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#Lent#26

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

I’m in Ohio the first part of this week helping our daughter, Janna, move into her apartment. So I’m “cheating” by using the same devotion here that I am using at my other blog, Living in the Shadow.

If there is one emotion which captures the mood of many, if not most, people these days, it is fear. It has no favorites. Young. Old. Rich. Poor. Mansion-dweller. Homeless. Actor. Homemaker. CEO. Grunt worker. Christ-follower. Non-believer. F.E.A.R. It paralyzes. It haunts. It creeps.

I was reading a devotion recently on Psalms. I’m going to reprint it in its totality for you. I hope it blesses you and show why we have nothing to fear.

Etty Hillesum was a young Jewish woman living in Amsterdam in 1942. During that time, the Nazis were arresting Jews and herding them off to concentration camps. As she awaited the inevitable arrest, and with the fear of the unknown (my note: sound familiar?), she began to read the Bible-and met Jesus. She simply put her hand in God’s hand and found rare courage and confidence.

Etty wrote in her diary: ‘From all sides our destruction creeps up on us and soon the ring will be closed and no one at all will be able to come to our aid. but I don’t feel that I am in anybody’s clutches. I feel safe in God’s arms. And whether I am sitting at my beloved old desk in the Jewish district or in a labor camp under SS guards, I shall feel safe in God’s arms. Once you have begun to walk with God, you need only keep on walking with Him, and all of life becomes one long stroll.’

Etty was a living, courageous picture of the psalmist’s declaration: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you…What can mere mortals do to me?” (Ps.56:3-4). What a challenge for anyone plagued by fear!

As we sense the strength of God’s everlasting arms beneath us (Deut.33:27), we can stroll through life with confidence, holding the hand of our unseen Companion.    Devotion by Vernon Grounds

I wish every person on earth, whether a follower of Jesus or not, could grab a hold of that truth. It is especially viable for the follower of Jesus to have faith not fear. Praise not panic.  My prayer is that including this devotion might soothe your troubled soul (if you are anxious or troubled).  And by all means, pass this along!

Devotion (in blue) from Together With God: Psalms @2016 Our Daily Bread Ministries. 

#GoingHome!#AwesomeGod

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Less than a week after open heart surgery (tomorrow…Wednesday would be one week), Alexander headed home yesterday (Monday).  He had an echo done and was then cleared to go home.  He will be drastically limited to visitors since his immune system is so low and he will be sensitive to any germs that anyone might expose him to.

BUT CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS!

 

Sorry for the texts included. I had to take a screen shot since I couldn’t get it sent to my email. The top you can see though is Christine saying, “Going home…God is so amazing!”

Yes, Christine He most certainly is.  And this will be one time I will use the word “Awesome!”  Because God truly is. But please keep praying for Alexander. They were able to open his left artery 3mm. Normal is 10-12mm. They will check him down the road and if possible will put a shunt in. But who knows what God will do???

#AlexanderUpdate#PrayerAnswered!!

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Okay, so I had been posting about 20 month old Alexander this past week.  You can read my past posts about him here and here and here.   I didn’t post over the weekend due to my schedule so I thought I would keep you updated as of yesterday (Sunday). The following was posted on FB (which I am not on) but forwarded to me by Jo.

Everyone is amazed at how well Alexander is doing and they plan to send us home this week! Praise God for His hand in all of this…there is no other explanation than Him. Alexander came into this surgery having not had the best odds in his favor due to recent illnesses, sinus gunk/cough as well as the fact that the surgeons were not sure there was anything they could do to fix the issue with his heart. Now they might send him home less than a week after open heart surgery where he was on the bypass machine (harder on the recovery than if he wasn’t)! Nothing less than a miracle how well he is doing. Thanks for all the prayers.
He is still in some pain but manageable with Tylenol and we are still struggling to get him to drink anything (but we still have his feeding tube so he is getting some nutrition thru it as much as he will tolerate it). Overall we could not be happier! He faces more procedures in the future but if things go as planned they should be able to do them with a Heart Catheterization and no more open heart surgeries! For the next couple months he will have to stay away from people and germs and we have to be careful how he is picked up (never under the arms as usual) so we don’t mess up his incision site but these are small hurdles compared to how far this little superhero has come!

Is that not awesome? I only use that word when it refers to God or something God has done. And so I have to say this is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!!! And here is something that will steal your heart:

I told Christine when I found out Alexander would be born with a heart defect and that she and Jimmy never questioned whether keeping him was an option or not, I believed God has some special plan for His life. No one knows what that is except for God Himself. But even now, God’s miraculous work in his life is nothing short of incredible. What a testimony this little guy already has! Kudos to the doctors and staff at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. Kudos to Jimmy & Christine for the love and trust they have shown to love Alexander as every child should be loved- #real definition of heroes. Kudos to Eliza and Isabella (his sisters) for their understanding of mom and dad’s time and their love for their brother. But more praise goes to the Father for His loving care of His little lamb.

