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#NewPost#FamiliarSongs

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Over at my other blog I have written a devotion which will post tomorrow. But I know that many do not read it so I thought I would post it here a day earlier. In that post I talk about a song which plays over and over in one’s head.  Here is the rest of tomorrow’s devotion blog. By the way, I’d love to have you join me on a daily basis as I write a devotion that I pray helps my readers face the day.  The link to that blog is here.  And here is that post:

Did you ever have a song in your head and it gets stuck there and it keeps repeating and repeating?  Maybe it was one you heard just before bedtime and you woke up with that song playing over and over in your head. Or maybe you were in a “mood” and a song just struck you right. Or you heard a song that had you waxing nostalgic, reliving a scene from the past that song dredged up.

A few weeks ago I had a medical diagnosis hanging over my head that was cryptic at best. “You have a mass of suspicious origin so I want you to get an MRI. It just looks different.” Of course all sorts of things run through the mind. He wanted that MRI to get a closer and deeper look. Thankfully, it was gall stones (which he was able to go in and take out with a process called ECRP.  That led though to a gall bladder surgery this past Wednesday. I’m glad it is over and out. But the morning after those initial words I was driving to the office and a fairly new song to me was playing on my Spotify playlist-Holy is Your Name by Petra. I pulled into the parking spot and found myself overcome with emotion and wept. I just knew no matter the outcome, I was going to be okay. (Here is the link to that song).

One of my favorite worship songs was playing last night as I worked on a jigsaw puzzle. I have related here before how my relationship with my father was sketchy at best. No need to repeat it. But the song hit me last night and I became emotional. “You’re a good, good Father that’s who You are/And I’m love by You, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.” My earthly father loved me in his own way, I guess. But God!! There is no comparison. He is a good, good Father and I’m loved by Him.

Now…that’s a song to have stuck in my head and on repeat!! (Here is the link to that song).

“You are a good, good Father, Lord. I cannot thank You enough.”

#NeedaFather?#GoodOne

Monday, January 25th, 2021

Like many of you I am facing a week of uncertainty. Then again, isn’t every week like that? 🙂  After all none of us knows what the week will bring. Like the old saying/song goes (paraphrased): “I don’t know about the future but I know who holds it in His hands.”  You know…I’m sort of glad I don’t know. I mean, what would the adventure in living be if I knew what every step and every decision and every move I make was already known by me?

I grew up with a father, but I would not call him a good father. I loved my dad but as I got older I realized there was so much missing. As I have written here before, as long as I played baseball I was the “good son.” But when I switched to basketball and went after it with passion…well let’s just say from 9th grade to my Junior year in college (the last two games I ever played) my dad never once saw me play or expressed an interest in knowing how things were going. I guess I could include my mom in that but she had other things going on. Like 3 other boys besides me! And they were more high maintenance than me.  LOL (My brother Rob sometimes reads this and I just had to stick that in here for him. I love you Rob!).

As a pastor I have seen the devastation done to a family and to a son or daughter when the father is AWOL or MIA. Workaholism.  Affairs. Side roads of interest. Being home but not being home. Abuse. Bad fathers leave an ugly mark that could be seen almost immediately or maybe years later.

Yesterday (Sunday) I saw a loving and good father in action. (No, it wasn’t me silly). This past week Ryan, our youth pastor, has made 3 visits over 1/2 hour way to a vet because their 2 year old rescue dog has acted like he was in extreme pain. Finally, it got so bad he took him to a Vet ER in Greenwood (about 1 1/2 hours away) to be checked out At 2:00 Sunday morning, he had to make the decision to put him to sleep. The damage he was suffering was insurmountable and he would never recover with thousands of dollars of surgery. He asked my permission to stay home yesterday to be a daddy to his three children. Understand, he is our drummer. He is our youth pastor. He also helps make sure the live stream is running right if the correct people are not here. But he is also a father and husband. I told him to stay home. His first responsibility is not to the church but to be a husband and a father. That is being a good father.

