Christian living

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#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.

#Generosity#Covetousness

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

Okay… so I have another blog that very few people read. It is a devotional blog where each day (except weekends) I post a devotional thought from my reading for the day. Or whatever comes across my mind that I feel led to share. I wrote about Generosity and Covetousness today. I’d love to have you visit that blog, read, and comment. You can find it here.

Seriously, I’d be honored if you would visit and comment there. Thanks.

#SpeakUp#WordsMatter

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Is there any doubt in your mind our speech betrays us?  When you think about it we can use our speech for good or bad. The way we use it reveals a lot about us.  I found a few quotes I plan to use Sunday. See if you can relate:

“A sharp tongue is the only edge that grows keener (sharper in our vernacular) with constant use.” Washington Irving

“If your lips would keep from slips, Five things observe with care: To whom you speak; of whom you speak; and how, and when, and where.” William Norris

“I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.” Greek sage Publius

I’ve said a lot about our speech, especially on my “Living in the Shadow” blog. Weave your way through the Bible, especially the NT, and you can see the importance of good speech in about every book.  In our world of information overload, where tweets, posts, pins, and texts are thrown around with great abandon, it’s easy to believe that words are unimportant, weak, meaningless, and hollow. But we KNOW they aren’t.

Sunday I’m using Colossians 4:2-6 as my Scripture and I’ve divided it into two main thoughts:

  1. Speak Up when talking to God!
  2. Speak Up when talking to Others!

How about saying a prayer for us Sunday? That hits #1.  I know I’d sure appreciate it. And we would love to have you join us at 10:00. We will have a link for you on FB to be able to watch it on YouTube is what I am told. (Call me technologically-challenged). Either case- your prayers are longed for. Thanks.

#Manipulation#Critique#Toxic

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

I just finished reading When to Walk Away by Gary Thomas, a book I mentioned in my last post about Finding Freedom from Toxic People.  It has been a really good book, one that will take some time digesting and reading over the highlighted thoughts and sections. I want to use one of the thoughts as a springboard for this post.

If you are like me you tire-and I mean really tire-of people accusing us of basically being mean and narrow and bigoted.  You say something they don’t agree with and you can hear it coming from a million miles away: “Aren’t you Christians supposed to forgive? How come you aren’t acting like a Christian?” Or they will say, “You are nothing more than a narrow, bigoted hypocrite.”  To quote Gary:

They don’t really care if we’re acting like a Christian though. They just want us to do what they want us to do, and they’re using our faith as a weapon to manipulate and control. (p.146)

I always find it interesting when someone who does not claim any allegiance to Christ or to Christianity or to Biblical principles tries to lecture us on those very same issues. Do you sense a disconnect here?  People like this are masters at lecturing or deciding for us how we are supposed to act AND YET they make no claim-they even scoff at the idea-of following Christ.  The problem as I see it is that the atheist or the non-conformist or the immoral person wants to spout off their junk, but when someone questions them or stands against them they rear their ugly head in shock and toxicity and shame-throwing. They are masters at lecturing us how we ought to behave and yet are unwilling to listen to the truth because it will go against their carefully crafted lifestyle and belief system.  They aren’t so much interested in me acting like a Christ-follower should as much as they want me and you to do what they want us to do.  Long story short: approve of their lifestyle and belief system and not counter them or make them feel guilty.

My purpose as a follower of Christ is to please God. To bring fame to His Name. To honor Him in all things.  I have to keep in mind my approval by others is not on the table. Don’t allow someone to manipulate you into playing his games by his rules.

#Compelled#GiveItAll

Monday, May 11th, 2020

I’ve been reading When to Walk Away (Finding Freedom from Toxic People) by Gary Thomas. Lots of good stuff! I am learning so much! But there was a statement he made that rang true to me and has stuck with me.

Don’t worry about what you don’t yet have. Just give whatever God has given you.

I think all of us, no matter who we are, wonder from time to time if we are giving God all we can.  Or sometimes we feel somewhat incomplete is what we give or maybe unequal to the task. “If only I could do…” or “If only I had…” Next time you are hankering a pity party consider the saying above. I heard it once said, “God is not so much interested in your ability, as He is your availability.”

