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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).

Reason

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Not reason as in intellectual “reasoning.”

But reason as in “why I do what I do” or “did what I did.”

This past Sunday I spoke about shame and its effect upon our lives and upon our thinking. I opened with the following illustration:

John Wilkes Booth believed in slavery, but he did not lift a finger to save it. The South had lost the war it fought to save slavery, and he had been too much of a coward to do anything for the cause. His cowardice shamed him. “I despise myself,” he said and went out looking for a chance to escape his shame. The chance came when a British play called My American Cousin opened at Ford’s Theater, and it was rumored that the president would attend. Abraham Lincoln was a sacrifice to shame.

So professionals have been asking the question-then and now-are people ashamed because they do bad things, or do people do bad things because they are ashamed? Most students of shame point to monsters like Hitler, Saddam Hussein and others like them as examples. Most every monster was a disowned child-abuse or abandoned-or in some other cruel way made to feel unworthy and unwanted.

That is not justification for their inhumane acts, but it does give us some insight into them, and others like them.

And us. You and me. Seemingly normal (so we say) 🙂 people.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture which tends to think “I’m entitled to  (name it).” The whole entitlement mentality needs to stop-at home; at church; at sports; and play. Let it begin with me.

Whirlwind

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

The definition of a whirlwind is:

“a small rotating windstorm of limited extent”

“a confused rush: whirl  *a whirlwind of meetings

The weekend and then yesterday was just that. Have you ever asked yourself “Where did the summer go?” Well, I had one of those weekends. Busy from the get-go I flew through the weekend with barely a stop. Sure some of it was my doing: I rode my bike some on Saturday (it was a tough choice but I twisted my arm). But the rest of it was just part of the tornado of my life.

But Monday (yesterday) was way out of the ordinary. I woke up at the normal time (3:50) which some people call “O dark 30.” My back pain takes away any chance of me staying or laying in bed to relax. So I got up, had my devotion time, and got Jo up to go the Y.  After a shower and short reprieve, we took off for Ohio (a 4 hour trip made longer by old people stops) 🙂  We picked our grandson up and then turned around and came back home with him in tow. He is going to spend a few days with us. (The big discussion last night was which movie to see: [DespicableMe3 (Gag) or Cars3 (Yeah)] Bet you can’t tell which one I am voting for!!  After the movie is lunch, then he loves to play the Wii (since the Y is closed). I’m hoping for a ride. I get a one day reprieve, although I do have to make an hour away trip to our church camp to visit some campers. Then Thursday, we get to do the whole “drive to Ohio to drop him off so we can turn around and come back” drill.

You know what? I would do it all again just to have some time with him because I know he will soon be getting to the age of “I don’t want to spend any time with my grandparents.” So I’ll take it while I can.

And what do you plan to do on your 4th? Or what did you do on your 4th?  I’m going to miss the salmon on the grille. 🙁

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).

Trials

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Like most people, I am not fond of trials. I’ve had my share of them recently and I can honestly say, I’m a little tired of them. I know…I know…mine are not nearly as bad as many. I try really hard to guard against feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self-pity. Sometimes I feel like this back issue is kicking my you-know-what all over the place. The MRI showed a bulge and possibly 2 nerve impingements. I go to a neurosurgeon on Friday, the 30th, for a consultation. Amazing what a car at 60 mph can do! ‘Course I used to tell people I’m alive and walking.  2″ more and one of those might not be a reality.  Anyway…

I read this from New Morning Mercies last Saturday:

Through difficult relationships and circumstances, God works to expose your heart so you will seek the grace that can be found only in Him…The trials in our lives exist not because He has forgotten us, but because He remembers us and is changing us by His grace.

Admittedly, I’m glad He remembers me. 🙂 But honestly?  I sometimes wonder if He could show it another way. You know what I mean?  I don’t mean to sound disrespectful of God and the way He works. Just showing my humanness.  I won’t stop trusting Him, I won’t stop leaning on Him. I won’t stop relying on His grace. I’d just like my memories to be just a tad bit more on the lighter side.  🙂

Unexpected

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Lots has been happening this week. So much that it has kept me from posting on my own blog. I’m not sure how I feel about those kinds of weeks. On one hand I say, “I’d rather be busy than bored.” I would probably hear a bunch of hearty “Amen’s.” At the same time I will hear a bunch of “Amen’s” from those who say, “I’d rather sit around and be bored.” 🙂

In the life of a pastor, as for many of you, things crop up which require immediate attention and sometimes cannot be delayed. I didn’t have much happening this week. It is the last week of school for our local kids so that always raises the bar of stress for many. My week started pretty innocuous leading me to think, “Hey! It looks like a pretty slow week.” Ever heard the saying, “You speak too quickly”? That one describes the rest of this week.

Maybe another word is better: UNEXPECTED.

A counseling appointment. Unexpected. An emergency surgery over an hour away. Unexpected. A trip/visit that took almost the whole day. Unexpected. A PT appointment where the diagnosis and treatment were not what I wanted to hear. Unexpected. Power outage at the office on Thursday morning. Definitely Unexpected (and ill-needed).

Life is full of “unexpected’s.” You have them. I have them. How could we possible go through life without them?

There is another unexpected but expected event. The unexpected is Jesus coming back. We have no clue when that will happen. The expected is Jesus coming back. He said He would and I believe Him. And who knows? Maybe it will be during one of those unexpected events in my own life. I’m okay with that.

Jo and I leave tomorrow for northern Indiana where I have been asked to perform a wedding for a couple. The young lady attended OVCF until college and then a job took her away. So I will basically be incognito this weekend. I not only have the wedding; we return Sunday to attend two high school graduation parties of two of the coolest high school young men I know. I EXPECT both of them to excel in their college years and in their chosen professions: one to study optometry and the other will be commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Air Force upon graduation. I feel a little out of my league. 🙂

But I’ll see you when I get back. Have a great weekend. Please pray for Ryan as he preaches for me.

