Monday “I Needed That” Moment

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SpringKeeper

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

My next couple of days will be filled with various meetings plus a visit to the friendly, neighborhood hospital for a procedure on Tuesday so I thought I would give you a general post to consider. I used this illustration Sunday to close my message on Compromise.

The old gentle man had been hired many years earlier by a young town  council to clear away the debris from the pools of water that fed the  lovely spring flowing through their town. With faithful, silent  regularity he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and  wiped away the silt from the fresh flow of water. By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated  along the crystal clear spring, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and  the view from restaurants was picturesque.

Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semiannual  meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man’s eye caught the salary  figure being paid the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of  the purse, “Who is the old man? Why do we keep him on year after year?  For all we know he is doing us no good. He isn’t necessary any longer!”  By a unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man’s services.

For several weeks nothing changed. By early autumn the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools,  hindering the rushing flow of water. One afternoon someone noticed a  slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A couple days later the water was much darker. Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of  the water along the banks and a foul odor was detected. The millwheels  moved slower, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left as did the  tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.

Embarrassed, the council called a special meeting. Realizing their  gross error in judgment, they hired back the old keeper of the spring . . . and within a few weeks, the river began to clear up.

True? I can’t say. Fanciful though it may be, it still tells a great story. The application I leave up to you.

TheWeek

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Sunday I used this illustration. You may have heard it before:

Once upon a time there were twin brothers. One optimistic. One pessimistic. For the sake of understanding their differences, their mother enlisted the help of a noted psychologist.

The psychologist instructed her to put the pessimist in a room filled with various sizes and shapes of wrapped presents. The optimistic child was to be placed in a room filled with manure.

With this task done, the mother and psychologist visited the children to gauge each one’s response to his circumstances. They found the pessimistic child sitting among his presents, gazing at them in complete disbelief. When asked why he had not opened any, he simply stated, “They couldn’t possibly be for me!”

Moving on to the next child, they were a bit concerned to see no sign of him in the manure-filled room. They called for him, and his head emerged from one of the piles. When asked what he was doing, he answered, “With this much mess, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Fanciful. Probably not true. But telling. You/I have a brand new week ahead of us. We can choose to make it a bummer of a week or we can choose to make it a week of good things.

Choose wisely.

Report

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

I thought I would bring you up to date with a report about how the week went for the group that went to New Orleans this past week. You can read about it here and here.

The week went well. Other than a few minor mishaps-someone twisting a knee playing volleyball, finding some red fire ants to be pesky, the inability to go to the Gulf due to an algae that can become a flesh-eating bacteria if your immune system is low, missing out on seeing where NCIS New Orleans is filmed due to construction-they had a fantastic time. After the hard and amazing work they all did, especially the young people who went along, they had about a day and a half of sightseeing.

Their major project was finishing a shed which another group had started. Mission accomplished. They worked even through the half day they were supposed to have in order to finish the project. Meanwhile, Jo and one of the young ladies applied their sign-making skills to doing a new sign for the front of the church building. They were in the lower 9th ward, a ward affected by a broken levee. Here it is 11 years later and they are still trying to make things happen. 2nd Rose of Sharon Missionary Baptist Church I salute you!

This Sunday many of them dragged themselves out of bed to make it for the end of our first service and then stayed for the second in order to give a short “this is what impacted me the most” contribution. They were all touched by a homeless man, William, who was a school teacher but had suffered a brain aneurysm, lost about 1/4 of his skull, was now homeless but “preached” to them about God’s goodness.

I like the way one put it: “I went expecting to bless others. Little did I know how much I would be blessed by so many people.”

They got home after midnight Saturday night and were tired puppies. But they all said they would do it again. Well done Ryan E, Ryan S, Josiah, Jo, Keegan, Aleah, MaryRose, Elizabeth and Donnie. May your life be impacted eternally (and may you have impacted others as well) with the selfless giving of your time and money to go and serve.

HOT

Monday, June 13th, 2016

After having a warm April and very wet and cool (some might downright chilly) May, June has finally brought the summer HEAT to our area. When I say summer HEAT I am not exaggerating. The weekend was typical August weather…except it is June. 🙂 But I am not one to complain about the weather. I decided long time ago it was not in my best interest to complain about the weather SINCE I HAVE NO CONTROL OR SAY IN IT!

