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Death/Life/Funerals

Monday, January 28th, 2019

I bury a friend today. I haven’t known him long. Little over a year and a half but the past year found me taking multiple hour long trips to the hospital to visit and multiple trips to his house as he fought a brave fight against an ugly form of cancer. He lived 18 months longer past the original 18 months they gave him to live. The power of prayer. The power of medicine. The power of the will to live and not give up.

I wanted to post something today but as you can see I am a bit preoccupied with another matter. I wrote more on this subject at my other blog. If you would like to read more, you can check it out here. I would be honored if you would visit LivingintheShadow and comment there or here.  Maybe even consider subscribing?  🙂

Waiting

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Confession time: I am not a fan of waiting. I don’t like to use the word “hate” but I do hate waiting. Waiting in line at a grocery store is tiring. Waiting in line at a store that does not have enough registers open is frustrating. Waiting in line at a stop light, especially when a person won’t move up, is maddening. Waiting to be waited on and served is annoying.

Worse still is waiting on God. I know what the Scripture says; I’ve quoted them enough. “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.” There are tons more. But sometimes waiting on God is just plain…frustrating. Maddening. Annoying. Tiring. Waiting for an answer. Waiting for God to move. Waiting to die. Waiting for change. Waiting for God to “show” Himself.

Been there? I’d like to invite you to my other blog, LivingintheShadow, to see the rest of this post. While you are there, how about subscribing and getting them in your email?

For another “take” on waiting why not visit Martha’s bl0g here?

Fear

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

I’m a little late to the party this weekend.  It has been a crazy, busy weekend with Tami’s surgery as well as some others having cancer treatment. But I guess better late than never!

My theme for 2019 is Unsinkable. My thanks to Ryan (techgeek) for the banner. I am a typical Sanguine. I have great ideas but my ability to follow through on some things is limited. Ryan, on the other hand, is fantastic!  Okay…that’s enough of that. I’ll blow his head up so big even his wife won’t recognize him. But then again, Amanda will bring him back to earth. 🙂

It was March 4, 1933 while the country was in the terrifying clutches of the Great Depression that newly elected president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, made his famous one liner that is often quoted by others. Believing the greatest problem was not the absence of finances but the presence of fear, he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

There is no question we live in a fallen world. Look around if you doubt my words. At the same time we live in the fallen world, we also have a God of grace who meets his children in moments of darkness and difficulty.  I’m going to be in Psalm 27 for 3 of the 4 Sundays this month. Psalm 27 is a rock in an unsure world. It is a lifesaver thrown out to a drowning man. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” 

I’ll also be showing this video of CityAlight before I preach.

Prayers would be appreciated as I lay the groundwork for the rest of 2019 with this beginning message. Thanks.

LeafTurning

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

The new year is about here and there will be a lot of talk about “turning over a new leaf.” I personally hope my life is more exciting than a leaf blowing in the wind.  🙂  Every year I post this video and want to do that again.  It’s one of those “traditions” you know? Besides, I have a much more important one to show later so I want to get the frivolous out of the way.  Click here to see the video.

I have never been one to go over the past year and relive good and bad memories. I came to realize that I couldn’t change what happened so why do that? In some cases it would be like torturing myself and in other cases it might be hard not to gloat or “wish for again.” I believe there are lessons to be learned if I look, but too much reflection can sometimes be detrimental. So I don’t take longing looks at the past.

I also take longing looks at the future. Jesus said in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” I take that to mean not to worry about tomorrow. Why should I when I can’t change things anyway? I have no control over them. But I know the ONE who does. 2019 is going to happen (unless Jesus returns first) so I can only prepare myself the best way I know how: spiritually.

I’m not a resolution-setter.  (Nor am I an Irish one). 🙂  I basically have one idea: How can I live my life with grace and honor God doing it? After spending two years going through New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp and all of 2018 blogging about it at Be Transformed, my heart and eyes have been opened and softened. The journey was not always easy. It was time-consuming and at times, inconvenient. But daily blogging was a discipline I am glad I did. My next attempt will be called Living in the Shadow and will take the place of Be Transformed in name and content only. It will be hosted on the same site but I do not plan on posting every day. I’m thinking maybe 2-3 days a week. I’ll tell you more when it gets underway.

But I want to close this post and 2018 with a song that has become a favorite and will be my focus for 2019. I hope you will join me in making this a reality.  Click here to listen to the song.

HAVE A SAFE AND ENJOYABLE END TO YOUR 2018 AND  A STELLAR BEGINNING TO YOUR 2019.

