Thursday, December 30, 2010

Friday Funny - "Happy New Year"

It is Friday and New Year's Eve. These holidays are filled with get together and parties...so I thought the following might bring a chuckle:

As in many homes on New Year's Day, Janet and Nigel, a happily married couple, faced the annual conflict of which was more important: the football match on television, or the lunch itself.

Hoping to keep the peace Nigel ate lunch with the rest of the family, and even lingered for some pleasant after-lunch chat before retiring to the living room to turn on the television.

Some minutes later, Janet looked in to see how he was and graciously even bought a cold diet coke for Nigel. She smiled, kissed him on the cheek and asked what the score was. Nigel told her it was half time and that the score was still 0-0.

'See?' Janet said happily, 'You didn't miss a thing.'

It is hard to believe the first decade of the new millennium is over already. Praying 2011 is awesome in your life. Keeping our eyes on Him and He will never let us down. You know I love ya,
Don

Keep praying for Nicholas and us. His surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, January 4th. I will let you know as I know...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy New Year is a grateful New Year!

Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom. - Psalm 90:12

It is hard to believe that the first decade of this new millennium is already over. What a ten years it has been. I am thankful for the gains of children, new friendships, new ministries. I am also thankful for the new disappointments that have increased my reliance on a great a mighty God. I am reminded of what Lin Trantor wrote:

"I don't do any housework on New Year's Day," my aunt said, "because what you do on New Year's Day, you'll do all year." When I was young, I thought my aunt had the right idea. I didn't like housework, and so on January 1st I tried to do only the things I enjoyed.

Over the years, as I cared for my family and began to cultivate a more grateful attitude, I decided that doing some housework on New Year's Day would be a good way to begin the year. Washing dishes reminds me to be thankful for the food God has provided in the preceding year and to anticipate all that God will provide in the future. When I do the laundry, I remember to give thanks for warm clothes in the winter. Cleaning house helps me to be grateful for the shelter of a home and reminds me to give thanks for family and friends who are welcome visitors. With each of my New Year's Day chores, I find reason to give thanks.

When I pray on New Year's Day, expressing thanks for all that God provides, I hope the saying is true: What you do on New Year's Day, you'll do all year.

My grandmother was one of my losses in the last 10 years. I truly miss her and her ability to always give me a boost. She also would recite the saying of whatever you do on New Year's you will do all year long...the legacy lives on because my mother says it now.

In 2011, I want to be known as a servant, a follower of Christ, and one that is thankful for that which we have. With this mind set, I think it will be a good year, regardless of the joys or challenges.

Happy New Year to you and may the next year bring you all you desire and need. You know I love ya, Don

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas!

From the Crane's

You we love ya,
Don, Karen, Matthew, Alice, and Nicholas

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Luke 2 - The Christmas Story!

Luke 2:1-20 - The Message Bible

The Birth of Jesus
1-5About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

6-7While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

An Event for Everyone
8-12There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

13-14At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

19-20Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

Monday, December 20, 2010

And that's why there's a Christmas Day!

When I was growing up, Lloyd Menning was our preacher at Church of the Cross in Modesto, CA. I remember a Christmas morning worship service and he had all the children come forward. I was about nine or ten years old. He asked us many of us if we knew why there was a Christmas?

We answered with the many typical answers; Jesus, presents, food... Then Pastor Lloyd began to sing this song:

"C" is for the Christ Child born upon this day;
"H" for herald angels in the night.
"R" means our Redeemer;
"I" means Israel;
"S" is for the star that shone so bright.
"T" is for the three wise men, They who travelled far.
"M" is for the manger where He lay.
"A" is for all He stands for;
"S" means shepherds came, And that's why there's a Christmas Day.

"T" is for the three wise men,
They who travelled far.
"M" is for the manger where He lay.
"A" is for all He stands for;
"S" means shepherds came, And that's why there's a Christmas Day.

And that's why there's a Christmas Day...I have never forgotten that moment. I was touched and still recalled its effect on me.

Today, as an adult that is in the profession of ministry, I wonder if he truly knew how much he touched me or for matter how many people God was touching through him. I have since asked him and his answer 20 years later was, "I was praying God was and worked to present the message, but truly did not know it at the time. It is nice to know it now."

I agree, many times we don't know it at the time and we rarely get to see its results. I am thankful for an true man of God that sang a beautiful song on a simple Christmas day and I rejoice in the opportunity and honor to following in his example.

Merry Christmas! You know I love ya, Don

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thanks to the Worship Choir...Mary is Safe for another year!

Merry Christmas and it is Friday!!! Also, thank you to a wonderful Worship Choir at Park Chapel. They surprised me last night with a gift I have wanted to while and also stunned me enough that I didn't know what to say... SO, in honor of them and their generous spirit and dedication to Worship this Friday Funny is for them:

About two weeks before Christmas, a little Catholic boy decided to write a letter to Santa. He started "Dear Santa...", he thought "No, I will go to a higher authority", so he decided to write a letter to Jesus.

"Dear Jesus, If you get me a bike for Christmas, I will be good for two weeks.."

"NO NO NO NO I can't be good for two weeks", he thought to himself.

So he started all over again...

"Dear Jesus, If you get me a bike for Christmas I will be good for one week."

