Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Monday, November 30, 2009

Only LOVE could write the Christmas Story!

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. - Luke 2:19-20
Our 2009 Christmas Sermon series and Christmas Musical is titled "Only Love." We are studying and celebrating how God could only write the Christmas story. He also could only write such a story in the power of love. With God, only love could write such a story.

Just ponder for a moment: A God who humbled Himself, a young couple who clung to one another, a motley group of lowly shepherds. All this, and more. Angels who sang in the heavens, wise men who followed a star, and the humble babe lying in a manger from which animals normally ate. What more could we ask from a story? Not a thing. And it reminds us, in the shallowness of the materialism and glitter of our times, of those things that really matter. God, family, our responsibility for others. Christmas. Can any word be more beautiful than that one? Christmas, a celebration of love.

God loves you and me so much that he came as a baby....you know I love ya - Don

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude on Thanksgiving!

The following is a quote from our staff chapel yesterday. Thank you Dean Nester for sharing it with us.
Gratitude is more than a mental exercise, more than a formula of words. We cannot be satisfied to make a mental note of things which God has done for us and then perfunctorily thank Him for favors received. Gratitude requires more than that.

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us...and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a gift of grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful man knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. That is what makes all the difference in a true person of thanks.
- From Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton

I choose an attitude of gratitude on this Thanksgiving Weekend because of the experience...God is our creator, He is Good, and He is Faithful. Thanks be to God our Father. You know I love ya and wish you the happiest of Thanksgiving Day. - Don

Friday, November 20, 2009

What to do at Thanksgiving - Friday Funny

This is a reprint from last year....but it is still worth the chuckle.
1. Load your plate up high, then take it to the kitchen, toss it all in the blender, and take your "shake" back to the table. Announce that it's the new Thanksgiving Weight Loss Shake.

2. When everyone goes around to say what they are Thankful for, say, "I'm thankful I didn't get caught" and refuse to say anything more.

3. Bring along old recorded football games, pop them in the VCR when Dad's not looking. Make sure it is set to the last two minutes of the game. When he comes into the room, turn off the VCR and turn on the regular TV.

4. Invite a friend that only talks about the tragic and abusive conditions known to exist at turkey farms.

5. During mid-meal turn to mom and say, "See mom, I told you they wouldn't notice that the Turkey was past expiration date. You were worried for nothing."
Happy Friday! - Don

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Dad was a big man

My dad was a big man. He was 6 foot 5 inches. I also have no memories of him weighing less than 300 pounds. He was a football player. He loved the game. He could analyze and strategies with the best. He also loved basketball, baseball, and hockey. Until the day he died, he could hit a softball over any outfielder in any position and he liked to tell them it was coming before the ball was pitched. (His imitation of Babe Ruth.) The man knew how to play the games and loved sharing the experience with everyone.

I have memories of mom and dad and my Aunt and Uncle coming over to play cards on a regular basis. I never truly had the opportunity to play cards with my father, I think he was a little partial to letting my sister and I win, but he was just as good at playing cards and winning as well...at least that is what my mom and my Aunt Sue say.

I told you my dad was a big man. At one point in the his life, he was offered a scholarship to play football at Arizona State. It meant that he could get a free ride and do what he loved to do. Unlike today, in that era it also meant that he would have to leave my mother and me behind. He turned down the scholarship. That was the type of man he was. He had an arrogance for the games, yet that arrogance was always subject to his compassion. Dad was an outstanding athlete, yet I have very few memories of Dad playing on winning teams. You see, my father was great at playing the sports and games and he was also great at including everyone. He played on teams that were regular people that loved life, loved games, and loved sharing the fun.

My dad was a big man and it takes a big man to be willing to laugh hard. Dad was a tease and a man that loved to laugh. I can still hear the sound of his chuckle that would turn into a deep laugh. He also was good a making others laugh. I am not sure how, but he had a charisma that people enjoyed and allowed for the not so good in their lives seem not so bad either.

Dad was a big man. He was diagnosed with a fatile desaese at 27 years old. He and mom faced it head on. They saw all the doctors and dad became a great specimen because of his size but also because of his athletic abilities. The church elders prayed for him. We prayed together as a family. He was given 30 days and lived a very productive life until he died seven years later at that age of 34. About a year before he died, I learned how to drive and I don't recall why we were discussing it or "what" we were discussing, but I never forgot and I can still hear his voice saying, "It is hard, but you will be a better man if will learn to accept the stuff you cannot change." Dad accepted his disease because He knew that Jehovah was his God and that all things would be taken care of.

My father was a big man and he understood that we serve a big God. His love for Jesus dictated his love for others. He loved my mother. He loved his children. He loved his family. His abilities in sports, was always subject to his ability to laugh and share life with others. He knew the game would end, but our love for God and others would never die.

I am thankful for a dad that was a big man.

Hebrews 12:1-3 - "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Giving thanks for you, my blog reader, this week. You know I love ya - Don

Thanksgiving - More Than A Day

More Than A Day By Karl Fuchs

As Thanksgiving Day rolls around,

It brings up some facts, quite profound.

