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Heroes

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

I’ve been absent from this blog all week. Along with daily ministry life, I conducted a funeral yesterday (Tuesday) of a lovely lady. It has got me thinking of heroes. Not the fake Marvel kind. The real kind.

The funeral was for a beautiful lady named Carolyn. She has fought Parkinson’s for 10 years. She was a vibrant lady up until the end, even after her diagnosis. She refused to allow this ugly disease to stop her from enjoying life. As was stated by several members of her family (son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren) she refused to give up and give in to the disease. The last couple of years it began catching up to her, but the anesthesia for a knee replacement is what really took her down. Carolyn is a hero because she refused to quit. Her family are heroes because they loved her well. All of them. Three boys who adored her. Their wives. The grandchildren and sadly, great-grandchildren (3) who will never really get to enjoy her arms.

I spoke at length with one of my family members yesterday afternoon.  His wife has had had Alzheimers since 2010. She can no longer talk or walk but he continues to take her to the mall to walk (she rides while he pushes) and to care for her at home. They will be married 59 years this June. Not only is that love, my uncle is my hero. He loves her well.

I spoke with a brother of mine last week. Just shy of their 18th anniversary she suffered a stroke that has left her unable to play music, among other things.  He has had to move them from San Diego to Washington state due to finances. He also is care-giver for her Down syndrome son, who is probably 30 something I’m guessing. My brother is my hero. He is loving her and him well, even two years into this ordeal.

Kirby and Marge have been living with MS (Kirby for over 10 years; Marge even longer). They refuse to give up. Even flare ups are seen as “blips” in their full life. They are examples of “the rain falls on the just and the unjust,” but also of those followers of Christ who refuse to quit. They are the inspiration for me riding in the MS150 in August.  Heroes both.

Real heroes don’t wear capes; have indestructible shields; fly at the speed of light; smash when green; wear a suit of armor that talks to you; shrink or grow in size; or any of the other characteristics we associate with a superhero. My heroes are real people.  Real people who put their pants on the same way I do, but show extraordinary love and grace. Real heroes are people who love well. They live well by giving their lives away.

How about you? Know any heroes you need to tell?

SOS

Friday, March 1st, 2019

First off: SOS did not stand for “Save Our Souls.”  It was actually chosen because of its ease to use in Morse Code. (…—…)  What it did mean is “We are in trouble and need immediate help.”

The story Sunday started with a sleepless night then exploded into a story of lust, adultery, deception, and murder. If it was a movie at the theater or a book we were asked to read we would (probably) avoid it. The story is, of course, the story of David and Bathsheba. It is a story most are familiar with-in the church or outside the church. Why include it in the Bible? I mean, why not whitewash everything and leave this type of story out? Maybe this verse of Scripture might answer the question:

“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did…Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come…Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” I Cor.10: 6, 11-12

The story of David and Bathsheba is the story of me. It is the story of you. We are prone to stand off and say, “I’m not that David” and feel pretty smug. But the reality is that we are that David because David’s enemy is our enemy: sin. Gratefully, the Scripture for Sunday’s sermon, Psalm 51 has the theme of grace not sin. This is actually going to be in two parts: Verses 1-9 this week; verses 10-19 the next.

I’d appreciate your prayers for this weekend. Thanks.

DrawingPeople

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

My last post was sort of snarky in that it was tongue-in-cheek. It was either not read much or people just chose not to comment. (Can I hope for the latter?)

Anyway, I thought I would use a quote I read from Scott Sauls’ book from Weakness to Strength. I highly recommend it especially for anyone in leadership. In a chapter he called Opposition: The Unlikely Pathway to Neighbor Love, Scott used this quote:

We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it. Madeline L’Engle

There are some people who see it as their mission in life to tear down other people. I know there is a need for discernment when it comes to cults, false teachers, etc. But I’m not sure there is value in name-calling and “demonizing” someone due to their choice of lifestyle. Please don’t misunderstand me here: I believe the so-called “alternate lifestyle” is sinful, but they are still people. I used to be one of those preachers who said “I tell it like it is and if you don’t like it argue with the Bible not me.” I now realize that was and is the wrong approach.

Scott summed up Madeline’s words with these:  “No amount of cultural opposition stopped Jesus from working to change the world through love.” I can’t argue with him.

