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#4Truths#ClingTo

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

I mentioned in my last post that I was deeply influenced by 4 truths taught in Jesus Revolution by Greg Laurie and Ellen Vaughn. Before I share those 4 truths, I think it is important to give you the backstory to them. Greg and Cathe Laurie are the parents of two sons. The oldest, Christopher, had gotten into drugs and the way of the world. But one day he recommitted his life to Christ and it was real. He became a good husband and father. He also worked alongside his dad, who was and is the pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California.  One day they were waiting for Christopher to show with water for a ministry they were doing when it became later and later. Finally Greg received word that Christopher had been killed in a car accident. He said he collapsed on his front porch and and wept. But as he wept he said, “You gave him to me in the first place, and now I give him back to you.”  Would the faith they absorbed during the Jesus Movement days and practiced since the ’60s sustain he and Cathe? The reality of faith didn’t anesthetize the pain. Trusting Jesus wasn’t an emotional Xanax. But faith did make the pain bearable. 

They knew four truths, not just intellectually, but deep in their souls. These truths were what they could hold on to in the midst of their storm.  Here they are:

#1- Life is full of trouble, just as Jesus had promised.  John 16:33 comes to my mind when I think about this.

#2- They knew God loved them.  I personally think this is where we get tripped up the most. Sometimes we think we are owed something because of the life we have lived-both good and bad (our childhood for example). We might be going through a tough season-mentally, physically and spiritually-but we have the assurance of God’s love.

#3- They knew Jesus wept with them.  Ask for a memory verse in a contest and invariably someone will says, “Jesus wept.” We chuckle (although it is old) but have you ever considered the power in that short verse?

#4- They knew God can be glorified, in some mysterious way, by human suffering.  Job was able to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The Lauries were able to say that as well.  The proof is in the fruit.

So much there.  Unpack it some more on your own. Want some help? Feel free to contact me.

#Worry#Wringhands#Trust

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Corrie Ten Boom, the Holocaust survivor who for years traveled the globe telling of her experience in the Nazi prison camp and spreading words of God’s love and forgiveness once said:

Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrows; it empties today of strength.

I think we all know people who worry a lot. We even call them “worry warts.” They wring their hands, bite their nails, toy with their hair, bite their lips, and a host of other physical displays, very often a sign of worrying or being overly concerned about something. 

Oh…then add in this all-important upcoming election which has many up in arms and you can find plenty of people filled with worry. Just listen to them (then again…you may not want to). No matter the outcome, we must realize as Christ-followers that we are not in charge (neither side is) but God is.

All in all, worry is counterproductive to what God has in mind for our lives.  The word worry means “to take a thought” or “to be careful.” The Greek actually takes it a step further and tells us it means “to be divided” or “inwardly distracted.” Boy, ain’t that the truth!

As you might have been able to gather, my sermon is on worry this weekend. 🙂  I’m using two specific examples and Scriptures for my thoughts. Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 and the words of Jesus in Matthew 6: 23-34. It certainly is not the definitive sermon on worry, but if it gets a conversation started among people then I will consider it a good thing. I would appreciate your prayers please as I preach and as people listen-in person and online. Thanks.

#Faith#Feelings#Doubt#

Sunday, October 4th, 2020

Today, Sunday, I spoke about how doubt should not be panned and dismissed as invalid. While I don’t question God’s character or who Jesus is as the Son of God, fully God and fully man, I do have questions. They center mostly on why things are the way they are. I struggle with not knowing what God has in mind for my life. I don’t doubt his love for me, nor do I doubt He has an ultimate plan. I struggle with Him not sharing it with me. 🙂

Part of my sermon was spent in Psalm 13 as David wrestles with the whole faith vs doubt thing.  I owe a debt of thanks to Randall Arthur (Randy Dodd) who first wrote about this in his excellent novel, Wisdom Hunter. (And yes, I am encouraging you to buy it and read it).  Anyway, here is how he teaches Psalm 13.

