Love

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#ThrowingStones

Friday, September 11th, 2020

Have you ever played darts?  I have played at it but have never played it for “blood.” I know there are tournaments all over creation for dart throwing, but I also know that just throwing darts can be big time in small venues, i.e. bars, etc. The goal, of course, is to hit the bullseye. But as you can imagine there are those whose aim is slightly worse than terrible. One dart may hit the round target but then the next one might be the wall or the floor.

That is a perfect picture of the way we throw stones at each other. Verbal stones have the tendency to hit all over the place. Sometimes they are deadly accurate, but sometimes it makes you wonder, “Where in the world did that come from?”  In today’s world, and even more sadly in the church, this idea of throwing stones is far too common.  It is almost like it is seen as “sport.”

The Bible is very clear how we are to treat each other, how we are to talk about others. In my new series (this is week #2) called Q & A, this sermon is entitled What about Stones? My Scripture is Ephesians 4: 25-32. The outline is extensive but simply follows Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus.  When I was in college I had never heard of a man named Francis Shaeffer when I read a little booklet written by him called The Mark of the Christian. His whole premise is that love was that mark. May that be true of us, especially in our words.

I would appreciate your prayers for me, for us, as we worship and study. Thanks.

 

#Anniversary#Celebration#Honored

Monday, April 20th, 2020

I took a break last week from posting on this blog except for the sermon. After posting on two blogs for over a month, a break was needed. Something happened yesterday that I wanted to share.

April 13th is a day that has significance to me.  On April 13, 1932 my mother was born. She went to be with Jesus in March of 2004. So when April 13th came this year, I thanked God for her influence in my life and then moved on. I am not a real sentimental person on things like that.

But something else happened on April 13th. To honor her in one of the biggest ways I could think of, April 13, 1975 was the day I chose for my ordination into the ministry. I had been preaching since I was a Sophomore in college (1972) but that was my official day of being licensed as a pastor. I had heard of it while in college but I didn’t like the reasons some of them did it: to be an official pastor which basically gave them a free ride on Vietnam. I can also remember my mom telling me not to become a pastor because of the respect and “fame” and honor given to clergy. Back then, pastors were seen as upright and worthy of respect. (My how times have changed!)  Anyway, when I saw how some acted and talked and chased woman, I didn’t want to move too fast on this idea of being ordained (not that I did those things). I wanted it to be an occasion where I knew what I was doing and was serious about my calling.  As I reflect on those ideas today, I’m not sure I knew either! What I did know is that it was a big step for me.

So on April 13, 1975 I chose to honor my mother, whose influence on my faith is unquestioned, by being ordained on her birthday. Besides, as I got older I figured it would be easier to remember one date instead of two. Remembering Jo’s birthday and my two daughters was hard enough.  I’ve never made a big deal about special days in my life, except for my wedding date (which I am trying to remember…oh yeah, June 16, 1973) and the birth of my girls (June 3, 1975 and August 23, 1979).  Let’s see…mine is…oh yeah, October 9, 1952.  And I hereby refuse to publish Jo’s birthday since I value my life.  But trust me when I say she is a tad bit older than me, like from January 30, 1951 compared to mine. (But please don’t tell her I said anything! I love my life!!)

But I digress. Yesterday during the virtual morning worship, I welcomed people to the worship and moved away from the pulpit to let the first song play. It wasn’t the one I picked and looked up and it was a slide show Tami had put together honoring my 45th anniversary of ordination. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. To say I walked away to gather my emotions before standing before the people again might (not) be a lie. Anyway, I was honored and humbled she put this together. And I was especially honored folks responded.  It was hard to see via the FB worship so she has posted it on YouTube. It was public at first but she is taking it private. You have the extreme privilege (I’m humble too) to be given the link to watch it.  Here is the link. Hope you enjoy it. And yes, you will notice two people missing from it: Jo and Janna (my youngest).  Least Tami still loves me. 🙂

I have so many people to thank for 45+ years.  But most of all, I want to give praise, glory and honor to the ONE who called me into this high calling. He has been a beautiful picture of grace, forgiveness, patience, and transformation through all of this. And thank you Tami for doing this (she was last one).

#Supremacy#Colossians

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

It never ceases to amaze me how contemporary the letters that Paul wrote are to today’s culture. Case in point: Colossians.  I am beginning a new series this Sunday on the book of Colossians with the title of Supremacy.

