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Blues

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

Several definitions come to mind with the word:

  1. Plural of the color on the ROYGBIV spectrum.
  2. Type of music usually done with deep emotion. There are the standard blues artists B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Darrel Mansfield and Glenn Kaiser (the latter two were/are in the Christian music scene).
  3. A state of mind often compared to depression or defeat. “I have the blues today” or “I’m in a blue mood.”

Be assured those are my definitions. They are not scholastic or academic by any stretch. Me? An academic? Will never happen. 🙂

It is not embarrassing to admit to bouts of the “blues,” even as a follower of Christ. Some of the most prominent names in Christendom were prone to it. Charles Spurgeon was one of them. But his went even deeper. I used to be foolish enough to think all one needed to do was “buck it up” and quote Scripture and praise God and all the blues will be lifted. Try telling that to someone who struggles with clinical depression. You might get swatted across the face (if they care enough to do it).

My sermon Sunday is entitled “Stop Singing the Blues.” I’m using Psalm 77 as my Scripture. It is another psalm by Asaph. He reveals quite a bit about his struggle with the blues (as I will call it), but he also finishes by giving us a good remedy for those times when we struggle and feel overwhelmed. I have no desire to give a sermon on “Five Easy Answers to Your Depression” since I don’t know 5 answers nor do I preach those kinds of sermons.  I will, however, emphasize Asaph’s approach to it all. {Hint: it starts at verse 10 then to verses 14-15 and then check out verse 19}.

Your prayers would be much appreciated. Prayers for clarity. Prayers for receptive hearts. Prayers for God’s Word to speak and penetrate. Thanks.

This will complete my series on An Anchor. I have been preaching from Psalms since the beginning of the year. I’ll be away next Sunday and Ryan, our youth pastor, will start a series I am calling “Last Words” (7 last sayings of Jesus) which will take us to Resurrection Sunday.  Then on to Romans 8.  If you care to listen to any of the sermons on Psalms you can catch the podcast on the church website.

CQD

Friday, March 8th, 2019

There are a number of international calls for disaster on the sea. The Germans used SOE. The Italians used SSSDDD. Marconi, who was a leader in wireless technology, proposed CQD, which actually came from an earlier one “CQ” and by adding the “D” for distress it was to represent extreme danger. According to him the letters meant absolutely nothing. In 1906 it was proposed by the second International Radio Telegraphic Conference that the letters “SOS” be adopted. Not because it means “Save our Souls” or “Save our Ship” but because of the ease to transmit- 3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots. By 1908 it had been accepted by all except the United States.

That all changed April 14, 1912 when Titanic sunk. Senior operator Jack Phillips was using CQD when junior operator Harold Bride joked to Phillips that he ought to use the new one (SOS) because it might be the last chance to use it. Sadly, it was because Phillips never left his station until there was no more power. By then all the lifeboats were gone.

Psalm 51 as a whole is a powerful psalm of sin and rescue. That was last week’s message. This week’s message takes it further and finishes it as this psalm becomes a psalm of renewal.  I’ll be concentrating on verses 10-19 this week after a brief review of last week’s lesson of grace and mercy.

I’d appreciate your prayers for us this week. Attendance may be slim due to Spring Break for our local school system, but I’m convinced someone there will need to hear its message.

Update

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

In yesterday’s post I told of the opportunity to pray at the Indiana State House of Representatives and I asked for prayer. I thought I would share an update with you since I know some of you prayed. It will also save me from responding to each comment (even though I normally do).  First, a picture.

That is me with Representative Bob Heaton. I’m the one in the tie. Oops…the one without a jacket. 🙂 Yeah…that tie is an anomaly. When I asked about apparel the lady I spoke to bust out laughing when my comment to me wearing a tie was “Bummer! I don’t even wear one of those on Sunday morning.”  When I was joking with Rep Heaton on Saturday morning about the tie, he said, “Yeah. They are kind of sticklers about that.” No way was I going to be a rebel. However, it is a cycling tie!  Bob is a super nice guy, one who truly cares for his constituents. He played ball at Indiana State University as a teammate to Larry Bird.  He is 6’5″ so I guess my doctor was right about my height. In college I was listed as 6’3″.

They wanted it brief (3 minutes or less) and even without knowing that, I was already there.  I thought I would let you see what I said and prayed:

“In the OT book of I Kings there is a story told of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. Two woman had a baby and came to him because one of the babies died and was switched with the other. They came to Solomon and his test was to divide the baby in half. The one mother said, “Oh no don’t do that!” while the other said, “Go ahead. He shall be neither of ours.” Solomon wisely knew who the real mother was. My prayer for you is a prayer for wisdom. On that note, let’s pray.

