Easter - 2018

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

For more information and Memorial Day historical facts click "Memorial Day."

I am remembering those we love that have gone on before us and those that have died giving there all for our freedoms on this day. We love you....Don

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Funny - Trying to pull a fast one

It is Friday...if you are like me, you probably know these guys....

Three guys were trying to sneak into the Olympic Village to scoop souvenirs and autographs. The first says, "Let's watch the registration table to see if there's a crack in the security system that we can utilize to scam our way in."

Immediately, a burly athlete walks up to the table and states, "Angus MacPherson. Scotland. Shot put." He opens his gym bag to display a shot put to the registration attendant.

The attendant says, "Very good, Mr. MacPherson. Here is your packet of registration materials, complete with hotel keys, passes to all Olympic events, meal tickets, and other information."

The first guy gets inspired and grabs a small tree sapling, strips off the limbs and roots, walks up the registration table and states: "Chuck Wagon. Canada. Javelin."

The attendant says, "Very good, Mr. Wagon. Here is your packet of registration materials, hotel keys, passes, meal tickets, and so forth. Good luck!"

The second guy grabs a street utility manhole cover, walks up to the registration table and states: "Dusty Rhodes. Australia. Discus."

The attendant says, "Terrific, Mr. Rhodes. Here is your packet of registration materials, hotel keys, a full set of passes, and meal tickets. Enjoy yourself."

They scamper in, but suddenly realize the third guy is missing. They groan, because he's a simpleton from the hills of Virginia. They forgot to make sure he doesn't do something to blow their cover stories.

Just then he walks proudly up to the table with a roll of barbed wire under his arm and states: "Foster Bean. Roanoke, Virginia. Fencing."

Have a great weekend and keep laughing...keeps everyone guessing. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Giving Thanks!

Brenda Gordon of Aberdeeneshire, Scotland wrote,
"I sent a check to a young friend who was struggling to cope on her meager wages. Because it was a modest amount I didn't expect a lot of excitement, but I hoped for at least a thank you! Hearing nothing, I wondered if she had received the gift. Then, two months later, I bumped into her in town. She offered a casual "thanks" in answer to my query and said she hadn't had time to deposit the money yet. I felt that my gift was unappreciated, and I wondered whether I would be as open-handed in the future.

Back home I knelt in God's presence, forgiving my friend and confessing my hard feelings. I'm grateful that God is much more gracious than we are. God continues to give to us though we too often forget to return thanks. First Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

God doesn't need our thanks to be happy and content. But our gratitude pleases God; and when we thank our friends and neighbors, we promote their well-being and ours."

I am taking this to heart and thank you, Lord, for all the blessings on this day! You are one of those blessing to me - Don

Monday, May 24, 2010

Coexist - only in Christ!

A great multitude ... from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages ... cried out in a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God ... and to the Lamb!" -Revelation 7:9-10 (NRSV)

I saw that bumper sticker again. You know the one that states "coexist." It uses the symbols of the world religions to make up the word. There is only one way to return to a living relationship with Almighty Jehovah God and that is through Jesus Christ. Christ-followers could be more open to coexist with each other. We need to speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent, and in all things demonstrate love. It is then the world may understand what it is to truly coexist.

POLYPHONY is a musical term. The word literally means "many sounds." In polyphony, voices or instruments move independently but work together around a constant central theme. Musician and theologian Jeremy Begbie talks about "Pentecostal polyphony." He describes Christ crucified and risen as the constant center around which the Holy Spirit weaves our diverse lives into a harmonic community called the Body of Christ. Within this community, the Spirit binds our lives together in the love of God.

Here's my version of that: There are no solo performers in the Body of Christ. We can't live singing "I Did It My Way" and still claim to be a follower of Jesus. We find out who we are and discover our unique "song" as our lives are woven into the lives of others in the love of Christ. Dr. E. Stanley Jones often said, "Everyone who belongs to Christ belongs to everyone who belongs to Christ."

What happened at Pentecost is a living portrait of what God intends for all of creation: many voices, from all nations, races and cultures, singing together in a triumphant song of praise to God (Rev. 7:9-17). In contrast to the world's racism, jingoism, prejudice, hatred and war, each of us is called to help form God's church into a unified body that sings God's song in all we do.