We may think that we're poor,

Feel like bums, insecure,

But in truth, our riches astound.

We have friends and family we love;

We have guidance from heaven above.

We have so much more

Than they sell in a store,

We're wealthy, when push comes to shove.

So add up your blessings, I say;

Make Thanksgiving last more than a day.

Enjoy what you've got;

Realize it's a lot,

And you'll make all your cares go away.

Giving thanks for you - you know I love ya - Don

Monday, November 16, 2009

Other's Thanksgiving

It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. - 2 Corinthians 4:13-15
We believe, so we speak. All this is for our benefit so that more people can give thanks to God for God's glory. What a great truth in the Word for us in this time of year. Many times the work of the Gospel gets tiresome, yet it is truly rewarding. Where is the reward? The reward is in the gift of seeing others giving thanks.

We are all on a journey of faith. I have found that as a Christ-follower, true reward is seeing others grow in Christ. I have also found that I grow in my walk with Jesus in the desire to see others giving thanks as well. It is so easy in "today's" church to focus on my needs, my desires, my thoughts on "how" church should be. True worship is not self-seeking...just as love is not self-seeking. So, how can we think only of our wants and desire while entering the throne room of God to give Him thanks? I do not believe we can.

So, the next time we step into a corporate worship setting, lets remember worship is not for us, but that our speaking is for the purpose of serving others so they might give thanks to God and ultimately for God's glory and adoration. It is interesting to note that as we seek to please the God we love by serving others and giving of truth to each other, God pours out blessing and rewards that last throughout eternity. Thus, our faith is revealed.

Lord, help me to believe so that I have the words to speak. Help me to proclaim the message that You are alive and working among your people. I also ask you to help me to serve and give thanks in my actions, my heart's desires, and my thoughts. You are a great God and it is a privilege to know that because you are God, life is worth living. Thank you. Amen.

I am giving thanks for you today. May we speak with boldness so that others can give thanks. You know I love ya - Don

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Funny - Thanksgiving Forcast!

Thanksgiving Forcast!
In the pre-Thanksgiving rush, I received an early weather report from our in-house weather reporters. Turkeys will thaw in the morning, then warm in the oven to an afternoon high near 190F. The kitchen will turn hot and humid, and if you bother the cook, be ready for a severe squall or cold shoulder.

During the late afternoon and evening, the cold front of a knife will slice through the turkey, causing an accumulation of one to two inches on plates. Mashed potatoes will drift across one side while cranberry sauce creates slippery spots on the other. A layer of gravy will provide warm coverage.

A weight watch and indigestion warning have been issued for the entire area, with increased stuffiness around the beltway. During the evening, the turkey will diminish and taper off to leftovers, dropping to a low of 34F in the refrigerator.

Looking ahead to Friday and Saturday, high pressure to eat sandwiches will be established. Flurries of leftovers can be expected both days with a 50 percent chance of scattered soup late in the day. We expect a warming trend where soup develops. By early next week, eating pressure will be low as the only wish left will be the bone and for a Christmas Ham.

Only a few days to go...You know I love ya - Don

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thanksgiving!


How often do you say the phrase “Thank You”? (If you are like me, probably not enough.)

When you receive a gift? When you get that new iPod or computer game or special something you’ve been hoping for? When somebody compliments you on your musical ability or athletic skills or talents or achievements?

We are taught to be thankful for all the wonderful things that have been given to us.

But sometimes I wonder...If all those things were taken away from us, would we still be thankful? Would we still rejoice in God, even if nobody buys us stuff or notices how talented and athletic and hard working we are? Would we still say, “Thank you”?

The prophet Habakkuk lived in a time of great devastation...There was war, there was economic decline, and he was living under a culture that hated God. He had every reason to be upset and not be thank-ful. And yet, he wrote these great words:

“Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; and though the produce fails and the fields yield no good food...yet I will rejoice in the Lord.” (Hab 3:17-18)

A modern version of that might go like this: “Even when I don’t get all the praise and all the stuff that I think I deserve...I will still be thankful for all that God has done.”

I am thankful for you, I truly mean that...you know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 9, 2009

Who do I trust?

This story was sent to me by my Aunt Sue. I pray it touches you as it has touched me.

A pastor had been on a long flight between church conferences. The first warning of the approaching problems came when the sign on the airplane flashed on: Fasten Your Seat Belts.

Then, after a while, a calm voice said, "We shall not be serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence. Please be sure your seat belt is fastened."
 
As the pastor looked around the aircraft, it became obvious that many of the passengers were becoming apprehensive. Later, the voice on the intercom said, "We are so sorry that we are unable to serve the meal at this time. The turbulence is still ahead of us."

And then the storm broke . . .The ominous cracks of thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightning lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean. One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if were about to crash.
 


The pastor confessed that he shared the discomfort and fear of those around him. He said, "As I looked around the plane, I could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying. The future seemed ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm.
 