All that to say this: perhaps instead of being hateful and judgmental toward those who oppose us, maybe we can take the position of lovingly disagreeing while maintaining our Biblical stance. It doesn’t mean I am compromising; it means I am trying to reach people with the message of the love of Jesus with honey instead of vinegar.

What are your thoughts?

 

Choosing

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

You have probably heard Robert Frost’s opening lines to his poem The Road Not Taken:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

As I was studying for Sunday’s sermon I came across this three-line ditty by Dante in his Divine Comedy work:

Midway this way of life we’re bound upon, I woke to find myself in a dark wood, Where the right road was wholly lost and gone.

Both poems say virtually the same thing only from a different perspective.  Life is filled with choices. We choose whether to get up in the morning or not. We choose whether to eat right or not. We make both big and small choices every day. We must also choose the path we will choose to walk-the path of the godly person or the path of the ungodly. The distinction is sharp.

I’m reminded of what Jesus once said: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Matthew 7:13-14

My sermon this Sunday is from Psalm 1. I’ve entitled it Choose Your Path. The line of demarcation in the psalm is clear. I will not veer from it. It will either be Life on the Right Path or Life in Fast Lane. Your prayers would be much appreciated.

Drowning

Friday, February 15th, 2019

It sounds somewhat presumptuous to say, “No one should worry.” Even as I write that or say that I feel like I should have a shield or some armor or at least plan to duck. Within any room; within any event; within any church, work, or school, there are worriers.  Research has shown that worry causes serious health issues: ulcers, colitis, nerves, sleeplessness, and a host of other ailments.

As I began working on the theme for this year (Unsinkable), I also began working on some sermon ideas. One of the ones I came up with was “Icebergs,” those things which can sink us or our faith.  It is common knowledge Titanic was sunk by an iceberg which was under the surface. Many people’s faith is sunk by icebergs under the surface.  One of the biggest, but one often given credence by us as “concern” is worry.

My sermon Sunday is from Psalm 37:1-11 and verse 23. This happens to be one of my favorite in the Bible so I’m looking forward to it. The writer of this psalm makes it really easy for even the casual reader by telling us what the solution to worry is by highlighting some words at the beginning of the verses: Trust. Delight. Commit. Be still. Refrain.  I’ll finish out by talking about “the steps of a man are established by the Lord…when he delights in His way.”

Thanks for your prayers.

It’s been a busy week so the blog took a backseat. Thanks for being patient.

Essentials

Monday, February 11th, 2019

There are two sayings I adopted years ago that to me still stand the test of time:

“In essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things, love.”

“Where the Bible speaks we speak; where the Bible is silent we are silent.”

These two sayings would take care of a lot of “hills” people are dying on when they don’t need to.

My conclusion: We minor in majors; we major in minors.

Think that through. When it comes to doctrinal issues, there are some non-negotiables (I know that is not word but I still use it), some majors we simply cannot compromise on. The virgin birth of Christ. The divinity of Jesus-that he was fully God and fully man. Popular thought heresy says Jesus was born a man, became divine, but went to the cross as a man. (Can you say Bill Johnson?) The sacrificial, substitutionary, redemptive act of Christ on the cross for our salvation. The physical resurrection of Jesus from the grave. The ultimate return of Jesus to bring an end to life on this planet as we know it. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one. The Bible as God’s authoritative Word, inspired and inerrant. Those (and others not mentioned) are majors and should not be compromised on.

But our religious culture is fast pushing them to the side in order to major in minors.

While I believe homosexual activity is sinful and wrong, I don’t believe it is the unpardonable sin. I also don’t really make a big deal about the creation story. I believe very strongly in “In the Beginning God…”  If the creation of the world was 7 24 hour days or whether “day” was a longer span of time, is not a game-changer to me. “In the beginning God.”  He can do whatever He wants to do in whatever way He want to. But do I think it is a matter of salvation? No, I don’t. While I don’t think we ought to “uncouple” ourselves from the OT as Andy Stanley says we should, I also don’t believe we find our salvation there. The Law was given as a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, Paul says, so we can’t dismiss it. But I don’t go to the Law or the OT to find my salvation. I find it in Christ, in His story as told in the NT.  That is a major I can’t minor in.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just be kind. 🙂

 

Faith/Feelings?

Friday, February 8th, 2019

First, let me just say we needed Noah the past two or three days. It has rained like “cats and dogs.” So much so that school was let out early today (Thursday) and some of the kids were stuck at school anyway because the buses couldn’t get through. One school had all three access ways flooded. Oh…but tonight!!! It is supposed to go down to 18 degrees. Talk about a royal mess!

