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Otherwise

Monday, November 13th, 2017

I used the following poem in my sermon yesterday. I think it says what needs to be said without a bunch of commentary. It was written by Jane Kenyon and was quoted in Alter Ego by Craig Groeschel (pages 151-152)

I got out of bed on two strong legs.

It might have been otherwise.

I ate cereal, sweet milk, ripe, flawless peach.

It might have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill to the birch wood.

All morning I did the work I love.

At noon I lay down with my mate.

It might have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together at a table with silver candlesticks.

It might have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed in a room with paintings on the walls, and planned another day just like this day.

But one day, I know, it will be otherwise.

Kenyon wrote this poem in 1993, upon learning that her husband, Donald Hall, had cancer. Ironically, it was Kenyon, not Hall. who died a year later after a fierce and swift battle with leukemia. “Otherwise” came unexpectedly. But Jane Kenyon didn’t miss the blessings of God in each day. She learned the art of gratitude.

As I said, no commentary needed. Enjoy the blessing of today!!

Integrity

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Part of my sermon Sunday was on being Authenticity-Minded. That brought in the subject of the title:

INTEGRITY

When I was studying I ran across a couple of quotes which said volumes to me and, of course, used:

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. Mother Teresa

Another one came across loud and clear:

Integrity doesn’t come in degrees: low, medium, or high. You either have integrity or you don’t. Tony Dungy

It is never easy being real. Or honest. Or vulnerable. Or a person of integrity. Tragically we live in a world where people are more shocked by a display of integrity than the lack of it. More and more people are surprised when someone does something right or out of the ordinary to set things right than when someone fails.

Authenticity involves our integrity. Practicing integrity means our behavior matches our beliefs. But keep this in mind: personal integrity is not the same thing as your reputation. Your reputation is who other people think you are. Your integrity (or lack of it) is who you really are.

Craig Groeschel wrote a book called Alter Ego. In it he tells a story of when his golf coach caught him stealing a golf ball from a miniature golf course and kicked him off the team.  He said, “If you’ll steal a golf ball, you’ll steal other things.” After some pleading on Craig’s part, the coach took him outside to talk and said words Craig says he will never forget:

If you have integrity, that’s all that matters. And if you don’t have integrity, well…that’s really all that matters.

Wise, wise words. And in my mind, that about sums it up.  Any thoughts?

Progression?

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

I’ve been using Whiter Than Snow by Paul David Tripp during my morning Quiet Time in addition to my Bible reading and New Morning Mercies. I read one devotion per week, rereading it each day, looking for something new to ponder.

This week’s is entitled “Sinners and Unafraid.”  I’m not exactly sure why that title but it is the first line that I read which gave me the thought for this post.

The older you get the more you move from being an astronaut to an archaeologist. (p.53)

Hmmmm. What exactly does that mean? Maybe this will help. “When you’re young, you’re excitedly launching to worlds unknown…But as you get older, you begin to look back at least as much as you look forward.” (p.53)

That makes sense to me. Like most ventures, the life of being a follower of Jesus is initially something exciting. Like putting on clothes just purchased, or a new car with that “smell,” or finding ourselves heading out for a first-time foray, there is something exciting which happens inside us. We are like an astronaut seeing things for the first time.

But then life hits. We get older and life is no longer like a box of chocolates. (I wish). As life hits, we begin digging into our past, sometimes looking for that missing piece of puzzle. That one thing which will help explain why we are as we are. Why we react the way we do. Why we are making the choices and decisions we are making. Why does this make me happy or sad?

I confess to having done some archaeological digging in my own life.  It’s almost a necessity these days to figure out how we perk. But it definitely reminds me I share something with every other person on this planet. It is called a sinful nature and no matter how I try, I cannot become perfect or sinless. I have also learned something else, something much more important: I must rely on God’s grace to accept me, that it is not based on my performance, my past (no matter how good or bad), my upbringing, or my “religious efforts.”

Progression comes when I become more steeped in God’s magnificent grace.

Lighthouse

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Meet Nina and the Lighthouse at Presque Isle. Presque Isle Light is one of three lighthouses on Lake Erie. It is located on the northern shore of Presque Isle State Park.  It stands 68′ tall, was constructed in 1872 and became automated in 1962. For more information about this lighthouse go hereThis site here also gives some really interesting insight into the lighthouse.

I spent five years pastoring a church in Sandusky, Ohio so I made frequent trips to the lighthouse at Marblehead, OH. If captains and sailors could speak today I’m sure they could tell fantastic stories of Marblehead, Presque Isle and others. Countless lives were saved and ships averted disaster because of the light from the lighthouse. It used to be manned by individuals. What a lonely job that must have been! But what an essential job it was also.

The importance of the lighthouse cannot be diminished in any way. Its light shined through all kinds of weather. I used to drive to Marblehead in the middle of January just to see the ice build up and to see how far out it went. You could see Kelly’s Island from the lighthouse and there were times it was shut down and only a plane could get people off the island. I don’t know how many lighthouses are still working and shining its light, especially with the more sophisticated equipment on ships these days.

Nina is Dave’s daughter. Dave wrote about the death of his friend, Lynn. Nina was riding on a tandem with him when the accident happened. The Presque Isle lighthouse was Lynn’s favorite. Part of Dave and Nina’s therapy was going to the lighthouse and having the above picture taken. Therapy comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Below is also some of Nina’s therapy and her tribute to Lynn. I wanted to use this during the week I was having my surgery and had guest writers but it was unavailable. Nina drew this from a postcard and drew it all freehand. I’d say quite a gift!