  1. In verse 1 David says God has forgotten him. But in verse 5 he says God loves him unceasingly (steadfast).
  2. In verse 1 he says that God has hidden His face from him. But in verse 6 he writes that God has been good to him. (dealt bountifully with me)
  3. In verse 2 he wrestled with many thoughts (take counsel in my soul) and had sorrow in his heart every day. But in verse 6 David says, “I will sing to the Lord.”
  4. In verse 2 David writes, “My enemy is triumphing over me.” And yet at the end of verse 5 he says God is delivering him (my heart shall rejoice in my salvation).

Why? Is David schizophrenic? No, of course not.  The point to see it this: There is often a difference between how we feel and what is true. Feelings can be so deceptive and unreliable. How many times have you or someone you know done something because “it felt right” or “it felt good,” but all along it is against the Scripture?  The very fact that David kept on going is proof that his beliefs kept him from being overtaken by his feelings. Trouble comes when our feelings become stronger than our beliefs.

I hope you will keep that in mind as you move through each day.

#Faith#TruthfulSayings

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

I wrote a blog post here about reading Dr. Lee Warren’s book I’ve Seen the End of You.  Here are some thoughts from that book for you to think about this week:

With the prism of faith, we see only blurred lines of pain, disease, and disappointment.

Faith aligns what you think you’re seeing with reality. It shifts your focus from the problem to the promise.

Faith allows you to see it’s okay to have doubt but we doubt the doubt more than the promise of the One who never breaks His word.

Faith doesn’t keep us from having problems. (My note: Hear that all you health/wealth/prosperity (un)gospel teachers?) It just gives a clearer view of how God is responding to them.

Doubt is not fatal if we recognize it for what it is: a smudge on the lens. When we realize that, wipe it clear, and put the glasses back on, we’ll be okay.

The things we think we know are more like cataracts. They can obscure and blind us to the truth of God’s work around us that is plain to see when our eyes are healthy.

(All taken from page 254 of Dr. Warren’s book)

I’d like to highly recommend you read his book. I am now reading his previous book, No Place to Hide which covers his time in Iraq as a medical surgeon in Balad. It is gut-wrenching so far. More praise to our armed forces!!

 

#/DreamBig#GoodRead

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Every once in awhile (not very often) I will look in the mirror or say to myself, “I wish I was younger.”  After 22 miles on a hot, humid and hilly day in the saddle this past Saturday, I got off my bike completely spent and found myself saying, “I wish I was younger.” (Yeah, I didn’t get any sympathy from my wife either).  When I cut my grass (I walk it) and my back, legs and knees are sore when I’m done, I wish I was younger.  When I look at what used to be Mr. America type muscles (cough! cough! That’s a joke son. I say. I say. That’s a joke) and see that I can no longer get the size I used to (especially since I don’t use steroids), I will say, “I wish I was younger.” When I make my way to bed between 9-9:30 so I can get up at 3:30 and it is still light out, Jo and I will sometimes say, “We’re pathetic.” (Translate: we didn’t do this when we were younger).  When I used to memorize a good part, if not all, of my sermon and now have trouble with the title, I will say, “I remember when I was younger.” 🙂

Just recently I finished a book only I didn’t wait until I was finished to say, “I wish I was younger.” I was saying it all along.  I have loved reading Bob Goff’s books- Love Does and Everyone Always. They were gems to read.  Going on that I picked up his newest book, Dream Big. He didn’t disappoint. His engaging and out-of-the-corner-of-his-mouth way of speaking and writing make me chuckle. It also had me underlining. I took notes. Each chapter began with a short pithy statement that alone was worth the price of the book. It read quickly. It is not filled with deep theological truth that makes you stop and chew on it for days.  That is not his style. But you cannot go away from any one chapter not thinking. His stories capture you. His honesty and transparency are refreshing.  Bob has the ability to laugh at himself and also to be serious about the passions which drive him.

But I wish I was younger.  If I was in my 20s or 30s or even 40s this would be a book I would read over and over, probably once a year. But at age 67 I’m near the end of my dreaming big stage. Not that I’m done dreaming or hoping or wanting to serve, but I WISH I WAS YOUNGER! I’m giving this book to my daughter, Tami, to read. She’s only 45 and has dreams. I want her to pursue them, especially since teaching kindergarten kids in school is no longer what it once was. Masks on kids? Seriously? Social distancing kindergarten kids? Seriously? “Pursue your dreams Tami.” And you who might be reading this: pursue your dreams. Especially if you are young and still have time to dream big.