I rode 24.5 this past Saturday in the heat. Some might say I am nuts. I beg to differ, of course. 🙂 🙂

I wanted to draw the line though yesterday. The past couple of weeks our main auditorium’s air conditioning has been somewhat squirrely. I came in yesterday to turn it down and the stat said 74. Early morning that is ok. When I went in about an hour or so later to practice my sermon the stat said 76. Aaaaahhhhh not good. You probably know by now…it was not working.  Our windows don’t open. Fans can only do so much when it is 88 outside.

I texted our HVAC man. He attends here. During our exchange he was talking about another church which has all 4 of their units down. Yikes! Anyway, during our exchange he told me I could possibly turn the stats down in the other part of the building and maybe that would help. I told him the nursery already gets like an iceberg. We would have kids coming out as popsicles. And here is where Mark’s “sense of humor” kicks in. He tells me how I “could talk about the nursery being comfortable as a new born-less sinner. As we get older and sin without God we are going down explaining the heat. LOL” Laughingly I told him “that would go over big!”

We had another who was putting up hay. Yeah…you know what’s coming. “You gotta make hay while the sun is shining.” 🙂

So…how’s that for a random…nonsensical post? Hey, it’s Monday. I’ve moved three rooms in the house. Shampooed two of them (the shampooer quit on the third). I’ve driven to church camp three times in a week. I have a grill to put together. I gotta have some fun somehow. Oh yeah…I do plan to ride today.

Never Impossible

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

This past weekend I preached on an incident in the life of Jehoshaphat from 2 Chronicles 20. It was more than a sermon; it was a look back. You see, I heard the outline of this message in 1987. I attended a Pastor’s Conference in Washington state that Spring which changed my life. But not without some pain. I was attending that conference as a man who was hurting. A man who had just been asked to leave the church he had pastored for 3 years. The reason I was given was that I would not preach what they wanted me to preach and I chose to attend that conference even though they told me I couldn’t (I paid my own way). In all honesty, there was some arrogance and belligerence on my part as well.

Anyway, I heard the outline of this message while there. I saved it for 29 years in my files…looking for the perfect time to bring it out and preach it. I had tried it once before but it was a dud. A royal dud. So I put it away…until the time came when I felt God “released” me to preach it. That time is now as I come close to finishing my series on Second Chances. Here are the five steps Jehoshaphat took to make the Impossible a Possible. I’m going to “bare bones” it with the main thought and the Scripture.

I. Seek The Lord Not Men- Verses 1-4

II. Acknowledge God’s Unlimited Power- Verses 5-9.  I added Isaiah 40:12-14, 25-26, 28-31 for more emphasis.

III. Face The Task Recognizing The Hopelessness Without God- Verses 10-12.  I also used 2 Corinthians 12 for clarification.

IV. We Need to Remember Whose Battle It Is- Verses 15-17.  We get ready. We prepare but ultimately the battle is not ours.

V. Praise Him in Advance- Verses 19-22.  Principle: God inhabits the praise of His people.

It is totally possible others have used this same outline. Who says there are any original thoughts? 🙂 But I do hope perhaps it might help you or someone you know who may be facing a seemingly impossible situation.

Envy?

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

I just began reading Craig Groeschel’s newest book, #Struggles. If the rest of the book is like his first chapter, it will be a wealth of good stuff.

Many people (possibly most of us?) struggle with envy. We have this strong drive to compare. It starts early in life and for some, it never quits. In fact, for many it becomes a stronger emotion which drives them. I don’t have all the answers to the problem but Craig gives some good thoughts on handling this problem of comparison.

First take a look at this Scripture. Andy Stanley once said, “There is no win in comparisons.” If that is the case, how do we kill comparisons (or at least stop it from dominating our lives)?

  1. Understand envy is demonic. James tells us this. Where envy is, there is disorder. Where envy is, there is every evil practice. Envy isn’t just unhealthy. In God’s eyes, it’s downright sinful. I’ve noticed when I have allowed myself to get caught up in envy, it spreads like a wildfire. It sort of feeds off itself.
  2. Celebrate other people’s successes. Instead of clamoring for the same thing or wishing you could have what they have, celebrate with them. I like the phrase Craig used: “Suffocate the flames of envy with a blanket of gratitude.”
  3. Cultivate gratitude. Envy is resenting God’s goodness in another person’s life and ignoring His goodness in our own! Let’s focus on the good things God has given us!