"NO NO NO NO I can't be good for one week", he thought to himself.

So he quickly ran to the Study room and grabbed their statue of Mary, and quickly wrapped it up in a blanket.

He started all over again.

"Dear Jesus, I have your mother...if you ever want to see her again...get me a bike for Christmas!"

The gift was season 5, 6, & 7 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I watched my first episode this morning while working out and Mary is safe for another year!

Keep smiling, laugh some, and you know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One of My Favorite Christmas Traditions

At the church I was raised in, we celebrated each week of advent (Christmas - the First coming of Christ) with an advent wreath. I have very fond memories of this part of the worship service. It is not as popular as it once was, but we still cherish it in our home. The following is how the wreath works:

Most Advent wreaths use three colors – purple, pink, and white. However, some may use blue in place of the purple.
  • 1st CANDLE – (purple) THE PROPHECY CANDLE or CANDLE OF HOPE – We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us. Our hope comes from God. “And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:12-13)
  • 2nd CANDLE – (purple) THE BETHLEHEM CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF PREPARATION – God kept his promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem. Preparation means to “get ready”. Help us to be ready to welcome YOU, O GOD! “As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.‘ (Luke 3:4-6)
  • 3rd CANDLE – (pink) THE SHEPHERD CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF JOY – The angels sang a message of JOY! “…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:7-15)
  • 4th CANDLE – (purple) THE ANGEL CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF LOVE – The angles announced the good news of a Savior. God sent his only Son to earth to save us, because he loves us! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)
  • 5th CANDLE – (white) “CHRIST CANDLE” – The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for his death, his death was for our birth! “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!‘” (John 1:29)

    Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’ In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.‘” (John 3:1-8)

Karen and I believe keeping traditions alive is an awesome gift we can hand to our children. It is also a great time to make new traditions. It is the legacy that will last. Merry Christmas and celebrate a tradition in honor of the Christ Child....You know I love ya, Don

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Not???


"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them." - Luke 2:4-7 (NIV)


Dave Woods asked these questions in his sermon yesterday;
"Why not Mary?"
"Why not Joseph?"
"Why not you?"

I have been thinking of these questions all day. I am sure that Mary and Joseph did not feel qualified to be the parents to the Son of God. Nor did they seek it out or even think they were could. Then they heard from God and followed through...there is a lesson in their response for us. I am in many events, relationships, and tasks that I do not feel qualified nor do I seek to even have the job, yet God doesn't ask for my qualifications, but tells me to trust and I will be satisfied. He asks me to follow-through.

So, why not Mary? Why not Joseph? and Why not me or You? Success is in the follow-through.

Rediscovering the joy of Christmas - you know I love ya, Don

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Funny - "Job Performance"

It is Friday!!!! So, lets laugh!

A man who was unemployed for several months...

... gets a job with Public Works painting lines down the center of rural roads. The supervisor tells him he is on probation and that he must stay at or above the set average of 2 miles per day to remain employed. The man agrees to the conditions and starts the next day.

The supervisor checks and finds the man completed 4 miles. "Great," he thought, "this man will work out." The next day he finds the man only did 2 miles but the supervisor thought, "well he is still at the average and I don't want him to get discouraged."

The third day however the man only did one mile and the Boss thought, "I need to talk to him." The boss pulls the new employee in and says, "Son, you were doing great. The first day you did four miles and the second day two miles, but yesterday you only did one mile. Why? Is there a problem? An injury, equipment failure, anything keeping you from meeting the two mile minimum?"

The man replied, "I keep getting farther and farther from the bucket."

Keep smiling and laugh a little - You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Children are so cute, just look and see!

The Three Bestest Children!


Brother Bonding Time!


My New Carry Bed! Thank You Ladies Bible Study!


Merry Christmas!




Sister Bonding Time


Notice My Guitars!

Christmas 2010.
Matthew is 7, Alice is 4, and Nicholas is 3 weeks!
You Know We Love Ya,
Don

Monday, December 6, 2010

Joseph - the Measure of a Man!

"Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." - Matthew 1:19
A Study of Matthew 1:19 From The Berean Advocate Blog....
The focus now shifts from the pregnancy of Mary, to the reaction of Joseph. It was during the anticipation of marriage that Joseph learned the fact that Mary was with child. It is clear that at this point, “Mary had absolutely no means of proving her spotlessness to Joseph or to any other person in Nazareth,” stresses Lenski (Acts, 41-42). Upon hearing the news, it must have been a shock and great disappointment to Joseph. When he learns of Mary’s condition, he knew nothing of how this conception transpired. There is no indication that Mary told of the announcement of the angel. The passive “was found” (heurethe) in verse 18 has the sense of “proved to be,” indicating Joseph became aware of the condition of Mary when it became evident. At this point, his thinking would have been naturally the same as you or I would think—she had been unfaithful. We can only imagine what went through his mind: His intense hurt, sorrow, and anger.

In verse 19, we see a state of his ambivalence. Ambivalence is “the co-existence of opposite and conflicting feelings.” (American College Dictionary, 40). This is reflected in our text and brought out in two phrases, which reflect a tension between the two feelings.

