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#WithinUs#How’sthatWorking?#RealPeace

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

Ever since sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden, man has tried to do things on his own. Cain thought he could change things by killing his brother Abel.  Nope. The downhill slope we started on when our parents sinned just amped up even more. Over the course of 6000 years or so (give or take a few), we have continued trying to do things our way. Frankly, the “trying it our way” schtick hasn’t gotten any better. In fact, recent events show it has gone from bad to worse. 

Enter Chris Cuomo, the CNN host of Cuomo Prime Time. This past week he said something so asinine that I can hardly believe he said it…but then again I shouldn’t be surprised.  He said instead of trusting God to get us through uncertain times,  we should “look within us” for the answers. He went on to say:

If you believe in one another and if you do the right thing for yourself and your community, things will get better in this country.  And then he added this: {You don’t need help from above, it’s within us}. Emphasis mine.

I can be really snarky but perhaps this question will do the trick:  ‘Hey Chris! How’s that working out for you?”  One commentator said, “Yep. That tactic is working SUPER well right now.” Another said, “How do we know what the right thing is Chris?”  

You see, that latter question is very telling.  How do we know? When he was being interviewed for a documentary for ESPN 30 to 30, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong was asked if he was going to tell the truth during this interview. His response is typical of many: ‘Yeah, I’ll tell the truth. MY TRUTH.” Say what? Since when is my truth different from THE truth?  The last I read my truth is to conform to HIS truth. Anything less is falsehood. With Lance we were going to get his version of the truth. Typical of our world and now you know why that last comment was so probing.

Folks, things are not going to get better by our own efforts. Try as we may. Protest all you want (as if those have been peaceful). Woodstock was seen as a harbinger of the “summer of love.” Less than 4 months later two festivals- Altamont and Isle of Wright- were unmitigated disasters. Sort of like Seattle. Sort of like any other man-made effort for peace.

Mark it down: PEACE WILL NEVER COME TO THIS WORLD UNTIL JESUS RETURNS.  No matter what Chris Cuomo or any of his ilk say. “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

 

#MyChallenge

Monday, June 29th, 2020

My sermon yesterday was on God. How He promises the impossible and does the incredible.  I used several Scriptures during the message.

“Ah, Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard from You!” Jer.32:17

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Jer.32:27  (Rhetorical question from God)

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Gabriel’s words to Mary in Luke 1:37

“What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  Jesus’ words to the crowd in Luke 18:27

David and Goliath. (Was a little boy really supposed to even have a chance against a veteran soldier who was also a giant?)  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the furnace. Daniel in the lion’s den.  Moses parting the Red Sea. God was a God of miracles, One who did things way beyond what could be imagined.

He made the promise: “Nothing is too hard for me.” He kept it. He still does.  My challenge to the folks yesterday and to me was to trust God with what seems to be impossible situations. He promised He would come through. His track record is impeccable. 

Join me. Won’t you?

#Where’sBill?#GreatDisappearningAct

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

I’ve been largely absent from this blog this week. Okay…I haven’t been here at all, except to tell myself I ought to post something. I could shoot you all kinds of excuses but you might think I’m just blowing smoke. I don’t smoke so it can’t be that.  It’s just plain being busy.

Ryan is out of the office this week. I told him several weeks ago I expected him to find a week where he, Hope and the kids can get away. No office. No media (although I have no control over his phone use).  He has been working hard through this whole COVID thing trying to stay in touch with the kids. Lots of ZOOM meetings with them. Studying to make their time productive.  He even had an early Sunday morning time with the elementary kids! They sang; they danced (the kids did); he taught them and they loved it. He did too. But then he would rush to the church building and be one of the 4 who were here-Jo (Power Point); Tami (recording for FB); Ryan (sound and recording); and me (preaching…I think).  He took on the added responsibility of helping get our fledgling recording of the worship started and moving. He also had two weeks of Wilderness Week at our church camp cancelled (they cancelled the whole summer). So along with some frustration was some sadness.  He was tired and wore out.  So they went camping.