The spiritual application is easy. Jesus once said, “I am the Light of the World.” Elsewhere the Bible says, “People who live in darkness have seen a great light.” I’ll close this long post with this song. If you have trouble with the lyrics (which you shouldn’t) click on Show More below the video.

Quote

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

After yesterday’s sermon someone walked out and handed me this quote. I don’t know her story yet,  but I do know she is grateful for God’s grace in her life.

Your best day is never so good that you don’t need God’s grace; your worst day is never so bad that you are beyond God’s grace.  Jerry Bridges in The Discipline of Grace

What a powerful quote! I’m afraid that many of us declare our day good or bad based on how we feel. This quote debunks the whole myth that our daily lives matter or don’t matter based upon how we feel. Our lives have significance or don’t have significance based on what we do or don’t do. We need to remember that our acceptance by God is not based on performance of any kind-good, bad or indifferent.

I have adopted the daily prayer of needing God’s grace each day. Each moment of every day. Each hour of every day. Each second of every day. Awake or asleep; studying or not; playing or being serious. I want grace to be such a part of me that I think of it when I wake up; think about it when I work; think about it when I play;  think about it when I lay my head on the pillow.

I need to rest in what God really thinks of me: I am His beloved child and He loves me unconditionally.  How about you?

LIFE!!

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Here’s something for your Monday morning (and your week)!

GRACE

I was studying Saturday and after watching the video I was going to show and re-watching this one, I decided to show this one instead. I love the message. I love the tempo. I love the message. I love the lyrics. Have I told you I loved the message?

It is a message we all need to hear. Bar none. For those of us who are Christ-followers that message rings even more true.

Not much more to add today. Just wanted to brighten your day and hopefully your week with this phenomenal song with a fantastic message.  Have I told you…?

Comfort

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Confession: if you haven’t already figured it out yet, I am sometimes an emotional writer. I sometimes write what is on my heart-filtered and unfiltered depending on subject matter.

This is one of those posts.  If you are looking for a “Smile. Be happy” post then I’m going to say you won’t find it. However, I do hope you will read to the end.

As many of you know, I have back surgery scheduled for this coming Monday. Until then, I have to live with occasional intense pain. I have given up riding my bike because it was no longer fun. It hurt too much whenever I hit a bump or missed seeing a small hole in the road. I woke up this morning and within 10 seconds made the decision not to go to the Y (where I do upper body work) because of the pain. Even putting on my shorts would have been a nightmare, let alone my shoes.

I was whining. I was crying. I was definitely feeling sorry for myself. Wallowing in self-pity. Then I read this from New Morning Mercies (NMM) by Paul David Tripp:

God puts me in hard moments when I cry out for His comfort so that my heart becomes tender to those near me who need the same comfort.

Strange that 20 minutes or so earlier I was whining and feeling sorry for myself. But Tripp wasn’t done.

The hard moments are not just for my growth in grace, but for my call to be a tool of that same grace in the life of another sufferer. In difficulty God is softening my heart and sharpening my edges so that I may be ready to make the comfort of the invisible Father visible in the life of the weary pilgrim He has placed in my pathway.”

The Scripture reference was 2 Corinthians 1: 3-6.  If you get a moment, take a peak at it.

So I need to change my attitude. Stop complaining about the pain. Stop crying and belly-aching and start trusting and seeing it as a ministry opportunity (now or future).  I’ll be honest. I’m not there yet. Least not at this moment.  I can only pray that time will come soon.

Thanks for listening. (And yes, I shared this with my small band of brothers who are working through NMM with me).

Chew

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Chew on this some. Jo read it to me first and I asked her to email it to me. It is from Ann Voskamp:

I don’t have much to say or to add. I’d just like for you to chew on this for awhile. Then if you care, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.  And sorry I couldn’t edit out the header and junk at the bottom.

ProblemSolved

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Jo saw this and sent it to me. I laughed.

There are all kinds of leaders and all kinds of people. Some are “take charge” kind of people. Some are “sit back and see what happens” kind of people. Some are “bull in a china shop” type of people. Some are very “laid back” kind of people. Some are “bury their head in the sand” kind of people.  And there are some who are “go with the flow” kind of people.

I am an extreme extrovert. Jo is the opposite. But God has made us this way and put us together for some “odd” reason. She needs my “get-up-and-go” influence and I sometimes need her stabilizing “just slow down” influence. She needs my “here, let me introduce you to my wife” approach and sometimes I need her “let’s just wait to see how this develops” approach. We make a good team.

One of the things that makes me the most upset is when I hear her say, “I’m not a very good pastor’s wife.” WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! And I tell her that. She thinks that way because she doesn’t fit the mold of the “model pastor’s wife.” I’m sorry to say my late mother was one of those and never gave Jo a chance. No, she doesn’t sing solos; lead a ladies Bible study (although she can); speak in public (in front of big groups…although she has done a superb job on Mother’s Day); play the piano; or take charge. She prefers quietly encouraging me in the background, being a fantastic mom and mamaw par excellence; typing the Power Point each week; and a whole host of other things.  I wouldn’t trade her for the world or for any amount of money nor for any woman on the face of the earth.

We make a great team. I’m honored she still wants to be my wife. 🙂

And it is amazing how a post develops because all I started with was a funny saying. (And for the record, that saying describes her. I suspect that is why she sent it to me).

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.