First, “being a just man.” The word just is the Greek word dikaios meaning one obedient to the commands of God; an upright and law abiding man; a man of character and integrity. It refers to the inward condition of the heart, as well as, his outward conduct. Marriage had now become unthinkable to his mind. He was unable in good conscience go ahead with the marriage. The relationship had to be terminated. Jewish law required a man to divorce an adulterous wife (Deut. 24:1), in which he would have been expected to make a public example of her. This would have made Mary an object of public humiliation. Under the Old Testament Law, the penalty was stoning (Deut.13-21), but the Romans did away which such a penalty, so that divorce was the normal response.

Second, Joseph was a man of discretion. Not wanting to make her a public example, he was minded to put her away secretly. Being made a public example meant putting her to public shame, and thus a disgrace. Joseph was unwilling to put her to public shame (same word as Colossians 2:15: “make a public spectacle”). By putting her away secretly reveals his compassion, love, and concern for Mary. He wrestled with the conflict between his sense of justice and love. He tempered his sense of justice with mercy. While wanting to be obedient to the Law, he wanted to do it with compassion. Joseph had a choice as to how he was going to do it. He could have done it in a public forum, and asked for a trial to see if the unfaithfulness was by force or consent. That was his right. This meant public exposure of Mary as being unfaithful. He acted not on the side of his rights, but compassion. He was “minded” not to put her to open shame by trail, but divorce her secretly. This was simply done by handing her a letter of divorce privately in the presence of two witnesses (Num. 5:11-13). He was “not wanting” to do otherwise. This brings forth the emotional element that leads to his determination and action. It is vital to understand that the element of emotion did not lead to bypassing the Law (cf. Lev. 20:10), rather, it lead to carrying it out with compassion and discretion. This is a good lesson for us to learn. Turner reminds us that “Joseph becomes something of a model of one whose high standards are balanced with compassion” (Turner, BECNT: Matthew, 65). May we be such men!

I am taking this Christmas to rediscover the joy of Christmas and to work at living up Joseph's example in integrity, compassion, and love. - You know I love ya, Don

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Funny - "Grandpa's Gifts"

Its Friday, Snow is on the way, and Christmas is just around the corner...so a Friday Funny about the gifts and the bows is most appropriate! Enjoy!

Grandpa decided that shopping for Christmas presents had become too difficult. All his grandchildren had everything they needed, so he decided to send them each a nice check.

On each card he wrote:

'Happy Christmas Grandpa' - P.S. 'Buy your own present.'

Now, while Grandpa enjoyed the family festivities, he thought that his grandchildren were just slightly distant and somewhat curt with their talk. It preyed on his mind into the New Year, in fact it truly bugged him because he had been very generous. So, he decided not to talk with the family. "They can call me and use their own dime!" he thought.

Then while getting ready for Easter and doing some Spring cleaning, he was sorting out his study and under a pile of magazines, he found a little pile of checks for his grandchildren. He had completely forgotten to put them in with the Christmas cards.


I probably would do this. Keep laughing because it keeps the rest of us guessing and have a great weekend!
Don

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What is Sacred?


Have you ever heard the phrase, "Is anything sacred anymore." Some have a very positive view of "sacred" as in that was a sacred moment or these are God's sacred words. Another view is negative, such as an issue might be a "sacred cow" or "They'll make jokes about anything. Nothing is sacred to those guys."

So what does sacred mean and what are some of the things God considers to be sacred ? "Sacred" defined (dictionary.reference.com) is:
–adjective
1.1. devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated.
2. 2. entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy.
3. 3. pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to secular or profane): sacred music; sacred books.
4. 4. reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object: a morning hour sacred to study.
5. 5. regarded with reverence: the sacred memory of a dead hero.
6. secured against violation, infringement, etc., as by reverence or sense of right: sacred oaths; sacred rights; sacred memorial; sacred location.
7. immune from violence, interference, etc., as a person or office.
The word is used 126 times in the NIV translation of the bible. Many references show a dedication such as covenants, alters, clothing, locations, and moments. Jesus tells this interesting story in Matthew 23 about how the flesh twists sacred; 16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath'."


The Apostle Paul adds a new dynamic when he writes to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3, 16"Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. 18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise."

So, sacred can be things, locations, and situations. Under the new covenant Christ-followers are also sacred. With these parameters, we can find the sacred in every day life. The cry of a baby, the smile of a senior, the moments in heartfelt communication, the place in which healing and comfort of the Holy Spirit does a mighty work in a life, and the kind act of a fellow Christian. The list is filled with endless possibilities. Personally, I am striving to grasp as many sacred moments and spaces in the Christmas season and prayerfully asking that my striving will become a habit that stays with me through my journey to heaven.

You are sacred to me...you know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Wait, Payton is about to throw the Ball!"

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come. -Revelation 1:4 (NRSV)

I love to watch Colts football. I am not sure why, because I have never been too much of a sports fan. I was always in the band. We would have more fun anyway. So, here I am, ministering in Indiana and a Colts fan. It is fun to watch even when we loose. (Which seems too often this season...) So, I wonder, "Why?" What is the attraction to this rough game.

I think for me it was Tony Dungy that started it off. I admired his faith and willingness to stand firm for what he believed. That continues with most of the players such as Payton Manning and for Coach Cauldwell. I also see a great deal of community that is united in a team that belongs to our home. That is also good.

