Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Waiting Room!


All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. -Romans 8:14 (NRSV)

Since Nicholas' passing, I feel like we are in a waiting room for new hope. I recall scriptures of righteous men and women that waited on God. Job waited on God and questioned God. God responds with, "do you know what I know, I am still in control, just wait and I will show you my greatness." Or when Mary was pregnant with Jesus, God responds with a message, "You are blessed of all women" Then she endures ridicule and shame. Or even Abraham and his desire for a son, "God makes him wait 40 years."

To often, I'm afraid I expect God to speak only at certain times and in certain ways. "If God wants to speak, my morning devotional time is the opportunity or when I am in worship would be a optimal time," would seem to be my thinking. But what if God wants to speak through circumstances in the middle of my day? Will I be receptive or am I too busy waiting that I miss His answer and His touch?

I think of Elijah, someone in the Bible who had a predetermined idea of how God would communicate with him. Elijah had recently made a stand for God before 850 false prophets. Yet at the word of the wicked queen, Jezebel, Elijah fled to the wilderness, hoping to hear from God. He expected to hear God through some loud, calamitous event, listening for God in the fire, the wind, the earthquake - something spectacular. After all, that's how God spoke to Moses. But instead God spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice.

Our ears are often closed to the many ways God comes into our lives. We expect God to speak at certain times or in certain ways. But I am convinced that God is not concerned with clocks and calendars. God calls us to forget our time markers and cultivate sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's nudges, any time, any place.

I am praying for you. Please pray for us. We are waiting...we are still hurting...we love being parents and seek to be the best parents Matthew and Alice and Nicholas deserve...we want to please the Lord in all we are...we want to be a light to the darkness in this world...we want to hear His voice. You know we love ya, Don

Monday, February 21, 2011

What is the Question?

"As he (Jesus) 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." John 9:1-3
Whatever happens today to you, you have a choice...

One, see it as a horrible, terrible punishment.
OR
Two, see it as another opportunity to see God's works displayed in the situation.

Too many times, we ask the wrong question and it tarnishes the answers...you know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

People of Influence because they believed!

"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

I learned these words of John 3:16-17 many years ago. Probably at a Vacation Bible School program or in Sunday School. Somewhere, at some time, and in a place where people were dedicated to the Word and to the Kingdom of God, these words were written on my heart. There the words were planted and they grew in me and are still growing even today.

It could have been at home. Mom was our Sunday school teacher for several years not just at church but at home as well. We would hear the words at home or even read them in our bibles. Dad was also there and he may have influenced the words in my heart.

It could have been Jane Disney, Joanne McMannis, or Mrs. Ashley. These three ladies were Sunday School teachers at one point. I don't remember Mrs. Ashley's first name. She was a good and solid example, yet we only called her Mrs. Ashley. It might have been by the living example of Pastor Lloyd and his wife, Dorothy. They not only taught the Word, they lived it in a tangible testimony. As a child, I always had influence in each event at the church.

It might have been Vacation Bible School. I remember themes such as Treasure Island and God's Vineyard. It was a great week for my summer adventures every year. I never cared to much about going to regular school in those years of my life, but VBS was the best and I ALWAYS enjoyed every minute. Those weeks in my summers as a child were a strong influence in my christian maturity.

The words that, "God loved the world so much that He was willing to sacrifice it all and that He did not do all this to condemn us, but to give us life" were etched in and have been an influence in how I love in my life today. The words have certainly have comforted me in our sorrow over the last few weeks. We know that God hurts along side us because he loves us. The words have also brought great conviction over the years. "God so loved that He gave" are a high calling for following the same example and to give sacrificially to others as He did. The words help us discover that condemnation is not a Christ-followers purpose, but that we are to give life in our words, our actions, and our attitudes.

Today, I am going to try and share these words. Not just in this blog or by lip service, but by sharing the love because He loved. I am going to try to give away service and action because He gave. I am NOT going to condemn, but strive to see beyond the condemnation into a place of love and support. He is a great God. I am going to honor His greatness by being willing to love beyond words. I am seeking to honor the people of influence in my life because God made it possible for me by bringing people of influence into my life.

How about joining me in being an influence today? You know I love ya, Don

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's day!

Today is Valentine's day...what is that all about?
The story of St. Valentine has two different versions - the Protestant and the Catholic one. Both versions agree upon Saint Valentine being a bishop who held secret marriage ceremonies of soldiers in opposition to Claudius II who had prohibited marriage for young men and was executed by the latter. During the lifetime of Valentine, the golden era of Roman empire had almost come to an end. Lack of quality administrators led to frequent civil strife. Education declined, taxation increased and trade witnessed a very bad time. The Roman empire faced crisis from all sides, from the Gauls, Slavs, Huns, Turks and Mongolians from Northern Europe and Asia. The empire had grown too large to be shielded from external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. Naturally, more and more capable men were required to to be recruited as soldiers and officers to protect the nation from takeover. When Claudius became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. He believed that marriage made the men weak. So he issued an edict forbidding marriage to assure quality soldiers.

