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Wars

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Some wars are justified; some are not. (not a political statement so stay away from there). Church history gives us plenty of ammunition for proof. The Reformation is a perfect example of that.

Down through the years, music has been a battleground. I was hoping it was over but recently one of our college students came home and I asked him about the bruhaha about the music that he got involved in. Seems the college president made the comment that the only “real” Christian music was southern gospel and hymns and he challenged the students to give up their “devil” music (my summary not exact words).

UGH!

I like and respect Chuck Swindoll and read a great article by him last week on music. I’d like to share it with you in its entirety and hear your thoughts. It is entitled Sing New Songs…With Old Truths:

Without wanting to be misunderstood, let me say unashamedly that I love the grand old hymns. Throughout my Christian life, I have treasured their historic statements of the church’s faith, having committed many of them to memory.

They have been my dearest companions in dark hours of loneliness and discouragement and my greatest encouragers in times of celebration and adoration.

And while I’m the first to admit that while there’s nothing holy about a hymnal per se, hymns remain an important part of our Christian heritage. Why?

Because the theology of hymns is far too rich and beneficial to lose. The hymn writers were wordsmiths and musicians (seldom the same person) who wove theology and melody together into splendid compositions.

They gave us words for worship and marvelous music. One of the benefits of music—whatever style you choose—is that it helps cement truth in our brains stronger than memorizing words alone.

We remember words easier with a tune attached. Hymns bring to mind deep and practical truths, not only for times of worship but also for times of trial and distress.

I have always loved the old hymns, and I always will . . . because the truths they express are timeless.

However, let me quickly add that the canon isn’t closed on music for worship. In addition to hymns, each new generation will continue to compose fresh choruses of worship and new songs of praise . . . and that is as it should be—it’s biblical!

Fresh and Creative

Those churches who believe we should only have hymns have forgotten the words of David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, who wrote:

I will sing a new song to You, O God;
Upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You. (Psalm 144:9, emphasis added)

The prophet Isaiah and the apostle John later used similar words (Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9). The worship of our Creator should stay fresh and creative.

There is everything right about singing new songs. But we must be certain that the songs we compose and sing express sound doctrine and not human-centered philosophy.

Simply claiming, “The Lord gave me this song,” doesn’t qualify it for public worship. Even Christians in the first century were urged to “test” the words they heard (1 John 4:1–6).

Furthermore, a good melody should never override our critical thinking. Lyrics take on significance only when they are filtered through the inerrant text of the Holy Scriptures.

The music can be new . . . but the truths the music proclaims must not be.

I second his thoughts. I love the new music. But I tire of the repetition which many of them have. I can think of a few right now which turn my stomach just thinking about them.

But I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

Explanation

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Explanation or Excuse?

It has been a few days since I last posted a blog. I could say it was dry mind disease. But that would not be true. I have a lot of stuff going around in my head these days. Some good. Some not so good. 🙂  I could say it was “I have been so busy going from this person to that person in ministry.” But that would not be true either (although there has been some of that).

Truth is: I have been sort of preoccupied. After being gone to PA to see my brother & his wife (Rob & Joy) and my elderly father, I have found life not slowing down at all. I played catch up for several days. Throw in two doctor appointments due to the bicycle wrecks; an afternoon spent driving to and from a hospital an hour away; being a husband and a father; an apparent sciatic nerve issue due to the November wreck; and barely finding time for myself, I caught myself chasing my tail.

So with everything going on, the blog took a back seat. Sorry about that. Since the staff is going to lunch soon (and I am paying for the secretary’s since I forgot to honor her on Administrative Professional Day), I want to leave you with a few quotes:

“Discernment- the ability to tell the difference between right, and almost right.”  Given to me by someone after my sermon on discernment. (Quoted by Priscilla Shirer in her Armor of God Bible study. Original quote by Spurgeon).

“I rest assured that I am loved by a holy God. His will for me is always right, good and true.”

“Sinners tend to want to author their own moral codes.”  (Both quotes by Paul David Tripp in New Morning Mercies-May 10)

Just give you something to think about and chew on. Hope you have a great day.

