Friendship

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Homecoming

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

Maybe Homegoing is a better way to say it.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15

Saturday. September 9th. 4:00 PM. Mike Murphy went home.

Mike fought a valiant battle. He remained upbeat as much as he was able until the disease robbed him of the ability to show it. He lost his physical strength. He lost his ability to verbally communicate. Eventually the cancer which had spread throughout his body robbed him of his ability to even breathe.

But throughout the ordeal, which really wasn’t long compared to some, Mike maintained one very important thought: “I know whom I have believed and I know He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him for that day.” Mike’s attitude soon reflected the same I saw in my late mother: He would fall asleep and wake and with disappointment say, “Oh, I’m still here.” He wasn’t in a hurry to leave Sheila, his wife of 17 years. (I married them in June of 2000 in Terre Haute, IN). He was in a hurry to see Jesus, the One who loved him, saved him, gave him the love of his life, and would say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Mike is home.

Thanks to all of you who prayed for Mike and Sheila. She needs your prayers now as she makes the necessary preparations for his celebration. They have asked me to speak at his funeral. I’d appreciate your prayers for me as I prepare my remarks. That, of course, means my presence here and at your place will be up in the air.  I’m sure you will understand if I don’t make it by to comment.

I’m glad I can approach Mike’s funeral with joy (mingled with sadness of course), but joy because I know where he is spending eternity.  I cannot say that for all funeral services I do, nor am I happy when I do one where the person has rejected God’s love and invitation. The odds are 1 out of 1 that we will die. Are you ready?

Broken

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Several years ago I read a book by Ed Underwood called When God Breaks Your Heart. Ed had a severe case of leukemia which manifested itself in skin pealing from his body in scratch-defying itching, a bloated body and countless other problems. In one chapter entitled Snake Oil (aptly titled due to the subject matter) he included several quotes. One was “Christians tell me they don’t know what to say, and then they open their mouths to prove it.” Another was “Hurting people are petty people.”

There comes a time in everyone’s life when strength is gone. We find ourselves on the last bit of will or desire to do much of anything, even living. Life falls apart and sometimes we just don’t know what do, where to turn.

I like what the late A.W.Tozer, a Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor once wrote:

It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.

My sermon this Sunday is titled “More Power to Ya” and my original plan was to show this video. While driving to Ohio this past Monday, I heard this song on my Spotify. I’m using it instead.  Prayers would be appreciated.

I made over a four hour trip yesterday (Wednesday) to visit with a couple I married back in 2000. I received word that Mike had cancer all through his body. He has asked me to perform his memorial service so I went to visit but also to talk about that service. I’d like to ask you to pray for Mike and Sheila. The pain for him will become excruciating and the loss will be numbing for her. Thanks.

Need

Friday, July 7th, 2017

Grace…who needs it?

Truth:  it becomes easy at times to say, “That’s not for me. After all, I stack up pretty well against the majority.” Ironically, that is a pretty good indicator it is needed! 🙂  In fact, it is not uncommon to have similar ideas as the woman at the well.

It is also not uncommon for us to look around and feel real good that our “sin is not as bad as that person’s.” It is also easy to become judgmental and opinionated about sin. But there is a verse which tracks well: “See to it that no one misses the grace of God.” Heb.12:15  Ooooh yeah…now I remember. I remember how caustic I was. I remember how standoffish I was. I remember how I looked at people with a sideways glance and a raised eyebrow. All the while feeling pretty good about myself.  But listen to these words from Kyle Idleman’s book Grace is Greater.

When we miss grace things become toxic. Religion without grace is poisonous. A relationship without grace is poisonous. A church without grace is poisonous. A heart without grace is poisonous.

Then he really hits hard:

When we miss grace, the poison of bitterness and anger will eventually become too much to keep buried. The poison of guilt and shame will eventually destroy your soul.

The truth is we all need grace. And I don’t mean grace for salvation. I mean grace for living. One last quote:

God’s grace is compelling when explained but irresistible when experienced.

My sermon Sunday will focus on this subject. I’d appreciate your prayers for me and the folks who listen.

Sacred

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

I’m sorry if you get tired of hearing about this but something has been sitting in my lap for a few days.

Being a victim of a hit and run driver while riding my bicycle has been a tad bit unsettling. Very unsettling for Jo. A tad for me.

But here is what is bothering me. I have been speaking to others-cyclists and non-cyclists-who are appalled at what happened. “How could someone just do that?” “How could someone hit someone and not care?” In fact, just this morning at the Y (Wednesday), I was talking to a man who prefers mountain biking over road biking because he got buzzed on his last ride. His question: “How can anyone be so mean, so uncaring about another human life?”