Anyway…now for my regularly scheduled post.  🙂

The battle between faith and feelings has been and will continue to be ongoing. There are many who doubt God’s faithfulness and love because their feelings have betrayed them. Enter Psalm 13.  I wrote about this psalm at my other blog here on January 8. When I decided to extend my sermon series on Psalms I decided to incorporate this Psalm into that series. I’m not going to reiterate here what I wrote there. I’d like to ask you to venture over there.

But one thing I do want to emphasize is what kept David anchored were his beliefs in the certainty of God’s character, based on the certainty of God’s promises, even though his feelings were all over the map. We would do well to do the same.

It has been a crazy week for me so I have not posted much on this blog. I do post every day at my other one since it is more devotional and based on my morning Quiet Time and journal. But I do covet your prayers this Sunday.

Grounded

Friday, February 1st, 2019

One of the worst fears of any ship or boat is being grounded. Hitting a sandbar. Hitting a reef. Being tossed on shore. (Think Gilligan’s Island! 🙂 )  But I’ve got another kind of grounding in mind.

G. Campbell Morgan, a British preacher who lived from 1863-1945 (that means he “saw” both the Civil War and both World Wars) once wrote:

If our Rock were not our Redeemer, we would be without hope. If our Redeemer were not our Rock, we might be afraid.  Let us never forget that our redemption has in it the strength of the Mighty One.

Since the first of the year (except the Sunday we had to cancel due to the weather), I’ve been looking at Psalm 27 and its truth as an anchor. For an anchor to hold there must be solid ground, something it can sink into. This Sunday’s Scripture show us there is something we can sink our teeth into, the solid ground of the Word of God. My sermon this week will be on Psalm 19: 7-11. There is so much richness there in those few verses! First, I’m going to look at 5 myths surrounding the Bible, then look at the solid foundation the Scripture offers us.

I’m excited about preaching this message. I love talking about the Bible’s strong foundation. I’d appreciate your prayers for this Sunday.

Death/Life/Funerals

Monday, January 28th, 2019

I bury a friend today. I haven’t known him long. Little over a year and a half but the past year found me taking multiple hour long trips to the hospital to visit and multiple trips to his house as he fought a brave fight against an ugly form of cancer. He lived 18 months longer past the original 18 months they gave him to live. The power of prayer. The power of medicine. The power of the will to live and not give up.

I wanted to post something today but as you can see I am a bit preoccupied with another matter. I wrote more on this subject at my other blog. If you would like to read more, you can check it out here. I would be honored if you would visit LivingintheShadow and comment there or here.  Maybe even consider subscribing?  🙂

Tandem

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Given the snow event we had last weekend which resulted in only the second cancellation of our Sunday service in 13 years, I am re-posting this for this weekend.

If I were to ask you, or take a survey by asking one question, I wonder what your answer would be. Here is the question: What one thing do you see as the possibly the hardest thing to have today?

My guess is that many would answer TRUST.

We are being told much more than we want to hear today (it is called TMI). Sadly, much of what we are told we don’t know whether to believe or not. We are told to be our own boss. Why? “Because you can’t trust anyone.” We are being told to do our own thing. Why? “Because you can’t trust anyone to keep their word.” We listen to self-help gurus, exercise gurus, financial gurus and every other one you can think of because we are told “you can’t trust anyone else so forge your own path to success.”  One of the common lines from Back to the Future is when George tells Marty: “See, like I said! If you put your mind to it you can can accomplish anything.”

In reality, independence is an illusion; it is a delusion. “I want to be my own person” is nothing more than a foolish statement for the Christ-follower. The simple truth is “we are not our own. We have been bought with a price.”  The world offers independence. What the world really offers is slavery.

God has designed us to live in a dependent, obedient, and worshipful relationship with Him and in humble, interdependent relationships with each other.  It is like riding a tandem bicycle. The one in the front seat is the one who steers and guides. The one in the back can cause all sorts of havoc if he/she decides to operate independently from the front seat driver. They must work together. God has designed our earthly relationships to work that way as well as our relationship with Him.

My message for Sunday is entitled Tandem and is from Psalm 27:8-14. It is the final one in the short series on Psalm 27. I’d appreciate your prayers. Thanks.