Someday

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

I was sitting in my chiropractor’s office Friday and since I had forgotten to bring something to read (DUH!), I picked up a Men’s Health magazine. I ran across an article about a trainer named Bobby Maximus. (Sort of reminds me of Gladiator.  🙂 )  I give you that, not as a stamp of approval on Maximus, but as a “give credit where credit is due” thing. Anyway, they had some sayings which Maximus is fond of using.  Several of them struck a chord…one I’ve heard before: “Do what’s right, not what’s easy.”

But the one that stayed with me so much I wrote it down and use it now is this:

There are 7 days in a week. ‘Someday’ is not one of them.

It is easy getting into that mode-whether we talk about our physical condition; our exercise program; a relationship we want to cultivate; a goal we want to realize; and especially our relationship with God. I don’t really need to go into detail as to each of these modes, so to speak. We all know how it applies to our physical condition or an exercise program, etc.

I do find it somewhat disconcerting when I consider how I have used the “Someday excuse” when it comes to cultivating my relationship with God. “Someday I will have that Quiet Time.” “Someday I will pray.” “Someday I will learn that verse.” Someday. Someday. Someday. And Someday never gets anything accomplished.

I’ve written about my two bike wrecks. No need to go into them again. If you want to read about it go here. But those two wrecks have taught me some serious lessons…one of them is don’t use “Someday” as an excuse to get things done which need done. Don’t keep putting things off.  For example, Jo & I are in a much better place than we have been for years, largely because of this philosophy.  Talking more. Hugging and snuggling more. Kissing more. I’ll stop there. 🙂 🙂  (I know Tami…TMI)

Don’t keep saying “Someday.”

Fog

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

As in stupor. Lull. Clouded mind.

This morning (Tuesday) I was reading a devotion from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. I’m not saying this lightly: I am not sure there has ever been a devotion that hit me so hard and so “where I live” as this one. I’m going to give you snippets of it in this blog and then include it at as a whole at the end.

Human beings, who were created to live in awe of God, are in grave danger when familiarity causes them to be bored with God.

That was just the opening line! But he wasn’t done.

Familiarity is a beautiful thing…But the blessing of blessings is to be familiar with the ways, the character, the presence, and the promises of God…Yes, familiarity is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a very dangerous thing.

By this time he had my undivided attention. Something began to ring in my ears and in my heart. Something disturbing. Convicting. Unnerving. Truthful.  Then came this:

Every human being was designed by God to have his hopes, dreams, choices, words, actions, desires, and motivations shaped by a jaw-dropping, heart-controlling, life-shaping awe of God…Familiarity causes us to lose our awe of God. What once stunned us doesn’t anymore. {Note: you can read the rest on your own below}

Here is what I wrote in my journal:

“I wonder, as I think back, if this is some of what happened {Note: previous to my bike wreck in February}. Had I lost my awe of God? Had I taken Him for granted? That, (along with a couple other factors), could be the source of my stupor and lull of the desert from mid summer to my wreck in February. I may not know what caused the wreck, but as time goes by I seem to get a better handle on my (spiritual) struggle leading up to it. And that is good. 🙂 As I do, a little more of me wakes up. And that is very good.” 🙂  (In case you are new, if you read here you will find out what happened.  You can find out what I did my first Sunday back in the pulpit after the wreck here. And then read this post to find out a recap of what has been happening.

I know we each have our own journey we are traveling. This may have absolutely no relevance to yours. That’s okay. Then again…maybe it does. Below is the whole day’s devotion. I hope it is clear enough for you.

 

 

Thoughts

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Random thoughts from Sunday:

Any time I have gone away, I have always tried to come home either later Sunday or sometime Monday or Tuesday. I was reminded again of why. We went away from Wednesday through Friday. I made it home in time (45 minutes to spare) to take tickets at the high school basketball game. I slogged through Saturday’s preparation for my sermon. While the sermon was done physically, the spiritual part of me needs Saturday to get it in gear. Nope…didn’t happen. I like coming home the early part of the week since it means I will have time to prepare myself. Today was one of those days when it was a “little bit of me and a whole lot of God.”

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A few thoughts from Sunday’s message are pertinent to Christ-followers:

“Our salvation is the most important thing about us. If we have it, we are wealthy beyond belief. If we don’t, we are most to be pitied.” James McDonald

An unchanged life is a sign of an unchanged heart.  (Me)  This debunks the myth that I can live anyway I want and still call myself a Christian.