I also see a great deal of waste and deep passion without much gain. There are so many Christians that give everything to following the Colts, yet when it comes to church attendance, sacrificial giving, or even supporting of one's neighbors, there is to be no competition with their die hard support to the Colts. Which makes me wonder, "If Jesus returned while Payton was throwing the ball for a touchdown, how many Christians would say, 'wait, he is about to throw the ball'!"

The Colt's players are good guys. I have a tendency to think most people are good people that have strayed from the God that loves them. Yet, not a person on this planet is eternal like Jesus. We forget to whom a Christ-Followers loyalties should rest. As our scriptures states, "He was, He is, and He always will be."

F. Richard Garland writes:

In the greeting above lies a reminder that God is eternal. In this greeting is a reminder that harmony has been restored between God and humanity through Christ, a reminder that God remains steadfast even in the midst of life's most trying and terrible days.

So what does this have to do with Christmas? It is tempting to make Christmas into a warm fuzzy tale about a baby born in a humble stable, surrounded by adoring witnesses singing songs of praise under a starlit sky. But this passage from Revelation reminds us of who this child will grow to be, of where his birth will ultimately lead — a glimpse into the mystery of God's purpose at Christmas.

This child will bear faithful and reliable witness to God's self-giving love — good news for a weary world. This child will make kings and rulers tremble and bring nations and empires to their knees!

At the core of Christmas is the One who is the "Alpha and the Omega," the beginning and the end. The God "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" is about to come and live among us. (See John 1:14.)

So, which are you...not just in football, but what is it that is taking your eyes of your true future. We are discussing how to rediscover the joy in Christmas in our 2010 Advent sermon series. One of the sure means to rediscover the joy is to keep your EYES (thoughts, actions, and desires) on the baby that was willing to grow-up and die and then return. He was willing to come and is going to come again! As for me and my house, I don't care who is going to throw the ball, sing the best oratorio, or even giving the best gift...Jesus has come and will come again...I am waiting and ready!

You know I love ya, Don

Friday, November 26, 2010

After Thanksgiving Poem

Its the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas is just around the Corner - enjoy the poem and have a great weekend! Love Ya, Don

"After Thanksgiving" Poem

I ate too much Turkey, I ate too much corn,
I ate too much pudding and pie.
I'm stuffed up with muffins and too much stuffin'
I'm probably going to die.

I piled up my plate and I ate and I ate.
But I wish I had known when to stop,
For I'm so crammed with yams, sauces, gravies, and jams
That my buttons are starting to pop!

I'm full of tomatoes and french fried potatoes
My stomach is swollen and sore,
But there's still some dessert so I guess it won't hurt if
I eat just a little bit more!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

These are a few of my thankful things!

These are a few of my thankful things!

Almighty Jehovah: Father, Redeemer, Friend, Source of Life, and Comforter...

Family: Karen, Mom, Matthew, Alice, Nicholas, Auntie Bon Bon, Mima, Melinda, Nephews...

Good Friends: You know who you are...to many to write.

Dream of Job: Everything I ever dreamed for, Awesome Choir, great praise band, Solid Ground Worship Services, Orchestra, Bells, Banners/Wreaths, and gift of sharing new life of Jesus.

Great Senior Ministers: David Woods, Ronnie Jones, Lloyd Menning, and a great mentor in Bob Kelly.

Creation: Trees and Leaves, The sounds of water flowing, SNOW, and bright sunny days.

My Country: Freedom, the privilege to be counted among "We the People...", those who gave so that I might share in those freedoms.

Community: Hello, Dolly! (What a show!), Greenfield Community Choir (new friends), and all the great cultural opportunities in Hancock County.

Toys: Watching the children play with their toys and for Geo Track Trains.

DADS: Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome and the Buddy Walk.

Internet Community
: You, my blog friends, Facebook Networks, and the ease of Twitter...

Music: The amazing gift of structured sound and rhythms to enhance the gift of entertainment, Choirs, Musicals...

The Simple things: breathing, colors, postal service, kindness, Earl Grey tea, remote controls, indoor plumbing, Pumpkin anything...

And Finally...to have a relationship with Jesus, to live with the love of my life in Karen, and to have the honor of the greatest job God ever created in being a dad.

There is loads to be thankful for this year and every year. You know I love ya and have a great Thanksgiving, Don

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Greatest Job God Ever Created!


Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. Colossians 3:23 (TEV)

I am very thankful for parents the demonstrated for my sister and I what it meant to give it all in hard work. I saw two people work very hard in everything they did. We did not have much, yet it did not stop mom and dad from working hard and making the most of what we did have.

I am also thankful that they brought us along for the journey. We were never forced to labor, sure we had our chores and had to help out and do our part, but it was not like we were treated poorly, it was just the way it was. We were "Cranes" and anything less than our best would not lived up to our best for the family. It carried over in our school work, our volunteer work, and especially our work at the church.

Melinda Fillingum writes;

"After working with a title of "minister" for many years, I now work outside the church as a mental-health counselor. Even so, I don't feel any less a minister; my approach to this job is that of a Christian serving the Lord. Each person I see is a child of God. When I work with that in mind, my job becomes my ministry. Whatever job we have, whether a church job or a job in a secular field, we have opportunities to share the love of God.