Be compelled to be His. Be compelled to Give it All.

#FamilyMatters

Friday, May 8th, 2020

There are a series of commercials on TV about an insurance company. Their tag line is “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” They show weird examples of situations they have covered. I can say the same thing after 46+ years as a pastor.  I’m not bragging when I say, “I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.”   Let me tell you: one of the hardest things I have had to deal with is the young person who gives up on his/her parent’s faith because they have seen too much hypocrisy in their parents. Mom and dad saying one thing but doing another.  The teaching in this week’s passage (Colossians 3: 18-4:1) is much needed because marriage has fallen into such disrepute.

Living as followers of Christ is meant to be done in every area of our life. This Scripture is not a marketplace or political commentary.  Don’t even think of taking it there. It is not about a women’s role in society or in the church. It is about followers of Christ who want to live as followers of Christ within their home. In this passage Paul show us two things: 1) It does matter how we treat our family; and 2) it does matter how we treat others.  It runs the gamut of husbands, wives, children, parents, masters and slaves. It ought to be interesting. 🙂

I’d appreciate your prayers as we are once again virtually live.  Ha. We are still honing our equipment and training. We hope to unveil it soon. Our first gathering worship in our building is May 31st. Until then, we meet virtually. I’d appreciate your prayers now and then. Thanks.

#Reflection#Addition#Subtraction

Monday, May 4th, 2020

This morning I was going through some old journals trying to find something I had copied and had used at one time. I finally found it, but in the meantime I ran across something else I had written (circa 2011).  Here is something for you and me to think about as we head into this new week:

Everyday I do something that either adds to or subtracts from another person.

Lie-Stealing truth

Plagiarizing- Stealing credit

Murder- Stealing life

Am I a giver or a taker? And adder or a subtractor?

#Pursue!#Challenges#TheRightThings

Friday, May 1st, 2020

True or False? Experience is the best teacher.

I’m guessing you said, “True.” What if I told you maybe, maybe not? Truthfully, we can have experience after experience and still not learn a thing. Perhaps that phrase would be better worded:

GUIDED EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER.

As I have taken us through the book of Colossians, we are now coming to what is a typical characteristic of Paul’s writings. The first part of his letters are doctrinal; the second half are practical.  Some would accuse him of being a broken record in the first half: he spends a lot of time with false teachers.  But in this section he moves to a more positive approach as he challenges his readers to make a difference. What I like about this is that Paul walks alongside them as he gives those challenges. It’s not like he says, “Okay boys! You’re on your own now!” They are not left on their own to figure things out.

In this week’s Scripture, Paul presents three challenges to the Colossian church and, by proxy, to us. Here they are:

CHALLENGE #1: Seek things above.

CHALLENGE #2: Get rid of garbage.

CHALLENGE #3: Add the essentials.

They stand as a great challenge for us as well. I’d like to invite you to join us at 10:00 EST this Sunday. They are working right now on installing new equipment. I, for one, hope it is ready to go on Sunday. Either way, we will be streaming our service. I would be honored to have you join us Sunday for “Be Careful What you Pursue.”

If you can’t be here your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

#Drive-By#WorthIt#

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

Have you ever wondered if what you are doing is making any kind of difference in someone’s life? I think we all have those thoughts. Something we do goes unappreciated or at least unnoticed. We don’t hear a thank you for some heartfelt action we took. We gave it our all and instead of encouragement someone finds fault. That’s the way of life I guess.

BUT IT SURE IS NICE TO HEAR GOOD WORDS UPON OCCASION!

In one of my recent posts, I mentioned by “drive-by” approach.  You can read about that here.  I am not doing it so I can hear good words back. I am doing it for two reasons: 1) So the people know they are loved and being cared about; and 2) for me. That’s right. It is for me. I miss people and if this gives me a chance to pray for and then chat with people face-to-face then I’m happy. I am also convinced it was an idea that came from a pastor’s heart to a listening God.  It has gone well so far. I’ve had 3 afternoons of visits and most have been home and come to the door or stood on their porch. Yesterday (Monday) I had 2 not home-which I expected- and 2 home. I had fantastic visits with people (making sure we were more than 6 feet away. I found out one was home and I didn’t know it. I’ve asked her permission to reprint her email to me. She says a world of truth in it. I have edited it to keep out the name of her company.  She gave me permission to include her name.

