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Sacred

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

I’m sorry if you get tired of hearing about this but something has been sitting in my lap for a few days.

Being a victim of a hit and run driver while riding my bicycle has been a tad bit unsettling. Very unsettling for Jo. A tad for me.

But here is what is bothering me. I have been speaking to others-cyclists and non-cyclists-who are appalled at what happened. “How could someone just do that?” “How could someone hit someone and not care?” In fact, just this morning at the Y (Wednesday), I was talking to a man who prefers mountain biking over road biking because he got buzzed on his last ride. His question: “How can anyone be so mean, so uncaring about another human life?”

That really is the crux of the matter, you know? How? How can someone do that to someone else? How can I get buzzed, throw my arms out in question, and get the “royal bird” flashed back at me? That tells me that he/she knew exactly what they were doing.

It comes down to this: Human life is no longer sacred. Human life no longer means much to people. We live in a throw-away society so life is the same. Can there be any other explanation for the pro-choice view of life? I’m going to borrow some words from Jared C. Wilson’s book Unparalleled: How Christianity’s Uniqueness Makes it Compelling:

 Human life isn’t sacred because we managed to be the experiment of nature that finally worked. Human life isn’t sacred because we are beneficial to each other or to society. Human life isn’t sacred when it is wanted or desired or loved. Human life is sacred because God created it in his own image. (p.78-79)

How can anyone read Psalm139:13-16 and not see that uniqueness, that sacredness? God has made us in His image; we are His image-bearers. That doesn’t mean because we are “useful,” but beautiful.

This post was in the germination stage but took root when I read this post by my blogging friend, Jay. Jay directed us to his daughter, Sarah’s blog, where she also included a homemade video.  Powerful stuff. Please take a moment to read both and watch the video.

I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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.  🙂

Messiahs

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

There are two sides to this post.

Side one: those who have a “Messiah complex.”

Side two: those who put people on a pedestal which sets them up for a fall.

We all know about those with a “Messiah complex.” We usually associate that with a cult or some overbearing leader (usually religious) who thinks he/she is God’s gift to mankind. This person takes control and takes over peoples’ lives, pretending to care, but really seeking the opportunity to pounce. They had them in Jesus’ day. We have them today, most often found in legalistic churches, word-of-faith communities, and sadly, in the daily lives of many unaware people.

It is Side two which gives me greater concern. For some reason, we set people up as our “personal messiah.” What I mean by that is we put too much stock in one person; what they can/cannot do; how they can help us; meet our needs; answer our longings, etc. This can be seen in looking at another person as the one who can make us happy or fulfilled. The plain, rugged truth is only God can do that. If someone sets me on that type of pedestal, I am nothing more than a cheap “knock off.”  I was struck (I chuckled) by something from today’s New Morning Mercies: “Asking someone to be our personal messiah is “like requiring him to be the 4th member of the Trinity and then judging him when he fails.” {Note: substitute the female gender if you prefer}. It just can’t be. It can’t happen. No human can or should shoulder that responsibility. There is only one Savior and people “we aren’t Him.”

This is an important lesson to learn.  Bitterness and disappointment is the result of someone failing to meet our expectations. It is impossible for people to meet my needs. And it is impossible for someone to expect me to meet their needs. Not just impossible. Wrong. My focus, your focus, needs to be where it belongs…on Jesus.

Quotes/Thoughts

Monday, June 5th, 2017

I find myself today running in a few minutes to a hospital close to an hour away for a man in the church who is having a knee replacement so I have precious little time to write a blog. So I thought I would give you some of the quotes/thoughts from the New Morning Mercies devotional I reviewed last week here.

From June 1: “God’s care comes in many forms. He cares enough to break your bones in order to capture your heart.” Tripp closes his thoughts with this: “You care enough to give me what I need, not what I want. You care enough to break my bones in order to recapture my heart.”

Of course, that hit home for me. Once in November (which didn’t take) and then again in February, I had bicycle accidents. The latter broke a collarbone and 3 ribs among other injuries. I don’t believe God literally reached down with His finger and had that car hit me, nor do I believe He put His finger on me and then flipped it sending me to the pavement in an endo. But He can use events in our lives to get our attention. In this case, He used it to recapture my heart.

From June 3: “It would be amazing if a God of awesome glory recognized our existence, but for Him to welcome us into His family is grace beyond amazing!” I’d say John Newton used the right word. Don’t you think so too?

From June 5 (today): “God’s grace is active, rescuing, transformative grace. You celebrate this by being as serious about your need as the God of grace is.” It took me three times reading that until it finally began to soak in. God took sin-the Fall-seriously. So much so that He immediately meted out punishment and put in motion the wheels for our salvation. Sin is no laughing matter. Gal. 6 tells us, “God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows that shall he reap.” Two words: not pretty.

Chew on those today and then let me hear your thoughts if you can to respond.

EveryMorning

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

There has always been a dichotomy of thought. Should a person’s Quiet Time (QT) be in the morning or is it okay to have it in the evening? Middle of the day? To be honest I have always been a “have it in the morning kind of guy.” Not because that is the only right time, but it is the time that I am sharpest and most aware. I usually find myself busy in the afternoon so it is easy to push it aside. By the time night rolls around my philosophy is night time is good for one thing…sleeping.

