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Suicide

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Warning. Spoiler Alert. This is not going to be a fun post to read. Or write for that matter.  This is not a fun subject, a joking matter, or something to be taken lightly. Everyone of us has probably, in some way, been touched by suicide. Either we are survivors of it (those left behind) or we know someone who has threatened suicide or someone who died of suicide.  As a pastor I would love to say it has never touched a church I have pastored or affected someone in the church. I could give you statistics but that would belabor it.  Because I am a pastor, and because I want to reach out to the survivors, I felt a definite need to “read up” on it. I feel God definitely led me to a book called Grieving a Suicide by Albert Y. Hsu. A few months after his wedding, Dr. Hsu’s father took his life. No doubt depression played a major part in his father’s actions after a major stroke three months earlier.

What makes this book so helpful is his personal involvement in it. It is not a clinical “this-is-what-is-wrong-with-people” approach. Nor is it a book which condemns people to hell who take their life (I won’t do that either). What I especially liked about the book is it can be read and understood by the common person. Like me. I have no visions of grandeur about my intelligence. I like things simple. Dr. Hsu does that. He doesn’t back down from the hard questions but neither does he get heavy-handed. The ones who won’t like this book are those looking for proof of condemnation. If you are one of those, go looking at the comics. I prefer not to cross swords or paths with you.

Here is one example of down-to-earth teaching: there is some discussion about the use of terms-committed suicide vs  completed suicide. I have always use the former but there is someone in the church who uses the latter. His thoughts? Survivor’s react against the former saying it sounds criminal. I’ll grant that now. The latter, he says, “sounds like a laudatory accomplishment…It comes across as somewhat clinical and cold.” (p.169)  His suggestion? “My dad died from suicide” or “my dad took his own life.”  He also recoils against describing suicide as “successful.” (p.170).

I simply cannot recommend this book enough. It is also interspersed with excellent and informative items like “Warning Signs of Suicide”; “Facts About Suicide”; and others. It is helpful if you are a survivor and are looking for help, and it is helpful if you want to help someone. Check out the right sidebar of my blog for more information on the book.

Grieving a Suicide: A Loved One's Search for Comfort, Answers, and Hope

Meanderings

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

This is a Sunday meandering post. So many thoughts going through my head I don’t know what to do with them all.

It all started out on Friday when I visited the hospital on my day off to see an older lady whose husband went to be with Jesus about a week or so before Christmas. They would have celebrated 50 years this Spring. She has been extremely lonely but continued to go on. Until last Sunday night when she found herself in the ER and ultimately admitted (I will withhold medical condition). Surgery Monday didn’t tell them much (translated: nothing). She has been in and out of Progressive/Critical Care all week long. Saturday (yesterday) I was in the hospital visiting a very sick woman and her family.

I also visited another man whose condition has worsened over the past couple weeks. The good thing? I was able to lead him to salvation. The interesting thing is he is stone deaf and his hearing aids weren’t working. I tried three times to talk to him but he could not hear me. So, one morning as I prayed, I asked God how I could reach him. I typed it out and left it with him. After having it read to him, he had his wife sign on the line (he could not grip a pen).  Yay!!

Saturday was a day of interruptions…all day. Long story short: I was unable to sync with the sermon so I decided to do my New Morning Mercies for Sunday a night earlier. Pay dirt! As I journaled it was liked God was saying, “Here is your sermon for Sunday.” So I got up at 3:15, came to the office, and wrote a sermon. Although it is somewhat unsettling, I have learned not to argue with God. He was there today.

Our Resurrection Sunday service went well. We had 296, but more than that, we had a good spirit.  So many thanks have to go around. WOW!  People came early to help set up.  Abram Farm Event Venue had a wedding until 12:00 last night so we could not set up until this morning. But in about an hour all chairs, tables, and things were ready to go. The Worship Team was excellent! Everyone who could helped clean up. It was a great day to be part of OVCF and part of the church. I even think the sermon went okay (so I’m told).  Out of the music set was the song I want to feature this week. I am not a fan of Hillsong but I do like Brooke (Frazier) Ligertwood. Here is her leading worship with the song.  Brooke is a real popular pop singer in Australia.  Here is one of my favorites by her.