Many churches have glorious pasts and they like to live there…forever. You can hear it in statements like “We never did it that way before” which someone has dubbed as The 7 Last Words of the Church. Then there are those churches who revel in their past and want to spend an ungodly amount of money keeping their buildings update, their stained glass windows looking all nice and spiffy and regularly use Murphy’s oil soap to shine and wax their pews. Then, of course, there are those who celebrate milestones by putting people’s names on buildings, pews, and even offering plates.

I’m not trying to be difficult but I sure think a church should have another focus than just the looks of their building. If celebrating the past gives us a heightened awareness of the future, I’m all for it.

In this opening passage of Scripture (Col.1:1-8)  Paul gives us a reason to celebrate in the church. I’ll give you a hint: it has something to do with faith, hope and love. 🙂

Your prayers would be appreciated this Sunday. Thanks.

#Valentine#Valentine’sDay#Love

Friday, February 14th, 2020

Okay, so in order not be to shot, filleted, hung upside down by my toenails, or any other violent act you can think of, I thought it would be wise to talk about my valentine. Strangely enough, it would not be her who would do all the above-said violence. She is a very non-violent person (except if I come to bed with cold hands). I just don’t understand how her love turns so deadly when I come in and want to hold her hand or put my hand across her body so it doesn’t hang in the air at a weird angle while I’m laying on my side. Sheesh! You’d think I put my hands in the freezer before I came to bed. Come to think of it I am pretty sure she thinks I do.

We have been married 46+ years…47 in June. We had our first vacation away from anyone who knew us just 3 years ago (2017) thanks to the graciousness of a couple who had a timeshare and gifted us with a week.  And we had the vacation of a lifetime last September when the folks from the church sent us on a cruise to Alaska. (I would go back in a heartbeat but I wonder if she got tired of me. She doesn’t want to go back this year).  Well, Lord willing, maybe 2021. I hope, I hope, I hope.  Our almost 47 years have not all been smooth sailing but one word never escaped our lips. Not it wasn’t Love silly; it was the “D” word.  Never an option.

She blessed me with two wonderful daughters who have turned into wonderful young ladies, both of whom I am totally stoked about and so proud of my buttons pop (and no it is not from weight gain).  Their lives have not been easy from the start. I mean, a Pastor’s Kid? How radical is that? It is like they have targets on their backs. They have gone on to college and done well in spite of the tests that come from growing up (and growing older). Ha. And they think I’m old.

But Jo has stuck with me through all the ups and downs of ministry life. At times there were far more downs than there were ups.  We have laughed together (if she could roll her eyes she would do that often). We have cried together. We have lamented together. We have hurt for others together. There is one thing we won’t do together…play games. She thinks I cheat at Backgammon or Scrabble. I don’t but she doesn’t like me putting her in the middle in Backgammon or using words she doesn’t know in Scrabble.

But there is one thing we will do together. (Get your mind out of the gutter people!)  We will continue to love each other for as many years as God gives us together.  🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day Honey! I love you.

Now if I can just her to read this I will have won another year of life without buying flowers.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post25

Wednesday, December 25th, 2019

This will be my last #ChristmasChallenge post for this year. I thank each of you who have taken the time to drop by and read and even comment. Thanks for giving up some of your precious time to come to my world and spend a little time with me.

So…what could I do as the final post? That haunted me yesterday as I pondered it. I decided to do what we all need to do. Remember that old commercial when the telephone companies (when they still had phone books) would say, “Let your fingers do the walking?” Well…I’m going to allow the Scriptures to do the talking.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:6

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.’ “ Mt.1:21-23

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.’ “ Luke 2:10-14

May the truth of Scripture fill your heart with that which God has promised: LOVE. JOY. PEACE. HOPE.

Thanks to Ed and Diane, my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post22

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

What do these have in common? Tickle Me Elmo. Cabbage Patch Kids. Pound Puppies. Buzz Lightyear. Beanie Babies. Transformers. Wii.

In common? They are all part of the Christmas toy fads down through the years. (And there are more I could add. Google it). Just like the movie starring Arnold Schwarzennegger, Jingle All the Way, people get caught up in a craze and often go crazy trying to keep up with the latest.

The good thing about fads? They don’t last. Hooray!! Thankfully. Who could ever forget mood rings? Moon rocks? Furbies? Are you kidding me? But it’s true.

Fads don’t last. Aren’t you glad that the gift of Jesus as a baby is not just a fad? Somewhere I’m sure some one, some company, has tried or will try to capitalize on it, but the birth of Jesus in  a manger is not a fad. Despite His humble birth which many don’t understand, the event brings on a life-change that is hard to match. And it makes Christmas so much more meaningful as well. It truly is good news for all people. Not just some of the time. All the time.  It never gets old. Never wears out.