Real knowledge is not knowing something; it is in knowing Someone, a Person…Jesus Christ. (Me)  All the knowledge in the world will amount to nothing without a personal knowledge of Jesus.

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I have been asked to consider something wa-a-a-a-a-y out of my comfort zone or even my “desire” zone. I’m not at liberty to say what it is, but if you wouldn’t mind saying a prayer, God knows what it is about. Interestingly enough, Tami (my daughter), has approached me with an opportunity she has which will require stretching. You might want to include her. I hope to link to her blog this week as she writes about it. Thanks ahead of time.

There is some Sunday meandering for you. Random I know.

Safe

Monday, September 12th, 2016

After last week’s session with our local judge on sex trafficking, I decided to continue reading a book I started several months ago and laid aside (and I’m not sure why).  The book is called Make it Zero by Mary Frances Bowley. It is divided into 5 sections:

Zero Poverty

Zero Hunger

Zero Isolation

Zero Abuse

Zero Trafficking

I started the Zero Abuse chapter last night and it began with the following quote:

Darkness cannot drive out the darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here are some chilling statistics that come from the book:

A report of child abuse is made ever ten seconds.

The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations-losing an average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect.

Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children.

There are more chilling stats to add but that is enough.

The overreaching question is this: where is the love a parent is supposed to have for their child? Obviously missing for many.

My heart bleeds for little children-the innocent victims of a broken society. It still comes down to Dr. King’s statement. It starts with each one of us being the light, sharing our love. And ultimately, us pointing people to the ONE who said, “I am the light of the world.”

 

Reviews

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Occasionally I will post a book review. After two fairly “heavy” posts, I decided a diversion was necessary. So I’m going to post three reviews at a time. One I read over a period of several weeks. One I read while on vacation. And one I read awhile ago but needed to wait for the right time.

First up: the one I read over a period of several weeks. The Comeback by Louie Giglio

Product Details

Most Christ-followers in today’s generation know who Louis Giglio is. Passion Conference. Chris Tomlin. Matt Redman. Passion City Church in Atlanta. Best known for years as the founder/leader of Passion Conferences and the music which followed, Louie is also a pastor and author. The Comeback is his latest. It is filled with stories of people who had second chances in life. I found it helpful and encouraging to read. Not a lot of depth in biblical teaching but there was enough to find my book marked up pretty well. If you are looking for a book with excellent stories and some good (but sometimes trite) teaching, you won’t go wrong taking some time reading this. There is a corresponding Study Guide/DVD series which goes along with it for use with a small group.

One I read while on vacation: The Trail by Ed Underwood

Product Details

I loved this book! It is not your typical sit-right-down-and-underline-while-taking-notes type of book. Ed writes it as a parable of a possible real life adventure. Wanting to know God’s will seems to be at the top of many Christ-follower’s lives. Ed writes this as an engaging story while teaching eight principles for illuminating the path ahead. It is not mere pablum or trite “Christianese.” Even though I am currently not seeking God’s will about any kind of professional change, the principles apply to all areas of life. Ed has written several other books which I highly recommend and this one is no exception.

The one I read awhile ago: Note the Quote by Floyd Samons

If I have a blogger to name whom I have come to know and love over the years it would be Floyd. We have personally corresponded with each other through the years. I have found him to be the genuine article. He blogs here. His writing is always fun and engaging. Sometimes surprising. Always with a point. This short book contains various quotes from his blogs over the years. Quotes on Wisdom, Inspiration, Reflection, and some Lighter ones are included. As I read it I checked those which I particularly liked. I plan to review it from time to time. It is a self-published book of 47 pages and you can get it from him directly. Go to his blog and follow directions. 🙂

That’s enough for now. I’ll return with more books at various time. So…what are you reading that you think I ought to latch on to?

Pain

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

I reiterate my previous post’s statement: One of my nominees for Book-of-the-Year is this one:

Product Details

I’ve lost both my grandparents. I’ve lost my father-in-law (whom I loved and respected dearly) in 1998 while having heart surgery. I’ve lost my mother-in-law in 2001 to heart failure. I’ve lost my mother to cancer in 2004. I’ve lost countless friends in the churches I have served.

But I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose a child…of any age. King Theodan (from Fellowship of the Ring) could understand because he expressed it: “No father should bury his son.” My best male friend buried his youngest son in 2006 after an accident.