Thanks to you for your prayers. You don’t even know him but have been praying.

#AlexanderUpdate2#KatherineUpdate

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Ryan and I left the hospital at 8:50 because he had an appointment at 10:30.  I received a text at 10:40 that he had just gone into surgery and it could take 3-4 hours.  That’s right! Into surgery! That means that they found an alternate way to get blood to his lung from his heart.

A later text said he was out of surgery and the doctor was optimistic.

I am asking you to continue praying for Alexander and his little body to heal. Pray the surgery was successful. And please pray for his mom and dad (Jimmy & Christine).

*****************************

The prayer meeting for Katherine went really well! Family members showed up to pray with us. She goes today to the specialist to find out what her next steps are to be.  A pic line which will require her to stay out of school (I’m pretty sure I heard it that way), or something else. Of course, we are still praying for healing for her.

I would ask for you to please do the same. Thanks. I’ll keep you posted on both of these.

#Alexander#SeriousPrayerRequest

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

I’m going to ask you to read this all the way through…please.  And please know I received permission from Christine to write this and to post the pictures.

This is Alexander Chambers:

How can you not fall in love with this little guy?  Alexander is 20 months old. Let me tell you his story. His mom & dad, Jimmy and Christine (see family portrait at the end of this post), were told during her pregnancy that Alexander would be born with a birth defect (sorry don’t know the medical name) which would affect his heart. They are heroes to me. The thought of abortion NEVER crossed their mind. He wasn’t very old when he had his first heart surgery. After his birth he spent quite a bit of time in Riley Hospital in Indianapolis.  He finally got to come home to his two sisters but the past year and a half has been an adventure. Like all kids he has had his share of colds, sniffles, etc but they seem to be more frequent…and last longer. But that has not stopped him! He is as rambunctious as any 20 month old little boy.

Alexander’s heart is not a normal heart. His left artery that feeds the heart is totally closed. That means he is not getting any oxygen to his heart from his left side. If that cannot be corrected he will always have restrictions on what he can do physically. No sports. No normal activities which require physical exertion. He understands now that when he tires he must stop and rest. An exploratory procedure several months ago showed that. Since then he has undergone a heart scan for the doctors to see if they can and should consider doing something. They had told Jimmy and Christine that they could do nothing but then said, “No. Let’s do this scan to make sure.”  The scan showed for certain the state of his left artery.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) Alexander goes into surgery to see if something can be done.

I’m asking for prayer for Alexander. Please pray for his care during surgery. Please pray for the doctors and nurses as they work. Please pray for his mom and dad and two sisters. Please pray for God to intervene and make a way for surgery if that is His will. And pray for healing. The downside: if he does have surgery it may require up to a month or more of hospitalization which will take Christine away from her family. We prayed Sunday morning for him/for them. I asked the leaders to come up front to gather around and to pray for the family. While Christine told the folks what all was happening, Alexander came over to me and wrapped his arms around my legs and then let me hold him while I prayed (he eventually went to his mom). Little people are special to me. This guy is extra special.  I’ll keep you posted as to the result.

I, of course, do not know how tomorrow will turn out. But I truly believe (and have told Christine this) that God has a special plan for Alexander. I believe God is going to use Him and this situation to be glorified. I hope I’m around to see what He does.

Here is a picture of the whole family:

Jimmy, Christine, Alexander, Eliza, and Isabella. What a lovely family.

His surgery has been scheduled several days and times and has been changed that many times. As of right now, it is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9:00. He will be taken for prep at 7:30. Ryan(our youth pastor) and I will be leaving Spencer at 5:15 to be with them and pray beforehand. You can pray for safe travels for us as well. And thanks from Jimmy, Christine, Eliza, Isabella, Alexander and from me.

I have also posted this on my “Shadow” blog.

 

#HELP!!#ThatTimeAgain#ForACure

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

They say the early bird catches the worm. Well, I don’t want any worms but I am an early bird.

  • I get up every morning at 3:30 so I can shower and have my Quiet Time and be at the office around 5:00 so I can study.
  • That means I am an early bird when it comes to sermons and sermon prep.  I work at least 4 weeks ahead and often finish researching and writing several weeks early. I like that because if I have an emergency I don’t have to fret. (And I don’t have any all-night Saturday sessions working on and completing a sermon).
  • I am also an early bird when it comes to going to bed. I try to be in bed by 9:30 so I can at least get 6 hours sleep.

And I’m also an early bird when it comes to the topic of this post.  For the third year I am riding in the BikeMS Cruisin’ the Crossroads to benefit MS. The first year we were totally rained out. I mean like totally. 7″ inches fell within a 24 hour period so they wisely shut it down before it started. Last year my friend Dave (from 3 Feet Please) and I were able to ride the first 30 some miles until a deluge shut it down. We had someone riding with us who was ill-prepared and it slowed us down to a crawl. So it was mercifully cut short.

