Grace

...now browsing by category

 

Waiting

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Confession time: I am not a fan of waiting. I don’t like to use the word “hate” but I do hate waiting. Waiting in line at a grocery store is tiring. Waiting in line at a store that does not have enough registers open is frustrating. Waiting in line at a stop light, especially when a person won’t move up, is maddening. Waiting to be waited on and served is annoying.

Worse still is waiting on God. I know what the Scripture says; I’ve quoted them enough. “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.” There are tons more. But sometimes waiting on God is just plain…frustrating. Maddening. Annoying. Tiring. Waiting for an answer. Waiting for God to move. Waiting to die. Waiting for change. Waiting for God to “show” Himself.

Been there? I’d like to invite you to my other blog, LivingintheShadow, to see the rest of this post. While you are there, how about subscribing and getting them in your email?

For another “take” on waiting why not visit Martha’s bl0g here?

Fear

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

I’m a little late to the party this weekend.  It has been a crazy, busy weekend with Tami’s surgery as well as some others having cancer treatment. But I guess better late than never!

My theme for 2019 is Unsinkable. My thanks to Ryan (techgeek) for the banner. I am a typical Sanguine. I have great ideas but my ability to follow through on some things is limited. Ryan, on the other hand, is fantastic!  Okay…that’s enough of that. I’ll blow his head up so big even his wife won’t recognize him. But then again, Amanda will bring him back to earth. 🙂

It was March 4, 1933 while the country was in the terrifying clutches of the Great Depression that newly elected president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, made his famous one liner that is often quoted by others. Believing the greatest problem was not the absence of finances but the presence of fear, he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

There is no question we live in a fallen world. Look around if you doubt my words. At the same time we live in the fallen world, we also have a God of grace who meets his children in moments of darkness and difficulty.  I’m going to be in Psalm 27 for 3 of the 4 Sundays this month. Psalm 27 is a rock in an unsure world. It is a lifesaver thrown out to a drowning man. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” 

I’ll also be showing this video of CityAlight before I preach.

Prayers would be appreciated as I lay the groundwork for the rest of 2019 with this beginning message. Thanks.

QuietRoar

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

A Quiet Roar: Sometimes Disruption Is Overdue

Over the years I have read a ton-and I mean a ton!- of books. As you might imagine, most are of the non-fiction type. After all, my work as a pastor requires I read, read, and read some more.

But every once in awhile I come across a fiction book that grips me and won’t let me go. Back in 1994 I read the very first book by Randall Arthur called Wisdom Hunter (WH). I read it one year later on a personal fasting retreat and wept through most of it because it was like looking into a mirror-seeing what I didn’t like-but wanting so badly to be what I read. WH was the final nail in my coffin of legalism. The follow up to that book was titled Betrayal, and once again I was filleted. Jason Faircloth, the pastor from WH made a very pointed appearance in Betrayal and once again pointed out the dangers of legalism. In between Mr. Arthur wrote Jordan’s Crossing, another Jason Faircloth book, only this time dealing with Jordan’s emptiness caused by liberalism. The final installment (or so I thought) was Forgotten Road, a novel dealing with the emptiness of the health/wealth (un)gospel. Jason made an appearance in that book as well.

Imagine my surprise and excitement when Randall Arthur’s publishing company announced a new novel! Man, I jumped on that like bugs on a night light. As it was I was #102 of 120 signed copies. I gotta tell ya! If you read no other novel this coming year, please please please read Quiet Roar. The main character is like a female version of Jason Faircloth. Take a hot topic (female pastors…which I am saying neither yay or nay to here); add in a lot of small town church drama; a mysterious woman; and even more mysterious benefactor; a dash of contemporary culture and world events (Muslims, the church not staying so “white”, and some other events); and I kid you not, you have a recipe for a lot of sleepless nights (or at least staying up past your normal bed time).  Right now it is only available from Amazon on Kindle. HOWEVER, you can purchase it directly from Randall’s website.  I personally know Randy and he is the real deal.

May I also suggest reading Wisdom Hunter and Betrayal (since renamed Brotherhood of Betrayal) as companion volumes? You can find all his other books on Amazon as well as his website. I GUARANTEE your life and faith will no longer be the same.

LeafTurning

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

The new year is about here and there will be a lot of talk about “turning over a new leaf.” I personally hope my life is more exciting than a leaf blowing in the wind.  🙂  Every year I post this video and want to do that again.  It’s one of those “traditions” you know? Besides, I have a much more important one to show later so I want to get the frivolous out of the way.  Click here to see the video.

