Dr. J. Vernon McGee & Cigarettes

Coyote Creek Canyon, New Mexico.
God’s Creation

Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s Broadcast

I began listening to Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s radio broadcast, “Thru the Bible”, at some time during the mid-80s.  It was during a period of personal spiritual renewal.  I have to admit I had not been living a life God was pleased with.  A crisis had entered my life and I had no one I could to turn to for comfort except God.  The first thing I did to face this crisis was to begin praying, again.  The second thing I did was to begin reading the Bible, again.  The third thing I did was to fill the air around me with the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.  The “Thru the Bible” broadcast with Dr. J. Vernon McGee was one of my favorite programs.  During those years, I was working in construction and most of my work, at that time, was out-of-town.  This meant I packed my lunch in the morning and ate on the job site.  I took along a portable transistor radio and I would listen to Dr. McGee’s thirty-minute program during my lunch break.  Back then, I considered Dr. McGee to be one of the best teachers of the Bible I had ever heard; I still do, today.

Dr. McGee passed away in December 1988.  Today, I can’t find his broadcast on the radio, anymore.  When I began the spiritual journey I am now on, I rid myself of all things secular in my house and once again am surrounding myself with things I know are pleasing to God and draw me closer to him.  Searching the radio airwaves for the sounds of familiar voices I am disappointed to report there are very few radio stations that still broadcast Christian programs; There are even fewer TV stations.  I have been unable to find any of the old familiar voices from the past.  However, I am very happy to report that the internet is chock full of wonderful Christian programs available through streaming.  Music, preaching, and teaching can be found on a multitude of websites and on YouTube, as well.  Also, I’ve discovered Spotify is just as good a resource for Christian music of all types as is it for secular music.  I am very happy to report that the ministry of Dr. J. Vernon McGee continues to thrive through the loving and skillful hands of a group of supporters in California.  His “Thru the Bible” program, that teaches the entire Bible over the course of five years, is available for streaming on the the internet as is his Sunday Sermons.  By now you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with cigarettes.  Well, I’m a fixing’ to tell ya.

Cigarettes & “Thru the Bible”

It was lunch time, and I was working out of town, so I had packed my lunch.  I was painting the interior of a vacated house that the owner was getting ready to put it on the rental market again.  “Thru the Bible” was on the radio and I had finished eating my sandwich and chips, bologna and cheese sandwich and Fritos corn chips.  It was my habit to smoke a cigarette immediately after eating.  During those days I was smoking three packs of cigarettes a day.  Yes, that’s right, three packs a day!  I was an addict and a slave to cigarettes.  They controlled many aspects of my life.  I had to make sure my supply of cigarettes was sufficient at all times, always.  I wouldn’t go places that didn’t allow me to smoke.  I was inconsiderate and rude to those who didn’t approve.  I considered smoking to be my right and they could accept it or go away.

Honestly, I don’t remember what Dr. McGee was teaching at the time, but I do recall his broadcast was on the air.  I was talking to God, or praying if you prefer, as I reached in my shirt pocket for my pack of cigarettes.  Suddenly, a very strong impression came over me.  I recognized it as being the Holy Spirit; There have been similar encounters with the Holy Spirit at other times in my life.  He said, “Give those to me.”  I said back, “I’ve tried many times to quit in the past without success.  I’ve given them to you before and it didn’t work.  I’m not going to go through that, again.”  “You never gave them to me.  Give them to me for real,” he responded.  This time I answered, “Yes Lord, I give them to you for real!  But Lord, you’re going to have to do this because I can’t.  I’ve tried too many times before and I’m not strong enough.”  I took the pack of cigarettes from my shirt pocket, the extra pack I had in my lunch box, the lighter in my pocket, walked outside on the driveway and tossed them into the trash dumpster.  Now, here’s the good part.

God took my desire and craving for tobacco away from me that day and it has never returned to this day.  A few days later, I was on another job, working out of town.  I had two helpers with me and we rode together, in my truck every morning.  They had helped me on jobs several time before and both were smokers.  It was cold that morning and I had the heater on and windows rolled up.  I told them about my experience and that I had quit smoking.  One of them said, “Oh great!  I guess that means we can’t smoke around you anymore!”  I assured them it didn’t and encouraged them to light up until they finally did.  They wanted to, at least, roll down the windows.  I said, “No, it’s cold and you don’t need to.”  Now, you ready for this?  They lit up and I could not even smell the smoke.  God had taken my ability to smell tobacco smoke away as well as the cravings.  I could still smell other things, just not cigarette smoke.  It was years later before I could detect the smoke from tobacco.  Today, I can detect it but it still isn’t very strong, at all.  How amazing is that!  Three packs to zero in an instant without any side effects at all.  In fact, I needed to lose some weight and actually had no problem doing so due to the increased appetite that accompanied my attempts to quit in the past.

I am not suggesting he will do the same for you.  I’m just testifying what he did for me.  What he does and will do for you is between you and God.  There is a scripture I’d like to share with you that I held in my heart.  “We are humans, but we don’t wage war as humans do.  We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to know down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)  My human reasoning was keeping me from obeying God and being set free from the slavery of cigarettes.  At other times my human reasoning has prevented me from believing God and from receiving his wonderful blessings.  Maybe, just maybe, this passage from Scripture, the living word of God, can remove the stronghold that’s keeping you from God, too.