Jekyll/Hyde

Friday, December 21st, 2018

I suspect most of us are familiar with the story of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. If you saw League of Extraordinary Gentlemen you saw a depiction of the character.  The original story by Stevenson is a great tale about what followers of Christ face all the time. Old man/new man. Dark side/Light side.

Much like Stevenson’s story is the story of the battle of two sides to the Christmas story. The Light side took out the sting of the Dark side.

The Dark side is seen in the Savior of mankind giving up all that was His to come as a baby. To take on flesh. To take on the frailties of humanity. To face hunger, rejection, thirst, physical pain, injustice, and even death.

The Light side is the Why. Simply put: God invaded our world in the person of Jesus because there was simply no other way. You see…our biggest problem is not what is outside us; it is what is inside us.  We like to place blame. Use excuses. Or look for a scapegoat for our stupidity, i.e. sin. But only through God being made flesh in the person of Jesus and ultimately going to a cross could we ever have a hope of rescue. Trust me when I say we could not have rescued ourselves.  It is this “Good News of great joy” that we can be thankful for and celebrate.

Prayers are especially needed this weekend. Here’s why:

  1. We are meeting once again at Abram Farm Event Venue, which is actually right next to our building. Lots of logistics go into making this happen. Bill & Suzie Abram own it and are so gracious in offering us to use any time we want.
  2. Monday we will be meeting to pack a ton of groceries for Tuesday morning.
  3. Tuesday morning we will be having a Christmas breakfast for our community. We offer a hot breakfast from 7-9:00 as well as deliveries. So far I’ve been disappointed in the number of deliveries compared to the past. I’d like to believe it is because everyone is filled and well-fed but I know better.

So I’d appreciate your prayers. I’ll probably be pretty scarce the first part of next week on my or anyone else’s blog. I’ll be back to give you some more to think about as we prepare for 2019. Thanks for hanging out at my little corner of the world.  And for your listening pleasure, here is the one and only song we will be singing as a special. Hanna sang it last year and I specifically asked her to sing it this year. All other songs are congregational singing.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Forgotten

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

No one likes to be forgotten. Unless, of course, they have done something wrong.  Then they want to hide and never be found!

But consider the Christmas story. A manger. A baby. A stable. A star. A long ride. A full inn. Mary. Shepherds. An angel (Gabriel). Zechariah. Elizabeth. Wise men. Bethlehem.

There seems to be one forgotten player in this drama. I’m sure you figured it out by now…Joseph. The man made a monumental decision and commitment and we forget him! He loved Mary so much he was willing “not to embarrass her but to divorce her quietly.” Some may think he was ashamed but keep in mind the difference in culture. Besides, you see his real heart come out after he heard the news the child was to be Messiah. Immanuel. Jesus. So he went against all odds; against the culture of his day; against everything his insides told him to do, and took Mary to be his wife.

But that’s it! That’s all we know except for a few side references. He showed his love for Mary and the baby and his  willingness to listen to God by taking them and heading off to Egypt. We see him when Jesus turns 12 and he hunts for him in the Temple.  But after that…ZERO. NADA. COME UP EMPTY.

What a noble man! This morning (Wednesday) during my New Morning Mercies reading, I read Isaiah 48:1-11 as supplemental reading. I was struck by verse 11: “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. (emphasis mine) God refuses to share His glory with anyone else. Not me. Not you. Not the most well-known pastor/preacher/evangelist/author/TV personality, etc. NO ONE ELSE!

So my question is this: can there be anyone more deserving of being noticed for not taking glory than Joseph? But its a catch-22 really. He would not have wanted known. He would have deflected the glory away from himself and toward the one who deserves it. Maybe I ought to take a hint?

There is a Christmas song we sang this past weekend and I have requested again for this coming Sunday’s Christmas Sunday service. It is this one and I can’t hardly think of a song more suited for a topic like this. And I would love to hear your thoughts.

Cisterns

Monday, November 19th, 2018

One of the most convicting passages of Scripture is the one found in Jeremiah 2, especially verse 13: “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

In all honesty, I know Jeremiah could have written that about me in 2018.

To read more of this devotion please check out my other site, Be Transformed.

With Thanksgiving on the very close horizon, I am going to be taking a break for the rest of the week on posting a blog. The short week plus trying to cram multiple things into 3 days means a very wise use of my time. I will be back on Friday for my weekend post on my upcoming sermon series, Shedding Light on Christmas.

