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Progression?

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

I’ve been using Whiter Than Snow by Paul David Tripp during my morning Quiet Time in addition to my Bible reading and New Morning Mercies. I read one devotion per week, rereading it each day, looking for something new to ponder.

This week’s is entitled “Sinners and Unafraid.”  I’m not exactly sure why that title but it is the first line that I read which gave me the thought for this post.

The older you get the more you move from being an astronaut to an archaeologist. (p.53)

Hmmmm. What exactly does that mean? Maybe this will help. “When you’re young, you’re excitedly launching to worlds unknown…But as you get older, you begin to look back at least as much as you look forward.” (p.53)

That makes sense to me. Like most ventures, the life of being a follower of Jesus is initially something exciting. Like putting on clothes just purchased, or a new car with that “smell,” or finding ourselves heading out for a first-time foray, there is something exciting which happens inside us. We are like an astronaut seeing things for the first time.

But then life hits. We get older and life is no longer like a box of chocolates. (I wish). As life hits, we begin digging into our past, sometimes looking for that missing piece of puzzle. That one thing which will help explain why we are as we are. Why we react the way we do. Why we are making the choices and decisions we are making. Why does this make me happy or sad?

I confess to having done some archaeological digging in my own life.  It’s almost a necessity these days to figure out how we perk. But it definitely reminds me I share something with every other person on this planet. It is called a sinful nature and no matter how I try, I cannot become perfect or sinless. I have also learned something else, something much more important: I must rely on God’s grace to accept me, that it is not based on my performance, my past (no matter how good or bad), my upbringing, or my “religious efforts.”

Progression comes when I become more steeped in God’s magnificent grace.

Humbling

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

On this Labor Day weekend I salute all who work, those who labor honestly and do all they can to take care of their family. But in all our work there is also something we need to be aware of. It is in this story:

When George Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he famously answered, “Because it is there.” But in a personal letter to his wife, Ruth, he revealed even more about what drove him. “Dearest…you must know that the spur to do my best is you and you again…I want more than anything to prove worthy of you.”  George left a meaningful legacy that proved worthy of history’s remembrance. But George’s son John wrote something that has challenged me. Proud of his father but sad too, John wrote, “I would so much rather have known my father than to have grown up in the shadow of a legend, a hero, as some people perceive him to be.  (copied from The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine- page 78)

Sadly, we live in an age where “making a living” or “making a name for ourselves” seems to be much more important than making a name with our children. The mountain “was there” but so was his son. It is far more important in my eyes to be a successful father in my daughters’ eyes than to be rich, powerful, or well-known.

Take time this Labor Day to reflect on what you have been blessed with. Work hard at what you do. But don’t forget there are people whom you come home to who don’t care if you are a CEO or a common laborer. Being a hero in their eyes is the prize worth pursuing.

Rebel

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Or maybe you think Radical. Or maybe neither.

I guess it would depend on your perspective. Monday was the day everyone had been talking about for weeks, even months. Some saw it as an historical moment they didn’t want to miss. Others, like my daughter, Tami, saw it as an opportunity to teach her students the value of moments. She went out and bought glasses for all her children and planned a celebration with Moon Pies and CapriSun drinks. How ingenious is that? She is soooo creative! Well…her school system put the kabosh on viewing the eclipse (can anyone say kindergarten students and liability?) so they live-streamed it and still ate the Moon Pies and drank the CapriSuns.  🙂

So…I confess. I did not view the eclipse. I know. I know. How could I? Easy. I didn’t buy any glasses. I prefer to see for the rest of my life. PLUS I don’t think it would be wise staring at the sun/eclipse while driving. I consider that a slightly smarter thing than going blind or having a wreck.  Some will question my sanity. How could you not view something which only comes around once-in-a-lifetime? How could you pass up seeing a wonder of God’s creative genius? Easy. I don’t need proof for that.

I know that’s simple and maybe simplistic and some will even use the word “simpleton’ to describe me. 🙂  But I guess I don’t need to see an eclipse to know of God’s handiwork. I don’t need an eclipse to know that His creative genius was at work when He created the heavens and the earth (Gen.1:1). I see His full display each day I look in a mirror or see a fellow human.  I am not downgrading the thousands who took the time to witness a rare event. I guess I’m not a “fad” person.