The ban on marriage was a great shock for the Romans. But they dared not voice their protest against the mighty emperor. The kindly bishop Valentine also realized the injustice of the decree. He saw the trauma of young lovers who gave up all hopes of being united in marriage. He planned to counter the monarch's orders in secrecy. Whenever lovers thought of marrying, they went to Valentine who met them afterwards in a secret place, and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. And thus he secretly performed many marriages for young lovers. But such things cannot remain hidden for long. It was only a matter of time before Claudius came to know of this "friend of lovers," and had him arrested.

For more history click... History of Valentine's Day.
I also found this great poem that demonstrates a discovery of how much God cares and loves us. Hear the words and find new contentment in the reality that God loves you.

* A Valentine may play a love song for you, but God sings you the sweetest love song in the universe. "The Lord your God... will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

* A Valentine may give you flowers, but God sent you the most beautiful rose of all. Jesus. "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." Song of Solomon 2:1

*A Valentine may bring you chocolate, but God provides you with something even sweeter, His Word. "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Psalm 119:103

*A Valentine may love you for a lifetime, but God loved you before you were born and will love you for all eternity. "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love...with loving kindness I have drawn you." Jeremiah 31:3

Happy Valentine's day and You know I love ya too, Don

Friday, February 11, 2011

Isaiah 35:8-10 - Gladness overtakes Sorrow!

Clinging to this scripture today in Isaiah 35:8-10:
8 And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness;
it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there,
nor any ravenous beast;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and those the LORD has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Looking for the gladness and joy to over take us today...and praying the same for you. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"We have a cure for that!"

I was at the DADs meeting last night. We had Dr. Randall J. Roper who is a great scientist and advocate for people with Down Syndrome. His research is changing lives for the future. He is studying the effects of the brain and its size in people with Down syndrome. He is an associate professor of Genetics at IUPUI. He holds a PhD in Immunology and Genetics and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Genetics and Development at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Roper was one of the key researchers instrumental in the development of the "mouse model of Down syndrome." With this important advancement, researchers like Dr. Roper can now better understand the specific traits that are present in individuals with Down syndrome and develop possible cutting-edge treatments. He also has a lab that cares for mice that have down syndrome and the genetic codes for some very proactive research in Indianapolis.

He was telling us last night about how they write grants requests all the time. One of the responses he received was appalling. The response was in big letters, "We already have a cure for this!" The implication was prenatal testing and abortion. These children and lives should be terminated. Yes, this is in the United States and with supposedly educated people that have money to use for research. Dr. Roper and his team were just as taken back and were encouraging us as parents to continue the cause set out before us.

I, as were all the dads in the room hurt, cut down, and plainly taken back by such an ignorant statement. Yet, this morning I am reminded how everyone of us are just as ignorant about our disabilities. This world wide disability is called, "sin." There are too many of us that blow over our sin and do not take it seriously. The wrong choices we make, the neglect of widows and orphans, the pure and simple act of pushing others down to advance our self, and the things that separate us from God are all sin.

On the flip side of the coin, I believe there is something that has already been done to cure our sin disability. The cross of Jesus is the cure that enables us to face and even embrace our sin. When the test for an incurable disease shows positive, even though the initial reaction may be denial, at some point the patient must accept the presence of the deadly thing in order to deal with it. How much more should we be able to face and admit our sin. At times we must even welcome it in order to deal with it.

Lets get a few things clear. First, I do not believe Down syndrome is a deadly disease in any way or fashion. I have discovered that people with an extra chromosome have unique and special abilities that transform their vision of the world into something that is much more clear, much more proactive, and much more in abundance than those of us lacking the extra chromosome. Second, the person that responded to Dr. Roper's plea for funds with such a lack of understanding on life also needs to check into the reasons for life and that anyone that would willing pro-advocate the destruction of life is going against the very nature of this world. That person's heart deeply requires the cure I am talking about.

Horatio G Spafford wrote the recognition of our disability of sin this way:
My sin, o the bliss of this glorious thought, My sin, not in part, but he whole, Is nailed to the Cross, and I bear it no more: Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul!
The ugly, gruesome, and difficult scene of a man that is God in the flesh dying is the cure for our sin. It is my sin that caused Him to hang there. It is my sin that readies me for the cure. It is my sin that qualifies me for the cure from the debilitating effects in this life. I would wonder endlessly, harassed by the symptoms of a diseased nature if it were not for the Man, the God that was willing to do the work of standing in my place and finding the cure for my sin.