This year they have changed the date yet again. Rain may not be a problem; snow might. Well…let’s hope not. The ride has been changed to October 10th-one day after I celebrate (Lord willing) my 68th birthday.  Here is where you come in. Many of you were so generous last year that I was able to surpass my $800 goal. This year I have set my goal at $1000 and I have already started my fundraising by a starting pledge of $100. I do not have MS but I have some friends in this community who do. Kirby. Marge (a vital part of OVCF). Others.

Frankly, I’m not big on fundraising. I am so glad the church I pastor operates with the mindset of being debt-free. Therefore, I don’t have to stand in the pulpit and ask for money to make our mortgage payment. We are in need of more space but have an active building fund so we don’t have to borrow money when/if the time comes to adding on. Asking for money is not a strong suit of mine. (No I won’t make a joke about Jo asking me for money).

Anyway, if you are able or willing to help then you can go to my fundraising page and donate in my name.  Please go here for that. I’ll say thanks ahead of time.  I’ll also say that if you can’t or are unable to donate, prayers for health and safety while I’m training then riding would be greatly appreciated.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post12

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

I have been blogging each day as part of a #ChristmasChallenge I asked others to participate in. Due to my schedule I have been using virtually the same post here and at my other blog. But this one is different. This will stand alone from my other blog.  So…I give you my thoughts on this sensitive topic.

Recently we have had two holidays together which emphasize family, love, happy times and togetherness. For many they are anything but. For various reasons pain, hurt, emptiness, loneliness and depression are more apparent than the aforementioned family, love, happy times and togetherness.

Consider why:

  • A divorce has rocked the world of a woman or a man or their children.
  • A downturn at work has left him or her out of work.
  • An ugly spat has taken away family unity.
  • A death of a loved one is a painful memory that crops up even bigger during this time.
  • Friends are visiting out of town.
  • Family is unable to make the trip to see you or visa versa.
  • Perhaps you can think of more reasons.

My heart aches for these people. I realize what the church does in offering a lunch at Thanksgiving and a hot breakfast on Christmas morning is a small token when compared to the price of loneliness or pain.  Making our presence felt is needed more than just those special times.

When I look around-when you look around- we see people all around us going through the motions of life. Aimless. Heartbroken. Lonely.  Out of sorts. And sadly, it is just as easy to miss them. Avoiding their eyes. Rushing past their pain. Ignoring their tears.

BUT…and this is a big BUT…if we are to have the heart of Christ, we can’t pass by unaffected or closed off.  Having the mind and heart of Jesus demands we see people through eyes of love and compassion.

So let me challenge you this year to keep your eyes and heart open to really “see” other people. Reach out. Invite them to your family gathering. Take them a meal or take them out for one. See if there is something they need done which they are unable to do, but perhaps you can help by doing it or having someone else help. Speak to people as you see them. Don’t ignore them or divert your eyes.

The following song is on one of my favorite Christmas albums. It is not a “spiritual” Christmas song by any stretch but does touch on my thoughts for this post. And yes, it was partly responsible for me writing what I have.

https://youtu.be/V3Z3-z8eXuM

If you have trouble with understanding the lyrics, underneath the video is a “Show More” tab.  Click it and the lyrics will show up.

I encourage you to check out my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers.

Diane at Hadarah.

Ed at Word!

 

#ClearEyes#20/20#Brightness

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

“The eyes have it.” Oops that is supposed to be the “I’s” have it. 

Unless, of course, you are talking about cataract surgery which totally transforms one’s sight world. This past Monday I had my left eye’s cataract removed. I knew I was in for a real treat given that I had had my right eye corrected the week before. My world brightened some. But I can honestly say I was not prepared for the “revelation” that came from yesterday’s surgery. Talk about bright!  I told someone this morning (Tuesday) it was like walking into a room filled with new LED bulbs. Everything is so bright I wonder how in the world I was able to see before. I was…it was just cloudy. The doctor told me this morning that in a few days my brain will dial in the sights and it won’t seem so bright.  Truthfully, I’m not sure I want that!  🙂  I like seeing things brightly. Maybe it comes from seeing things a little “shady” and cloudy for the past oh-so- many-months that I relish the light. Can you tell I’m excited about my surgery and newfound “bright sight”? 

The applications to our spiritual lives are easy to see.  An early worship song that was sung a lot had the lyrics: “Open the eyes of my heart Lord/ Open the eyes of my heart/ I want to see you/I want to see you.”  Seeing him physically is not going to happen here on this earth so the song is not speaking of that type of sight. But asking Him to open the eyes of our heart to His Word and His Truth will bring clarity to our lives where before there was cloudiness and murkiness. 

