Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Help....

Psalm 121
A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

"My help comes from the Lord."

What a great hope, what a great promise.  I'm memorizing this chapter because it's so important to my life and the way I see things.  It's profound in its impact and promise.  

"The Lord will..."

This chapter is rich with promise, but what caught my eye is God's promise to watch over me, to keep me, to help me.  This is a rich promise of care from God.  It's rich with promise of help from God.  I love that...I love the words that promise personal attention and care by the creator God himself.  He made heaven and earth and he will watch over you.  In other words, if he has the power to make everything he can take care of you, he can take care of me...and he will!

This morning I'm feeding on these rich promises of care, of love, of attention, of help...I'm feeding on the love of God.  I'm thankful that the God who made everything will care for me, for you.  I'm thankful that he is watching and that he cares about us!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Quote of the Day


“Hell is just a freely chosen identity, based on something else besides God, going on forever……” –Tim Keller

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Compassion....



I saw this photo last week, read the story and cried.

It's a photo of a man giving a homeless girl his shoes.

I cried because of the gesture.  

I cried because it was so different from the norm that it made the news. 

I cried because she cried.  

I cried because a little girl like this is homeless.  

Compassion is such an important thing in the lives of humans.  We all need it...the love of another, the love of God...we all need and want compassion...it's vital to our lives, to our very existence....and yet it's so seldom seen.

The model of this has always been God himself.  He modeled it for us best in Christ, God in human flesh, as he reached out and touched the needy, met their needs, wept for them, loved them.  And he calls us to imitate him!  He calls us to compassion, to love for those around us...ESPECIALLY those who don't know him yet.

This photo is a rich blessing, but I want it to be the norm for each of us, I want it to be the way we live...just as Christ...

"...be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."  -Ephesians 5:1-2


Monday, July 22, 2013

Absence....


Please forgive my absence in recent weeks.  If you visit here on occasion you will notice I am missing.  I apologize, but am taking some much needed time away to think, pray, read and reflect.  I'm honestly not sure when or if I will return, but will keep you updated.  I've written here for more than seven years and I think you and I both need a break from my ramblings.  I will keep you updated.  Thank you for your investment here and thank you for the grace you give as I take a break and step away........

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thankful


I'm thankful!  

We just got back late last night from my dad's funeral.  

I had the great joy of speaking at his funeral.  He was an example of how a man can live well.  

I'm thankful for his life.

I'm thankful he modeled how to live for me.

I'm thankful he loved me.

I'm thankful he loved God and knew him as savior.

I'm thankful he loved my mom.  They had just celebrated 63 years of marriage.

I'm thankful that this trip, which should have cost about $3,000.00 ended up leaving me money to give away.  I don't know how it happened, but airfare, hotels, cars, food, everything was taken care of and I had more in my pocket when we got home than when we left....so I gave that away.  (It didn't seem right to keep it.)

Anyway, I'm thankful I have nothing to sorrow about.  I had a great dad who loved God, loved his wife, and loved us.  We celebrated his life and I rejoice I knew him...and soon....it may be today...I will get to see him again.

So, today, when many sorrow over losses, I'm thankful for the wonderful provision of God for our lives and our family.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Graduation day!



My dear dad finished his race this evening and went home to be with the Lord.  It's strange to even write those words, but I'm thrilled for him!  

He lived well.

He loved God.

He loved his family.

I will see him again one day, but for tonight I am feeling sorrow at the death of my dad and yet there is a sense of celebration because I know he is more alive now than he has ever been! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It's Ramadan!



It's Ramadan, the month of fasting and prayer for the Muslim world.  Pray for Muslims around the world that they would seek and find the God who is.  As they pray to Allah take some time in your life and pray to Yahweh for them.  Christ died for them too!  Here is a good article that speaks about the opportunities we have as Christians during Ramadan.

By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter
June 20, 2013|6:58 am

Open Doors USA, a persecution watchdog organization, is urging Christians to pray during this year's Ramadan, which will be observed by millions of Muslims around the world.