Have a good (focused) week!

ClassAct

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Every once in a while you run across something which stirs feelings within you that you may have thought were dormant.

You begin to think the world is a cold place.

You begin to think all people care about is getting ahead.

You begin to think all coaches and athletes think about is their next victory and how they can win at all costs.

Then…then you read or hear something and it restores your faith…if only for a moment. If for only a moment you get a glimpse of a coach and a team who “get it.”

Please take a few moments (about all it will take) and read this news article. Then come back here and let me know what you think.

Medicine

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Meals on WheelsTITLE: MEALS ON WHEELS

So I have strange friends who decide to give me a chuckle. Obviously photo-shopped but who cares? It is still hilarious. First, you would never catch me riding with snow on the ground in my bib shorts and short sleeve jersey with no knee or arm warmers or jacket. Second, it is going up hill. I. WOULD. BE. HIS. MEAL.  At my age (62) and my weight (204) I don’t climb as fast as those young bucks who only weigh 130 pounds. So I am bear food. Third, some people have a weird sense of humor…and I LOVE IT!

My buddy, Jim, sent this to me. We used to ride together until health issues have taken him out of the cycling picture for several years. However, I love Jim’s comedic relief. I also tell him I don’t have to beat the bear. I only have to climb faster than him. 🙂

Hope your day shapes up to be a good one. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about this post unless I made you laugh. Then it can be said, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Pr.17:22

FREE

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

There are ways a person can be blind or deaf and not really be either.

There are ways a person can see and hear and not really be either.

Helen Keller was blind, yet she could see a world of beauty that most people miss.  She was deaf, yet she could hear truth in the simplest of things. For a long time she could not speak, yet her life formed words which still ring loud and clear even today.

Most of us know the story of Helen Keller. She suffered an illness as a child that banished her to a dark world where she could feel but not express. Her teacher and lifelong friend, Anne Sullivan, embraced and rescued her with love and gave her a way to express herself. Helen’s own words speak for themselves:

I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a man-made world.

Let me restate: there are ways a person be blind or deaf and not really be either. The opposite is also true.

Which one are you? Do you take delight in each new day…each new task…each new sunrise and sunset? Do you hear what is being “said” or are you deaf? Maybe today is a good day to start seeing and hearing and breaking free from the chains of darkness.

Failure

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

My first idea for this post was to call it Inspiration and write about some people who have inspired me.  I may still do that before this week is all said and done, but I changed the idea from inspiration to failure.

Well…not quite failure but the idea of failure. Feeling like one.  Acting like one.  Talking like one.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind how we feel about ourselves will come out in our speech, attitudes and actions.  I have seen ball teams defeated even before they even take the field. You can read it in their body language.  You can read it in their demeanor.  You can read it in their eyes.  You can see it in their actions as they warm up.

FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.

Sure we may lose a contest, but we are not going down without a fight.  I’m sure you have heard people say, “Failure is not losing.  Failure is the unwillingness to get back up.”  There is nobody on this planet-past, present or future- who has not fallen.   Babe Ruth is quoted as saying, “Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.”  He also said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”  Michael Jordan once said, “I missed over 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times I was trusted with the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

The late Tim Hansel was fond of telling a story about Winston Churchill visiting his alma mater, Harrow School.  The super gave him a rousing introduction and told the students to be sure and take notes.  He stood up and said, “Never give in.  Never give in.  Never, never, never, never, never, give in.”  Then he sat  back down.   (There are various versions of that speech and its content)

Failure in Churchill’s mind was not an option.   The Bible is flooded with people who refused to give in or give up.  Daniel.  Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego.  Jesus.  History is flooded with people who refused to give up or in.  Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone (Alamo).  George Washington.  Abe Lincoln.  Failure was not an option.

We have all been down before…and probably will again.  The key is to not stay down.   Temporary setbacks are called that for a reason.  One of my favorite scenes in Seabiscuit is when Jeff Bridges’ character, Charles Howard, moves west to open a bicycle shop only to find no one interested.  His world changes when he is asked to fix an engine of a car that is blowing steam.  He appeared stumped after he had taken it apart.  Inspiration comes and he puts it back together, which eventually leads him to selling cars.

Don’t give up. Don’t give in.  Failure is not an option.  Carry that with you this week.

What say you?

After writing this post, I read this.