Yeah…if I was only younger. My suggestion: go out and buy this for someone you love and care about. Read it with them and challenge them. Mentor them to pursue their God-given passions.  Let me leave you with just three quick quotes from his book:

Live on the edge of yikes. (p.155)

I love that!! Here is another:

Be where your feet are. (p.127)

That is an old South saying. And one more:

Don’t act like you got it all figured out. Nobody wants to give that person extra time.  Instead, be humble, self-aware, and punishingly truthful. (p.15)

There are more…way more. Enough to fill two journal pages.  Get the book for yourself and read it.

Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What You’re Going to Do About It

#MyChallenge

Monday, June 29th, 2020

My sermon yesterday was on God. How He promises the impossible and does the incredible.  I used several Scriptures during the message.

“Ah, Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard from You!” Jer.32:17

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Jer.32:27  (Rhetorical question from God)

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Gabriel’s words to Mary in Luke 1:37

“What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  Jesus’ words to the crowd in Luke 18:27

David and Goliath. (Was a little boy really supposed to even have a chance against a veteran soldier who was also a giant?)  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the furnace. Daniel in the lion’s den.  Moses parting the Red Sea. God was a God of miracles, One who did things way beyond what could be imagined.

He made the promise: “Nothing is too hard for me.” He kept it. He still does.  My challenge to the folks yesterday and to me was to trust God with what seems to be impossible situations. He promised He would come through. His track record is impeccable. 

Join me. Won’t you?

#Where’sBill?#GreatDisappearningAct

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

I’ve been largely absent from this blog this week. Okay…I haven’t been here at all, except to tell myself I ought to post something. I could shoot you all kinds of excuses but you might think I’m just blowing smoke. I don’t smoke so it can’t be that.  It’s just plain being busy.

Ryan is out of the office this week. I told him several weeks ago I expected him to find a week where he, Hope and the kids can get away. No office. No media (although I have no control over his phone use).  He has been working hard through this whole COVID thing trying to stay in touch with the kids. Lots of ZOOM meetings with them. Studying to make their time productive.  He even had an early Sunday morning time with the elementary kids! They sang; they danced (the kids did); he taught them and they loved it. He did too. But then he would rush to the church building and be one of the 4 who were here-Jo (Power Point); Tami (recording for FB); Ryan (sound and recording); and me (preaching…I think).  He took on the added responsibility of helping get our fledgling recording of the worship started and moving. He also had two weeks of Wilderness Week at our church camp cancelled (they cancelled the whole summer). So along with some frustration was some sadness.  He was tired and wore out.  So they went camping.

Today is his and Hope’s anniversary (#15 I think) and they decided to spend it together backpacking. Not to worry. They spent their honeymoon camping as they traveled cross country.  I affiliate with strange people you know? 🙂 In all honesty, there is no underestimating his value to the team. I am so grateful that he left a secure bank job to become our youth pastor. The dude knows how to minister. 

My week has been full with appointments, one that went way past my normal bedtime.  Yesterday I spent time visiting some folks who would love to be there on Sunday but are being cautious because of underlying health issues.  It was a fun afternoon. But when I do those things it takes me out of the office.

So…out of office…no blog. I know, I know. Makes you sadder than all get out. I love my job. I prefer to call it my calling. I love seeing people. It has been a good week.  I look forward to tomorrow except for the doctor’s visit at 7 a.m. which is a follow-up to lab work from last Friday. But I get to spend the day with Jo! That’s always good.

Hope your week was good. Anything you can share about it that will put a smile to my face?

#Strength#WearyDays#BiggerGod

Friday, June 19th, 2020

I’m sure you have heard the American prayer. In fact, I suspect you have probably prayed it as have I. That prayer is simple:

Lord, give me patience…and give it to me now!

As I write this post, and as I prepare to preach on Sunday morning, I am a poster child for this prayer. It is far more common than I (and possibly you) would be willing to admit. Patience is not a virtue of many most Americans. We want it and we want it now. Case in point: the recent COVID shutdown. The first week or so we were patient and sort of reveled in the change. But as it went on longer we saw signs of impatience creep into our lives. Many who said, “No way will I go out” began to stretch the boundaries. 

