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#OOPS#RePost#SheGetsIt

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

My deepest apologies to all of you who tried to access the post yesterday and found a big, huge blank.  In order to correct my “technologically-challenged” abilities, (or maybe FB not allowing it to be reposted because it’s not “woke” enough. I’ve been reading Owen Strachan’s book Christianity and Wokeness and I have even less tolerance for that doctrine of the devil than before. I’d say I’m sorry about that comment but I’d be lying. What does that one commercial say: “Sorry but not sorry”? Yeah, that would be me at this point), I’ll give you a written version of what was said.

The picture was of Sydney McLaughlin with an American flag and flowers and a gold medal hanging around her neck. The following are the words written by her Coach William B:

“This 21 year old is now the only woman in history to run under 52 seconds in the women’s 400-meter hurdles and one of the preeminent faces of the new generation of track and field athletes. Sydney McLaughlin set a new world record and received the gold medal. Her words reflect her faith as she boldly said, “Records come and go, the glory of God is eternal.” And “I no longer run for self-recognition, but to reflect His perfect will that is already set in stone. I don’t deserve anything. But by grace, through faith, Jesus has given me everything.”

It is my understanding that she runs for the Gold against her chief rival tonight. May I suggest you Google her name? You will find out what you need to know about her there. She sounds like one phenomenal young lady.

Now THIS is what it is all about. I, personally, have not watched one second of the Olympics because of all the political c_ _ p (you can fill in the word) that is going on. Kneeling before a soccer match. Turning a back during the National Anthem. Crossing the arms during a photo op. Sad that our world, and that games which were supposed to bring unity and sportsmanship,  have turned into political statements.  If the “O’s” continue like this, I will be hoping they go the way of the dodo bird. All this “woke” garbage is frying me. (You want to know how I really feel?)

#LetFreedomRing#GuestBlog

Monday, July 5th, 2021

I read the following blog this morning (Monday).  It is from the Church & Culture blog of James Emery White, Pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church.  I thought you might enjoy reading it. Meanwhile, you might to also check out his website where you will find other blogs. Here you go:

On the 4th of July, I’m always reminded of times I’ve traveled in countries where freedom is severely curtailed. Or where the people have been freshly freed from the chains of injustice, and the joy of their release was palpable.

I was in Johannesburg on the 10th anniversary of the end of apartheid.

I was in Korea when the border between North and South was electric with tension.

My most powerful memory came from Moscow, where I was teaching shortly after the fall of communism. 

One night a group of us went to the famed Bolshoi Ballet. It was a long, wonderful evening, and after we took the subway back to where we were staying, the students said, “Come and let us celebrate.” The other two professors with me were as tired as I was, but the students were so intent on our joining them, that we went. 

And then we found out what celebration meant to them. 

They wanted to gather in the dining room and sing hymns and worship God. And we did, late into the night, with more passion and sincerity than I have ever experienced. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know how to sing in Russian—we worshiped God together.

But I went to bed puzzled. I had never seen such passion for spontaneous and heart-filled worship. I was curious as to why they were so ready and eager to offer God love and honor. I received my answer the following Sunday when I was invited to speak at a church in North Moscow. A former underground church that met in secret (as so many churches had been), they were now meeting openly in a schoolhouse. I had been asked to bring a message that Sunday morning. 

I didn’t know that I was in for a bit of a wait.

The service lasted for nearly three hours. There were three sermons from three different speakers, with long periods of worship between each message. 

I was to go last. 

When it was over, I talked a bit with the pastor of the church. I was surprised at not only the length of the service, but the spirit and energy of the people. Throughout the entire three hours, they never let up. In spite of the length of time, they never seemed to tire. Even at the end, they didn’t seem to want to go home.

“In the States,” I said, “you’re doing well to go a single hour before every watch in the place starts beeping.” (This was before smart phones.) He didn’t get my weak attempt at humor, but he did say something that I will never forget.

“It was only a few years ago that we would have been put in prison for doing what we did today. We were never allowed to gather together as a community of faith and offer worship to God. And we are just so happy, and almost in a state of unbelief, that we can do this now – publicly, together – that we don’t want it to end. And not knowing what the future might hold for us here, we know that every week might just be our last. So we never want to stop. So we keep worshiping together, as long as we can.”

As I left, his words never left my mind. I thought to myself, “I will never think about worship the same again. I’ve been too casual about it, too laid back, taken it too much for granted. These people know what it’s about – really about – and because of that, they have been willing, and would be willing again, to suffer for it. To be imprisoned for it. To die for it. Because they’ve discovered that it holds that high of a yield for their life. It has that much meaning and payoff and significance. It matters that much.”

And it should matter that much to all of us.

Happy 4th of July.

James Emery White

Editor’s Note

This blog was originally published in 2013, and the Church & Culture Team thought you would enjoy reading it again.