“Father, you are the giver of wisdom. We thank you for this day you have given us. We thank you for the opportunity to meet on this day which honors two of our greatest presidents. I thank you for each man and woman present in this room today. I pray for wisdom in their conversations which must take place. And I pray for wisdom for the decisions which must be made today. Give each of these men and women a heart of discernment for right and wrong. And help them to make decisions which will benefit the citizens of this great state of Indiana. I pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen.”

There you have it. Why not take a moment and pray for your legislators and senators and the leaders of our country right now?

Two insider pictures of the “floor.”

 

Opportunity/Request

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Nothing earth-shattering in this post today. I’d just like to ask you to pray about a unique opportunity I have today. Even if you get this “after the fact” I’d still like to ask you to pray.

I moved to Spencer to pastor Owen Valley Christian Fellowship in November of 2005. I wanted something different…for my life…as a pastor. In some ways I guess you can say I was tired of playing it safe. I had been a pastor for 30+ years and it was time to get out of my comfort zone and to put “feet to my faith.” As time moved on I tried to do that. Some intentional; some not. I dreamed of the church being involved in the community so when a question came asking if we did anything for Thanksgiving, I said, “No, but we will.” So within 3 weeks we started serving a Thanksgiving dinner. From Day 1 it was a success.  If we did something for Thanksgiving why not Christmas? So we started a Christmas breakfast. The traction has been slower but we had a good turnout at the Lions Club (we use their building since it is in town) this past Christmas and also delivered over 60 meals. In time I found myself involved in different organizations in our community. Due to the need to cutback some, I am now involved as a board member of the Owen County Chamber of Commerce. Three years ago they were looking for a venue to host what are called Legislative Breakfasts. One year there are three of them on the 3rd Saturday of January through March; another year there are four of them. This is our third year hosting the meeting.

Through these meetings I have had the opportunity to meet some local politicians who truly care and have a heart for their districts.  One such man is Bob Heaton. He played basketball at Indiana State with some other guy named Larry Bird. Bob is a Christ-follower with a heart for truth and for the people he represents.

Now comes the part where I tell you of my opportunity and request.  NO IT IS NOT RUNNING FOR PUBLIC OFFICE. I would not even consider that in any way, shape or form.  It is something I consider much more important. Bob asked if I would be interested in opening the session at the Indiana House with prayer some day. I said, “Yes” (with a little bit of fear and hesitation).  Lo, and behold, I got a call asking me to open the session of the House on Monday, February 18th at 1:30. So today is the day.

I’d like to ask that you pray for me and that I might have the right words to say. Thanks.

Request

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

This is a double request today.

First, at 11:00 EST our daughter, Tami, is having surgery. If you get this before that time, we would appreciate your prayers.  If after, then prayers for recovery would be appreciated. To put you at ease, it is not a cancer surgery. She is having a hysterectomy which we are praying will alleviate a lot of issues.

Second, for all of last year I wrote another blog called Be Transformed. It was my daily thoughts on New Morning Mercies. I’ve continued another blog but have gone with a new name and a new approach. I’m calling it Living in the Shadow. It is still my random thoughts and meditations on Scripture, or different devotions I may be using. You can access that by going here. I would appreciate it if you would give it a look and consider subscribing and ultimately join in the conversation. This past year Martha Orlando was a daily visitor and commentor, as well as Ryan, my resident techgeek. I’d love to engage your thoughts on the various topics. Here is an excerpt from today’s entry:

As I’ve been reading at the start of the year, one of the themes, one of the truths God has been drumming into me has been the Word. He wants me to see the Word in different ways. What I mean is this: go to the Word; study the Word; trust the Word; rely on the Word; handle the Word carefully. Now…that is not the book I physically hold in my hands, but the words contained in that book. Instead of blindly believing and accepting what is there, test it. Trust it. Investigate it. But, above all, don’t turn away from it. You can finish reading this entry here.

Thanks for your prayers for Tami. And thanks for visiting Living in the Shadow.

Tips#4

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

I apologize. I haven’t been as energetic posting this week as I had planned. I wanted to give a few days for the RoadID video of me and Jo to hopefully find some traction but then life hit and has a way of interrupting. I’m sure you know what I mean so I won’t belabor that point. I’d like to continue my series on “Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things.” You can read the previous 3 “Tips” posts here, here, and here.

#8- Don’t Play the Avoidance Game.  One of the most common reasons people don’t respond to a friend or person in need is fear. That’s right. Fear. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Fear of not knowing what to say. So they say nothing. Not only do they not say anything but they also avoid the whole situation.  They ignore the person’s pain completely. And in all honesty, that is sometimes more hurtful than truly trying to be a caring friend and saying the wrong thing or being tongue-tied. Not saying or doing anything or staying away can cut deeply.  Don’t stay away!