In my current job, I see many people who would never enter a church. Because of this my ministry is more far-reaching than before. One day a co-worker asked me how I could treat our clients, who at times are belligerent, with such patience and kindness. I answered, "Because I'm doing it for God."

Each of us can look for opportunities to work for God in the way we do daily tasks."

This also carries over into what we do for pleasure, for a career, and for what we offer in worship. Everything we do becomes the ministry. It is also a ministry to be a parent. I am sitting next to our newest family member, Nicholas and two very special children, Matthew and Alice, are asleep in the next room. They are very precious and all three are a great deal of work. In fact, I think every parent would agree that parenting is hard work!

God chose to save the world by becoming a father. He already was the father of all mankind in creating us, yet he chose to come as a baby and grow into a man that would eventually be willing to go to the cross for my sin and your sin. As a father, God would redeem his fallen creation with the ultimate sacrifice...His Son. His redemption was also hard work. Yet, he was willing to do do the work, sacrifice for the work, and be willing to dedicate everything for the work. He truly was an awesome example.

I am thankful for good parents that were dedicated to parenting. I am thankful for a God that is the ultimate in parenting examples. I pray for wisdom, strength, and patience in being a good parent in return. Being a parent is the greatest job God ever created and I pray I never take advantage of the gift.

Working hard, striving to please Him, and loving you, Don

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A New Addition!

Not a Friday Funny - but a great reason to celebrate!

Nicholas Mark Crane
Born Sunday November 14th at 2:15 PM
7 Pounds and 4 ounces

Daddy, Mama, Matthew and Alice are rejoicing for another wonderful blessing in our lives!
Pictures to come!
Love ya,
Don

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Decline of Worship due to lack of AWE!

There are hurting people on every journey and every journey will have interruptions. Believers of Jesus will stop and have compassion. The day is come thus we should be actively bringing restoration to life in the way we proclaim Jesus is the Christ and the living Word. Those who hear John’s words will be obedient and “go” when Jesus sends us to our healing. Even at the end of the beginning of this miracle story tied in with a proclamation, John exhorts his readers to, “avoid the attitude of the Jews and join the faith of the blind man.”[1]


Therefore, it is our gift to be receivers of the John 9:1-12 gospel account. It is a gift to be encouraged to hold fast in our belief that Jesus is the Son of God. In contrast, John demonstrates that “by being content with the law that came by Moses and by shutting their eyes to the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ, the Pharisees are being plunged into the darkness of unbelief as surely as the once blind beggar is walking more and more towards the illumination of faith.”[2] When we become anesthetize to the power of Jesus and the work that is to be accomplished as labors for the kingdom, we are like the townspeople unwilling to celebrate the joy and filled with doubt. The ultimate reason for the decline of Christ worship is a failure to recognize or experience the redeeming work of Jesus.[3]



Jesus is willing to interrupt his journey and he is also the one that brings a sense of awe, joy, compassion, and dedication to living abundant lives. We may not know the name of the former blind man, but we can gain insight in his story and transformation that illuminates our minds to how God is willing to restore our sight that has been taken away from us because of the sin that so easily entangles us. John’s goal and aim is achieved in the awakening of our senses “so that we might believe.”

I wonder what interruptions that Lord will bring by me today! You know I love ya, Don


[1] Rene’ Kieffer, “Different Levels of Johannine Imagery” (papers presented at a conference of Scandinavian New Testament Exegetes at Uppsala, June 16-19, 1986) 78.

[2] R.V.G Tasker, The Gospel According to St. John an Introduction and Commentary (TNTC 4; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans. 1994), 125.

[3] Ibid, 125.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"So that you might believe!"

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.

Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.

He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

“Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said.

As Jesus is passing by we see an interruption in the journey. The interruption is recorded in John 9:1-12. Jesus had been in at the temple and had a heated exchange with the Pharisees. They were celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles and a connection with Isaiah has proven to become a negative debate. In fact, John reports at the end of chapter 8, Jesus slips away from the temple grounds in order to avoid stoning.

The cultural milieu of John 9:1-12 is Jewish. That is to say the text has a combination of individual awareness of politics as well as community perceptions of politics, language, and religious influences of the Hebrew nation. “The author was acquainted with Jewish religion. He mentions the Passover, the Fest of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Dedication. He was familiar with weddings, Sabbath-keeping, methods of burial, and the methods of observing the feasts.”[1] There were some Greco-Roman influences, but in this text we only see evidences of the Jewish culture and its traditions.

John’s placement of this story reveals how Jesus was aware of his surroundings and seized opportunities to teach and give direction to his followers. “John has chosen to record some of the signs that Jesus did in the presence of his disciples, that his readers may be encouraged to hold fast their belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.”[2] The fourth Gospel gives emphasis to prophecy and the work of Jesus to fulfill prophecy to give sight to the blind. In chapter 8, John reveals the spiritual blindness of the Jews.[3] There are several theories as to why John wrote this gospel. Some of those are that John was combating false teachings, he might have been writing to convince John the Baptist followers to become followers of Jesus, he could have been trying to present the world with a “Hellenized” view of Christianity, or there could even be another reason we are not even aware of.[4] John’s aim is without a doubt to convince men of the deity of Jesus because of John’s many uses of the “so that you may believe” statements through out John’s gospel such as in 20:31. The desire of John is to demonstrate through eyewitness testimony that Jesus is the Son of God and has come so the world will know the truth and be set free from bondage to sin. Thus, we see the placement of chapter 9 after a rather striking revelation of how truly blind the religious leaders of the period were. Jesus seizes the opportunity to demonstrate light and God’s work and once again testify to the reality of Jesus as God’s Son and so that the reader might believe.