#48#Seriously?

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

I am going to take today’s “devotion day” off.  I know you are disappointed. I can hear your tears from here.  (I can dream can’t I?)

I have a good reason though. Sometimes I write a devotion that very morning and post it.  Sometimes I write and work a day or even two days ahead.  Today…I’m a slacker. But I have a good reason to be.

Today I have the honor of celebrating my 48th year with Jo as my wife.  Questions abound:

You mean she put up with you that long?

You mean she stuck around with you during all those moves?

You mean she stayed with you even with all your quirks (her words) and strong points (my words)?

The answer to all of those is Y.E.S.  Believe it or not the answer is a big fat YES.

Like all couples we were naive enough to think it was going to be all good.  I’m here to tell you honestly…it was not. But we never gave up. The “D” word never crossed our lips.  We never have had a fight. (She is a lousy fighter and arguing with a brick wall is no fun at all).

Instead, we had a lot of quiet nights and lousy sleep until we decided to hash it out lovingly. We talked about it. Cried with each other.  But never raised our voice with each other. Some might say that is not good.  But you have to know Jo. She is not very excitable (except at ball games).

We spent and spend a lot of time together…and still like each other. Go figure! And there is no one else I ‘d rather be with.  There are some things we do together. (Get your mind out of the gutter folks).  We like to eat out. We like to visit with friends. We love going to Ohio and supporting Janna and Braden, our grandson. We love Tami and are so proud of what she has become and who she is.

There are also some things we don’t do together.  I ride a bike. I work out at the Y. She does not do either. She hates exercise. I love it.

I am blessed. She does all my sermons for me on Power Point. She knows where I am going to go with a point she has done it so often. Although…I have been known to throw here a curveball every now and then.  We took our first “our couple” trip to Florida in 2017 because someone gifted us with it. It was the first time we went somewhere and knew no one. The in 2019 the church blessed us with a dream trip to Alaska to celebrate my 45 years as an “official” pastor.  I was ordained April 13, 1975 but had actually been a pastor in a church before that.  I started preaching in 1972. I am not ashamed to admit I would love to go back to Alaska. We dodged a bullet with that one

though. We had almost postponed it until September of 2020. Can anyone say COVID?

Long story short: Today is Jo’s day. Our plans are no plans. The only two things I know are 1) we will eat out somewhere; and 2) we plan to visit our church camp and see Pastor Ryan and the campers from the church around lunch time.

I have not been the perfect husband. Bet you are surprised. 🙂  But love her I do. And I know she loves me. How long this party will last only the Father knows.  But until then…I look forward to spending more years with Jo. I’d say “I love you honey” but she doesn’t read this and I would hate to think someone reading this would take that wrong.  And yeah…that is another of my quirks. She rolls her eyes a lot at my jokes (if she could roll her eyes. She rolls her head instead).  Okay…I better call it quits before she decides to read this and you end up reading my obituary.

Have a great day. See you, Lord willing, tomorrow morning. BTW: I wrote this Tuesday afternoon.

#Endearment#Desperation

Friday, June 4th, 2021

I suspect most of us have heard or used the phrase:

Hurting people hurt people.

We might also have heard the phrase:

Desperate people do desperate things.

There are many examples of both hurting and desperate people in the Bible. One story actually has them both in the same side-by-side story.  If you turn to Mark 5: 21-43 you will find those stories.

Jesus knew what people needed. When they needed it. One thought which is so important to see is that Jesus didn’t just pity people; he empathized with them.  The sermon this Sunday will look at this essential which Jesus modeled and all who call themselves His followers need to do the same. Go ahead. Check out the Scripture and see if you don’t get the same idea that I did.

A desperate father.

A desperate woman.

They both came to the right place and Person. Watch how Jesus doesn’t just show pity; he shows how to take pity to another level. 

Well…you know my Scripture. You know my main thrust. May I ask you to join me in person or via live stream? I’d love to hear from you.

#MemorialDayThoughts

Monday, May 31st, 2021

I have also entered this same devotion at my other blog, Living in the Shadow. Please feel free to comment either place.

I have never served in the military. When I was in high school registering for the draft was a law. When I was in college it was a law also. When I turned 18 on October 9, 1970 I was a Freshman in college. But I was required to register so I hitched a ride from a school buddy and made my way to another town in Kentucky to do so. I was never called and to this day do not know what my number was. I was exempt because I was in a Bible college studying for the ministry.

I did not go to college to bypass the draft, even though I know of some who did. They really had no business being in that college because they had no desire to really be a pastor.  Without trying to be too judgmental, their lives showed it.

I did not know what VietNam was all about. I was naive when it came to war and political things. Call me guarded. Call me shielded. Call me sheltered. I do know if I had been called on to defend the freedom of this country, I was willing to do so. But I didn’t have to.

