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Shock

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

It is the afternoon of Father’s Day. I’m in la-la land (translated: my eyes are glassy and my mind is in a fog). But I wanted to write something. But all I’m having at this moment is random thoughts. So I thought I would share them with you and you can take them or leave them. 🙂

I received a FD card from my oldest daughter, Tami.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She thought it was funny. I told her not to quit her day job. Actually, none of that is true. It is true I got the card from her. It is true she thought it fit and was funny. What is not true is the conversation. I laughed. I did tell her via text: “I’m honored you think I’m a bit weird. You wouldn’t want all normal people. How boring is that?”  Being a father to Tami and Janna and a grandfather to Braden is one of the highlights of my life.

I was in the chiropractor’s office and picked up a Men’s Health magazine to read and ran across a page called “THE (Above) AVERAGE GUY.” I asked them to make a copy for me. Here is a bit what it said:

$89,420 average cost for four years of college now. $372,397 average projected cost in 2033, when your 3-year old today heads off to college. That’ll scare the heeby-jeebies out of ya’!

37% of kids say they wish no parents would watch them play.  (Could it be they know something we don’t? Like it matters more to parents than their kids and kids want to have fun?)

Tony Hawk, arguably the world’s greatest skateboarder. Coolest dad ever? His kids on him turning 50.

  • His 9-year old: “He hasn’t finished Mario Odyssey, and he can’t dance!”
  • His 15 year old: “He steals your food.”
  • His 18 year old: “He’s in bed by 9 p.m.”

There you have it. Wisdom for the ages. 🙂

And since I’m in the shock mode: here is a song solidly based on Scripture. It is long but epic. I’m sure it is probably not most of your cup of tea but I like Theocracy and love this song.  Just for fun I asked the lady who signs our services if she would do this.  🙂

Hope you had a good Sunday-father or not.

MoreVacationThoughts

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

As I stated in my last post, while on vacation I continued to read and write (journal). The following are from a book called Everyone Always by Bob Goff.

“Those who are becoming love don’t throw people off roofs; they lower people through them instead.”

“Burning down others’ opinions doesn’t make us right. It makes us arsonists.”

“God doesn’t just give us promises; He give us each other.”

“Be. Not. Afraid. These words have exactly as much power as we give them in our lives. People who are becoming love experience the same uncertainties we all do. They just stop letting fear call the shots.”

” ‘Love one another.’ What is simple often isn’t easy; what is easy often doesn’t last.”

I’m not done reading or journaling with Bob’s book. But as you can see there are some good thoughts contained in it. I’ve continued reading; I just need to catch up with my pen.  Bob is the author of Love Does. He is also a lawyer. I would trust him to represent me.  🙂

Heard in a sermon preached on 6/3:

“Why is it we think God can only walk within the bounds of our reason?”

“If God could create water, what’s the big deal about Him walking on it?”

Some food for your thought today. Any  of these strike you?

Forget?

Friday, May 25th, 2018

MEMORIAL DAY

Day off or Day of Memory.

Day to cook out or Day to be thankful.

There’s a third. Around these parts,  high school graduation takes place Saturday. So Memorial Day is a day of recuperation. And drying tears. And relishing one of the last possible times for a family cookout before life really gets hectic.  🙂

Memorial Day was a day designed to remember. Even more than July 4, it was designed to call to mind the sacrifice and commitment so many men and women, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, etc paid to keep our nation free (or to help others be or stay free). It is a day of “Lest We Forget.”

Did you know God also instituted opportunities for the Israelite nation to not forget Him and what He has done? Three of them, in fact.  I switched last week’s sermon and this week’s around so I could focus on those three opportunities this week. What are they? Well…I’m glad you asked!  🙂

  1. The Ark of Connection. You read that right. Why do I say that? Because the Ark symbolized God’s presence.  The story is in Joshua 3.
  2. Stones of Remembrance.  That unique story is found in Joshua 4.
  3. An Act of Consecration. You will find that story in Joshua 5.

We all tend to have “memory amnesia” from time to time. The Israelites were no different. God wanted them to remember “lest they forget.” Same goes for us. We all need memory joggers. May Sunday, then Monday, be a time of jogging your memory of God’s goodness to us as His people and then to be thankful for living in this free country.

Have a nice weekend. A fantastic day of worship. A time of memorial on Monday. But in all your celebration, please don’t forget WHO is behind it all.

Holy

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Every day I live I am reminded of Isaiah’s words in chapter 6: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts!”

What could possibly have gotten Isaiah so worked up and so “slain” that he admits to having unclean lips and living in the midst of unclean people? Only one thing really:

He. caught. a. glimpse. of. the. holiness. of. God.