Sometime in March I was perusing a Christian bookstore when I ran across a devotional by Paul David Tripp called New Morning Mercies. It is subtitled A Daily Gospel Devotional. I decided I needed something to liven up my morning QT so I bought it. After the first devotion, March 19th, I was hooked. By the end of the first week I had begun to think of other guys I would love to involve in this. How could I do that? So I bought 3 other copies and gave them away to 3 guys. (I later added a fourth). Then started an “email club” where each day we send our thoughts via email to the group of 5. Comments can be made on each other’s thoughts. It has been a super exciting adventure! I’m looking now to maybe adding another group (5 is as big as I want it to be) and would love to have a women’s group get started as well.

The devotions are solid. Real solid. No fluff. No prosperity garbage. Just solid gospel devotional. Lots on GRACE! (My favorite topic). Real challenging spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Each devotional takes about 5-10 minutes to read (I underline also) and includes a Scripture at the end for reference. My plan is to go through this once then the second time through use the daily Scripture for my QT. I have yet to run into a boring morning mercy. And trust me, it is aptly titled: New Morning Mercies. These devotionals have got my brain wired.

Tripp started out by tweeting three tweets a day. They were so popular that he was asked/encouraged to expand on them and do a devotional based on them. This book is that expansion.

I am partial to the gift edition. It is a hardback in a slipcase. It also comes cheaper in paperback.  Here is the edition I like.

New Morning Mercies (Gift Edition): A Daily Gospel Devotional

I think you ought to give this a good, long, honest, hard look. You will be really pleasantly surprised. If not, send me the book. I will put it to good use. 🙂  And by the way: I would not be opposed to having an online email with some of you if you find that appealing.

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.”

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.

 

 

Weakness

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Weak is the new strong. That is just one of the opposite-opposite statements we find in the Bible which seemingly contradict each other. Here are a few more:

  • Love your enemies
  • The way to be exalted is to be humble
  • To truly live you have to die
  • Jesus gave His life, not for good people but for sinful, ungodly people who don’t deserve it.

To be strong, you have to be weak. That sure sounds strange in our society doesn’t it? We of the power grabs and climbing the ladder (while using our coworkers as stepping stones). So hearing the word weakness almost throws us into a convulsion, or at best a spasm.

Paul said it well in 2 Cor. 12:9-10: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

We all have weaknesses and limitations. That’s normal. As humans we are finite, imperfect, sinful people. Those are limitations. But weaknesses are different. We all have them; just different ones.  The lesson for us though is that in spite of our weaknesses, God’s grace stands there ready at a moment’s notice. The equally interesting thing is that God not only wants to display His grace in Paul’s life, He also wants to display His power in Paul’s weakness.

Truth: the weaker we become, the greater God’s power is released in us. That is the idea I want to capture this coming Sunday. Will you please pray for us this Sunday?

The leadership is also making an announcement this week concerning the future of OVCF. If you, my readers, are interested in knowing what I said, you can tune into the podcast.

Fools

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

This past Sunday I spoke about the verse where Paul says, “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” While the fool is not a complimentary term, I went another way with it. I went with the idea that God embraces the ridiculous.

I love to talk about my two daughters. Seldom do I get the chance to brag about them, so today I want to brag about my oldest, Tami. She recently wrote a blog that I want to highlight and ask you to check it out. She says it very succinctly and, if I may brag, very well. I’d like to ask you to read it here.

One of the things I did was change the word fool to the word crazy. I started with this video. With that thought in mind here are some of the crazy people and highlights Tami also mentioned (just in case you didn’t read her post):

Abraham– Obedience is easy when it fits into our plan or our scheme. Abraham was willing to obey even though it was crazy.

Namaan- Sometimes we are asked to take steps of wild obedience where we have no clue where it will end. Stop too soon and we miss out on God’s phenomenal blessings. (Note: Imagine if Namaan had stopped at #6)

Gideon- It doesn’t matter the size of the army or enemy coming against you when God is fighting your battle for you.

Hosea– Though we fail; we are not failures. Though we are unfaithful; God is faithful. Always.

As Christ-followers we are often asked to do bizarre-appearing actions. Some might actually call us crazy. But I’d rather be called crazy for stepping out of the status quo than be bored to tears and bore everyone else along the way.

 

Counterfeits2

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

In my last post I mentioned 3 things which can become idols to us.

Keep in mind: an idol is a representation of what we honor, esteem, pay allegiance to, or worship. Idols tell us we can’t live without them.

The first three were:

  1. Stuff
  2. Money
  3. Sex

The three I’d like to mention in this post are not listed as 4-6 because they are less prominent or because they are less of an issue.  We all struggle with things that want preeminence in our lives. The following three should also be included in the list:

Idol #4: Technology. It has been interesting to me to listen to all the “talk” about the political garbage (I could use another word for it) on FB and other media venues and I breathe a sigh of relief that I am not on any of them. I have chosen ON PURPOSE to not be on any site. I know people who can’t live without their phone, iPad or tablet, or some form of technology in their hand.  Technology can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse.

Idol #5: Beauty. I will be the first to admit I see nothing wrong with taking care of yourself or seeing a nice-looking male of female walking toward me. But there is no denying it has become an idol in our culture. How much more subjective can it be than to have an Annual “Sexiest Man Alive” issue or “Beautiful People Issue?”

Idol #6: Entertainment. I will acknowledge the need for diversion. But sometimes we spend entirely too much time in front of the TV or computer screen. I’m thrilled that one of the things Jo & I have never done is have a TV in our bedroom, nor does her iPad make it there. TV. Music. Playing games. None wrong in and of themselves, but when they begin to take over common sensibilities “Houston, we have a problem.”

There are the 6 I used this past Sunday. There are, obviously, more. But hopefully, you get the point.  🙂