Others did it in my place. I am grateful.  I am beyond thankful for the men and women whom we honor today, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  I keep thinking of those who want to destroy what we have; to take it and give it away to some lawless nation; to compromise the foundation of our great nation to satisfy their own whims; and as they do, compromise their own words to get what they want. Sacrifice does not do that. Sacrifice is no where close to the “what-I-can-get-out-it” mentality that dominates today’s thinking.  I still say that if they don’t like living in the United States of America then take their wretched philosophy and governmental garbage (socialism) and 1) move somewhere else (you know…as they threaten to do so) and 2) take their wretched ideas and put them where the sun don’t shine. (Sorry if that is too crude).

As you consider today, think of it as more than a holiday (and in many cases) a day off work. Remember the sacrifice paid for your freedom.  Here is a thought: did you worship yesterday at the place of your choice?  Try that in a socialist country.  I don’t think we are perfect and I certainly don’t worship the USA. I am not a Christian nationalist. But I am a grateful American whose Christian faith recognizes the God of all humanity as the One True God and as the One who has truly blessed us.

‘Nuff said. Soapbox put away…for now. 🙂

#InMemorium#ThankYou

Monday, May 17th, 2021

In 2003 my brother, Garry, and his wife, Deb, adopted a little girl from China. Lia’s “delivery” was delayed a year due to the SARS virus which shut down the whole adoption from China wheel, but eventually they held beautiful Lia in their arms.

Early in my blogging years, I faithfully followed (and he me) a pastor (Jason) who lived in Alaska (yes, I am jealous). He and his wife were already parents but chose to adopt 2 children from Japan.

Some in the church I serve have adopted children from other nations. One family  has two-one since a baby and the other in her elementary years. They have both grown into beautiful young ladies. One graduates high school this year and the other I look for her to be seen as an Olympic diver if she realizes her dream.

Foster parents and grandparents are making life different for hundreds, even thousands of children every day.

The Bible speaks of adoption into God’s family.  Take a moment and read Romans 8: 14-15; Gal.4:5; and Eph. 1:5. Adoption says we are legally His. He has put His stamp on us. We are identified as His child. He is our Abba Father.

There are several reasons for adoption. One is the desire to make life better for someone. While withholding my comments about what is going on at the southern border, there is a reason so many are making their way here. They see a better life.  For most of them, if not all, they see America as the “land of opportunity.”

We have those who have served our country whom we should thank for that perception (which I do believe to be true). America and its capitalistic ideals, despite all its flaws (which I will not go into), is still the greatest place to live. (And here I will make a statement: if you don’t like it here…leave. See if you can get away with your free speech, etc in China or Russia or some other socialist regime).

I am grateful I live in America…flaws and all. And I just want to stop and say thank you to all the men and women who served, are serving and are training to serve this great nation to keep us free. Have you taken the time to say thanks?

THANK YOU!!

#Broken#FindingStrength

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

Have you ever noticed there are some books which you labor through; some you breeze through; some you savor like a fine pizza (fooled you didn’t I?); and some you read that you don’t want to put down and think, “I suspect somewhere along the line I will read that again. I most definitely will pass it along to someone else when the time is right.”

I found and read one of those books just recently:

Strength at the Broken Places: A Memoir of Facing Career and Family Failure and Finding Hope Through God's Grace

I am not sure where I heard about Greg’s book. It may have been a podcast. It may have been while reading another book. But wherever it was, I’m grateful. This book is subtitled A Memoir of Facing Career and Family Failure and Finding Hope Through God’s Grace.  It was that and more.

From the earliest memories of his childhood Greg’s life was broken. An unsettled parental relationship which eventually wound up in divorce. A mother who never really recovered from the divorce.  High school years which had both success and failure. The loss of his grandfather (Big Pa) deeply affected him. Then it was off to college and surprisingly for this “going nowhere young man” college became a much better experience. His grades were so bad in high school Greg started college on academic probation. But he found his niche. He found it even more when his relationship to Christ blossomed and he met Terri Lynn, who eventually became his wife.

It would be nice to say that Greg’s life was all peaches and cream after that. It was the exact opposite. Seminary. A doctorate.  Several different pastorates. Things began to fall apart though as he allowed his demons from his childhood (and other events) continue to haunt him.  A failed marriage. A failed job or two. Shame from his past. He is definitely one of those men who found his identity in his job.

Eventually, he found another wife who was committed to Christ.  I wish I could say that it was a “happily ever after” kind of life but it wasn’t. She even moved out when his “demons” came back. Ultimately though he sought help in the form of a Christian counselor and two mentors who helped him rise above the “demon” past. Today Greg is the pastor of Lost Pines Cowboy Church in Texas. God has used him, his past, and his present to help others and to make the future something to look forward to.