This is an excerpt from my exegesis paper. More to come....take the time to live in the light, I am. You know I love ya, Don


[1] Merrill Tenny. The Gospel of John. (EBC 9: Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Press., 1981). 3

[2] R.V.G Tasker, The Gospel According to St. John an Introduction and Commentary (TNTC 4; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans. 1994), 28

[3] Ibid, 122.

[4] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (NINCT; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1995) 30-34.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Funny - "Playing God"

Well it is Friday and the weekend in is upon us. So, try to laugh to day and ejoy this funny story that might have a little truth to it.
A psychiatrist gets a new job at an insane asylum, and he's making his rounds for the first time.

"What's your name?" he asks the first patient he meets.

"I am Napoleon!" the patient replies.


"How do you know that?" asks the doctor.


"God told me so."


"I did not!" yells a patient sitting nearby.
You know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 8, 2010

Taking the Mountain top with you.

[God] called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. -2 Thessalonians 2:14 (NRSV)

When one lives in a valley, it is good to go occasionally to a mountaintop to get a look at the whole scene. I had a great honor to serve in the Great Smoky Mountain foothills in the town of Sevierville, TN as a worship minister at Smoky Mountain Christian Church in the years of 1995 through 2000. It was an amazing run. I was extremely green as a minister and we had some awesome opportunity to serve, worship, and bring God's people closer to the God they loved. One of the finest memories is the opportunities to go to the National Park. Every now and then, friends and I would enjoy going up bluffs on either side of the valley and looking down on our little world. In fact, I courted Karen taking trips into those mountains. Those mountain top hikes and picnics were refreshing giving all a new perspective.

I have often thought of those experiences something like the experience of worship, when we meditate on the magnificence of God. We praise God, but we also hear God's word which gives us a new way of looking at ourselves. The truth of the verse quoted above bedazzles us. God is on the mountain calling us, renewing us, and giving us His attention in worship.

How do we respond? We are to be like Christ, to share his glory! He is able to give us the spiritual power to resist temptation, uproot harmful habits, and follow the highest ideals of our faith. We come down from the mountain of worship ready to be Jesus to those we come in contact with.

My prayer is that I don't take advantage of those gifts from God by forgetting and taking my eyes off of Him. I also know that the valley times will come and when they come I can go to the mountain in worship and come down renewed.

You know I love ya - Don

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Funny - "Computer Options"

It is Friday. Everyone has a computer...yes, we can relate to making calls to service tech assistance.

Tech Rep: "Yes, it is. How may I help you?"

Caller: "The cup holder on my PC is broken and I am within my warranty period. How do I go about getting that fixed?"

Tech Rep: "I'm sorry, but did you say a cup holder?"

Caller: "Yes, it's attached to the front of my computer."

Tech Rep: "Please excuse me if I seem a bit stumped, it's because I am. Did you receive this as part of a promotion, at a trade show? How did you get this cup holder? Does it have any trademark on it?"

Caller: "It came with my computer, I don't know anything about a promotion. It just has '4X' on it."

At this point the Tech Rep had to mute the caller, because he couldn't stand it.

The caller had been using the load drawer of the CD-ROM drive as a cup holder, and snapped it off the drive.

Have a great weekend! Don

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Home!


While [the prodigal] was still far off, his father saw him and ... ran and put his arms around him. -Luke 15:20 (NRSV)

I long for home today. I love my home and I have a wonderful wife that makes our house a welcoming home. I was also raised with a mom that made our house a home. It is probably these women that have given me such a great sense of home. Yet today, I long for home...the place where Jesus is and the place where all things are made complete. James Harnish Writes:

A week from today my family will fly north and then drive two hours to a reunion with four generations of the Harnish clan. We'll drive past the farm where my dad's parents raised seven children. We'll visit the hillside cemetery where my mother's parents are buried. We'll worship in the church where I was baptized. Again and again, my daughters will patiently endure and laugh at the stories about my home life when I was a child.

Far too many people remember a different home life, one filled with fear, rejection, abuse, and pain. But the idea of home goes deeper than our individual experiences. Home is not so much a place as it is a longing. At its depths, the longing for home leads us to recognize our deep, spiritual homesickness for God.

One of Jesus' most familiar and loved parables is the story of two sons, one who went away and one who stayed home. Most of all, it's the story of our loving God who longs for each of us to come home. Our deep spiritual hungers are satisfied only by relationship with God, and we are all homeless without it. But like the father in Jesus' story, God watches for us and comes running to welcome us into that relationship the moment we turn toward it.

I think in our worship we get a small glimpse of what heaven and home is. It is a place that draws us back in return and desire. So, today I worship a great and mighty God that is preparing a place for me and I long to be there.

You know I love ya and I pray I will see you there too. Don

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints Day - the day after halloween...