Carl Ray

Real Solutions and the Miracle of Prayer

Winter Scene at Burford Lake
Thin Ice

Real World Solutions

I slept really well last night.  That makes three nights in a row I didn’t toss and turn and wake up a dozen times.  Pain in both shoulders keeps me tossing and turning.  Since I began my Prodigal Son journey back to my Heavenly Father, he has been revealing to me different things I can do to relieve the pain:  sleeping on a different pillow, changing the position of my arms when I turn from side to side, returning to physical therapy exercises to loosen and tone the muscles in my shoulders and shoulder blades, and to take ibuprofen to combat inflammation.  God didn’t reveal these to me all at once.  I sleep on my side which puts a lot of weight and pressure on the bottom shoulder.  He began three months ago by telling me how to position my bottom arm.  The very first night I tried it out I was able to sleep on each side an hour longer than I had been able to do for several months.  The next morning when I realized how much more sleep I had gotten, I couldn’t stop thanking and praising Jesus.  I was so happy!  I thanked him and honored him all day long.

Real Time Prayer

Still, every night I’d wake up with one and sometimes both shoulders hurting really bad.  Some nights tears would flow and I’d question how much longer I could go like this.  Thoughts of a future lasting for years, brought lots of doubts.  I’d cry out to my Abba in Heaven for relief.  Within minutes I’d be asleep, sometimes for hours.  I wouldn’t have another bout of pain that severe for the rest of the night.  In the morning I’d wake up thanking and praising God throughout the day.

Daily Prayers

in my prayers throughout the day, I ask my Father in Heaven for a healing miracle.  But, I also know that this pain is one the primary reasons I began my Prodigal journey.  I’m so afraid if he provided me with a miracle healing of my arthritis, my journey would be interrupted and I’d drift away again.  In truth, I’m willing to live with the pain rather than lose the closeness and joy I’m experiencing in my relationship with the Holy Trinity, right now.  I know this relationship is only going to get better and better.  I tell my Abba the way I feel and that I seek and want only his will be done in my life.

The Miracle of Prayer

I didn’t know then, and don’t know now, what God has planned for the arthritis that is destroying my shoulder joints and is working its destruction on other joints, as well.  What I do know though, is that God has continued to make simple solutions, one at a time, that when I follow them the quality of my sleep, and therefore my rest, improves a little bit more.  He provides the next one only when I have fully incorporated the current on into my nightly routine.  I don’t hear his voice, nor does the revelation come during prayer.  It’s a clear impression that comes to my awareness suddenly and without announcement.  It comes with a certainty that it’s from the Holy Spirit and not of my own inspiration.  The fact of the matter is, I am getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night, which hasn’t happened in well over a year, and with only a couple of interruptions.  Now as far as I’m concerned, communication with, and getting help from, the Creator of all that ever was, is, and ever will be is the miracle of prayer.

Carl Ray

Yesterday’s Temptation

Morning:

Devotion—Oswald Chambers…insights new…sin…temptation…

Temptations—big as life:  steal, lie, covet, murder, blasphemy, idolatry, disrespect…

No worries.

Temptations—clear as mud:  frustrated, intolerant, impatient, complaining, disappointed…worry

Many worries.

Daily prayer—new daily bread…Matthew 6:13 (NLT)…don’t let yield…rescue from…

Daily testing Begins:

Tech. problems—old off-line blog editor…won’t connect…new web host…new WordPress install…

Tech. support—web chat…four different techs…two times disconnected…two just guessing…four hours time…no solution…

Soul tempted—emotions:  frustration…impatience…intolerance…

Spirit empowered—hope…control…understanding…Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)…High Priest…understands…mercy…grace…

Evening:

Long day—tired…beaten…discouraged…doubting…restless mind…edging back into depression…

Past Decisions—no money…unnecessary let go…web host…XM radio…LensWork…Netflix…land line…

Recent Decision—renew web host…expensive…blog only…for God’s glory…seemed right…seemed approved…

Father in Heaven—help understand…my will not Yours?…accept consequence…forgive for foolishness…forgive for selfishness…grateful for rescue from day’s temptations…trust

No peace—restless mind…can’t let go…many, many failures…try one more time…five minutes…success…success…success…

Father in Heaven—all praise and glory belongs to you…unfailing love…faithful and true…assurance…peace…contentment…joy!

Bedtime:

It’s been a good day.  Thank you Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

One more step along this spiritual journey.

 

 

 

 

 

Closed Doors

Memories of closed doors.  Ghosts from the past that haunt the present:  rebuke, chastisement, sorrow.  How many?  Not sure.  Way too many, though.  Doors open wide since youth.  Some stepped through, some not.  Some, only a lingering inside.  Some only a look about.  Every one, a walk in, a walk out, a door closed behind.  Why?  A simple answer, hard to admit, painful to confess.   A will not surrendered.  A will not submitted.  A will, uncontrolled.  A will self-centered.  A will that new best.  A will that covets.  A will that lusts.  A will bred to win.  A will educated to succeed.  A will deceived by grandiose visions.  A will suffering with regrets.  A will wounded and pained by failures.

“Look!  I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will share a meal together as friends.”  Revelation 3:20 (NLT).

I need a friend!  There’s been a lifetime of closed doors.  I’ll open this door.  It’s the last one for me.  I won’t walk out.  He’ll come in and stay.  He brings with Him:  a feast for a starving soul, white garments to replace my filthy rags, ointment for old eyes that have seen so much and yet were blind.  My ghosts are here too; they’re welcome here.  I cherish the memories they bring; the hurt and pain are healing pains.  They keep this door open; we keep this door open.