Today is his and Hope’s anniversary (#15 I think) and they decided to spend it together backpacking. Not to worry. They spent their honeymoon camping as they traveled cross country.  I affiliate with strange people you know? 🙂 In all honesty, there is no underestimating his value to the team. I am so grateful that he left a secure bank job to become our youth pastor. The dude knows how to minister. 

My week has been full with appointments, one that went way past my normal bedtime.  Yesterday I spent time visiting some folks who would love to be there on Sunday but are being cautious because of underlying health issues.  It was a fun afternoon. But when I do those things it takes me out of the office.

So…out of office…no blog. I know, I know. Makes you sadder than all get out. I love my job. I prefer to call it my calling. I love seeing people. It has been a good week.  I look forward to tomorrow except for the doctor’s visit at 7 a.m. which is a follow-up to lab work from last Friday. But I get to spend the day with Jo! That’s always good.

Hope your week was good. Anything you can share about it that will put a smile to my face?

#AShelter#RunforCover!

Friday, June 12th, 2020

Forest Gump was famous for saying, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” Since I like love chocolate, I would agree.  But there are times when someone throws a curve and ruins the chocolate. All they have to do for me is to either put coconut or any nut but peanuts in it and they ruin it. I don’t have to say this because you know it from reality: we are thrown curves of every kind. The  end result is determined by what we do with them and how we handle them. 

I found some interesting quotes while I was studying for this sermon:

“Life is like an onion, which one peels crying.”

“When you are down and out, something always turns up-and it’s usually the noses of your friends.” Orson Welles

Here is one that made me chuckle: “Life’s a tough proposition, and the first hundred years are the hardest.” Wilson Mizner

Life and tough stuff go hand in hand. Let’s call them storms.  With all our high tech equipment we aren’t very often surprised by a storm anymore. Unless it is a tornado that comes while we are sleeping. In life, while we are not so much surprised by the storms because we know we are not exempt, we are often surprised by the intensity of them.  A more important question is this: where do you go when the storms hit?  Where do you hide? Where do you find cover?

The second sermon in my Promises, Promises series is called “A Shelter in the Time of Storm.” It is the first of two from Isaiah 40. This one covers verses 1-27.  In this day and age,  we all need a shelter. Not a monetary one. Not an abode.  Certainly more than an umbrella. We need a real shelter.  People are hurting. People are crying. People are living in fear. What better message than the one from God’s Word to give hope?

Your prayers would be appreciated. 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.

#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.

#Hangover#GoodOne

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Every Sunday I go through it. I call it a hangover. I’ve never had the other kind.  Kind of hard to do that when you don’t take a drink to start with. 🙂

I had one yesterday. I went to the Y early (8:00) to work out and when I was done I had the hangover. It was the good kind. You know…the adrenaline is pumping and you feel like something good happened.  I even joked with someone who was just getting there about feeling good I was done. I had reached my limit physically for that workout and there was a settled feeling that came over me. Shower. Eat. Study. Nap. Oops where did that come in? 🙂

I’ve have one when my bike ride is finished. An a-a-a-a-a-h feeling.  A sense of accomplishment. An adrenaline rush from having spent myself. Shower. Eat. Work. Nap. Again, where did that come from?  🙂

I get one every Sunday. I expend myself emotionally. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Eat. (No shower needed). Study. Nap. Well, sometimes but not today.

I’m a bit melancholy right now. I’m not sad from any event. I’m not down from life. I expended a lot of spiritual energy this morning after preaching twice and I think I know what it is.

The subject matter. Heaven is fine to preach on. I’m not a fan of preaching on Hell. It isn’t because I pound the pulpit and scream and froth at the mouth. I don’t. But I’m melancholy because I have this sneaking suspicion there were some there today who needed to come to Christ but will keep putting it off.  It’s days like today that I wish I was like the Hulk when he grabbed Loki,  slammed him back and forth a few times, and then said, “Puny god.” Loki just whimpered. That was after Loki tried to tell the Hulk he was a god.

There are people I just want to grab and say, “What are you waiting for? Don’t you realize you are playing with your life, taking a risk that you really don’t want to gamble on?”