We see this “I want it now” mentality in newlyweds.  They don’t want to wait to get things they grew up with. Without even realizing it they want what their parents had and spent years planning and saving for. We end up in debt up to our eyeballs because of our impatience.

Following God is no different. We want answers…NOW. We want God’s direction…NOW. When truthfully, waiting is the last thing we want to do. But oftentimes we are called on to wait. Sunday’s Scripture is most definitely one of the key passages about that: “Those who wait on the Lord…”

Sunday’s sermon is the second part of Isaiah 40 that began last week. This week is from Isaiah 40: 28-31: “Strength for Weary Days.” Thanks for your prayers for me and the church as we meet.

 

#Loved#Surprised#WOW!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

I have a file in my office I have titled “Makes it All Worthwhile.” It is filled with cards, notes, pictures and miscellaneous things people have sent or given me over the years to remind me of their love, prayers, thanks, and all-around encouragement. With the onset of texting I sometimes receive encouragement that I cannot put into that file. Yesterday, was one such day.  I was in the dermatologist’s office and when I got back to my truck checked my phone.  I had received the following text. I am withholding the person’s name but will text that person with the link to this post. I want him/her to know how much their text meant to me.  Here is the text:

6 different times in the last two days, I have had you heavy on my heart. I did some digging and found this in Jeremiah- “and I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

This is what I feel like I’m supposed to remind you of:

The crap of the world right now can be discouraging. Can feel like you aren’t able to do what God has called you to do in the capacity you normally do it. But don’t be discouraged by that. You are reaching people that you may have never reached because you are forced to do so online. You got this because God’s got this and you are totally a dude after his own heart.

Love you! Happy Tuesday!

My response:

“Was in doc office and don’t take my phone in. I’m emotional over your text because you care. And I love you and appreciate you for that. It has definitely been different but I’m also seeing God come through in a big way. I’m excited about telling the folks how.”

One of the people I shepherd sent that to me.  A guy can go a long way on encouragement like that. He/she has no idea how that made my day and my drive home yesterday morning. So here is my question to you: have you told your pastor how much he means to you? I guarantee it will go a long way in lifting his spirits.

#Surrender#Preparation#ReadingGod’sWord

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

In my last post I mentioned that I was looking for something in one of my old journals. I found it, along with the thoughts from the previous post.  I would like to include what I was looking for in this post for you to keep and have available.

There is a story behind this. Back in late 2016 and early 2017 I was dry. I had been hit by a hit-n-run driver while riding my bike in November of 2016. In February I did an endo while going down a hill. To this day I have no clue what happened. But as painful as the lessons were, combined they woke me up from my slumber.  This reading was one of the first things I latched onto after the first accident (or shortly before). I knew I wasn’t right and something had to give. I share it with you:

O Holy Spirit of God,

come now and live forever in my heart and in my thoughts.

Be the inspiration, through the Word,

for all my thoughts and deeds.

Take possession of my imagination and grant

that all my thoughts may be in line with the Word.

Take possession of the deepest core of my will,

and through Your Word, control my life in its totality.

God-given Word, be with me in my silence and in my words,

when I work and when I relax, in the freshness of the morning

and also the melancholy of the night.

Grant me the grace, Spirit of the Word, to delight

in the mystery of Your pronouncements.

Make my heart an altar and pour the

purifying fire of Your love into it.

Spirit of the Word, be with me today in everything I do.

Don’t let me deny friendliness and courtesy to those around

me, for I know I’m being true to the Word in the way I treat others.

O Holy Spirit, be with me when I

read and study the Word today.

Grant that it would refresh my spirit

so that I will keep on seeking in it

the pure, and the good, and the true.

Lord Jesus, You broke the bread there at the lake,

break every day Your Bread of Life for me, O Lord.   Amen.

It reminds me of the hold hymn “Break Thou the Bread of Life” and I would find myself breaking out in a quiet song after reading it. May this reading open your heart to listening to God speak through His Word.