Yes, we have a cure for that...not Down Syndrome, but stupid ignorance that will lead to the final destruction of all who do not find the cure of the cross. I pray that I may never become so entrenched in the world and its views, that I forget the cure.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, February 7, 2011

Too Much "in" to get anyone "out."

A few years ago (seven to be exact). I preached a sermon with a story that would become real only a few months later. When Mathew was born and he picked up the staph infection, I began to loose hope. Without hope, fear creeps in and many frightening thoughts and attitudes start to dictate a persons actions. As was the case in me...I was scheduled to drive to a prayer meeting for Matthew and Karen was going to stay with him at the hospital.

Now my mother, a.k.a. Granny, was 400 miles away. About 1:00 PM, a nurse walked in an announced, "Granny is here." Karen and I looked at each other and said, "What?" The nurse responded, "Yeah, Granny is here, can she come in?" We said of course, and sure enough, Granny had arrived.

She then drove me to the prayer meeting and reminded me of the story in the sermon. It goes like this:
A man falls into a hole and can't get out. Along comes a preacher. The man calls out and asks for the preachers help. The preacher preaches a long and awesome sermon. Then walks on.

Along comes Rabbi and the man yells out and asks for the rabbi's help. The Rabbi gives this awesome and well spoken prayer that would cause anyone to weep. Then walks on.

Along comes the man's best friend. The man in the hole hollers out in his loudest voice for help. The man's best friend jumps in the hole with him. Startled, the man says to his friend, "Hey, what are you doing, now both of us are stuck in this hole." The friend answers, "Yeah, but I've been down here before and know the way out."
Granny has been down in the hole a few times and she knows the way out. She heard the despair in her sons voice and she made a quick seven hour drive to Virginia and jumped into the hole with me. Paul writes in Romans 12:1-2; "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." We don't have to read much further to see that Paul is preaching the world will be confused by our faith in the cross and the foolishness our "Christ dedication" will be perceived by our worldly friends, family, and acquaintances.

No matter how attractive we make this package of a dying man, that is God in the flesh, bruised, beaten, bleeding with flesh torn and swollen, the message it contains is going to be a hard sell among current ways of thinking. Our culture wants its money, its time, and its love of self. The cross is not any of those things.

Jesus Christ came out of nowhere. He was a man for all times, at home in no time at all. He came to make visible what was invisible. Jesus Christ brought the eternal truths of God into the arena of daily human life and culture, but he was not enmeshed in that culture. He was not defined by first-century Roman life. His life and his message transcended his culture and time.

Simultaneously, Jesus stood both inside and outside of culture. This ability of the gospel to transform as well as transcend, that is to stand outside of culture as well as inside, is the aspect of the gospel that our present traditional and contemporary efforts lack. I am wondering if as a "church" are too much "in" to be able to lead anyone "out." In other words, we jumped in the hole with the man as his best friend and hung out there so long, we have forget how to get out.

A rediscovering of our passions and the message that Christ is risen from the dead and tht we need to "come awake" is needed in all of our hearts. We need Christ-followers to step up be willing to lead people to the cross. The cross of sacrifice and determination. Worship is defined, "Declaring how much God is worth in your life." Well, in all our technology, our work to meet people where they are and the "stuff" of today's worship, we seem to have neglected the reality that Jesus is worth it all...every effort, every word, every goal, every cent, every sacrifice, and every moment!

I am still thankful for the day Granny arrived and helped me out of the hole. She grasps these things and spends half her year in Africa trying to save children's lives. Currently, she is setting up a special needs school in Neryi, Kenya in honor of her Grandson, Nicholas. She is a passionate woman of faith. I pray someday I will grow up to be more like her.

You know I love ya and lets get out of this hole together. Don

Friday, February 4, 2011

Firm Hope!

"II Corinthians 1:3-7 is one of my favorite verses. It testifies to God's grace that allows even our suffering to overflow to comfort others." A quote from Glenda Jansson in California. She is a Christ-follower, Godly woman, and the glue that keeps believers connected.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Thank you Glenda. You are very special to me!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Building our Village: Ideas anyone?

Building our Village: Ideas anyone?: "Well so many things I wanted to accomplish today. We have our Powers of Attorney paperwork ready to be notarize and faxed for approval. This..."

First Post of February, Prayer requests & 1 Peter 1:3-9

Praying for Baby Jackson, Vladimir B, Jill's Family, Kim Hoegfen, and Deanna Peter's Dad.

God's word is always a good way to start a month. I found great comfort in these words today. They are 1 Peter 1:3-9.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

You know God has great mercy and even in our suffering, He is refining us for great things that will bring complete joy and restoration of life. You know you are loved, Don