Walking Through Life God's Way

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