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Refreshment

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

My idea of refreshment and your idea of refreshment could be is probably different. For some it is a sit down in front of the TV. Or maybe it is a lawn chair or hammock and a good book. For others it may be yard sales (can you say gag?). Or maybe it is a quiet evening with your spouse or children or someone you love.

Mine? Well can you spell B.I.C.Y.C.L.E? Yeah…I know. How can that be a refreshment? “That just makes me tired thinking of it.” I respect your wacky haywire feelings.  I really do. I live with someone who shares your thoughts. She would just as soon my bike would turn to be covered in mothballs as to be able to be ridden.

Of course, she and I disagree. Good thing love overcomes HER crazy thinking. You know? I have tried to get her sane but no-o-o-o-o-o-o. I think I am getting an award for being the most patient person when it comes to listening to others’ thoughts about me riding a bike. 🙂

I rode this morning (Tuesday). It has been sweltering…like in the 90s with humidity in the stratosphere. I went to the Y yesterday because I knew I planned to ride today. I rode early this morning because I was heading to our church camp where we had 18 campers and faculty involved in camp and wilderness camp. I left at 6:15 as soon as it was light enough to safely ride so I could back to the office by 8:00 then head home for a shower. About 7 miles into the ride (about 6:45) I took these pictures. I took them while riding so they aren’t the best. And yes, I was on a back road where I saw no traffic. There are some simple pleasures an early morning ride gives. Some refreshment one can miss. I saw this and thought of Lamentations 3:22: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your way of refreshment? What time of the day is your favorite?

Pretending

Friday, June 15th, 2018

If you have ever watched Lord of the Rings there is a scene where Frodo and Sam pretended to be Orcs by wearing the armor and “face mask/helmet” and marching with them. Eventually they were exposed and it took some quick thinking to escape.

Pretending to be someone we aren’t is not new. We learned how to do that in childhood. Maybe we were the “good child” because everyone expected us to be. Then again, maybe we were the “evil child!” 🙂

As men we are often expected to act a certain way. In my era (yeah that’s a long time ago) it was the rough and tumble man, the Marlboro man (even though he died of cancer from smoking). We had an image to uphold. We were taught that men had to make their own way in the world. So we learned to walk by sight. Even in our Christian journey we were taught the cold, hard facts and not to deviate from them. No emotions were allowed. Not only was that wrong, but it taught us something else: walk by sight.

The story of Joshua and the Gibeonites in Joshua 9 is a story of walking by sight and not by faith. After the lesson of Ai it would seem rather strange that Joshua would get caught again for almost the same error. But here it is in black and white. Is he any different than me and you? I think not…at least for me.

Sunday is Father’s Day, a perfect day to challenge men with walking by faith and not by sight. I hope you will be celebrating FD in some way with a “man” in your life-husband, father, grandfather, uncle, son, friend. May I ask while you are celebrating that you take time to say a prayer for me as I preach and the folks as they listen? Thanks.

Back

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

We are back from vacation. We had a good time away but as always it was too short. Actually, it was a good thing we were coming home yesterday. I was flossing Tuesday night and broke off a cap on my front tooth. The dentist was willing to see me late in the afternoon as his last patient if I could drive to his other office (about 35 minutes away).  Since we were already on our way home I easily made the time but it sort of threw us out of the return plans we had.

We had a good time watching Braden play baseball. He had two regularly scheduled games on Saturday and then had two makeup games on Sunday. We got cooked even though we did our best to stay in the shade.

I had an opportunity to see an old friend I have not seen since the late 70s. David is the pastor of a church in Worthington, OH and since Janna’s church starts late and we would have missed the whole first game, we decided to try a different one with an earlier service. Jo found out David was in Worthington.  My last recollection of him was when he pastored a church in Cincinnati. It was good to see him after 30+ years. And no…he didn’t recognize me. I have a lot less hair now. 🙂 🙂

And eat? Oh man, did I eat! And not all the right stuff either. You can’t visit Sandusky, OH and not eat Toft’s ice cream. Twice. Big helpings. Braden sure liked it.  He went from a Small to a Kids size. I went from a Medium to a Small. Gives you an idea of the amount of ice cream in a cup. I beat him at miniature golf. I beat him by 3 strokes but that is not counting the 8 mulligans his mamaw gave him on one hole. Golf is not his game; baseball is.