I have never been one to go over the past year and relive good and bad memories. I came to realize that I couldn’t change what happened so why do that? In some cases it would be like torturing myself and in other cases it might be hard not to gloat or “wish for again.” I believe there are lessons to be learned if I look, but too much reflection can sometimes be detrimental. So I don’t take longing looks at the past.

I also take longing looks at the future. Jesus said in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” I take that to mean not to worry about tomorrow. Why should I when I can’t change things anyway? I have no control over them. But I know the ONE who does. 2019 is going to happen (unless Jesus returns first) so I can only prepare myself the best way I know how: spiritually.

I’m not a resolution-setter.  (Nor am I an Irish one). 🙂  I basically have one idea: How can I live my life with grace and honor God doing it? After spending two years going through New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp and all of 2018 blogging about it at Be Transformed, my heart and eyes have been opened and softened. The journey was not always easy. It was time-consuming and at times, inconvenient. But daily blogging was a discipline I am glad I did. My next attempt will be called Living in the Shadow and will take the place of Be Transformed in name and content only. It will be hosted on the same site but I do not plan on posting every day. I’m thinking maybe 2-3 days a week. I’ll tell you more when it gets underway.

But I want to close this post and 2018 with a song that has become a favorite and will be my focus for 2019. I hope you will join me in making this a reality.  Click here to listen to the song.

HAVE A SAFE AND ENJOYABLE END TO YOUR 2018 AND  A STELLAR BEGINNING TO YOUR 2019.

Jekyll/Hyde

Friday, December 21st, 2018

I suspect most of us are familiar with the story of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. If you saw League of Extraordinary Gentlemen you saw a depiction of the character.  The original story by Stevenson is a great tale about what followers of Christ face all the time. Old man/new man. Dark side/Light side.

Much like Stevenson’s story is the story of the battle of two sides to the Christmas story. The Light side took out the sting of the Dark side.

The Dark side is seen in the Savior of mankind giving up all that was His to come as a baby. To take on flesh. To take on the frailties of humanity. To face hunger, rejection, thirst, physical pain, injustice, and even death.

The Light side is the Why. Simply put: God invaded our world in the person of Jesus because there was simply no other way. You see…our biggest problem is not what is outside us; it is what is inside us.  We like to place blame. Use excuses. Or look for a scapegoat for our stupidity, i.e. sin. But only through God being made flesh in the person of Jesus and ultimately going to a cross could we ever have a hope of rescue. Trust me when I say we could not have rescued ourselves.  It is this “Good News of great joy” that we can be thankful for and celebrate.

Prayers are especially needed this weekend. Here’s why:

  1. We are meeting once again at Abram Farm Event Venue, which is actually right next to our building. Lots of logistics go into making this happen. Bill & Suzie Abram own it and are so gracious in offering us to use any time we want.
  2. Monday we will be meeting to pack a ton of groceries for Tuesday morning.
  3. Tuesday morning we will be having a Christmas breakfast for our community. We offer a hot breakfast from 7-9:00 as well as deliveries. So far I’ve been disappointed in the number of deliveries compared to the past. I’d like to believe it is because everyone is filled and well-fed but I know better.

So I’d appreciate your prayers. I’ll probably be pretty scarce the first part of next week on my or anyone else’s blog. I’ll be back to give you some more to think about as we prepare for 2019. Thanks for hanging out at my little corner of the world.  And for your listening pleasure, here is the one and only song we will be singing as a special. Hanna sang it last year and I specifically asked her to sing it this year. All other songs are congregational singing.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Unfiltered

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Don’t you just love genealogies? Aaaaah no. “As a matter of fact I usually just skip over them and go to the end. Sort of like I do when I’m reading all about the clans and offspring in Numbers.”

But there is one genealogy you just don’t want to skip over. I’m sure you know I’m speaking of Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1. I used to. I was lost at the first “begat.” You know…the old KJV version of “father of.” And honestly, when people want to talk about Christmas they want to talk about the baby in the manger, the shepherds, the wise men, Bethlehem, no room in the manger, or some other well known part of the story. But the genealogy? Surely you have got to be kidding!