"During the season of Ramadan we need to lift up in prayer our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Islamic-dominated nations; strengthening them, empowering them, comforting them and encouraging them. Also, pray for Muslims. There are millions of Muslims who have never experienced real peace and joy in knowing a loving God and having Jesus as their Savior," said Open Doors USA Director of Ministries Michele Miller in a statement Wednesday.
Ramadan, which is an annual fast and one of the five pillars, or basic acts, of Islam, runs this year from July 9 to August 7. During this period, Muslims are expected to practice humility and submissiveness to Allah by abstaining from eating, drinking, and any immoral activities from sunrise to sunset, choosing to focus on spiritual reflection instead.
Open Doors, which also called on Christians to participate during last year's Ramadan, is urging followers of Christ to pray in one of the names of Christ while using scripture on each day of the month-long period.  For example, the group offered the passage in 1 John 2:1, which calls Jesus an "advocate":  "But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."
A number of countries on the persecution watchdog group's 2013 World Watch List, which features the world's most oppressive regimes and governments, happen to be Muslim-dominated nations, where Christians face danger due to their faith. During last year's Ramadan observance, Open Doors noted that those Christians often face heightened persecution because they do not fast or participate in the Islamic tradition.
"The religious atmosphere among Muslims rises dramatically, more than during any other month of the year. During Ramadan, Muslims usually read the Quran extensively, often very loudly in public places such as public transportation, at work and certainly at home. This is a holy month for Islam, so they are promised to gain more points from Allah when they do good works, hoping that some of the bad things they have done during the past year will be erased," a Christian leader in Egypt, who wasn't named, observed last summer.
"My heart is really broken for the millions of Muslims here in Egypt and around the world, who are seeking peace with God this month, trying so hard to do good works in an effort to somehow earn His favor and forgiveness. Although God is so near to those truly calling on His name, it brings tears to my eyes that most of my countrymen do not know that Jesus died and rose from the dead to give them freely, through simple faith, that peace with God they so long to have," the leader added.
Other Christian organizations, such as Mission Network News (MNN), have also launched campaigns for Christians to pray during Ramadan in the past, suggesting that many young people in Islamic countries like Iran are disillusioned with the faith and can be reached through Christ.

Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/christians-urged-to-participate-in-month-long-prayers-during-ramadan-98351/#DTXVRLOifpfKQcah.99 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Quote of the Day


Fundamentally, our Lord's message was Himself. He did not come merely to preach a Gospel; He himself is that Gospel. He did not come merely to give bread; He said, "I am the bread." He did not come merely to shed light; He said, "I am the light." He did not come merely to show the door; He said, "I am the door." He did not come merely to name a shepherd; He said, "I am the shepherd." He did not come merely to point the way; He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." --J. Sidlow Baxter

Monday, July 08, 2013

Quote of the Day

"The older I get, the less concern I have with what I have or have not done and the more concern I have for what I have or have not become." -Lance Witt, from Replenish

Church bulletin bloopers

Here are some church bulletin bloopers....a fun way to start a week.


The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
--------------------------
The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'
--------------------------
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
--------------------------
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you.
--------------------------
Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
--------------------------
Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
--------------------------
For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
--------------------------
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
--------------------------
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
--------------------------
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
--------------------------
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.
--------------------------
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
--------------------------
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
--------------------------
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
--------------------------
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
--------------------------
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
--------------------------
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
--------------------------
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
--------------------------
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM . All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. Is done.
--------------------------
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
--------------------------
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM . Please use the back door.
--------------------------
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM . The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
--------------------------
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
--------------------------
The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: 'I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours. 

Does God care about me?

There are times when we all think, "Does God see me? Does he listen to my prayers? Does he know what I'm going through?"  Here's his response to that very question from Isaiah 40,
“To whom will you compare me?

    Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
    not one of them is missing.

Why do you complain, Jacob?  Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
 my cause is disregarded by my God”??
As I read those words I wondered...how many stars are there anyway?  

If he is the sovereign God, 

if he made all the stars, 

if he has named each one and not one of them is missing,

how many stars are there?  