The Church has always honored those early witnesses to the Christian faith who have died in the Lord. (The Greek word for "witness" is martyr.) During the first three hundred years Christians were severely persecuted, often suffering torture and bloody deaths -- because they were faithful . They refused to deny Christ, even when this denial might have saved their own lives, or the lives of their children and families.

The early history of the Church is filled with stories of the heroic faith of these of witnesses to Christ's truth. The stories of these saints -- these baptized Christians of all ages and all states in life, whose fidelity and courage led to their sanctity or holiness -- have provided models for every other Christian throughout history.

Many of those especially holy people whose names and stories were known, the Church later canonized (that is, the Church formally recognized that the life of that person was without any doubt holy, or sanctified -- a "saint" who is an example for us.) The Church's calendar contains many saint's days, which Catholics observe at Mass -- some with special festivities.

But there were thousands and thousands of early Christian martyrs, the majority of whose names are known only to God -- and throughout the history of the Church there have been countless others who really are saints, who are with God in heaven, even if their names are not on the list of canonized saints.

In order to honor the memory -- and our own debt -- to these unnamed saints, and to recall their example, the Church dedicated a special feast day -- a sort of "memorial day" -- so that all living Christians would celebrate at a special remembrance for the lives and witness of those "who have died and gone before us into the presence of the Lord"...

To read more click All Saint's Day.

May we never forget and have a great All Saint's Day! - Don

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Funny - "Miracles"

I do believe in miracles! But this was just too funny to pass up. Thank you Ron Christman for sharing!
The preacher said, "Anyone with 'special needs' who wants to be prayed over, please come forward to the front by the altar."

With that, Leroy got in line, and when it was his turn, the Preacher asked, "Leroy, what do you want me to pray about for you?"

Leroy replied, "Preacher, I need you to pray for help with my hearing."


The preacher put one finger of one hand in Leroy's ear, placed his other hand on top of Leroy's head, and then prayed and prayed and prayed. He prayed a "blue streak" for Leroy, and the whole congregation joined in with great enthusiasm.

After a few minutes, the preacher removed his hands, stood back and asked, "Leroy, how is your hearing now?"
Leroy answered, "I don't know. It ain't 'til next week."


Have a great weekend! You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Heritage of Worship

Psalm 61: 5
"You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name."
I am part of a great heritage of worshipers. I think of all the churches I have attended over the years: Church of the Cross in Modesto, CA., First Baptist and Calvary Baptist in Beaumont, CA., Fountain Valley First Christian Church in Fountain Valley, CA, Smoky Mountain Christian Church in Sevierville, TN., Gethsemane Church of Christ in Mechanicsville, VA, and Park Chapel Christian Church in Greenfield, IN. In each of these churches we have shared in true worship. We have acknowledged God's presence in our lives and declared His worth among the nations. In fact, you are also part of a great heritage of worship. We don't do this alone. Every time we enter into a season of worship or prayer or reading of God's Word, it is not only as part of our local congregation, but we gather with Christ Followers around the globe as we approach the Living God.

In some mysterious way, our worship is linked to the millions who have gone before us. Many of those gave their very lives because of worship. In church worship believers proclaim their creeds and beliefs. It is at great risk that we are proclaiming these beliefs. Persecution is in every part of our world today. I'm convinced that the world has heard enough of what the Church doesn't believe...compromise...what the world and those in the world that are "seeking" are truly seeking is "something." They want to know what we believe and how to find the truth in Jesus Christ. God has created us with the desire to invest our lives in Him and to completely immerse our hearts, minds, souls, and strengths in Jesus.

The church needs boldness to stand firm in worship. Christ-followers are to give love and compassion while demonstrating the healing power of Jesus Christ in the lives they live. Compromise is obsolete and it is time to be the people Jesus has called us to be. Then and only then will we be effective Christ-followers...effective worshipers living up to the heritage that has been given to us.

Standing firm with you - Don

Monday, October 25, 2010

I love the Fall/Autumn

I love Autumn. This time of year always recalls good memories. It also reminds me that great holidays are just around the corner. Last week I had the great joy of driving through West Virginia. The mountain were covered with color. The leaves were so brilliant it was like looking at new carpet covering the ranges of mountains.

John Shewell writes:

On an early autumn day, I looked up from my morning prayer to see myriad colorful leaves falling lazily to earth. As I gloried in and marveled at God's wonderful handiwork, I realized that the falling leaves could symbolize God's grace.

This grace comes to us freely, in God's own time and independent of our merit. The leaves fall because of the properties God has mysteriously given the trees and the earth. Grace comes to us because of the mysterious purposes of God. The twists and turns and shapes and colors of the falling leaves are like the infinite variations of God's grace. Grace manifests itself in us and through us in surprising ways.

The far distance shimmered with ever-changing colors and depth. My mind knew what my eyes could not distinguish, that individual leaves were falling there, just as they were nearby. In a similar way, a heart familiar with God's grace knows that it is everywhere. Infinite, endless, and timeless, grace falls on all of us to change our lives.

God's grace is something we do not deserve, yet He offers with with love and abundance. Much like the beauty I saw on those West Virginia Mountains. Ephesians 2:8, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."