That really is the crux of the matter, you know? How? How can someone do that to someone else? How can I get buzzed, throw my arms out in question, and get the “royal bird” flashed back at me? That tells me that he/she knew exactly what they were doing.

It comes down to this: Human life is no longer sacred. Human life no longer means much to people. We live in a throw-away society so life is the same. Can there be any other explanation for the pro-choice view of life? I’m going to borrow some words from Jared C. Wilson’s book Unparalleled: How Christianity’s Uniqueness Makes it Compelling:

 Human life isn’t sacred because we managed to be the experiment of nature that finally worked. Human life isn’t sacred because we are beneficial to each other or to society. Human life isn’t sacred when it is wanted or desired or loved. Human life is sacred because God created it in his own image. (p.78-79)

How can anyone read Psalm139:13-16 and not see that uniqueness, that sacredness? God has made us in His image; we are His image-bearers. That doesn’t mean because we are “useful,” but beautiful.

This post was in the germination stage but took root when I read this post by my blogging friend, Jay. Jay directed us to his daughter, Sarah’s blog, where she also included a homemade video.  Powerful stuff. Please take a moment to read both and watch the video.

I’d like to hear your thoughts.

DAD

Friday, June 16th, 2017

If you look at my new header one of the descriptions of myself is “father.”  I have two of the above pictured “hangy down things.” (It has a red string that allows it to hang).  They were gifts from Tami and Janna in 1986. Tami would have been 11 and Janna almost 7. They hang in my office on a file cabinet where I can see them and be reminded of the blessing of being a dad.

It has always been important to me to be a dad. I don’t mean this to sound crude, but anyone can be a father. But being a dad? Lifetime challenge. Being a dad shows it is more than a biological necessity. I didn’t have a good role model, so a lot of mine was trial and error. But I would rather err on the tried-it-but-it-didn’t work side, than on the side that never tried or did anything. I did make mistakes, but I had two very forgiving and loving daughters who chose to love their dad.

This week’s sermon focuses on “The Man God Uses.”  It is actually very practical. I’m not out to put dads into a tailspin caused by the overwhelming guilt of failure.  Here are the qualities I plan to emphasize Sunday:

Holiness

A Pure Heart

A Contrite Heart

Reverence and Awe toward God

Faithfulness

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, looking for men who are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chron.16:9

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL YOU GUYS!!

Your prayers would be much appreciated for Sunday. And in case you missed the last post…today (June 16th) is my 44th anniversary to a wonderful woman.

Messiahs

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

There are two sides to this post.

Side one: those who have a “Messiah complex.”

Side two: those who put people on a pedestal which sets them up for a fall.

We all know about those with a “Messiah complex.” We usually associate that with a cult or some overbearing leader (usually religious) who thinks he/she is God’s gift to mankind. This person takes control and takes over peoples’ lives, pretending to care, but really seeking the opportunity to pounce. They had them in Jesus’ day. We have them today, most often found in legalistic churches, word-of-faith communities, and sadly, in the daily lives of many unaware people.

It is Side two which gives me greater concern. For some reason, we set people up as our “personal messiah.” What I mean by that is we put too much stock in one person; what they can/cannot do; how they can help us; meet our needs; answer our longings, etc. This can be seen in looking at another person as the one who can make us happy or fulfilled. The plain, rugged truth is only God can do that. If someone sets me on that type of pedestal, I am nothing more than a cheap “knock off.”  I was struck (I chuckled) by something from today’s New Morning Mercies: “Asking someone to be our personal messiah is “like requiring him to be the 4th member of the Trinity and then judging him when he fails.” {Note: substitute the female gender if you prefer}. It just can’t be. It can’t happen. No human can or should shoulder that responsibility. There is only one Savior and people “we aren’t Him.”

This is an important lesson to learn.  Bitterness and disappointment is the result of someone failing to meet our expectations. It is impossible for people to meet my needs. And it is impossible for someone to expect me to meet their needs. Not just impossible. Wrong. My focus, your focus, needs to be where it belongs…on Jesus.

Requests

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Every once in a while nothing needs to be said except “Help!”  I’m not in that boat at the moment but I would like to ask your help by praying for several folks.  That is the sole purpose of this post today.

First, one of my blogging friends, Martha Jane Orlando, has been going through a tough time lately with her husband, Danny. Martha blogs here and if you go to this particular one it will take you on a four-post ride and what she has been experiencing with Danny. I have continued personal correspondence with her and Danny had surgery, developed an infection and had to return to the hospital so the infection would clear up and then have another surgery.  She has been incognito in blogland because of it. Please keep Danny and Martha in your prayers.