Good morning Bill,

Last Thursday (business name) told us that we were staying home until at least June 1st, then we would go back in waves, what those waves look like, who knows. I am studying the minor prophets with the girls in bible study, there I was being Jonah for sure, pouting under my plant, feeling sorry for myself. I even told God, I know this is wrong, I need to keep my focus on you, this is just more circumstances, but I’m sick of staying home all by myself, all kinds of me me me stuff. I tried to spend some time reading Paul, my favorite writer in the Bible, pray more, but with the raining, windy, colder weekend, I was still Jonah. Monday morning came, I went to my computer and I said Lord I know I pouted most of the weekend, even tried to pretend like I wasn’t, but you know where my heart is. I just couldn’t shake it. Sometime Monday afternoon, all of the sudden I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. I wasn’t praying at the time or even thinking about what was going on. It just made me stop what I was doing, it just felt like a big wave washed over me, my stubbornness pouting self just left. I said thank-you Lord, I was tired of pouting under my plant. I just couldn’t see what I needed even though I knew where the answer was. Thanks for just removing my pouting stubbornness on your own, making my mind clear to focus back on you. I went to the mailbox, around 4:30, and when I came back to the house, I saw your card. I missed it on the way out. I thanked God, for you. I sat down on the porch prayed, for you and our church. I thanked God, that he listened to you to speed up my recovery, and to put a stop to my pity party. Everyone keeps saying that these are some strange times we are dealing with, but honestly if you read the Bible, know about the spiritual warfare, this is nothing new to God. Our world has turned their back on God, we as Christians need to show the world our joy, and peaceful heart, that you can only have through God. It’s a really an opportunity to display that, I could not focus on that pouting. Thank you Bill, I know not all prayers have such a quick response but from my heart to yours, thanks for the push.

Gail

All that to say I was humbled by her email. I was certainly humbled God used me that way (and that quickly).  But let me leave a word with you. If you know of someone who needs thanked for an “above and beyond” during this time, take the time to tell him/her.

#AvoidThese!#Devastating

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

I’m a little bit late posting about the sermon this week. It, despite the encouragement to stay inside, has been a busy one. You can read here the approach I have taken starting this week.  That took me away from the office two afternoons.  But I am loving it and actually getting to see some people at a distance. It has satisfied, for now, my desire to see the people and to let them know I am thinking of them.

There is a tradition in Poland I read about. It started over 700 years ago. Every day from the steeple of St. Mary’s Church a bugle is sounded. The last note of the bugle is muted and broken, as if some disaster had befallen the bugler. This 700+ year commemoration is in memory of a heroic trumpeter who one night summoned the people to defend their city against the hordes of invading Tartars. As he was sounding the last blast on his trumpet, an arrow from one of the Tartars struck and killed him. So there is always a muted note at the end. The Krakovians (Krakow, Poland) have never forgotten this heroic warning.

Part of American history is the warning of Paul Revere that the British were coming. Some of you are old enough to remember the air raid drills in school where they hoarded us together in the hallway with no windows, sat us down, had us put our heads between our knees, and cover our heads.

Our life is filled with warning signs. Some very blatant; some as subtle as a lump or a cough or a stumble. Some are heeded immediately; some pushed aside as a cold or aging. The current Covid-19 virus has a list of warning signs of possible infection. The Bible is filled with warnings.

Some of those warnings are of a false gospel.  Read Galatians 1 for Paul’s feelings about the false gospel. In this week’s passage- Colossians 2:16-23- Paul warns them of three false teachings to avoid.  I’ll make it easy for you. They are legalism, spiritualism, and asceticism. You might be surprised how they are applicable to our day and time.  We will, once again, be using FB to stream the service. We have new equipment coming which someone donated the money for so please be patient with us as we try to overcome the hurdles which we were (admittedly) unprepared for.

Thanks for your prayers.