It must have been an earth-shattering sight for him. A “take me to my knees” sight. A “rock my world” sight. Words fail me when trying to find the words to describe it. This sort of thing happened once to me. I was on a much-needed personal retreat of 4 days of fasting and praying. I needed to clear some things in my head, but more importantly, in my heart.  I was walking the property I was staying at and praying when I found myself on my knees. Overwhelmed and overcome by the weight of it all. For once I felt like I was standing in God’s presence. So began my journey out of legalism and into freedom. But it all started with catching a glimpse of God’s holiness. I didn’t froth at the mouth. I didn’t convulse. I didn’t have any ecstatic experience. I was just overwhelmed.

Here is a song I’d like you to listen to. It is long (a little over 9 minutes) because it is a medly of two songs. They are both good alone. Combined they are powerful. Hope you enjoy. More: I hope it brings you a reality of God’s holiness and helps you focus this week on Him.

Why?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

I’m reading a book right now called Notes from the Valley by Pastor Andy MCquitty,  subtitled “A Spiritual Travelogue Through Cancer.” No…I don’t have cancer that I know of. But so many people whom I love and care about do. Andy is no different than “regular” people. Just because he is a pastor does not mean he did not ask the same questions other do.  Many people expect pastors to be “above others.” They don’t want a pastor who is better than them or thinks he is better than them. They don’t want a pastor who thinks more highly of himself than he ought to.

But…

They also expect him to be above the fray. You know… he should never ask or question God.  He should have perfect faith. Never a doubt. Never a fear. Never a raised voice in anger toward God.

May I let you in on something? Get your head out of the sand! I put my pants and shirt on the same way you do.  As much as I wish I could sometimes, I don’t tear open the buttons of my shirt (sort of hard since I wear t-shirts so often) to reveal a Captain America logo. Or a giant “S.”  I/pastors have feelings just like you. Just like your cancer-ridden friend.  Just like your friend whose parent’s mind is being ravaged by dementia or Parkinson’s. Just like you when you have heard of another friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. Or a baby born with physical problems.

Just like you Pastor Andy asked, “Why?” “Why me and not him?” Just like you your pastor struggles with having answers to unanswerable questions.

And just like you I am sometimes astonished God answers a prayer when I least expect it or in a way that is not on my radar. What prompted this post? Several things. I’ve already told you about my friends. But I also have been reading in Acts as I read through my ESV Reader’s Bible and read the story today of Peter’s release from prison by the angel. He goes to a house where they are praying for him and the servant girl is so astounded she leaves him outside. When she tells the people praying they say, “No way. No. No. No.” (my version). And when she convinces them to take a look they are astonished God answered their prayer. I chuckle at that. Not because of their lack of faith, but because “been there done that.” (Full story in Acts 12:6-19)

So ask “Why?” Go ahead. Ask away. He will not turn a deaf ear. But let it lead you to the One who can answer it.  But I have also learned there is a better question to ask. Instead of why, the better question is “What now? How do you want me to respond?”

Anchor

Friday, April 20th, 2018

We all face seemingly insurmountable odds from time to time. Some more than others. But when we are in those periods that want to overwhelm us, we need an anchor-Someone or something to cling to. Given the way things just up and disappear or rust away or disintegrate, I believe the SOMEONE is a better anchor.

This final True North sermon from Hebrews 11 (next week’s is from Hebrews 12:1-3) takes in a laundry list of people whose faith was evident, even though it might have been weak at the get-go. Gideon. Barak. Samson. Jephthah. Names which are not really household names. Okay, maybe Gideon and Samson are the more familiar ones, but the other two? I’m thinking 9 out of 10 would not know who they were (and in some circles 10 out of 10).

Paul states in 2 Cor.12 that “God’s grace is sufficient in all things. When I am weak, He become strong.” That is the underlying thought for this week’s message: God is sufficient. He empowers the weak to be strong (the aforementioned biblical characters). He also sustains the weak to be strong. Elijah. Elisha. Followers of Christ who refuse to recant their faith in Christ, even in spite of the persecution, possible torture and imprisonment, and death.

This series is coming to a close next week. It will be good to talk about God’s part in being an anchor when our faith is rocked. I’d appreciate your prayers for this weekend. Thanks ahead of time.

Pardon?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

My grandfather used to say, when someone would say something to him that he did not hear (he worked in a steel mill as a welder all his life), “Pardon?” I was taught to say, “Excuse me?” or “I’m sorry I didn’t hear you.” That’s a whole lot different than the “Huh?’ or “Wha-a-a-t?” we often hear today. Okay, off rabbit trail and back to original thought. Pardon. We hear about pardons being granted to criminals, or even every day “Joe’s” by people. It’s not always easy to offer that.