My brother, Rob, and his wife, Joy, head to Italy Monday (May 15th) to do mission work until July 3rd. Working with some missionary friends, they will be teaching English to folks, but will be using a Bible-based book to do it. So the opportunities for sharing Christ are immense. There is a great opportunity to meet with these folks one-on-one. They are excited and anxious all at the same time. I saw Rob a week and a half ago and he seems to be returning to better health. Please pray for he and Joy: their safe travel, their health while there, their opportunities for sharing Christ, and just an all-around good trip.

I have some very dear friends from the church who have had to move for various reasons. They need to sell their old house so they can “release that worry.” I love this family a lot and ask you to pray for them in this new venture. I know they would appreciate it also.

I know there are others to pray for. But I would be remiss if I didn’t ask prayer for me. Two bicycle accidents have taken their toll on my body, but the one in November (where the car hit me) has lingered a lot longer. Getting hit at 55-60 mph on my left cheek (missing my spine by 2″) has left its mark. I’m now painfully dealing with what they believe to be a sciatic nerve issue. I’m praying for healing without surgery. I’d like to ask you to join me.

So…how can I pray for you?

{Note: my next post will be recap of Mother’s 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.”

Evolution

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

In my last post, I showed  a picture of my new steed. 

Two items are in that picture. Yes, the new bike but please take note of the T-shirt. Last November I was hit by a car while riding. For Christmas my daughter, Tami, bought me this shirt. Actually, she had it made just for me. She thought she was being funny. (In reality, I gave the okay). 🙂

Then on Friday, February 17th, I had another accident, an accident of the I-don’t-know-what-happened variety. I did a face plant (I split my helmet in three places); broke my collarbone in 4 places; broke 3 ribs, suffered multiple contusions; and still am dealing with a huge hematoma on my right hip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But all is well and healing. I still do not know what happened. Shortly before the accident Tami had ordered me a new T-shirt made by the same people. She ordered one (hi-viz yellow) and I ordered one. The hi-viz green one had some stitching issues so she ordered another. Here is the green one:

But Tami’s “evil” friends were not done. Along with the hi-viz green (sense a color scheme here?) T-shirt they sent another one. “Tami, your dad seems such a good sport we wanted to make a T-shirt for him.” And below you see the T-shirt my daughter and her evil twins designed for me.

This was following my opening the package.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The is a better picture after I “settled” down and got the look off my face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, I think it is funny. Laughter is good medicine. I certainly can’t change what happened for either accident. So…I can choose to wallow and whine or laugh. I choose the latter. I’m wearing the “stunt” one to preach in this morning. Might as well get others to laugh with me (and they will).

And one final message for my daughter and those “evil” twins. I know where you live Tami. Thanks for being good sports. And I wear a lot of T-shirts so keep the cycling ones coming. 🙂 🙂

Interrupted

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

If you saw the last post, it was a description of Sunday’s sermon: Black/white.

Well…it was supposed to be. Until that Sunday morning when God interrupts the thought-process and says, “I want you to go in a different direction.”

So “Black Hats/White Hats” was held over until this coming Sunday. God had other ideas. I want you to know I’m not really into that. I prepare for a reason. I study for a reason. I practice on Sunday morning to an empty auditorium for a reason. I am a firm believer that if people come on Sunday morning to hear “me speak” (to hear a word from God as He has taught me), they need to hear something worth listening to. Half-baked, half-prepared sermons which use the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as an excuse for not studying and preparing tell the people they don’t matter and the pastor doesn’t care.  That’s not me. So when I no sooner begin my sermon and I sense the Holy Spirit prompting me to put it all aside and talk from the heart, I don’t jump up and down like Horshack on Kotter saying, “Ooh ooh ooh.”

That is what happened though this Sunday. I no sooner made two comments:

“Along with the fake there will always be a real.”

“Underneath it all we need to see that Looks can be deceiving.”

At that point I told the people to put their Bibles and notes away. I confessed to them that for the past 9 months or so I have been wearing a mask. I wore a mask so when they asked, “How you doing?” my stock answer was, “I’m fine.” Problem is Bill wasn’t fine. Bill was running on fumes.  He was empty.

It took two bicycle accidents to get my attention. The first didn’t work because it wasn’t my fault and I was able to move on too quickly from it. But this second one was a doozy. I’ve written about it here. I’m healing physically, but spiritually is taking longer. If you would like to listen to the podcast of Sunday’s talk, you can link here.

Your continued prayers are very much needed. Priorities need realigned. Relationships need mended and realigned as well. Thanks ahead of time.