Enjoy this great time of year and take a moment and let the beauty remind us of His grace that so freely falls on us. You know I love ya, Don

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Funny - "Hymns"

It is Friday!
One Sunday a pastor told the congregation that the church needed some extra money and asked the people to prayerfully consider giving a little extra in the offering plate. He said that whoever gave the most would be able to pick out three hymns. After the offering plates were passed, the pastor glanced down and noticed that someone had placed a $1,000 bill in the offering. He was so excited that he immediately shared his joy with his congregation and said he'd like to personally thank the person who placed the money in the plate. A very quiet, elderly, saintly lady all the way in the back shyly raised her hand.

The pastor asked her to come to the front. Slowly she made her way to the pastor. He told her how wonderful it was that she gave so much and in thanksgiving asked her to pick out three hymns. Her eyes brightened as she looked over the congregation, pointed to the three handsomest men in the building and said, "I'll take him and him and him!"

Have a great weekend. Down Syndrome Buddy walk on Saturday. Check out Down Syndrome Indiana for more information. We also ways have a great time.

Take Care,
Don

Monday, October 18, 2010

I am not Ashamed!

The following is an excerpt from my sermon yesterday. It is good review for me and a great reminder that I would much rather see a sermon than hear one.



Ephesians 4:31-32 (NRSV)

31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.[1]



Forgiveness is free but it is not cheap. When Dr. Gene Nichol, president of William and Mary College ordered the cross removed from Wren Chapel on that campus, he failed to anticipate the outcry from alumni and others. He now admits he acted hastily and has ordered the cross returned, at least all day on Sunday. I understand the offensive nature of the cross. It’s too blunt, too brutal for our refined minds to encounter. All that stuff about a pierced side, nail-scarred hands, and a thorn-torn brow sounds gross in refined houses of worship. When you watch a movie such as Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ…It is rough, blinding in the gruesome flesh ripping, and brings tears to know that was for me.

I can tell you from experience…if you cannot tell me when you have been to the foot of the cross, then you have never been there. For at the cross of Jesus our sin is forgiven. Debts are canceled because somebody paid the price. Jesus paid the price. The cross was offensive in the first century too. Yet, as one that has bowed at the foot of the cross and received the forgiveness of Jesus, I am still content to sing:

Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.
Sin had left its crimson stain;
He washed me white as snow.

It is the cross that demonstrates the ultimate act of forgiveness.

It is the cross the sets us free.

It is the Cross the holds us tight in hard times.

It is the cross the sets us free!


I am trying to live out forgiveness as a way of life. You know I love ya, Don

The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Eph 4:31–32). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Funny - "Dead Church"

The Dead Church

A new Pastor in a small Oklahoma town spent the first four days making personal visits to each of the members, inviting them to come to his first services.

The following Sunday the church was all but empty. Accordingly, the Pastor placed a notice in the local newspapers, stating that, because the church was dead, it was everyone's duty to give it a decent Christian burial. The funeral would be held the following Sunday afternoon, the notice said.

Morbidly curious, a large crowd turned out for the "funeral." In front of the pulpit, they saw a closed coffin, smothered in flowers. After the Pastor delivered the eulogy, he opened the coffin and invited his congregation to come forward and pay their final respects to their dead church.

Filled with curiosity as to what would represent the corpse of a "dead church," all the people eagerly lined up to look in the coffin. Each "mourner" peeped into the coffin then quickly turned away with a guilty, sheepish look.

In the coffin, tilted at the correct angle, was a large mirror.

Keep Laughing and have a great weekend! Don

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Forgiveness is life restored!

Forgiveness is life restored. What transformed the woman of Luke 7:36-50. She arrived, kissed and wiped Jesus' feet with her tears. She was a woman of the night being transformed into a servant of the light Jesus is working nothing less than a miracle of love!


Tony de Mello tells this story: “Everyone kept telling me to change. I agreed I needed to change but I couldn’t — no matter how hard I tried. I felt powerless, trapped, confused. Then one day a friend said, ‘I love you just the way you are.’ It was the most freeing thing I’ve ever known in my life. Suddenly I relaxed. I came to life. I found the power to change. He taught me the very deep nature of God’s love for me.” God starts with us where we are. He is willing to forgive us right here and right now.


Colossians 2:13-14: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.


Forgiveness is a debt canceled but forgiveness also brings a life restored.


Clemmie Greenleaf is a 46-year-old advocate for the homeless in Nashville, Tennessee. She has lived in Nashville all her life. She lost her parents when she was 13. They were both alcoholics. Prostitution became the only way Clemmie could make enough money to take care of her younger siblings. So she turned to the streets, and drugs, and violence. Then as Clemmie tells it, “God called me by name when I was 40. I entered the Magdalene Recovery Program in 2000. By 2003 I was clean, sober, and able to hold a job.” Let us never forget that God takes people where they are and loves them back to life. He not only restores our souls, He restores our self-worth, our value. That’s what forgiveness is all about. It’s a life restored, brought back to life.


Forgiveness is a debt canceled.

Forgiveness is not cheap.

Forgiveness is your life restored.

Forgiveness returns to us what our sinful nature stole from us.


I am in no way perfect or even close, but I am forgiven. I am thanking God for His forgiveness today! You know I love ya, Don