But there it is in black and white and as glorious as it can be! There is the requisite “father of” found in all genealogies. But, as you may know, there are some women included in His. The culture of that day excluded women from any place of prominence, especially in the genealogy. But not Jesus’. I’m sure you have heard it before but here is what we find with the woman:

Tamar– disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced Judah. Find her story in Genesis 38

Rahab– anyone who has read the story of Jericho knows her profession.  She was an idolatrous, an outcast Gentile woman, and a professional prostitute. She became the mother of Boaz who married our next woman.

Ruth– a Moabitess, a lineage that came as a result of incest. (Genesis 19). She married Boaz (Read the book of Ruth) and became David’s great grandmother.

Bathsheba– Is the anyone who does not know who she is? Just say “David.”

Mary- the mother of Jesus. A sinner like you and me. A virgin but still a sinner.  Definitely not perfect and definitely not deserving to be elevated to the heights with Jesus. She was in need of a Savior like all of us.

The genealogy of Jesus speaks of grace. It shows that God accepts outsiders. Like me. Like you.  The genealogy shows people with warts. It is unfiltered.

Grace is my main topic for this Sunday. The Unfiltered Light of Christmas. Your prayers would be appreciated.

Hope

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

God placed his unshakable love on me.

Let that sink in for a minute or two. That sounds so inviting. So settling. So solid. Especially in today’s world when everything seem so unsettled, so much in an upheaval, it is good to know there is a constant. That constant is Jesus. That constant is the solid hope He gives.

I like what Tripp says: “Hope is a Person and His name is Jesus.”

For the rest of my post on HOPE see my post here on my other blog.

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.

RoadID

Monday, October 1st, 2018

I have been using RoadID for a lot of years…so many I can’t even remember. I hoped it would never be needed. I never worried dreamed I would someday be hit by a car.  Seriously, I never worried about it. I can’t even say I thought about it that much. To think about it would be paralyzing. I don’t ever want to be a slave to fear so I just would not allow myself to think about it.

I do now. Well, I think about it; say a prayer; then head out for a ride. How was I supposed to know a hit-n-run driver wanted to play bumper cars with me? Only it was his passenger-side rear view mirror and I was his bumper. More accurately, my left cheek was his bumper.

That happened back in November of 2016. Lots has happened since then.

In this post I talked about meeting a camera crew from RoadID.  That meeting happened and after two fun hours it was done. The finished product is now on YouTube and you can link from it here.  I’d like to ask you to listen and comment if you care to.

Tips#2

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

As promised (I know you were waiting with baited breath), I want to continue my posts on basically what to say and what not to say to a person who is hurting or grieving. These are adapted from the book by Dave Furman called Being There. The first three were in this post and while I’m going to list them here, you can check out a further explanation by checking out the post.

#1. Don’t Be the Fix-It Person.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.

#3. Don’t Make it Their Identity.

#4. Don’t Promise Deliverance Now. This is really huge right now in the religious world. False teachers/cult leaders/prosperity teachers and other heretical personalities are promising deliverance. You know how it works. They come to you saying, “I just know you are going to be healed. God has told me He will do that.” They might even tell you to think positive. Think good thoughts, happy thoughts. Get rid of all negativity. Kum-ba-yah and all that other rot.  IMHO you are not there to be their personal faith guru or their guarantor of God’s healing power. I get so sick of heretics making false claims of healing, getting peoples’ hopes up only to watch them and their faith come crashing down because “God didn’t come through.” I do like what the author says is key to this thought: “Instead of promising deliverance in this life, point them to God’s presence and a future hope that will never let them down.” (p.119)

#5. Don’t Encourage Them to Just “Move On.” You find this in the more “I’m going to take you to the good side by constantly telling you to leave all your troubles behind” kind of person.  That approach seems so calloused if you ask me.  This person is literally telling the hurting person his/her life has been on hold for way too long and it is time get over it.  Now…granted there is a fine line between wallowing in your pity and grieving appropriately. Grieving is so essential, but so is adequate grieving. When we, by our words or actions, tell people it is high time they got over their grieving, we are essentially saying, “I’m tired of dealing with this issue with you.”  One of the things I keep telling myself is people grieve differently and at different speeds. Do I think some people “milk” it? Sure. But, at the same time, who am I to think someone “ought to be over it by now”?

Well, I’m sorry this has gotten so long. I didn’t think I had this much in me. 🙂 Anyway, I’ll post some more tips in another day or two. I invite you back for another visit. And feel free to share this if you think it will help someone.