"Then, I suddenly saw a little girl. Apparently the storm meant nothing to her. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat; she was reading a book and everything within her small world was calm and orderly.
 
"Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world.

When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid." The minister could hardly believe his eyes.


It was not surprising that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, our pastor lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time. Having commented about the storm and the behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid.
 
The child replied, "Cause my Daddy's the pilot, and he's taking me home."

There are many kinds of storms that buffet us. Physical, mental, financial, domestic, and many other storms can easily and quickly darken our skies and throw our plane into uncontrollable movement. We have all known such times, and let us be honest and confess, it is much easier to be at rest when our feet are on the ground than when we are being tossed about a darkened sky.
 
Let us remember: Our Father is the Pilot... He is in control and taking us home. I choose to trust in the Lord, My God. You know I love ya - Don

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Funny - Looking for a Job!

With the unemployment rate rising, I thought a little job humor might be in order.

A man was applying for a job as a prison guard. The warden said, "Now these are real tough guys in here. Do you think you can handle it?"

"No problem," the applicant replied, "If they don't behave, they are outta here!"

So, you better behave or the warden might throw you out of the game....You know I love ya - Don

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Devote, Devoted, Devotion....

I watched the remake of "V" last night. I liked it as entertainment. There was action, sci-fi thrills, and a little creepiness. I also liked how the writers made you think. I was provoked to think about "devotion." The episode ended with the reality that the visitors were gaining loyalty and devotion. I asked, "What am I truly devoted to...?"

Devote: To give over or direct (as time, money, or effort) to a person or cause, or activity (transitive verb).
I find it interested to learn that a transitive verb has two characteristics. First, it is an action verb, expressing a doable activity like kick, want, paint, write, eat, clean, etc. Second, it must have a direct object, something or someone who receives the action of the verb. Therefore, to devote oneself needs a person or object to receive the gift.

Devoted: Characterized by loyalty and devotion (adjective).
I find this interesting because it describes me as the one being devoted.

Devotion: The fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal devotion to the cause (noun).
I find this interesting because it is the gift that is handed to the other person or object.

Thus...it takes two to have "Devote, Devoted, Devotion." That may seem obvious to many of you...but lets look what we are truly devoted to...our stuff, our food, our home, and the list goes on. It seems to me that we devote ourselves to "ourselves." What about being a Christ-Follower...what should I be devoting myself too?
Psalm 86:2, "Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you."

Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

Paul wrote in Romans 12:10, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." And in Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
I need to work on and watch what I devote myself to. That which I am devoted to defines the character I posses. In other words, my character is defined in my devotion. My devotion reveals that true nature of my heart and loyalty to those around me.

"Dear God, help me be more devoted to You, my wife, my children, my church, my family, my friends, and even those that do not know you. Bring your characteristics of devotion in my life and may I be as passionate about it as you were, even if it means being crucified for your sake. You know I love you and humbly ask this in Jesus Name. Amen."

Your fellow devotee - Don

Monday, November 2, 2009

Effect of afflictions!

Romans 5:1-8
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
This is one of my favorite scripture passages that reveals the effect of afflictions.

1. Perseverance

First, tribulations bring about perseverance, or patient endurance. Paul doesn't mean this is universally true. For many, tribulations unleash hatred and bitterness and anger and resentment and murmuring. But this is not the ongoing effect in those who have the Spirit of Christ. For them the effect is patient endurance, because the fruit of the Spirit is patience.

The point here is that until hardship comes into our lives, especially hardship for the sake of Christ and his righteousness, we do not experience the extent and depth of our devotion to Christ. Until times get hard, we do not taste and really know if we are fair-weather Christians—the kind Jesus described in the parable of the soils in Mark 4:16–17.

"And these are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away."

So Paul is saying that one great effect of tribulation is that it brings about patient endurance and perseverance in God's people, so they can see the faithfulness of God in their lives and know that they are truly his.

2. Proven Character

That's the point of the second effect that's mentioned (v. 4). "And [this] perseverance [brings about] proven character." Literally the word dokimen means "the experience of being tested and approved." We could say "approvedness" or "provenness."

This is not hard to grasp. If, when tribulations come, you persevere in devotion to Christ and don't turn against him, then you come out of that experience with a stronger sense that you are real, you are proven, you are not a hypocrite. The tree of trust was bent and it didn't break. Your fidelity and loyalty were put to the test and they passed. Now they have a "proven character." The gold of your faith was put in the fire and it came out refined, not consumed.

3. Hope

The third effect comes from this sense of being tested and approved and refined. Verse 4b: "And proven character [brings about] hope." This takes us back to verse 2: "We exult in the hope of the glory of God." The Christian life begins with hope in the promises of God in the gospel, and it spirals up through affliction to more and more hope.

The people who know God best are the people who suffer with Christ. The people who are most unwavering in their hope are those who have been tested most deeply. The people who look most earnestly and steadfastly and eagerly to the hope of glory are those who have had the comforts of this life stripped away through tribulations.

I choose to press through in order to achieve greater hope...you know I love ya and praying for you to NEVER give up! - Don