Walking Through Life God's Way

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Falling Asleep

This is the Communion Meditation Ken Smith offered in service on Sunday. It is well worth repeating.
Is Eutychus here this morning?

Of course we know that Eutychus is a person whose story is told in the
Bible. It appears in the twentieth chapter of Acts. He was a member of
the church in Troas. He is one of those Bible people we will meet in
heaven. I imagine that when we see him, we will ask him one of three
questions: "Eutychus? Aren't you the fellow who fell asleep during a
sermon of the apostle Paul?" "Eutychus? Aren't you the man who fell out a window to his death during a worship service?" "Eutychus? Aren't you the one whom Paul raised from the dead so that he could finish the worship service?"

Heaven will be a place of perfect peace and patience. Therefore, I am
convinced that Eutychus will not become annoyed by having to answer such questions. However, I suspect he will tell us "the rest of the story" (to use Paul Harvey's famous phrase). He will very likely point out that he had put in a full workday on that day described in Acts 20. The five-day work week had not been invented yet, and nobody had thought about giving workers Sunday off. Also, Eutychus will probably note how without electric lighting and air conditioning the conditions were just right for what happened to him. Acts tells us about the many oil lamps that illuminated the room where the church was meeting. The heat and fumes they gave off must have made drowsiness irresistible. And so he dozed off, fell out the window to his death, and was raised to life again by
Paul.

Eutychus will no doubt point out that he was awake, alert, and attentive
when he partook of the Lord's Supper. It is said specifically that the
believers in Troas came together "to break bread." Bible commentators
generally regard that as a reference to Communion. It seems that Paul's
lengthy sermon began after Communion and continued until midnight. We can sympathize with Eutychus in that. With all due respect to Don, if his sermon today should last until midnight, I dare say quite a few of us
would be falling asleep.

What do we learn from Eutychus? One valuable lesson is in learning to
come to the Lord's Table and to worship in general as well-rested as
possible. Some of us may have to work on Saturday evening. Others of us
have family responsibilities that wear us down coming into a Sunday
morning. But as much as possible we should aim to be awake, alert, and
attentive as we partake of the emblems. We are in no danger of falling
out a window here, but we could lose out on the richness of Communion
with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you, Ken.

Take Care, Don

Monday, June 28, 2010

Holiness or Hardness Toward God?

"He...wondered that there was no intercessor..." - Isaiah 59:16

The reason many of us stop praying and become hard toward God is that we only have an emotional interest in prayer. It sounds good to say that we pray, and we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial. We are informed that our minds are quieted and our souls are uplifted when we pray. But Isaiah implied in this verse that God is amazed at such thoughts about prayer.

Worship and intercession must go together; one is impossible without the other. Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying (Philippians 2:5). Instead of worshiping God, we recite speeches to God about how prayer is supposed to work. Are we worshiping God or disputing Him when we say, "But God, I just don't see how you are going to do this"? This is a sure sign that we are not worshiping.

When we lose sight of God, we become hard and dogmatic. We throw our petitions at His throne and dictate to Him what we want Him to do. We don't worship God, nor do we seek to conform our minds to the mind of Christ. When we are hard toward God, we will become hard toward other people.

Are we worshiping God in a way that raises us up to where we can take hold of Him, having such intimate contact with Him that we know His mind about the ones for whom we pray? Are we living in a holy relationship with God, or have we become hard and dogmatic?

Do you find yourself thinking that there is no one interceding properly? Then be that person yourself. Be a person who worships God and lives in a holy relationship with Him. Get involved in the real work of intercession, remembering that it truly is work. As I said in the sermon yesterday morning. Prayer is not a mean to an encounter with God...prayer IS an encounter with God. So, remember to "listen up!" God is talking.

Praying for you and you know I love ya, Don

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Funny - "When do we start?"

Friday Funny from Randy Wilson.

You may have heard this but I love sharing it, and frankly don't remember the origin of it?
The setting is a Quaker (Friends) Church worship service. A fellow visits for the first time. As is their tradition there was a long spell of quiet meditation and prayer in the beginning. This meditation seem to linger for a long time....hence the visitor whispered to the Old Saint sitting next to him, "Sir, when does the service start?" The old Saint winked and whispered back, "When you leave the building."
Thank you Randy!

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Susan June Crane - My Grandma's legacy

Today my Father's Mother, Susan June Johnson Crane, would have been 74 years old. I called her Grandma. She was a very special lady in my life. I have been blessed with several special ladies in my life. My Mother, my wife, my sister, my Grandma Lupe, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my organ teacher, my piano teacher, my accompanists, and many other woman have blessed me and my walk with the Lord.

My Grandma and I were very close. I am not sure what it was, but we shared cookies, Star Trek, Old Movies, Perry Mason reruns, Square Dancing, Church, music, and Jesus.