I came in for a few hours today since I have a wedding on Saturday. The rest of today and all day tomorrow is going to be spent with Jo as we finish out what is left of our vacation. There is a strong possibility there will be a two or three day bicycle vacation in July with a friend.  Jo will follow and we will ride. That’s MY idea of a vacation. Jo has other ideas. In the long run, I guess she wins. (Least I tell her that).

Hope you kept up on the Scripture reading I left you with each day.

Sides

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

“The ink is black, the page is white…” so sang Three Dog Night. (I will not forgive you if you haven’t heard of them).

“A child is black, a child is white…” (Same song as above, just different dance)

Innocent.  Guilty.

Fire.  Ice

Rock music.  Country music (cough cough). Or is the real music vs non-music? 🙂

Wisdom. Fool.

Yin. Yang.

Two sides.

Two sides to every story. Wise to remember that. Being friends with someone puts that ability in danger, especially when one is louder than the other. Or mud is being slung. Or lies being told. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Maintaining a rational view and seeing both sides is often hard…and gets more difficult as the situation escalates.  It is natural to see only one side or to take sides. Anger kicks in. A sense of justice kicks in. A desire to strike out heightens.

But the Bible speaks about wisdom and words of wisdom. “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” Pr.10:11.

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” Pr.12:18-19

“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Pr.17:27

There are two sides to every story. In every aspect of life. Choose wisely if you must. Otherwise, stay calm and don’t be swayed by lies.

Visibility

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

I shook things up a bit last week with a podcast of me and the guys at The Connection-a local church here in the community. Today is our Day of Service and I plan to post a summary sometime this week. They are calling for rain this afternoon so I am praying for it to hold off until at least 4:00 (our scheduled stopping time).

So I decided to shake things up again. Today is music video day. Now…I could go calm but that might put you and me both to sleep. Not good. I could go country…but that ain’t going to happen! I could go with a worship song but that would be the normal thing to do. Or I could go wild and blow your doors (ears) off. Not today.

One of my favorite arena rock groups was Kansas. Their makeup included two followers of Christ. One, Kerry Livgren, was the writer behind their monster hits Carry on Wayward Son and Dust in the Wind, both written before he came to faith in Christ. Both still had meaningful lyrics. Kerry has since suffered a stroke that has limited his guitar-playing ability, but not his mind and his heart for Jesus. Like many groups, as members age or grow tired of the grind, Kansas has changed much of their personnel. Steve Walsh has retired, his voice breaking down as well as his health. A new lead singer has taken his place. I tend to think he is every bit as good as Steve on some things.  He sounds, at times, like Greg X. Volz, the former lead singer for Petra before John Schlitt.

The song I’m featuring is NOT a religious song, although it certainly has some application to the religious world. It is not meant to be a political statement on my part either, although I am against dictators and madmen. I am also against religious hucksters who promise the world but have no way to deliver. Followers of health/wealth prosperity teachers (I will refrain from naming names at this point) take note. Followers of Bill Johnson, Bethel Redding, and anyone involved in the New Apostolic Reformation take note.  Here is the song by the group now known as Kansas.

Hope you enjoy it but more importantly, catch its message.  And please, don’t shoot me for my choice of music. 🙂 You might incur the wrath of Jo. Then again…

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.

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.

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

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.

Anthem

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

We are often told we need to set goals.

We are often told that a goal-less person is an aimless person.

In some respects I agree with that. I will be the first to admit I have never had 1-3-5-10 year plan. Even in church life, I can’t say I have planned that far ahead. I know, for example, what my theme is for the year. I then try to focus my sermons around that theme for the year. This year my theme is Uncharted so every series I preach I try to keep that theme in mind. The first two “Transformed” and “True North” fulfill that goal. I have in mind, but not on paper, where I want to go next. I used to have the whole year of sermons planned and seldom deviated from it.

But an anthem is deeper than that. An anthem says, “This is what I believe in and, if necessary, will die for.”  It is more than a code of ethics. It is a foundation. It is a “here I will take my stand” statement. The song I picked to feature today is called “The Anthem.” I have chosen the one with the lyrics.  Hope you enjoy it.

Have a great week.

Oh…by the way? I will take my stand on the truth in this song.