“Father, thank you that the story of Jesus is not a passing fad. It doesn’t go the way of all the toys. It is so much more. It is a gift for all time.”

Check out Diane’s #ChristmasChallenge post here.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post17

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

I am late to the #ChristmasChallenge today. But I have a good reason!

Yeah, we are the “fun recipients” of our second day of the Winter Wonderland.  Yesterday’s was about 5 inches, enough to cancel the local school system, but it was more slushy than anything. We got the second round yesterday afternoon, and then a third wave last night (but I was asleep so couldn’t prove it by me). Except…the shoveling of the walk and driveway and scraping of the truck at home, then getting here to the office and shoveling the walks and part of the parking lot for walking.  There is another leg to the walk off to the right. Since I am the first one here I usually do it and really don’t mind. (And, believe it or not, that walk was totally clear just 15 minutes before I started writing this post). Today is even more important because of what happens today.

Today…Diana (the church secretary/office manager) gets to distribute HOPE to bunches of families, especially kids. Every year OVCF, the church I pastor, has done our own version of the Angel Tree. Diana sort of spearheads that and we call it The Giving Tree. We ask people to submit names of families/kids whom they know need help this Christmas. We then put the names on a tree and ask our people to take them and buy what is listed. This year we blew away all previous years. OVCF (not the organization but the people) is providing Christmas HOPE to close to 40 people. Our previous high was about 26. We do children, but we also try to include the parents with gift cards or needed coats/gloves/boots and even food cards. One of our ladies works at the local bank and she and some of her coworkers  took some names and bought gifts for the tree.  It was wonderful helping to carry some of the bags to the tables where Diana will meet the parents and give them the gifts today, and some tonight. Unwrapped, but provided with wrapping paper so they can have that joy. (If you consider that fun) 🙂

HOPE is a companion to my last three posts: LOVE. JOY. PEACE. The story of Christmas-the story of Jesus’ birth-is a story of HOPE. Take that away and we have nothing. We can’t live without HOPE.  Our small token of hope-giving for the children and parents of people who have had a rough year pales in comparison to the HOPE given to us by a simple birth in a manger.

LOVE. JOY. PEACE. HOPE. The four sorta go hand in hand don’t they? What gifts we have been given!! Give HOPE to someone today.

{And as a side light: can you now see why I am absolutely thrilled to be the pastor of these people? And what makes it even more incredible is some of the names were given after our deadline and except for about 2 or 3, all of them were taken and provided for by the people}.

Check out a fellow #ChristmasChallenge blogger here. This is short but poignant. Thanks Diane.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post14

Saturday, December 14th, 2019

In my last post, I mentioned the need we all have of Love, Joy, and Peace. As part of my #ChristmasChallenge I thought I would take each one of those needs and expand on them a bit.

My topic today is Love.

One of the top songs of 1984 (was it that long ago?) was by the group Foreigner called I Want to Know What Love Is. It was a moving ballad that even today still speaks to hearts and gets down to the root of what we all want...LOVE.  I think if we are all honest we would admit that we all want to be loved or to experience love. It doesn’t matter whether you are young or old; married or single; rich or poor; employed or unemployed; male or female-we all want to know what love is and what it is like.

Why? Because it is part of our DNA. Babies want to know they are loved and they don’t have a clue what it is. Every child wants to know they are loved and still they aren’t sure they know what it is.  As we get older and understand a bit more about how the world works, we still want to know we are loved.  Why else would someone sing a song with the lyrics of  “Looking for love in all the wrong places.”

So here is the million dollar question: why do need love? We all do things that make it hard to love us or we search for love depending on our feelings to somehow answer that question. Why love? I am taking a stab at 4 reasons:

  1. Love covers sin. When Joseph found out Mary was pregnant and he knew it wasn’t his, he could have walked out. In fact, he planned on it. But God changed all that. Joseph couldn’t throw Mary out on the street. I believe his love for her was enhanced by the message of the angel.
  2. Love listens to God. In the midst of his pain, God came to Joseph.  He still does that and if we are listening we can hear His still small voice in the pit of our heart.
  3. Love believes God. Joseph believed God that all would be right. I have to believe in love since John 3:16 says, “God so loved (me)…”
  4. Love obeys God. Joseph did not put Mary away; he loved her and took care of her. Just as God would have him do.

Love is the focal point of the Christmas season. John 3:16 becomes like a beacon shining brighter the closer we get to that miraculous night celebrated on Christmas day. 

“Father, help me to pursue love…real love. And help me to give love to others. There are so many people searching for love because we all want it. Help me to be your instrument to show love to others.”