Well…I sure was long-winded. That’s what happens when you meander. 🙂 Have a great week!!

EternityAmnesia?

Friday, March 30th, 2018

This Sunday has different meaning to different people.  For some its part of their yearly ritual of C & E attendance. For some it is nothing more than a day filled with chocolate, baskets, chocolate rabbits, colored eggs, and chocolate eggs.  Oh…did I mention chocolate? For some it will be the consummate holiday. Not because of it being a holiday but because of its meaning.

For the follower of Christ, it is the one day of the year which sets every other day aside, but also every other religion of the world. Judaism, while not acknowledging the life and death of Messiah, still has a founder, Abraham, in the ground. Islam’s founder, Mohamed, died at the age of 61 and was buried in a tomb in Medina. He has yet to be seen alive. No disciple of Buddha can say, “I have seen him alive.” Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the JW’s is still in his grave. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Scientist, is still in her grave. Ellen G. White, the founder of SDA, is still in her grave. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young (among others), the founders of Mormonism and LDS are still in their graves. Only one person has ever defied hell and the grave: Jesus Christ. Proof of his “aliveness” abounds.

The problem with many of us is we suffer from “eternity amnesia” and therefore we are guilty of forgetting forever. By that I don’t mean forgetting something and never to recall it, but we forget a thing called Forever. But here is a simple truth: without eternity Christianity makes no sense. If all that sin has broken won’t be forever fixed someday, then there is no hope now and no hope in the hereafter. So what Paul says in I Corinthians 15 is radical: without a guaranteed forever, faith in Christ is robbed of its meaning, power, and hope.

This Sunday is celebration Sunday for every Christ-follower. Thanks to the generosity of Bill & Suzie Abram we will be enjoying the use of Abram Farm (as we did on Christmas Eve). I hope you will enjoy your Resurrection Sunday celebration of Jesus being Alive! Meanwhile, would you mind praying for us? Thanks.

Reflection

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Once again my thoughts and heart are pulled to the reality of this week. We will soon celebrate what is known as Good Friday, the day traditionally given to remembering the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus. Soon…Sunday is coming!

Tuesday’s New Morning Mercies focused on Galatians 2:20. Living life in my own strength and by my own strength is an effort in futility. Gal.2:20 weaves into itself what I see as a formula: theological truth + practical truth = solid impact. Let me explain:

Theological truth= Jesus died for me, as my representative.

Practical truth= the power which is in me is Jesus.

Impactful (Yeah I know that is not a word) truth= I live with peace, hope and courage.

I’m honestly overwhelmed (and I hope it always stays this way) by the simplicity and power of the cross. How can I explain someone dying for me? Taking my pain and punishment? And then wanting to live within me? I can’t. It is a rare time I am speechless. The cross is a life-changing event. We sang a song this past Sunday with these lyrics: “The cross meant to kill is my victory.” I am going to celebrate the Cross with a grateful heart.

I unpack the above three “truth” statements a little more on my other blog. If you care to read them, you can click here.  Or you can click on the BeTransformed banner to the right and it will take you there.

I do have a prayer request: Tomorrow Jo & I will be taking Braden back to Ohio and then returning home…all in one day. It is supposed to rain a-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l day. Prayers would be much appreciated. Thanks.

ChristAlone

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

We begin what has been called the final week of Jesus. Traditionally, today was Palm Sunday, the day Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The people welcomed him with “Hosannas” and threw their palm branches on the ground. Told by the religious hypocrites to shut them up, Jesus told the hypocrites that even if he were to do that the rocks and mountains would scream out in praise.

His week was eventful, eventually culminating in his farce of a trial, mockery, torture, and ultimate death on the cross.

This song is a fitting one to begin this week with. I hope it will help focus you, not on the events of the week, but on the perfect plan of God culminating in the death of Jesus on the cross…and His eventual resurrection.

Fools

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Being called a fool is not a complementary term. It is sort of akin to moron or idiot in our use of the word.  Tragically, we have often played the fool when it comes to spiritual things. We think we know best. We get eternity amnesia. We get big-picture amnesia.