We also can see another application. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”  (I Cor.13:11) Going from cloudy sight to bright and clear sight means I can give my old glasses to the Lion’s Club to give them away to someone who needs them. I can see things through a different perspective. Someone told me the colors would be brighter; the lights would be brighter; and I would need sun glasses. I confirm all three of those.  Growing in Christ means putting away the old stuff and see things through new eyes.

I sure can see how the man blind from birth must have felt when he first saw “men as trees walking” and then began to see everything with clarity. I thank God for my eyes. But I thank Him even more for the gift of sight for Him. May He and His Word and His will get clearer as each day goes by.

Any thoughts?   Oh, by the way: how is your (spiritual) vision these days?

#Dead#Alive#YouChoose

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

As I wrote that title I couldn’t help but think of Bon Jovi’s song Dead or Alive. My sermon this morning was on the postcard to the church at Sardis. I called it “To the Dead Church.”  One of the ideas I tried to stress was that we need to see this letter as more than one sent to a church body, but we also need to apply it to ourselves as individuals.  One of the thoughts during the message was asking the question When is a church dead? The answers are jarring, but I also want to apply them to us as individuals. So, I’m going to put the four answers I gave to that question and then allow you to make the personal application. I have already done that as I prepared; misery loves company so join me! 🙂  When is a church dead?

#1- When it is content to rest on its past laurels.  Many churches have banners and plaques throughout their building which testify of their past. It’s like little Johnny who was being shown through the church building by his father when they came upon a plaque with names. He asked his dad what that was for and his father said, “They are the names of the men and women who died in the service.” He asked, “Which one-morning or evening?” We chuckle but sadly that is way too often true. (Nowadays it is first or second not morning or evening).

#2- When it is more concerned with form than spiritual reality. We make sure we fit into a mold. The pastor can’t speak too long we have things to do, places to go. Besides, we want to beat the other churches to lunch.  This can be especially harrowing in a small town where options are limited. We make sure we have communion, take offering, sing all hymns or no hymns, offer an invitation. Seriously? That shows a church is alive?

#3- When it focuses more on social ills and politics than changing people’s hearts and minds through the life-changing message of Jesus. There is nothing wrong with being socially aware and conscious, but the church does not exist to change the environment. We exist to carry the message of the God’s life-changing message.

#4- When it is more concerned with material things than spiritual things. “Nuff said. When we hired Ryan one of my first words to him were “People over programs.” We have reminded ourselves of that often. Another: “People over buildings.”  We had a dream of an adult worship center but it was cost-prohibitive.  I was so proud of our leadership when they said, “No” to the building and put things on hold.  God made it possible to pay off our mortgage early as well as build the youth addition debt-free.  We are now in the dreaming stage again and will remember the adage: “People over buildings.”

I think you can see how those can apply to individuals. But it is one thing to see; it another to do. Let’s do it! Let’s not be caught in the “Sardis cycle.”

 

#OutofCommission#UGH

Monday, October 7th, 2019

In my weekend post I alluded to the fact that I have been crazy busy but it will soon slow down. Well…that slow down will begin occurring this week.

I began last week preparing for a procedure they want all 50+ year olds to have. My earnest prep took place today as I had to limit even more of what I ate or drank. Translated that means I ate nothing solid and drank some nasty stuff as well as a prep drink for a procedure which takes place tomorrow morning (Tuesday). I’m not a rookie with this procedure…unfortunately. I have had 4 of these and each time they have found polyps that required removal and diagnostic lab work. They have come back okay except a few were “pre-cancerous” so I submit myself to this on a regular basis. I have told Jo if doing this procedure  would keep me from getting colon cancer I would do it every 6 months…although I don’t want any doctor becoming that familiar with me. 🙂  So I would appreciate your prayers for protection during the procedure and a good report afterwards. So Monday and Tuesday I will be out of commission, especially Tuesday.

Wednesday we head to Ohio to celebrate my birthday (Wednesday the 9th) and to watch our grandson play his last football game this year on Thursday night. It has been the only one we have been able to see.

Then on the 14th and 21st it is actually a good “out of commission.” I am having eye surgery for cataracts which will allow me to GET RID OF MY GLASSES! I have worn them since I was in 4th grade and so I look forward (pun intended) to not having to wear them! No more cycling with sweat running down my glasses and my eyelashes spreading sweat all over my glasses! No more cutting grass or working outside and having to wipe sweat off so I can see! No more waking up and reaching for my glasses first thing! Can you tell I’m excited?

Finally, Braden turns 13 on the 17th and we wouldn’t miss his teen birthday for anything. So off to Ohio we go.

Whew! What slow down? Looks like another cruise to Alaska is in order. Donations accepted.  🙂  Just kidding.

That’s not all for this month but that’s enough for now. What does your month look like?