I’m a rebel I guess. I just wish all those who witnessed the eclipse could somehow realize the WHO is behind it all and give Him the glory He deserves. It was a beautiful sight, without a doubt (the pictures I saw proved that). But personally, I can’t wait to witness Him face-to-face in all His glory.

Now…if we can only get those idiots who predicted the end of the world and this or that off the airwaves and out of the news that would be something worthy to celebrate as well!

Change

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

I’ve written about change a lot. As a pastor, the church is often being challenged to change. Status quo just doesn’t work any more. This is not a slam against churches which prefer hymns as opposed to more contemporary worship. This is not a slam against churches which prefer King Jimmy versus the ESV or some more easily understood translation.

Instead, I want us to take a look at the “why” change is so difficult-for churches-but specifically individuals. I’m seeing this first hand to be honest. My recent back surgery is filled with “Don’ts.” Don’t bend over at the waist. Don’t exercise. Don’t ride a bike. Don’t twist and bend. For 30 days they are asking telling ordering me not to do certain things. Do you know how hard it is to change some ingrained habits? I even went so far as to call them and ask if I could go to the Y since I was bored not being able to exercise. But then my hip and calf started aching so I answered the question myself: I wasn’t ready. So I went for a longer walk than I had before. Yeah…it was too far. I guess they know more than I do?

Change is hard, in all things. What makes change so hard, I think, is the fear of failure. What happens if…? We fear becoming a failure or being seen as one. That is a lie though. Failing to make a change does not make us a failure. That is not who we are. Failure is not getting back up after falling down. We need to stop believing the lie we can’t change. Our enemy wants us to stay entrenched in concrete. The last thing he wants to see is us moving in the power of the Spirit as we allow Him to change us.

I’ve been working on a tentative sermon schedule for 2018 under the working theme of “Accept the Challenge.” Can you guess what one of the series might be on?  🙂

I may be incommunicado for a couple of days. Jo & I are heading to Ohio for Monday and Tuesday. Our grandson, Braden, starts school on Wednesday. He was supposed to come Labor Day weekend to visit but that has changed and if we want to see him before Thanksgiving or Christmas, this is the time.

Enjoyment2

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

In my last post I reviewed the first three books in my blogging friend, Martha Orlando’s, Glade series. You can read that review here. I’d like to review the final three (for now) in her series which she titled Adventures in the Glade.

This series picks up where the other three left off. Jim, Davy’s step-father, has a cousin who was introduced in the first three books. Martha fleshes him out a lot more in these three books, as well as his family and those whom Cousin Ronnie is in league with. Yeah…that’s a Spoiler Alert because I’ve just told you that Cousin Ronnie is rotten to the core and his master plan is to not only take over the house but also the property, which houses the Glade (better known as the place where the Old Ones live).

What I won’t tell you is how it turns out for all the parties. The Old Ones run into some difficulty, especially “Reverend” (the Owl renamed by Davy). Racer, the Grey squirrel (also renamed) plays a prominent part in all three novels as well.

I got into these last three so much I wanted to keep reading. I found myself wondering how this was going to be solved and how that was going to be straightened out. I was surprised (as was Jim) with a certain revelation which comes to light in Book 3.  No Spoiler Alert here because I’m not going to spill the beans. These last three were a thoroughly enjoyable read and a fitting conclusion to the series. Although…like all good writers Martha has left the door open for maybe at least one more book.  I’m hoping she finds the inspiration to do so.

Note to Martha: You did a fine job crafting a good and entertaining series.

Note to you, the reader: check these out. If you have children they would make great stories to read to them (any age) or let them read themselves (I’d say above the age of 10). Like Davy, your children may find a world of fascination not in a video game, a Gameboy, or a TV/DVD, but in books.

Enjoyment

Monday, August 7th, 2017

I have had some pretty heavy posts lately so I thought I would lighten up a bit. My blogging friend, Martha Orlando, has written a six-book series of “fantasy novels.” I use that word fantasy because I don’t know what else to use. 🙂 Much like the Chronicles of Narnia, they use animals and children to tell a much deeper story. Below is a picture of the first three in The Glade Series. I started reading them well over a year ago but since the second half were not complete at the time, I laid them aside. But since I was unable to do much of anything except sit in a solid chair and read, I decided to pick them up again and read all six. This post will review the first three…The Glade Series.

