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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.

EvenIf

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

This past Friday Jo and I drove to Ohio to see our daughter, son-in-law and Braden, our grandson. It had been since Christmas and we needed our “Braden fix.” I am also keenly aware that there will soon come a day when Grandpa and Mamaw will not be the people we are now…you know…someone to look forward to seeing. So I/we want to take advantage of that now.

Last weekend probably the closest lady friend Jo has in the church took her to see MercyMe in concert at Lafayette. Linda bought her the ticket for Christmas; Tami paid for her 1/2 of the hotel room; and I saved money for her to eat and spend however she wanted to. She had a blast and was thoroughly impressed by MM. So…on our way to Ohio we listened to their CD. It included the song you will have a chance to listen to.

I’ll be honest: I cannot listen or watch this song without tears in my eyes. While I don’t sing, I stand before people week after week as “God’s spokesman.” I’m supposed to have it all together. But what if I don’t? What if I’m struggling with my trust? Can I echo the sentiments of this song?  One thing for sure: this song kicks in the teeth of the health-wealth people who say God is going to make everything okay. G-r-r-r-r-r.

Anyway, enjoy the song. Let it minister to you today, this week. Pass it along to someone who needs to hear it.  For the backstory behind the song, listen to this.

Legacy

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

In my last post, I talked about a legacy of faith. One of the responses was basically not seeing the sense in worrying about it. We die…that’s it. Since I don’t believe that death is the end…and since I do believe that dead men speak (not audibly)…I searched for something I had read years ago.  I found it! Of course, if you get the right people the answer is easy. 🙂 🙂  Here is why I want to leave a legacy of faith behind:

A great example of this is Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan Preacher from the 1700s.  Jonathan and his wife Sarah left a great godly legacy for his 11 children.

At the turn of the 20th century, American educator and pastor A.E. Winship decided to trace out the descendants of Jonathan Edwards almost 150 years after his death.  His findings are astounding, especially when compared to a man known as Max Jukes.  Jukes’ legacy came to the forefront when the family trees of 42 different men in the New York prison system traced back to him.

Jonathan Edwards’ godly legacy includes: 1 U.S. Vice-President, 3 U.S. Senators, 3 governors, 3 mayors, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 65 professors, 80 public office holders, 100 lawyers and 100 missionaries.

Max Jukes’ descendants included: 7 murderers, 60 thieves, 50 women of debauchery, 130 other convicts. 310 paupers (with over 2,300 years lived in poorhouses) 400 who were physically wrecked by indulgent living.

It was estimated that Max Juke’s descendants cost the state more than $1,250,000.

One can perhaps question the research. I saw one source cite the VP as Aaron Burr (duelist with Alexander Hamilton). I even saw one source which completely discounted the research on Max Juke’s life. Even if both are true, that doesn’t change the truth of what we leave behind is important.  We either leave life or poison behind.

I choose to leave life.

VDay

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know today is Valentine’s Day. If you couldn’t tell by the stores, you have to be blind. I’m thinking VD cards were out the day after Christmas. 🙂  Seriously, it is a day which has new meaning to me.

I’m not sure how many of you reading this knows of the significance of this week for me. This coming Friday will be the one year (dubious) anniversary of my bike wreck in which I broke my collarbone, broke 3 ribs (I hope you never have to experience that), did a face plant, split my helmet in three places, ruined several pieces of cycling clothing when it had to be cut off by the paramedics, and almost checked out and met the Father.

It happened on a Friday.  The first Sunday back in the pulpit (two weeks later) I talked to the people about my spiritual state at the time of the accident. To borrow Paul David Tripp’s words: I was a spiritual amnesiac.  I was not in a good place. My marriage was limping along. Not because of any affair, unless you consider my affair with my job as legitimate.  The wreck was the best thing that happened to me. God got my attention. Sure, I wish He had used a softer means but, would I have heard? I don’t think so. After all, getting hit by the car in November should have been a warning sign.

I can honestly say I love Jo more today than many yesterdays. We no longer take each other for granted. We are more open and honest with each other than we have probably ever been. Neither one of us wants our relationship to go back to where it was one year ago. Today is Valentine’s Day. And I love my better half, and will forever how much longer we have together on this earth.

 

Refreshing

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

This past Friday night I honored Jo.

Now…before you get to thinking, “My. my, what a great husband,” let me tell you how I did. You may also change your mind from “what a great husband” to “what a cad.” Okay…maybe not that bad, but you may change your mind.

Friday is my day off. It was anything but a day off as we had a chiropractor appointment, had time to eat lunch and then headed to Terre Haute (almost an hour away) for a funeral visitation of a fine, godly man who died quickly from cancer. His son owns the Nissan dealership where I buy my vehicles. Anyway, we rushed back after that to go to the local theater to see a movie.

A movie I had no desire to see whatsoever. But one she wanted to see. I wanted to honor her so I went.

How was I supposed to know I would come away refreshed? Laughing? Feeling good? And wanting to see it again?  Yeah…I wanted to honor her with the wrong attitude.  But I am so glad I did!!! Some of her movies/musicals I cringe at seeing (like Beauty and the Beast) but this is one time I chose to go.

The movie?  Actually a musical. Here’s the big moment… The Greatest Showman. Exceptional movie with fantastic music. The core meaning of the movie stands out: All lives matter.  Hmmm seems like I know SOMEONE who taught us that.

My song for today? Here is one of them from the movie. Please take the time to listen and read the lyrics as you do.  In the movie the character she plays has PCOS. Hers manifested itself in a full beard. The lyrics speak even louder when you know that.

We might actually go see it again this afternoon. Hard to beat a free movie.

Choices

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Life is full of choices. Some are easy. Some are hard.  Take for example these pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which one would you choose? The one on the left is from our (mine & Jo’s) vacation in October to Daytona Beach; the one on the right is from January 15, 11:00 a.m. looking out the back door of the church building. My truck has been sitting there for close to 5 hours. I have already shoveled once.

Or maybe you prefer the one on the left as to the one on the right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Same vacation. Same time and place for both.

That is not a tough choice is it? Unless, of course, you love snow and are one of those adrenaline junkies who likes snowboarding, skiing, or the more sedate making of snow angels. I do like the warmer weather because I can do the one hobby I enjoy doing. But I also choose to live in Indiana where the weather does funny things.  Only in Indiana could it be snowing like it has since about 8:00 last night and then by Friday be sunny and 37.  (Least that is what they predict).

Life is a bunch of choices. Again…some are easy; some are not. Choosing to follow Jesus seems the most logical, but there are many who don’t. Choosing to have the promise of heaven and eternal life seems like a fantastic deal, but some don’t think so. I choose life. I choose love. I choose eternity with the Father.  How about you?

I also choose not to be miserable when faced with this kind of weather.  I can’t change it so might as well live with it. Correct?  And for your information: this picture is for Floyd. He made a comment last week about it being 77 where he lives. Talk about rubbing it in!!!  See what you are missing, Floyd, by living in Arizona and not Indiana?  🙂 🙂 🙂