I pray I was a good father. I think I was. I know I made mistakes. But I guess the fact that my two girls still speak to me and tell me they love me is proof?  So in honor of good fathers everywhere, I offer this song about the ultimate Good, Good Father. I hope it will help you start your week well.

#Deeper#IWantTo#AnotherSong

Monday, January 18th, 2021

I’m back! It is another Monday and the start of another week. My week will look a tad different as I will be heading to the hospital for a procedure to find out why I am still having residuals from my bout with COVID. I’ll not share with you the details, but I can say it is something I have had every 3 years since I turned 53.  There…that ought to give you enough of a clue.  The start of my week will be anything but exciting, unless, of course, the news is less than stellar.  But I trust in God’s promises and in Him to know He has the intimate details of my life in the palm of His hand.

Yesterday afternoon I was riding my bike on my indoor trainer when I decided to switch gears (no not the bike’s) and listen to some different music. I usually put on Christian rock (yesterday was Skillet) while riding since I don’t have a TV in my Mancave.  I went way back to the late 90’s/early 2000’s and listened to a seminal Christian worship band that was more “rock flavored.” That doesn’t mean they screamed and shouted. It simply means they were a bit more upbeat than the Maranatha/Integrity-flavored fare of the day.  This band wrote and made popular songs like Do You Feel the Mountains Tremble and I Can Sing of Your Love Forever among others. One I always liked hit me where I am right now in my walk with Jesus. Sometimes there is just this hunger to know more and to know HIM more. To have a deeper walk and communion with Him. I think we all go through those times where we just can’t seem to get enough of Him. Then we plateau maybe. Then hopefully we find ourselves yearning for Him some more. I am in the “I want more” stage. I want to learn and read and study. I want God to have more of me.  I want Him to control more of me.  In essence, I want to go Deeper.

And that is the song which struck me as I rode. It is not “rocky” but it is most definitely upbeat. Maybe you need to hear this for your Monday and for the week ahead. Hope you enjoy it.  The song is Deeper by Delirious?

#GreatDay!#PraiseSong

Monday, January 11th, 2021

As many of you know I have have Covid since before Christmas. I tested the Monday before (the 21st) and received a positive call on the 23rd. I stayed in jail, I mean quarantine, until Monday, the 4th, even though I was done on December 30th. Just wanted to be safe. It sapped all my strength. I slept more in one night than I think I had the previous year.  (Yeah…slight exaggeration but it sure felt like it).  Anyway, there are some symptoms that have “hung on” that have made life a bit uncomfortable at times. But Saturday I had had enough. I put my bike on my inside trainer and rode for 30 minutes. I think for the first time in weeks I felt alive.

It was during that ride that I ran across a song which literally rocked me. I was about 20 minutes into the ride when a song came on my Spotify playlist, one I had never heard before.  As I rode my bike tears flowed and my hands were raised to the Father in absolute wonder and praise. I though I would start your week off with a good song to fill your heart and mind with. Enjoy!

And here is the song:

#NewYear’sMessage#Guest

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021

Sometime in 2019 (yeah tha-a-a-a-t long ago) Jo and I ran across a show we made a staple. We were actually late to the party since they had already cancelled their show for the purpose of refocusing. Understand. HGTV did not cancel the top-rated show. They did. The show was Fixer Upper starring Chip and Joanna Gaines. I loved the show, watching them do what they did. I did not nor do I care about what people thought about the changes they made, nor whether it was put on or not (it was not). Jo once said, “Good grief, Bill. I think I found your alter-ego.” Not in the handyman category to be sure, but in his sense of humor, love of life, silly antics, and tireless energy. I was honored she said that. Anyway, coming sometimes in 2021 on their own network is a new Fixer Upper. I’ll watch it providing our cable provider supplies it or we can stream it.