What would you say to a 10 year old boy who misses his father (died in the military); doesn’t like his new step-father (Jim); argues constantly with his sister; is always angry at his mother; and is now being taken to a house where he will spend the whole summer with his family AND no internet, no TV, and no friends? Yeah, I don’t know either.

But Davy’s first night there he finds something is different and has a surprising encounter with a squirrel (Grey) and an owl (Wise One) that changes his entire summer. Well, let’s just say it changes him. I can’t and don’t want to say too much more because I don’t want to have to write Spoiler Alert in this review. Let’s just say Davy is in for a fantastic summer, along with his whole family, as he meets the “Old Ones.” I thoroughly enjoyed the escape this series offered me. You will too.

I’m glad I went back and reread these three before moving on to the final three (next post).  It was a good refresher for me, plus there was so much I had forgotten. Someone is bound to say, “You are an adult. What are you reading children’s books for?” I would simply say, “Have you ever read the Chronicles of Narnia?” C.S. Lewis wrote those for the children in his life, but they are enjoyed and appreciated by adults as well as children. (least this adult). Martha has written an entertaining Glade Series and I have already passed them on to some of our young children.  I hope you will also give them a read. You can get them from Amazon or directly from Martha’s Glade site.

ForgivenessIsNot

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

I delayed this post due to the one about ME. But don’t think for one moment that means it is any less important. In fact, there may be a “reason” why I was led to delay posting this. Only God knows I guess. 🙂

This past Sunday I preached on Forgiveness. I told the folks as I was studying for the message I scoured my books for help. I think I almost went book for book, shelf for shelf, looking for ways to help the sermon be a bit more relevant. I found something in a book by Sheila Walsh called The Storm Inside. The chapter was titled Navigating Treacherous Water: From Unforgiveness to Freedom.  I hit, as they say, the mother lode! She began the chapter with a quote from C.S.Lewis:

Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.

Before I share what she wrote, let me preface it by saying that I think many people have the wrong idea of forgiveness. We often think forgiveness = forgetting. I, for one, don’t know that it is humanly possible to forget what has been done to us. So I focused on what forgiveness is not (from her book written in blue):

  • Forgiveness does not say that what the person did was okay; people do many things that are far from okay.
  • Forgiveness does not say that you have to continue in a hurtful relationship with someone who has harmed and will continue harming you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you should stay with someone who is beating the tar out of you or molesting you. GET OUT!
  • Forgiveness is not burying your head in the sand and pretending the offense never happened.  That’s what got you into the mess in the first place.
  • Forgiveness is not denying the pain.
  • Forgiveness does not mean we don’t take the wrong seriously.

Forgiveness is not about removing someone’s liability, but about setting your own heart free. It’s not about the other person’s sin; it’s about your freedom.

I hope you are living in forgiveness and experiencing freedom. If not, maybe these will help.

ME

Monday, July 31st, 2017

I was all set to add to my thoughts on forgiveness from this post when I had a change of thoughts heart.  I read something that sort of made me think a little too deeply for a Monday morning.  This morning in New Morning Mercies, Paul Tripp wrote this:

Grace not only forgives me, but enables me to live for something hugely bigger than myself. Why go back to my little kingdom of one? {Note: I change to the personal “me” or “my” when I write in my journal. He uses “you.”}

That phrase “kingdom of one” brought me back to a book I started reading over the weekend called More: How to Move from Activity for God to Intimacy with God by Greg L. Hawkins. Greg is one of the teaching pastors at Oak Hills Church where he joins Max Lucado and Randy Frazee.  I just happened to read last night about what Greg calls the “Kingdom of Me.” To summarize Greg says, “Many of us live in a box. It’s a small box known as the Kingdom of Me. We control what happens there.” However, he goes on to show how that box is awful small.

My thoughts ran like this: I spend a lot of time promoting the kingdom of Me. Such a tiny, small kingdom. The Pharisees promoted their tiny kingdom based on performance, personal power and acclaim. Mine isn’t so much personal power but I can say performance rears its ugly head, as does a little bit of acclaim from time to time (you know…I’d like to be known in the community type of acclaim).  Funny (not the ha ha kind): the phrase which going through my head was “Help me, Lord! Rescue me from me!”