Thanks for being a reader of my ramblings. I appreciate each one of you. Take time this week to do what the old song tells us to do: “Count your many blessings name them one by one.” May the whole idea of gratitude fill your heart this week and always.

HYMNS

Friday, November 16th, 2018

I am not preaching this weekend. My brother, Rob, will be here to sing and preach. So, I decided I would do something that I hope will set your heart right.

Worship is often confined to what happens on Sunday morning at “church.” I’m a firm believer though that worship is 24/7. However, focusing on the time we gather together on Sunday morning is what I’d like to do in this post. We gather. We sing. We partake of the Lord’s Supper. We give our tithes and offerings. We preach. (Okay…I preach). 🙂  But chances are when we talk about worship to the everyday attender most will point to the singing.

Sunday morning singing has gone through several time warps. It used to be it was all hymns. (I still love Great is Thy Faithfulness and Holy, Holy, Holy and some others like them). Then a few spiritual songs were added (think I’ll Fly Away or When We All Get to Heaven). The Jesus Movement brought in a whole new type of song, both worship songs but also “feel good about me” songs. The evolution of those types of songs has been slow but eventually we morphed into a band, a group of singers, guitarists, drummers, and (choke choke) light shows, smoke machines, and theatrics. Some have even introduced “secular” songs into a worship set (Like the church that played Highway to Hell to introduce their Easter service one time).  We now have songs that last 5-7 minutes due to repetition of verses and choruses. And, of course, there is the resident “jump around and act crazy” songs mistakenly substituted for and called worship. Now…please understand I love some of the music played. I like a beat, even a rockier kind. But there is a point of saturation.

Enter a new breed and new wave of hymns. Yep, that’s right hymns. I never thought I’d be saying it but I welcome it. Not going back to singing the old ones that drone on, but new ones which highlight God the Father and Jesus the Son in meaningful, heart-touching words and music. I’ve come across some of the “new” hymns lately by a church out of Australia (no not Hillsong). The group is called CityAlight. I have been touched by their music and lyrics. You know I have been if I tell you I have been to the Y the past two days and have had them in my ears. I’d encourage you to listen to them on your own but I would like to highlight a few songs that have touched me deeply.  No comment will be made by me. I’d like you to listen and then let me know what you think. I’m encouraging our Worship Team to pursue learning some of this music.

First, this was the first one I ever heard by them.

Second, this one is a cry of my heart.

Third, I heard this one today and it jolted me.

Fourth, this one is for good measure.  🙂

I hope you will check out more of their music. I believe you will be blessed beyond measure.  Have a great weekend of worship! Enjoy being in the Father’s presence.

Hope

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

God placed his unshakable love on me.

Let that sink in for a minute or two. That sounds so inviting. So settling. So solid. Especially in today’s world when everything seem so unsettled, so much in an upheaval, it is good to know there is a constant. That constant is Jesus. That constant is the solid hope He gives.

I like what Tripp says: “Hope is a Person and His name is Jesus.”

For the rest of my post on HOPE see my post here on my other blog.

Accident?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Okay so I didn’t quite tell the truth. I said in this post that I would post once more this week. But I wasn’t counting on reading something that “rang a bell” in my head. I wanted to blog about it before it left my thoughts (which happens a lot when you get older! 🙂 ).

I’m reading Therefore I Have Hope by Cameron Cole. His 3 year old son died unexpectedly one evening while sleeping. He is writing about his journey and what he has learned. One of the things people and pastors say is “God had nothing to do with your son/daughter/mother/father’s death.”  One woman was told that and said to the chaplain: “Don’t tell me that! You take away my only hope.”

Mr. Cole is of the opinion that, even though it is hard to see, God was involved in his son’s death. Why? God is sovereign and all-knowing. To say He wasn’t is to deny those two Biblical truths. He finished his chapter on Providence with these words:

My trial is not a random accident. Nothing comes into my life but through God’s perfect discretion. God remains in control of all circumstances. He has a hand in my painful circumstances, which means that his hand can extend to redeem my life. God is good. The evil in this world and the suffering in my circumstances do not represent his character. The perfectly kind and loving person, Jesus Christ, is the very image of the character of God. The cross reassures me of his love and sovereignty. I can trust him, knowing that he is fully good and fully in control.  (p.100)

As hard as it is to accept the truth that God is involved, it is hard to argue with what Mr. Cole has written. I can’t. I have decided I will never again say God is not aware or involved in what has happened. He does not cause evil  (James 1:13) but He is there. What are your thoughts?