As Mike said in his sermons Sunday, "When your Grandma starts praying for you, you might as well give in." I believe that is true. Grandma died earlier than she should have. She had diabetes at a time there was not the information we have today. Loosing my dad was very hard for her. Then I watched over the next 12 years this dear woman, whom I loved, fade into dialysis, heart attacks, and almost nothing. With all of that there was always a smile in her voice when we talked and a smile in her heart when we were together.

She loved Jesus and grew closer to him in each of her struggles. I will never forget one of the final conversations that I shared with my Grandma. She had lost a leg and was in bed a great deal of the time. She worried about my Grandpa having to carry her so much, so she said she would just lay in bed and pray and spend time with God. She told me how God inhabits the praises of His people, so she would just pray and praise and He would be with her and comfort her. I know He did and I will never forget that conversation on the phone with 2000 miles between us and the Spirit uniting us together.

There is not enough room in this blog to write how much she taught me, but I know this much...My Grandma taught me to love life and cherish every minute. Life and minutes are precious and don't last. So, embrace ever chance you get. I will always be grateful for a woman who cherished me and let me know it by the legacy she left behind.

"Happy Birthday Grandma, you will always be in my heart." - Don

Monday, June 21, 2010

Listen Up - God is Talking!

A cell phone commercial asks, "Can you hear me now?" The assumption is that one can hear any place, any time, in any situation through this miraculous technology -- the latest cell phone device and service. I have this service and it is a great service, but I still have dropped calls. There is a connection that I have found, never gets dropped. It is my connection with God. He always gives me his attention, even when I don't listen or get distracted, or intentionally don't answer, He still gives me the time of day.

Moses had this experience. When the voice of God comes from a burning bush that is not consumed -- "Can you hear me now?" -- Moses finds excuse after excuse for not hearing or listening to God's call. Moses has good reason and credible excuses, at least in his mind, to resist, but God, nonetheless, persists in calling. God's call is key to the liberation and ultimate purposes and destiny of the Hebrew people.

Moses has come a long way since his time in Pharaoh's court as a "prince" in Egypt. A quick recap sees Moses, in defending an Israelite, killing an Egyptian. Moses flees to Midian where he meets the priest Jethro and his seven daughters. Moses stays in Midian, marries one of Jethro's daughters, Zipporah, bears a son, Gershom, and settles down as a shepherd keeping Jethro's flocks.

It has been said by a desert mystic, "He will never be a prophet who was not first a herdsman." Here Moses has time for the incubation of his soul in solitude and quietness. Shepherding sheep is quite a contrast to our modern mad rush in a country whose national monument is Rushmore. It is in the wilderness near Horeb, the mountain of God, that Moses is confronted with fire, a bush that is not consumed, and the mighty call of God.

We, too, are called as Christians, not necessarily from burning bushes and fiery theophanies, but in more common and ordinary ways. We are called, chosen, and summoned through word and sacrament, through both mundane and extraordinary experiences, and also through the body of believers. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:26-27: "Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards ... but God chose what is foolish...."

The Greek word for call is klesis and kletos. In the New Testament, God's klesis is an upward call (Philippians 3:14), a holy call (2 Timothy 1:9), a heavenly call (Hebrews 3:1), and, throughout the New Testament, a shared call (1 Corinthians 1:26; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:10). Followers of Christ are also called in hope (Ephesians 1:18; 4:4). "As an upward, holy, heavenly, shared, and hopeful call, God's invitation calls us to himself and his purposes. God invites us to share his joy and his purpose. Central to that purpose is the salvation of the world."

Listening Up - Don

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Funny - "The Truth, the whole truth!"

It is Friday!

Questions asked in a courtroom can be very revealing... especially in the South. Even of an old, sweet lady many would be happy to call grandma.

In a trial in the heart of the South, a prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly woman he had known since childhood, to the stand.

He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Whitaker, do you know me?"

She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Coolidge. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, cheat, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit lawyer. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Whitaker, do you know the defense attorney?"

She again replied, "Of course, I do. I've known Mr. Johnson since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Yes, I know him."

The defense attorney turned red with embarrassment.

The judge upon hearing the questions and answers thus far asked both counselors to approach the bench. In a very quiet voice he said, "If either of you asks her if she knows me, I'll throw you in jail for contempt."


Have a great weekend and try to stay cool...what happened to the snow? I miss it...you know I love ya, Don

Monday, June 14, 2010

No Longer Guilty!

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Summary: The child of God has a new standing, a position “in Christ Jesus.” Because of the Savior’s incarnation (“in the likeness of sinful flesh”) and atoning death on the cross the believer has been saved and has entered a new position in Christ. Now, in Christ, and by the Spirit, the believer can expect victory over the assaults of evil.

Paul announces in verse 1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The term “condemnation” in Paul means ultimate condemnation for sin, and not merely defeat in the spiritual life. This is why the reference must go back beyond the discussion of the spiritual struggle. If people are “in Christ,” that is, true believers, identified with Christ by faith, there is no condemnation for them. God cannot condemn and will not condemn those who are “in Christ,” because He condemned Christ on their behalf.