So…how big is your kingdom?

WrapUp

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

I’m anticipating being back to work by today (Thursday) but just in case, I wanted this post to be ready to go. {Note: I am not at the office. I need to be careful in what I do and where I go}.

It is easy to dismiss my story because well…you have heard it before. But like you, every event in my life makes up my story. I read recently that my life is not an autobiography being written by me, but a biography written by God. There is a scene near the end of Back to the Future 3 where Jennifer opens the paper from the future that said Marty was fired and it was blank. When she asks him about it Doc Brown says, “That’s because your future hasn’t been written yet. Nobody’s has.  Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one…both of you!” I like the concept because the choices I make will affect my future. I do disagree with the premise of the movie quote though because God is the Author of my future and according to Psalm 37:23: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord when he delights in his way.” Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.My story will always include two bike accidents-one where my life and health were almost taken by a cowardly driver (11/7/16) and one where God spared my life (2/17/17) after I did an “endo,” breaking my collarbone, 3 ribs and splitting my helmet in 3 places while doing a face plant and who knows what else.

You have also read two other stories this week. A tragic one by David, the head of 3FeetPlease where he and his family lost their best friend. You also heard from Floyd, who lost a childhood friend to a cycling accident and almost lost his wife. Those are their stories.

You have a story also. Some of it has been written. Every hurt, every scene of agony, every incident of happiness, joy and laughter…all of life makes up your story. Tell it with the realization that your story is not done. There is more coming!

So I close out this Safety Week thanking David and Floyd for their stories. I thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I’ll be drawing names at the end of the week to see who wins the bears and also who won one of the two shirts. I’ll be contacting you for your size and physical address so David can send your shirt to you and so I can send you your bear (if you won).

Thanks again for joining me this week. And remember: 3 Feet Please.

 

SafetyWeek

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

I am writing this particular post on Sunday and plan to post it early Sunday afternoon. I think many of you know I will be having surgery Monday morning (10:00 EST) so if you think about it prayers would be appreciated. I trust the doctors and nurses, but also want the Great Physician’s guidance for them and healing for me. Jo and Tami will be waiting so please say a prayer for them as well.

I’m not sure what kind of week I will have. Up to this point in my life, God has granted me the ability to recover quickly from surgery. I’m praying this will be the same. I know there will be restrictions and I have absolutely NO DOUBT Jo will make sure I hold to them-30 days of no cycling (her particular favorite); no lifting more than 10 pounds; and no bending at the waist. I think the latter will be the hardest.

Why surgery? In spite of being told to stop telling my story, I can’t and I won’t. After all it is now my story.  On Monday, November 7, 2016 I was riding my bicycle when I was hit by a cowardly hit-n-run driver. I recovered fairly quickly from that…or so I thought. There were some immediate effects and then some residual effects which showed up later. One of them was the back issue I am now having to have surgery for. It is my understanding the doctor will be going in to shave the disc as well as the bone spurs which appear to be impinging the nerves. Hopefully, 45 minutes or so later, it will be over with and my nerve pain an issue in the past.

My incident with disaster has led me to become involved in and an advocate for 3FeetPlease. I have distributed stickers, shirts, information, and bears to local bike shops in the hopes that Indiana will join other states (like Ohio and Arizona and others) to enact a “3 Feet Law.” To help me out this week I have asked some others for their help. My first guest will be Dave Waechter, who leads the 3FeetPlease organization. I’ve asked him to write something I can post. His story is gut-wrenching. I have also asked someone many of you are familiar with, Floyd, from theregoI to write a post. He has two stories within a story. Dave will post late Monday/early Tuesday and Floyd will post late Tuesday/early Wednesday.

I’m also having a give away. I am randomly giving away this bear from any who comment or respond to any of the posts this week. I have 6 bears to give away so the more you respond, the better chance you have. Also, thanks to Dave’s graciousness, two T-shirts will be given away (one by him and one by me). If you win, I’ll contact you and ask for your size and address and send it to Dave who will mail it to you.

THE BEAR:

THE SHIRT:

All week long. You have a chance to hear some terrific stories. You also have a chance to win a bear for yourself or as a gift (which I just did and hope to have a picture for you).

Meanwhile, your prayers for surgery and recovery will be much appreciated.