving water?

Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking –as things often do – about how that many of us Christians are like that showerhead. We’re supposed to allow the free-flow of the Holy Spirit in and through us, but often times, we stop it up. Regulate it. Limit it. We don’t go with the flow. We just say no!

Jesus said in John 7:38, “the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out” of each of us. It is the will of God for us to allow the flow of the Holy Spirit through our lives continuously. God wants us to be channels, or streams that allow the Holy Spirit to flow mightily.

Do you think I'm going to leave that limiter in my new showerhead? Whatever I need to do to get rid of it is on the agenda. It is coming out! I really want -- and need -- more of a flow than what I have been getting.

Is the Holy Spirit flowing to the maximum capacity in your life? Or are you limiting the flow -- stopping the Holy Spirit from working in and through your life? In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Paul wrote the following admonition to Christians; “do not quench the Spirit.” Why not take off the limiters? Remove whatever thing is stopping the movement of the Spirit in your life.

Let the streams of refreshing - the water of life - flow through you today.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Communicating from the Heart

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord…” Psalm 19:14

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day. We celebrated and blessed Mom’s during a special service at Cornerstone – with Music, prayers and blessings for Moms. After which we also celebrated on a personal level at a special family luncheon with my wife, kids, mother, father, and sister. Cards, gifts and flowers were given -- words and expressions of love and appreciation. Hugs, kisses, and smiles were given, also. It was a very good day.

Karlene spoke for the special Mother’s Day Celebration at Church. She spoke about the power and importance of our words. Words have creative power. They also have destructive power. It all depends on what we want to arm ourselves with – positive, life-giving words or negative, venomous words. The choice is ours.

As Karlene shared from the Scriptures, it got me thinking – what am I communicating with my life? Each of us are communicating daily. Either verbally or non-verbally we are sharing or showing something to all who are around us. The question is – what are we sharing? Our words, thoughts and actions all come from what is in our hearts.


The writer said; “let the words of my mouth” be acceptable to God. Which begs the question; are my words acceptable to God? What kind of words am I speaking on a daily basis? What kind of language do I allow to come out of my mouth? What kind of attitudes are residing in my heart?

A clean heart leads to clean lips. The Bible states; “from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Whatever we hold in our heart will come out of our mouth. If we harbor resentment, anger, envy, bitterness, hatred or any such attitudes, you can be sure that they will make their way out of our mouths. Negative words that flow out of our mouths are not acceptable or pleasing to God. Unacceptable speech comes out of unattended-to hearts.

The psalmist also penned; “and the meditations of my heart…” Why are the thoughts we think so important? Because what we think on is what we act on. Proverbs 23:7 states;
“As he thinks in his heart, so is he.” What we meditate upon will come out in our actions. Again, Proverbs 4:23 plainly states, “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” That is why Norman Vincent Peale, when preaching on this subject, said, “change your thoughts and you’ll change your world.”

The apostle Paul recognized the need to change the way we think. In much of his letter to the church at Rome, he writes about the battle between the worldly mind and the mind that is regenerated in Christ. He also wrote about re-training your mind by what you think about. The bottom line being to “that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).


You’ve heard the saying; “Actions speak louder than words.” Often we communicate louder without words than we do with words. Our countenance, our spirit, our body language – non-verbally speaks loudly. The great poet Emerson said; “Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying.”

The actions that we portray are the result of the thoughts that we think. Again, quoting Emerson, “The ancestor of every action is a thought.” If we change our thoughts and our words – then our actions will become different also. If we think on good things and talk about good things, then our lifestyle is going to abound with good things. Those things are acceptable and pleasing in the sight of God. By the way, they will also be pleasing to those around you.

It starts in the heart.

The heart is the seat of the emotions. The heart is the epicenter of all that we say and do. The heart is the key to becoming who God meant us to be. That is why our hearts need to be renewed in Christ. That is why those with renewed hearts need to guard them. To experience real positive change and growth in your life is a matter of the heart. The condition of your heart will determine what flows out of your life and what God’s Word can do in you.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Change your thinking and you'll change your words.
Change your words and you'll change your actions.
Change your actions and you'll change your life.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Myanmar Mess

John 3:20 “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

Ancient Biblical truths are being visibly illustrated in this present day. Myanmar, (that I have always known as Burma), is the latest witness to the fact that when evil men are in power, evil things happen. Evil begets evil. Unrighteous attitudes lead to unrighteous behavior.

This Asian nation was hit by a major catastrophe. Oh, I’m not talking about the cyclone that ripped through the cities killing perhaps 100,000 people a few days ago, I’m talking about the cyclone of evil that swept through the nation on September 18th, 1988 – the military coup that deposed the government and set up a rule of tyranny that is now a public spectacle in light of the recent cyclone.

Job 9:24; "When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges."

Compassion Always Responds.

After hearing the news of the cyclone and the major damage it did to the country – including the tremendous loss of life – people gave. Great organizations (such as World Vision) stepped-up almost immediately and started to put together shipments of supplies to be airlifted in to help the people affected by this horrible storm.

Originally, the Junta that is ruling the country, would not allow supplies to be brought in. Then they began allowing certain shipments to be flown in. Now, we get word that the military is seizing the shipments of supplies that are being brought in for emergency relief. Food, clothing, medicine, and other supplies are being taken by the ruling Junta to further extort the people and entrench their own power. People have lost their homes, possessions, family members, and more, but their leaders do not even care. This is sad, but not surprising.

Proverbs 10:20; "The heart of the wicked is worth little."

We have seen this type of scene played out time and time again around the world. We have seen despots rule with iron hands. We have seen the inhumanity that is perpetrated by unrighteous individuals who have absolute power. Proverbs 12:20 states; "Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil."

Prayer Changes Things

I have friends – Burmese brothers – who pastor under duress in that nation. They are working for God in spite of the hardships and difficulties that their circumstance presents them. They suffer for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray for them. Pray for the Burmese people. Pray for the evil reign to be broken and righteous reign to be established. Pray for liberty and justice to return to the people of Burma.

Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Day to Pray

The question is still “if.”

The Lord said, “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray…” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Last evening at Cornerstone we held our annual National Day of Prayer service. It was powerfully anointed of the Holy Spirit. Several of our leaders led us in a time of calling upon God. Jerry McCreery led us in prayer for our Military men and women – especially those serving in Iraq. Richard Welling led us in prayer for businesses and Christians in business. My father, W.D. Smith, led us in prayer for the church in America and my wife, Karlene, led a powerful and anointed prayer over our families. We prayed for the nation and for one another.

I am a believer that prayer does change things. I am a believer that prayer moves the hand that moves the world. I am a believer that nothing happens without prayer. I am a believer that God still hears and answers prayer. I am a believer that the fervent prayer of God-fearing people accomplishes much. I am a believer that God heard the cries of His children across America yesterday. I am a believer that those prayers will be answered.

I am a believer.