We also get cross-amnesia. Down through the years teaching on the cross has evolved…and that has not always been good.  The cross took a back seat. I will post about the history of that fiasco next week.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. I was asked Sunday by someone new to church what Palm Sunday was. I explained it to him, but told him I’m glad he asked. In biblical days, the cross was seen as a symbol of cruelty and judgment upon those who deserved it. It was seen as a way to mete out punishment to the worst of the worst. In our day, the cross is seen as a symbol of foolishness. Vicarious redemption is seen as a stupid act and totally unnecessary. There is a word for that (I’ll let you fill that one in).

This Sunday I’ll continue my True North series but also talk about the cross using I Corinthians 1:18-2:5.  I’m going to do that with two thoughts:

  • I reaffirm the necessity of the cross
  • I reaffirm the necessity of God’s wisdom.

Prayers would be appreciated. And thank you ahead of time.

 

 

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! 

TheEvent

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Part 3 of my mini-series within a series deals with the Future of Love.  As a recap:

The Look of Love talked about the mark of the Christ-follower: love.

The Act of Love talked about the crucifixion through the eyes of Isaiah in chapter 53.

This “Event” sermon looks at two events actually:

The Main Event- the Resurrection of Jesus

The Grand Finale- our future home in Heaven

This Sunday we celebrate the Main Event.  Apologist Josh McDowell was once asked by a student from Paraguay why he couldn’t refute Christianity. His answer? “For the very simple reason: I am not able to explain away an event in history-the resurrection of Jesus.”

And the Grand Finale? Oh WOW!!!!! There is so much to say about Heaven…too much for this particular post. One thing I do know is to echo Paul: “Absent from the body; present with the Lord.” I look forward to the reunions I will have. But most of all, I look forward to seeing the face of and embracing the One who showed me such G-R-A-C-E.

Jo & I left Wednesday for Ohio to spend a couple of days with our grandson. I will be incommunicado during that time. If you comment, I will approve it but not take the time to respond right away. I do ask for your prayers for this weekend.

Whichone?

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

“Joy to the World the Lord is come…”

Christmas song or Easter song?

Written in 1719 by Isaac Watts, he never intended it to be sung as a Christmas song. But it has become one of the most well-loved Christmas songs we sing. But as we are often guilty of doing, we skip over some of the stanzas. If we don’t skip over them we skim them. Hence, we might miss the third stanza of this hymn:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make his blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as the curse is found.

The mission of Jesus was not to come as a baby. That “started” it. But the mission of Jesus was to wipe out the curse of sin, death, hell and the grave. He came to unleash His power and grace in an unprecedented act of love. He came to restore our relationship with the Father which sin had broken.

What a tremendous truth to ponder as we enter this time of the year. Or if I may borrow the words to a song which has nothing to do with this topic: “the most wonderful time of the year.”

FollowUp

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Like many churches we had a big day on Resurrection Sunday. We had our service at our building and asked folks to consider coming to the first service if they could. These people here are fantastic! We had 131 in our first service; 145 in our second. Yeah…I’d say that was pretty evenly rounded. Good thing we did it that way though. No way could we have ever fit that many in one service. It was a good day. A fun day. It was also the first time in 3 years we were in our own building.

I told this story:

Dr. Donald Barnhouse was a pastor at the 10th Avenue Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1927-1960 when he died one month after being diagnosed with a large brain tumor. When he was in his 30s his first wife died of cancer, leaving him with 3 children. Grieving as he drove to the memorial service with the children in the back seat he watched a truck pass by and cast its shadow across the car.

He turned to his oldest and asked her if she would rather be run over by a truck or its shadow. She guessed the shadow because it couldn’t hurt her. “Your mother has not been run over by death,” he replied, “but by the shadow of death.”

Death is not an enemy anymore. Check out this verse, especially the last phrase. The Greek word for “abolish” means “to render inoperative.” Death has lost its victory; death has lost its sting. Here’s a video I showed Sunday. Enjoy!