When I feel like this I can only imagine what God must be feeling after waiting and waiting.  The Bible says that God desires all men to repent and to come to a knowledge of the truth. His heart must break when time after time people reject Him.

I’m not concerned about my eternity. I know where I will be. I do get melancholy over others. May I never lose that fire for the lost. May I never lose that desire to see people come to Jesus. May I never lose that hunger to feel God’s pain.

I closed the sermon with this song. Hope you enjoy it.

#Mercy#VitalAttribute

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Name an attribute of God and I seriously doubt mercy will be first one out of someone’s mouth. Omniscient. Omnipresent. Omnipotent. Loving. Majestic. We might eventually come out with mercy but I’m willing to wager (and I’m not a betting man) that mercy will not be first.

Reading the headlines or listening to them can be a downward spiral into despair. A few weeks we had the TV on the local news station (Indy) and story after story seemed to be negative. Jo finally said, “It seems like all they talk about is the bad. I get so tired of it.” She is not alone.

Top that off with the natural disasters which plague our planet. Hurricanes. Tsunamis. Earthquakes. Forest fires. Droughts. Persecution. Terrorist bombings. It is like a first class ticket to the land of despair.

So people ask, “Where is God in all of this?”  “Why didn’t He stop this before it happened?” Been there? I have.  But those accusations are calling into question God’s mercy. Doesn’t He care? The answer is Yes He does. Mercy tells us He does.

My sermon Sunday is from 2 Corinthians 4:1 where it talks about mercy. I’ll also bring into the discussion the passage found in I Timothy 1:12-16.  I’ll talk more in my next post about mercy. In the meantime, consider this thought:

We are not meant to control our Christianity; Christianity is meant to control us.

Your prayers would be appreciated for Sunday morning. It is going to be a long weekend with a busy day off (did I say day off?), a really busy Saturday, and preparing for the sermon. Thanks for praying.

#HELP!!#ThatTimeAgain#ForACure

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

They say the early bird catches the worm. Well, I don’t want any worms but I am an early bird.

  • I get up every morning at 3:30 so I can shower and have my Quiet Time and be at the office around 5:00 so I can study.
  • That means I am an early bird when it comes to sermons and sermon prep.  I work at least 4 weeks ahead and often finish researching and writing several weeks early. I like that because if I have an emergency I don’t have to fret. (And I don’t have any all-night Saturday sessions working on and completing a sermon).
  • I am also an early bird when it comes to going to bed. I try to be in bed by 9:30 so I can at least get 6 hours sleep.

And I’m also an early bird when it comes to the topic of this post.  For the third year I am riding in the BikeMS Cruisin’ the Crossroads to benefit MS. The first year we were totally rained out. I mean like totally. 7″ inches fell within a 24 hour period so they wisely shut it down before it started. Last year my friend Dave (from 3 Feet Please) and I were able to ride the first 30 some miles until a deluge shut it down. We had someone riding with us who was ill-prepared and it slowed us down to a crawl. So it was mercifully cut short.

This year they have changed the date yet again. Rain may not be a problem; snow might. Well…let’s hope not. The ride has been changed to October 10th-one day after I celebrate (Lord willing) my 68th birthday.  Here is where you come in. Many of you were so generous last year that I was able to surpass my $800 goal. This year I have set my goal at $1000 and I have already started my fundraising by a starting pledge of $100. I do not have MS but I have some friends in this community who do. Kirby. Marge (a vital part of OVCF). Others.

Frankly, I’m not big on fundraising. I am so glad the church I pastor operates with the mindset of being debt-free. Therefore, I don’t have to stand in the pulpit and ask for money to make our mortgage payment. We are in need of more space but have an active building fund so we don’t have to borrow money when/if the time comes to adding on. Asking for money is not a strong suit of mine. (No I won’t make a joke about Jo asking me for money).

Anyway, if you are able or willing to help then you can go to my fundraising page and donate in my name.  Please go here for that. I’ll say thanks ahead of time.  I’ll also say that if you can’t or are unable to donate, prayers for health and safety while I’m training then riding would be greatly appreciated.