The reason for our freedom from condemnation is expressed in verse 2—”the law of the Spirit of life” set us free. This is not a reference to the Law, but to the new principle which operates with the fixedness of a law. By coming to faith in Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit; and that Spirit produces life, whereas the Law produced death. So we have been set free—it has been accomplished—we do not have to strive to get freedom, but rather stand in the freedom that has been given to us. It is like getting on an elevator—you do not have to push your way upward.

In verse 3 he elaborates that it was impossible for the Law to do this because it was weak. It was weak because of that with which it had to deal—sinfulness and the punishment for sin. The anchor of the Law was strong, but could not hold in the mud bottom of the human heart. What did set us free was God’s sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. Thus, He condemned sin in sinful man.

The purpose of this act was that the righteous requirements of the Law be fully met in us (v. 4). This verse is the balance, otherwise some might overly stress the doing away of the Law. For what the Law revealed, “the righteousness of God,” is the standard to be met. To say we are no longer under the Law is true, but that is not a license to avoid the righteousness that the Law revealed. But what Paul is saying is that the only way to meet the requirements of the Law is to be in Christ by faith. Those who are in Christ do not continue to live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit. They might try for a while, but the Spirit will begin to deal with them and convict them.

I believe Christ has set us free from condemnation and empowered us by the Spirit to walk in the newness of life.Lord, Help me to live like I believe it. You know I love ya, Don

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Funny - "The Old Preacher"

The old pastor made it to a practice to visit the parish school one day a week. He walked into the 4th grade class, where the children were studying the states, and asked them how many states they could name. They came up with about 40 names. He jokingly told them that in his day students knew the names of all the states.

One lad raised his hand and said, "Yes, but in those days there were only 13."

Keep Laughing - you know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Heart...

Do good ... be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share ... so that [you] may take hold of the life that really is life. -1 Timothy 6:18-19 (NRSV)

If we were to truly follow God's word, we could make poverty a thing of the past. In the passage above, Paul encouraged Timothy to be content with life and not set his mind on worldly riches, but instead to "shun [the love of money]; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness (1 Tim. 6:11). He then left a "commandment" for Timothy -- and for us: "do good . . . be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share" (1 Tim. 6:18).

Truthfully, our world is full of enough resources that no person should be in want; poverty should disappear. But we all know that everywhere in the world those who have ample possessions often desire to possess even more, to live above others and to control others' destiny. When we become unwilling to share, we have given up our stewardship and instead revel in our possession of God's world and of God's wealth.

True, Paul does not condemn money itself. However, he does speak of the love of money as the root of all evil. (See verse 10.) The love of money and the love of "stuff" leads to all sorts of selfish acts. But if we become generous and share our riches, we "store up for [ourselves] the treasure of a good foundation for the future" (verse 19). Only then may we "take hold of the life" that is really worth living.

May we never forget that Jesus taught us we will always have the poor. He also taught us to take care of the widows and orphans. Thus, if we keep our perspective on His heart, we will share and loved beyond any riches this world will ever give.

You know I love ya and have a great day! - Don

Monday, June 7, 2010

Listen Up - I linger longer

When I stop and listen to God, I find I am living in the "Linger Longer Road." Dawn Mooring in Georgia wrote:

I have a friend who lives on Linger Longer Road. Doesn't that name sound inviting? The drive between my home and my friend's takes over an hour. Upon arrival, I feel compelled to stay a while. The address, Linger Longer Road, prompts me to kick off my shoes and relax.

Maybe I should engrave the words "Linger Longer" on my Bible. On some days, I open the scripture and spend hours reading and savoring a passage. I enjoy God's words as if they were rich food set on a banquet table before me. But I have to admit that on other days, I grab a light snack from scripture and keep walking. I tell the Lord, "Tomorrow."

Suppose I invite guests for dinner and fellowship. If they came and asked immediately for a to-go box, I would be insulted. I wonder if God feels the same way about the way we come to the Bible. God wants us to hunger for the love, wisdom, and instruction found in the Bible. Do we treat God's word like a fast-food drive-through? Perhaps engraving "Linger Longer" on the front of our Bibles would entice us to stay a while.

I want to listen up and pay attention to His words. The psalmist wrote, "My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night." (Psalm 63:56-NRSV)

Listening Up to His voice - You know I love ya, Don

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Funny - "Truth revealed in a Child"

A Sunday School teacher decided to have her 2 nd grade class memorize Psalm 23, one of the most quoted passages in the Bible. She gave the children a month to learn the chapter.

One little boy was excited about the task, but he just couldn't memorize the Psalm. Although he practiced and practiced, he could hardly get past the first line. The day came for the children to recite Psalm 23 before the congregation. The little boy was nervous. When his turn came, he stepped up to the microphone and proudly said, "The Lord is my Shepherd and that's all I need to know!"

Amen to the little boy - Have a great weekend! Don