In this post I mentioned reading a book called Not God Enough by J.D. Greear. What an excellent book!  He tells the story of a man named George Wilson who pled guilty to several counts of robbery and “endangering the life of a mail driver” and apparently it was serious enough to merit the death penalty. Wilson was sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Jackson chose to issue Wilson a full pardon, but Wilson, for reasons we will probably never know, refused to accept it. In United States v. Wilson, 1833, the Supreme Court issued its verdict saying (in essence), “If the pardon is rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.”

Seems strange to me that a man would reject a pardon which exonerated him, but also set him free. Seems strange to me why people would reject the pardon offered by God which would exonerate a person of their sin, and at the same time set them free. In my mind, the choice is a no-brainer.

Strange indeed.

HomewardBound

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Just as there are certain events that affect our lives, and we know what we were doing and where we were when they happened, words or statements are the same.

9/11

“President Kennedy has been shot” (for those old enough)

“President Reagan has been shot”

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Precise timing and movements were needed to make sure Apollo 13 made it home. One mistake and the capsule and astronauts would be doomed to outer space. Getting them home was a priority.

For some reason many don’t like to talk about the future. I’m not talking about future events (Rapture, 666, etc).  For me as a Christ-follower I like to talk about my future. It is secure.  I know that because of God’s promise, but I also know that because of hope. Properly focused hope gives us the assurance of a home for eternity.  Now…I’m not talking about the “I hope it is nice weather tomorrow” or “I hope he/she smiles at me.” No, the hope I am talking about goes much deeper.

Take away hope and you take away a reason for living. In the case of the Christ-follower, if our hope is not connected to forever, our hope will somehow die. Living with forever in view gives us an unshakeable reason for hope.

My sermon Sunday is called Homeward Bound. I’m using Hebrews 11:11-16, 32-40 as my passage. Come join us or listen online or if you are too far away, please say a prayer for me and the folks at OVCF. Thanks.

And speaking of Homeward Bound, today, April 13th marks the birthday of my late mother. She would have been 86. She’s home.

Understand?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

I’ve said here before in my blog that I lack some things. One of those is “super intelligence.” I am not a deep-thinker by nature and often get bored when the subject goes deeper than a) I want to go and b) I am able to understand. People will ask me questions which “go beyond my pay grade” i.e. beyond my ability to understand and explain. There are certain mysteries I accept without feeling like I have to have a PhD to “sign off” on.

One of those is God. I am often asked hard questions, at least hard ones for me. I can’t say I have ever had one of those “dark nights of the soul” where I questioned everything I have ever been taught and came out on the other side more convinced than ever of what I believe. My “dark night” (no not Batman) is more related to having questions about suffering, and why things happen that I don’t have an answer to or see no sense in.

I’m currently reading a book by J.D.Greear called Not God Enough. While it is different from my normal fare, it has been a great book. An understandable book (for me). I’m almost 100 pages into this 200+ page book and I’m finding some good, thought-provoking stuff. Perhaps the best way to describe its approach is to use his opening statement of Chapter 1:

A god small enough to be understood is not big enough to be worshiped. Evelyn Underhill

There is no way “under God’s green earth” that I can or will ever understand God, what makes Him tick (except His love for me), or how He operates.  But the good thing is I don’t have to!! I often tell people it is okay to have doubts. True, doubt can drive you backward into disbelief, but it can also drive you forward into real faith. 

I will never understand all there is to know about God (nobody can). All I know is I believe He is who He said He is. He is the great I AM (as He told Moses). And for that, I make no apologies, nor do I need any letters after my name.

Image

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

There is no doubt we live in an image-conscious world. Fat-shaming. Body-shaming. All kinds of shaming going on. Cyber bullying has become a pastime for many. Plastic surgeons are in high demand to fix this, tuck this, remove this, do this, do that.

Whatever happened to Psalm 139: 13-16 and the reality it teaches? Before you jump all over me, I agree we ought to take care of ourselves. I don’t cycle and lift weights for nothing. But to body-shame someone because they don’t meet “our standard” of loveliness is just downright wrong. Sinful even. And to feel less than beautiful because of someone else’s standards is not right either.  Because of back surgery I am limited in what I can do for my core muscles. I was not allowed to do anything for almost 3 months. My stomach is not as flat, toned and defined as it once was. But that hasn’t stopped someone from commenting about it. I laugh it off but what would that do to someone who was less confident or didn’t know the uphill battle I face trying to find ways to exercise?

That is why this song was so insightful to me this past week.  If you have trouble with the lyrics I have included the lyric video of the song here.  I hope this helps set your week on a good path.