#9- Don’t Pledge General Help. “If there is anything I can do let me know.” “If you need me give me a call.” I don’t know how many times I have heard this said by some well-wisher at a funeral. I know they mean well but I have yet to find someone calling someone and saying, “You know. It’s been a hectic two weeks with mom being sick and then having her funeral last week. I really could stand to have my house cleaned. You said I could call you for anything. I’d like to ask for your help.” So be careful of pledging general help. Now…offering specific things like maybe babysitting or taking food or “running interference” is more like it.

#10- Don’t Condemn Them. The last time I looked we were not God. To pronounce God’s judgment on someone or to maybe toss out a false and helpful tidbit is uncalled for. I’m thinking of Job’s so-called friends right now: “What secret sin are you hiding?” “What are you doing that God is trying to get you to stop?” “Maybe He is trying to get you to stop smoking or (fill in the blank).” Do you remember the time in Jesus’ ministry when the disciples asked, “Who sinned? Him or his parents”? The truth is we have no idea what God is doing so why pretend to? Worse yet, why accuse? We do live in a broken world so death and suffering is part and parcel of it. But don’t condemn.

I hope these posts have been helpful to you. I was mindful of them as I visited in the hospital yesterday, especially since I was shy of details. May they help you be a better “minister” to hurting people.

MSagain

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

This early Thursday morning finds me driving to Methodist Hospital in Indy for a lady in the church who is having a very delicate brain surgery for what is called AVM. It is way too complicated for me to tell you about it so I have given you the link. Her name is Karen and I know she would appreciate your prayers.

So rather than write a new post, I thought I would ask you to pray for her.

But I’d also like to draw your attention to my MS post. I received an email yesterday (Wednesday) telling me I had reached my fundraising goal. But I want to keep going!! If you haven’t already done so and would consider helping out, please follow the prompts from the MS post.

I sure do appreciate your help. Oh…one of the comments to the post is from a woman named Amanda. She attended the church I pastored in Terre Haute (I left in 2000) and I had the privilege of performing the marriage of her dad and his wife. Please take the time to read her comment. I’m making a donation in her name to MS.

Thanks again.

Mulligan

Friday, June 8th, 2018

If you have ever played golf with a “duffer” you will have heard the word “Mulligan” used. There is quite a history behind the term. You can go to GriffGolf.com to learn more. But it is named after a person and is a term used to offer someone a “free pass” on a bad shot.  History says it came as a result of a bad first shot and it was called a “correction shot” by David Mulligan.

The story I will be preaching on Sunday needs a mulligan. The words “sin in the camp” has such an ugly ring but in this case it is true. If you are familiar with the story of Israel’s defeat at the hands of a city named Ai, you are probably also aware of the reason they lost. “Sin in the camp” is a good way to put it.

But there is more. The preparation for going to war against Ai also showed two other things:

  1. The Israelites were too self-confident.
  2. They definitely had a lack of prayer.

The application to our lives is easy to see. I’ll also be spending some time on what led Achan to do what he did.  It definitely was an eye-opener for me, as well as a gut-check on my attitude toward the enemy. I’d appreciate your prayers for all involved-myself and the audience.  Also, our worship leader is on vacation so prayers would be much appreciated for those who are filling in.

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?”

Relief

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Welcome to my Sunday meanderings.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes things just seem to pile up?  We have those seasons when stuff happens, in spades. Not every once in awhile but what seems like an onslaught. As many of you have experienced, it isn’t just one thing; it is a myriad of things.

Cancer diagnosis in friends. (A complication in one came in while I was showering this morning).

Marriages falling apart.

Deaths of friends and the funerals which follow (3 in the last month).

A three-week old baby requiring open heart surgery.

A host of other “beat downs.”

Plus one very tired pastor who needs a break (which is coming).

I’m preaching about HOPE this morning. Hope in a forever home. Good thing I believe in that. If my hope is not connected to forever, my hope will somehow die.  For hope to be hope it must carry with it the promise that all which is broken will be repaired, and that it will remain repaired forever.

I’m glad I have Someone to lean on. If I didn’t I don’t know how I would handle this onslaught right now.  Maybe that is why I have chosen two songs for this week. They are throwbacks. The singer is Mark Farner, former lead singer for Grand Funk. His conversion is a great story but his music is timeless. His lyrics are clear so you shouldn’t have any trouble listening and understanding. So check out this song then go to this one.

Have a great week bolstered (as I am and will be) by the truth I serve an amazing God who understands.