CELEBRATE!!

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Happy Resurrection Day to all of you!

Consequences if Jesus did not raise from the dead (from I Corinthians 15)…

Christ would not be risen [v.13]

Preaching would be meaningless [v.14a]

Faith in Christ would be worthless. [v.14b]

All those who represent Christ or witness of Him would be considered liars. [v.15]

We are of all men most to be pitied. [v.19]

I hope you have and had a meaningful and very blessed Resurrection Sunday. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

The enemy is defeated. Death is neutered by the Resurrection of Jesus.

CELEBRATE FREELY! 

Someday

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

I was sitting in my chiropractor’s office Friday and since I had forgotten to bring something to read (DUH!), I picked up a Men’s Health magazine. I ran across an article about a trainer named Bobby Maximus. (Sort of reminds me of Gladiator.  🙂 )  I give you that, not as a stamp of approval on Maximus, but as a “give credit where credit is due” thing. Anyway, they had some sayings which Maximus is fond of using.  Several of them struck a chord…one I’ve heard before: “Do what’s right, not what’s easy.”

But the one that stayed with me so much I wrote it down and use it now is this:

There are 7 days in a week. ‘Someday’ is not one of them.

It is easy getting into that mode-whether we talk about our physical condition; our exercise program; a relationship we want to cultivate; a goal we want to realize; and especially our relationship with God. I don’t really need to go into detail as to each of these modes, so to speak. We all know how it applies to our physical condition or an exercise program, etc.

I do find it somewhat disconcerting when I consider how I have used the “Someday excuse” when it comes to cultivating my relationship with God. “Someday I will have that Quiet Time.” “Someday I will pray.” “Someday I will learn that verse.” Someday. Someday. Someday. And Someday never gets anything accomplished.

I’ve written about my two bike wrecks. No need to go into them again. If you want to read about it go here. But those two wrecks have taught me some serious lessons…one of them is don’t use “Someday” as an excuse to get things done which need done. Don’t keep putting things off.  For example, Jo & I are in a much better place than we have been for years, largely because of this philosophy.  Talking more. Hugging and snuggling more. Kissing more. I’ll stop there. 🙂 🙂  (I know Tami…TMI)

Don’t keep saying “Someday.”

Fog

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

As in stupor. Lull. Clouded mind.

This morning (Tuesday) I was reading a devotion from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. I’m not saying this lightly: I am not sure there has ever been a devotion that hit me so hard and so “where I live” as this one. I’m going to give you snippets of it in this blog and then include it at as a whole at the end.

Human beings, who were created to live in awe of God, are in grave danger when familiarity causes them to be bored with God.

That was just the opening line! But he wasn’t done.

Familiarity is a beautiful thing…But the blessing of blessings is to be familiar with the ways, the character, the presence, and the promises of God…Yes, familiarity is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a very dangerous thing.

By this time he had my undivided attention. Something began to ring in my ears and in my heart. Something disturbing. Convicting. Unnerving. Truthful.  Then came this:

Every human being was designed by God to have his hopes, dreams, choices, words, actions, desires, and motivations shaped by a jaw-dropping, heart-controlling, life-shaping awe of God…Familiarity causes us to lose our awe of God. What once stunned us doesn’t anymore. {Note: you can read the rest on your own below}

Here is what I wrote in my journal:

“I wonder, as I think back, if this is some of what happened {Note: previous to my bike wreck in February}. Had I lost my awe of God? Had I taken Him for granted? That, (along with a couple other factors), could be the source of my stupor and lull of the desert from mid summer to my wreck in February. I may not know what caused the wreck, but as time goes by I seem to get a better handle on my (spiritual) struggle leading up to it. And that is good. 🙂 As I do, a little more of me wakes up. And that is very good.” 🙂  (In case you are new, if you read here you will find out what happened.  You can find out what I did my first Sunday back in the pulpit after the wreck here. And then read this post to find out a recap of what has been happening.

I know we each have our own journey we are traveling. This may have absolutely no relevance to yours. That’s okay. Then again…maybe it does. Below is the whole day’s devotion. I hope it is clear enough for you.

 

 

Thoughts

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Random thoughts from Sunday:

Any time I have gone away, I have always tried to come home either later Sunday or sometime Monday or Tuesday. I was reminded again of why. We went away from Wednesday through Friday. I made it home in time (45 minutes to spare) to take tickets at the high school basketball game. I slogged through Saturday’s preparation for my sermon. While the sermon was done physically, the spiritual part of me needs Saturday to get it in gear. Nope…didn’t happen. I like coming home the early part of the week since it means I will have time to prepare myself. Today was one of those days when it was a “little bit of me and a whole lot of God.”

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A few thoughts from Sunday’s message are pertinent to Christ-followers:

“Our salvation is the most important thing about us. If we have it, we are wealthy beyond belief. If we don’t, we are most to be pitied.” James McDonald

An unchanged life is a sign of an unchanged heart.  (Me)  This debunks the myth that I can live anyway I want and still call myself a Christian.

Real knowledge is not knowing something; it is in knowing Someone, a Person…Jesus Christ. (Me)  All the knowledge in the world will amount to nothing without a personal knowledge of Jesus.

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I have been asked to consider something wa-a-a-a-a-y out of my comfort zone or even my “desire” zone. I’m not at liberty to say what it is, but if you wouldn’t mind saying a prayer, God knows what it is about. Interestingly enough, Tami (my daughter), has approached me with an opportunity she has which will require stretching. You might want to include her. I hope to link to her blog this week as she writes about it. Thanks ahead of time.

There is some Sunday meandering for you. Random I know.