Here's what I found,

The Hubble Space Telescope site estimates there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. A recent German super-computer simulation estimates that the number may be as high as 500 billion! Can someone please clarify the accepted educated ballpark figure? Thanks a billion!  

According to astronomers, our Milky Way is an average-sized barred spiral galaxy measuring up to 120,000 light-years across. Our Sun is located about 27,000 light-years from the galactic core in the Orion arm. Astronomers estimate that the Milky Way contains up to 400 billion stars of various sizes and brightness. (JUST IN THE MILKY WAY!)





Ok, so that's 500 billion galaxies.  And let's assume that each has as many stars as our galaxy...some will have more, some less, but let's use 400 billion stars per galaxy. If we multiply the number of galaxies times the number of stars per galaxy here's what we get=2 with 29 zeros behind it.  (That’s a fair guess at the number of stars...I'm sure there are more.)


That's 
200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 
stars!

God made them all, he named them all, and he watches over each one...not one is missing!  

So,

Why do you complain?  Why do you say,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
 my cause is disregarded by my God”?

How can you say "God isn't listening, he doesn't know about me, he's forgotten me"...whatever the thoughts you may have the response from God is this, "Look up! I made all of this, I named each star and know them each by name, not one of them is missing...don't you think I care more for you than I do for these stars? I see you, I hear you, I know your needs....I'm watching over you...trust me!"


Perspective


"Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
    they are regarded as dust on the scales;
    he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust."

-Isaiah 40

Last week, as I prepared to teach, my week was spent soaking in Isaiah 40.  This chapter introduces the greatness of God, his amazing (I know...I use that word too much, but when God is discussed there just isn't a better word)....his amazing greatness, power and glory.  

This verse mentions for the first time an idiom that is common to our language, but communicates so much about perspective...it describes the nations "as a drop in the bucket", as "dust on the scales".  I know it's humbling, but it's also important to see the world right sized, in perspective.  From God's perspective the nations are nothing. In contrast to him and his power they are no more that a "drop in the bucket".  

What a picture of the greatness of God.

What an illustration of the nations in contrast.

If this is our God (and it is), then why do we worry when we hear a drop bounce around in the bucket, claiming great things?  It's all just a bit of dust on the scales.  God is sovereign over it all!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Saturday's cartoon


As an old friend, Dave, told me, "There's no such thing as a balanced life, especially as a Christian."  We somehow think there is a balance between all the things we seem to value, but balance is an illusion that pacifies our guilt.....and guilt is really the core of our desire to define some kind of balance in our lives, isn't it?  I wonder, if we were honest, how we would describe our lives?  What do we really value?  We demonstrate it by how we live.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Tell Morgan I love her


This story made me reflect on another reminder of the love of a father....

"As a final act before dying, a father wrote a heartfelt message to his wife. In the letter, he had a final message for his loving daughter. The last sentence of his handwritten letter read “Tell Morgan I love her.”
His daughter tattooed his final message to her on her arm (in his handwriting)."
last-tattoo

As I read this story it struck me that we, as Christians, have that same reminder, that same love letter tattooed permanently as a reminder of the Father's love for us.  Here it is....


Thursday, July 04, 2013

Have a great 4th!


Have a great 4th of July!  

Take a moment...at least a moment and thank God for this amazing country we have had the privilege to live in.  

Pray for our president and the leaders around him that they would seek God, desire to do the right things and change the direction we are going.

Some have said our best days are behind us, but God works miracles and he can do it here as well.  Enjoy your day, but pray for our poor country and God's work in our midst.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

An amazing story...

A friend posted a link to this amazing story.  

Take a moment, read it, 

"When You’re Done with Pundits, Soul Wrestling & Looking at the Sky: {25 Things I learned from staying with Katie Davis}"

Quote of the Day

"I thank God every day for every day."  -Chester Morris

A Wonderful Morning


It's a wonderful morning in Texas!  Cool temperatures in July. It's really unheard of.  It feels like Colorado.  What a wonderful morning!