I highly recommend this book. It was readable but not fluffy. Greg painted himself warts and all. Everyone can benefit from reading this book and then passing it along. I plan to do just that whenever I find someone who could really benefit from his experiences.  I would give it 5 out of 5 stars if there was a grading system.

#EyesWideOpen#Compassion

Friday, April 30th, 2021

When I was a young boy, we had a TV.  In an age of multiple TVs in a household; where some TVs are as big as a wall; where hued colors so vivid it seems unbelievable; I was privileged to watch a black and white TV with rabbit ears. There was no such thing as cable TV or satellite TV or internet.

There were some fantastic shows back then. Perry Mason. Red Skelton.  There were the “hero” shows like Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Sea Hunt, and Superman (who looked anything but super).  One show was really popular: Eliot Ness and the Untouchables.  Kevin Costner did a movie version of that a good number of years ago.

In the days of Jesus, Israel had their own set of untouchables. It wasn’t because of social or moral status. There were literally untouchable. This week’s sermon is titled Eyes of Compassion from Luke 5: 12-16 and Mark 1:40-45. It kicks off my new series called EYES WIDE OPEN. I will be looking at people who entered Jesus’ life and how He treated them and talked to them and met their needs. I have never done a series like this before. I’m looking forward to it.

I hope you will join me either in person or online. As always, your prayers would be appreciated.

#BadtoGood#God’sProtection

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

Every week I write a Midweek Message to the folks here at OVCF and Diana emails it on Wednesday. I started writing it when Covid hit as a way to stay in touch during the week. I have fun with it, but also try to keep the folks informed about comings and goings and happenings around the church fellowship. This week (tomorrow/Wednesday) the following will be included in the MM. You ought to feel really important since you will get to see it before the church folks do. I don’t have to worry about the cat being out of the bag too much since probably 90+% of the folks don’t read my blogs. 🙁  Anyway, here is what I wrote:

Have you ever had one of those “this could have been a very bad thing but it has turned out to be a good thing” events?  I had one this past Friday that still blows me away when I think about it. Every year I have my bike serviced by Bicycle Garage Indy in Greenwood. That is where I bought the last two and so I tend to be faithful to where I bought something. This past Friday I took my bike to Greenwood to have two new tires put on it and to have a tune-up so that it is safe and ready for the summer riding season. I had an early appointment with the intention of taking Jo to lunch and hanging around Greenwood for a couple of hours so I could take it home with me when it was done. We were sitting at lunch when the store manager called me with bad news. I thought he was going to say it needed more than tires and a tune-up. Nope. I needed a whole new frame. There was a crack on the inside of the frame down by the rear shifters and derailleur. There would have been no way I would have ever seen that until the frame busted and sent me spiraling or worse. The frame is under warranty but my size is a detriment, as has been COVID. Bike makers are so far behind that if I ordered a bike today, it would not be available until the end of 2022. Fortunately, Trek had some frames available for warranty claims and hopefully, will get it to them to build me a bike soon.

How could that be good given how much I like to ride? If that frame had failed while coming down a hill; if that frame had failed while on 43 (the state road I have to ride on before I find side roads) and cars coming up from behind me; if that frame had failed when I was all alone…well, I don’t even want to think about it. Jo says I told her after my last wreck (the one that broke my collarbone, three ribs, and split my helmet in three places) that if I had another wreck I was done. I think I was delusional and under the influence when she says I said that. 🙂  But the truth is I may very well have been done. I still shudder when I think about it. And I am immensely grateful to God for His watchful eye while I was riding and having me get it to the shop as soon as I did. I have always believed that God does not do evil or make His children suffer.  God’s goodness and protection overwhelm me.  {Note: I’m sorry honey. I’m not quite ready to retire the bike just yet. And I still think I was under the influence when you said I said that}. 🙂

Never forget God does not do evil to His children. Someone else is responsible for that.   With that simple truth in mind, why would anyone want to serve him?

#That’sIt?#LifeMatters

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

There is always a sense of satisfaction when you come to the end of a book or project. I know what it is like to be reading a book and reading that last page, especially if it has been a tough go. We come to the end of Ecclesiastes this week with a sermon I have titled Is That All There Is?

My purpose this week is to remind the folks what Solomon has taught us over the past 4 months (with a 4 week break for Easter). I’ve been able to weed down each sermon into a short lesson that I think will make it easier to see Ecclesiastes as a whole with tremendous lessons (if we are listening).

All of this will make more sense if we remember our main purpose in life. The Westminster Shorter Catechism (a creed we don’t really know or follow as a church body with regular recitations) opens with the words, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to worship Him forever.”  Bottom line: that is our purpose.  With that as the main idea, I am going to review the lessons Solomon has taught us throughout his book.

I’d love it if you would join me-in person or online. If not, then please pray for me, for us. I need that more than anything.