All that say: I get their blog sent to my blog reader. This is the first I can remember that Chip actually wrote one. Joanna is the real “thinker” of the two. But at the first of the year, Chip wrote a blog, A New Year’s Message from Me (Chip). It was so good I thought I would share it with you.

Let’s just call it like it is: 2020 was rough. Not rough around the edges. Not rough in a lovable sort of way. Just straight up rough.

Watching the news, hearing messages of doubt, and division, stories of loved ones passing away, seeing so many lose their jobs and live at odds with their neighbors. That stuff gets to me, it’s heartbreaking, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

But you don’t need another reminder of what this year cost. Across the board, we all lost something. We all sacrificed something. We all watched something we had worked incredibly hard for be put on hold or forgotten or lost altogether. And without a doubt, we need time to grieve and reflect on the heartbreak, the sadness, and the loss.

But maybe today is a time to be reminded that darkness always gives way to light, that endings always give way to new beginnings. That the ups don’t last forever, and neither do the downs. Between peaks there are always valleys, and no matter how long we’re in the valley, we can always look up and see that we’re not just wandering around in vain, that hope really does carry us forward.

It’s been said that there’s a time for everything. A time for weeping and a time for laughing. A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to mourn and a time to dance. We’ve all lived through these varying seasons before, but never all together. This year changed that.

And it got me thinking.. whatever it is that divides us pales in comparison to the thread that weaves us together, that guides us toward an understanding of why we’re all here. What it all means. What this life we’ve been given is really for.

For me, as I step into 2021, I know we can all love more. We can all understand more. We can all listen and learn more. We get a say in how we respond to all that’s happened in 2020, how much hope we’re going to carry across the valley and how much light we’re going to shine into the darkness. Through the words we speak. Through forgiveness. Through how we engage with our neighbors. Through the way we empathize with those who have lost in unimaginable ways. Through the way we talk to our kids about all that’s going on. Through the way we support those in need. We get to decide how much goodness and beauty is shared throughout our homes, our cities, the world. Right now, wherever we are.

I pray we take with us the eternal lessons of 2020 and hold fast to the hope that is just around the corner.

— Chip

Eternal lessons of 2020 and hold fast to the hope. Sounds like the Apostle Paul could have written those words. I agree with Chip. We can all love more. We can all listen and learn more. I personally think that how I act in 2021 shows how I was affected by 2020.  I was going to post the following song in my end of the year post but decided to wait until it fit better. It does now. Again, I know this will not be many of your “cup of tea.” If you can’t stand the music mute it and watch as the words scroll across the page. Let’s Make Love Great Again.

 

#EndofYearThoughts#Warnings

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

If you read my other blog-Living in the Shadow-you know I said I would be taking a break from my blog until next Monday, January 4th. But every year on this blog I feature some items that have caught my eye; a warning or two I might issue; and I always…ALWAYS…include a song. So here is my end of the year post with a random inclusion of ideas.

I read something this morning from 40 Days of Grace by Paul David Tripp that set my mind for an end of the year reckoning. These are all from Day 12-pages 30-31.

“We don’t grieve our sin because we don’t see it. It is ironic that we tend to see the righteousness we don’t and we fail to see the stains every day of our lives.

Here’s how confession works.  You cannot confess what you haven’t grieved, you cannot grieve what you do not see, and you cannot repent of what you have not confessed.

So cry out today for eyes to see, that is, for accurate personal insight…Because of him, you don’t need to be afraid of your unrighteousness; no, it is your delusions of unrighteousness that are the grave danger.” {End quotes}

There is always reflection that takes place at the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one. But the reflection is worthless if honest stock is not taken at the time of introspection. As Tripp implies we often get enamored by our own unrighteousness and don’t see the unrighteousness in us. Sort of like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. They were so blinded by their own self-righteousness they couldn’t see past the log in their eye.