The pain of that loss has to be like a hot iron left on the skin…only this one goes deep into the heart. This book is Levi’s (and his wife, Jennie) adventure through this minefield of losing their five year old daughter, Lenya. I’ve reviewed the book here. And wrote two other posts here and here. This is my final post…I think. I’d like to encourage you to get the book yourself and read it.  I’d like to leave you with something Levi wrote and Jennie said:

Pain is a microphone. And the more it hurts, the louder you get. Suffering isn’t an obstacle to being used by God. It is an opportunity to be used like never before. Levi (p.108)

God isn’t scared of what you’re scared of. Levi. (p.165)

God wants to turn

your mess into a message,

your misery into a ministry,

your pain into a platform

and your chaos into a crown.

-Jennie Lusko (via Diana’s research)

I’m not sure I can say much to add “good” to that. They are the ones who have lived through the “hell” of losing their child. If you have, maybe you can relate.

There you have it.

Potpourri

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Every once in awhile I have multiple things going through my thought process for writing, but each one seems to be not quite enough to write a blog about. So I combine them into one. Today is one of those days.

In the “I just read this” department:

I’m reading a book called An Unquiet Mind-a book about manic depressive/bi-polar people. Thankfully I am neither but it was recommended by Linda Stoll so I thought I would check it out. The author writes this:

Spending a lot of money that you don’t have-or, as the formal diagnostic criteria so quaintly puts it, “engaging in unrestrained buying sprees”-is a classic part of mania.  (p.74)

Yikes! I sarcastically thought there must be a lot of people who are fitting into this category. Truth is many of us-although certainly not bi-polar or manic-spend way beyond our means. The reasons for that vary, but it is a sign of a “divided heart.”

In the “for the pastor/church” department:

I’d like to suggest you read this and tell your pastor/leaders about it. I’m pretty sure Jared is dead on. Least for me he was.

In the “you know there would be music in this post” department:

I have been fascinated with this singer for the past month or so. She has given me a new appreciation for Celtic music, as well as female singers. Check out this song (includes lyrics on screen) and this one. And for a completely different tune.

Okay…that’s enough rambling. After reading…and listening…you are now allowed to get back to work. 🙂

Observations

Monday, February 1st, 2016

I wanted to post this Sunday night like I normally do but thought better of it. Sometimes judgments/decisions/observations are often made too quickly. I’ve seen people (but never me…aaaah yeah) make hasty decisions/judgments based on the heat of the moment and have it turn out all wrong. Whether it is euphoria from a “mountain top high” or a hasty or ill-advised decision while in the valley or when despondent, neither is good.  Several things happened over the weekend-some of which I asked prayer for-and I thought I would write about them.

The highlight of my weekend had to be Saturday. My young bride of almost 43 years turned into her official “I’m retired and I can collect Social Security” self. Some of her favorite people surprised her at HuHot Mongolian Grill. You read that right…Mongolian Grill. This from the woman who can’t stand to eat Chinese. I ask that age old question: who can understand a woman? 🙂  The main ones missing were our family in Ohio. But we had a good time.

If you read this post from last week, you read about our “chance” encounter with a young man and his family. I had the honor of welcoming them to our worship Sunday (not publicly) for the first time, and then had the privilege of taking them to lunch with Ryan (techgeek) and my oldest, Tami. Jo flew the coop for the afternoon. We had a wonderful lunch at Chicago’s Pizza and even better conversation. A good thing: I am having lunch with their pastor Tuesday. He is a dear friend and I certainly don’t want to lose his friendship because we didn’t talk.

I asked prayer for a local church which is blowing apart in this post. There were about 11 people from that church visiting with us Sunday. I refuse to be a sheep-stealer so my philosophy will be to give it time and see what happens. Meanwhile, I have told a couple they are more than welcome to worship with us, get their bearings, some much-needed healing, and then decide what they want to do. You might want to include Church X in your daily prayers. I would also ask for prayers to handle the whole thing wisely.

I’m working on a sermon series which will take all of March and April. I started on it Monday. I read a quote I want to leave with you…and I plan to discuss it in another post (very soon). Here is the quote:

Faith is to the soul what swallowing is to the body-and the health of the body is largely dependent on what is swallowed.

Thanks for hanging in there with such a “wordy” post (long past my norm). Have a good day.