And Tripp was so right! How can I truly confess my sin if I have not grieved over that sin. And how can I grieve over that sin unless I see it? Real, honesty confession requires, no demands, complete honesty in seeing my sin for what it is.

May the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 bring a new honesty to me.

So…there is my spiritual thought for the end of the year.

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One of the things “I predict” for 2021 is a greater assault on historic, orthodox Christianity. I once thought the old Emergent heresy/tripe/garbage had died an inglorious death. I could have only wished. My reading this past year has shown me that it is alive and well in “spiritual thought leaders” like Brian McClaren, William Paul Young, Richard Rohr, Tony Jones, Michael Gungor, Jen Hatmaker, the late Rachel Held Evans, and others. (Rob Bell used to be a big one also).  It has a new handle called “Progressive Christianity.” If you question my thoughts on its devastation to historic Christianity then you need to read Alisa Childer’s book, Another Gospel?I reviewed it here.  And may I also suggest you listen to Alisa’s podcast? She is engaging and has guests who study so-called Progressive Christianity. In fact, she went through a faith struggle of her own.

When it comes to reading material I am all for learning. But we also need to be careful what we feed our minds. GIGO was a famous moniker back in the early computer age. I propose that same thing applies to our reading. Filling our mind with garbage; books about mediation by Deepak and others; filling our minds with books like mentioned above are dangerous to our souls. I don’t always agree with what I read but I work hard at filtering out what shouldn’t be there. I am on a mission in 2021 to read those books which enrich me with spiritual knowledge, knowledge gleaned from a proper view of God and Scripture.

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Finally, I know I’ve gone on long. But I have to include a song. One is an end of the year song. One is a song for 2021.  First the end of the year song. I know it probably not your cup of tea but the 80s never died. They are sleeping. 🙂  And have they aged? You tell me. The voice has definitely lowered (as expected).

I have renewed my “love affair” with my all-time favorite band, DeGarmo & Key. This is absolutely my favorite song by them. It shows its late 70s vibe but the lyrics are what I expect for 2021. Please give it a listen.

Have a great end of the year and a good start to the new one.  See you in 2021.

#Thoughts#Faith

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

I had one of those mornings during my Quiet Time where I had several random thoughts and ideas as I read and underlined. On my other blog, Living in the Shadow, I am going to share some of those thoughts on Friday morning. But today on this blog I want to share two random thoughts I had as I read.

The first is from 40 Days of Faith by Paul David Tripp.  It is a compilation of 40 devotional thoughts from his wildly popular New Morning Mercies which I cannot recommend highly enough. I used it several years ago for 2 or 3 years. I even had a daily blog of lessons from it. Anyway, on Day 38 of Faith he was writing about Abraham’s ordeal about sacrificing Isaac. He opened with this thought:

Faith is living in light of what God has said, resting in what he has done, and entrusting the future to his care.

I’m pretty sure most of my readers know the story of Abraham’s trek to Mount Moriah where he was to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.  At the last moment God intervened and provided a ram. He most certainly was testing Abraham’s willingness to trust Him. Tripp wrote these words: “We know that grace had visited and transformed the heart of this man, or he would not have been able to react as he did.”  A paragraph later he wrote this (and this is priceless):

Abraham wasn’t relying on what he could see or understand. No, he was at rest because he acted on the firm platform of God’s commands, as well as his presence, promises, faithfulness, and power.

Abraham’s faith in the God He came to know and trust; the God he saw do a phenomenal miracle with the birth of Isaac; the God who loved and sustained him through all his humanity, i.e. sin, is the faith that led him to totally trust God with this offering of Isaac. I like what Hebrews 11 says: “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead.”  NOW THAT IS FAITH!

And one last word from my reading:

Christmas is a testament to God’s grace, not my deservedness.

Some editing of that last statement was made by me to make it more personal. It is from The Christmas We Didn’t Expect by David Mathis (p.70).

I hope these random thoughts help you in your daily walk today.

#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.