We coexist in Christ and then we truly share in the abundant life He gives...You know I love ya, Don

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Funny - How a Child's Mind Works

How a child's mind works.....

One morning in elementary school, the students were going to a geography class. The teacher wanted to show the students where cities and states are.

The teacher asks the class, "Does anyone know where Pittsburgh is?" Billy raises up his hand and says, "Yeah, Pennsylvania!". The teacher replies, "Very good, Billy!, now can anyone tell me were Detroit is?"

Suzy raises her hand and says, "That's in Michigan!" The teacher again says, "Very good."

Trying to confuse the children, she now asks, "Where's Kansas City?" Tommy raises his hand and says, "Oh Oh Pick me!!!, I know?" The teacher says, "OK, Tommy where is Kansas City?"

"Last place."

I want a mind more like a child....have a great Friday! - Don

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Seeking Direction

Ask in faith, never doubting. - James 1:6 (NRSV)

Carolyn Schemahorn of Missouri, USA wrote:

For his birthday, our young grandson Camden received a toy helicopter with "some assembly required." After his grandpa put it together, the toy would not fly. Then I tried, and his mother gave it a whirl. Still, no flying helicopter.

While each of us worked hard, Camden stood by, watching. Finally, in a calm, matter-of-fact voice he said, "Maybe we should read the directions." Hearing his words, we laughed out loud.

At that moment, our daughter assured him, "When your father gets home, he will put it together for you." Sure enough, that is just what happened.

What makes us attempt to do something without clear direction? Pride and a false sense of self-reliance may keep us from taking advantage of help that is available to us.

My thoughts went to the many times I have tried to do something on my own without reading God's directions given in the Bible. Rather, desiring to know what God wants me to do, I must seek in faith, not with a doubting mind. (See James 1:5-6.) When I read God's word and then pray, asking for guidance and wisdom, God gives them freely.

I couldn't agree more - standing in faith on the Rock, Don

Monday, May 17, 2010

Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.

-Romans 12:12 (TEV)

I have learned that my physical well-being is much improved by taking my doctor's recommendation and faithfully doing exercises to strengthen my body for 15 minutes each day. Devoting a small portion of each day to this routine has made a major difference in my quality of life.

This small discipline has also made me more aware of the value of Christian disciplines. I realize anew the importance of spending time each day in Bible reading and prayer. I am able to think deeply about the people on my prayer list, and I try to keep in touch with them regularly. Sometimes a word of encouragement can show someone that we care and may be what that person needs to hear right at that moment. This is one of the reasons I blog and find other blogs such an encouragement.

Another discipline of the Christian life is knowing that I need to seek help and advice when problems arise. This discipline holds true in my spiritual journey; talking with a friend and sharing problems and joys makes both of us grow spiritually. Just as beginning my day with my exercises has improved my life physically, so the time I spend in devotionals has strengthened me spiritually.

Stay strong, stay in the Word, and remain faithful and Jesus will bring new mercies every morning. - You know I love ya - Don

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Funny - Eating Healthy!

This Friday Funny hit a little close to home.....
Two Christians have lived very good, and also very healthy lives. They die, and go to heaven.

As they are walking along, marvelling at the paradise around them, one turns to the other and says "Wow. I never knew heaven was going to be as good as this!"

"Yeah", says the other. "And just think, if we hadn't eaten all that oat bran we could have got here ten years sooner."
By the way....Kroger has a great Oatmeal that is low in sodium...ask me how I know :)

Have a great weekend, Don

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Throwing it down!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

-John 10:10 (NRSV)
So many times I have trouble laying things at the feet of Jesus. Much like Moses standing at the burning bush holding his shepherd's rod...God asks us to throw it down. For when we throw it down it becomes a snake and when we pick it up it becomes a rod again. The following devotion was written by a preacher in Fiji. It touched my heart.

One afternoon as I was driving home from my pastoral work, I met two men who were returning from their gardens. Both men were carrying heavy loads of fresh produce. I stopped on the roadside and offered them a lift in the back of my van.

After driving for some time, I noticed the men were still holding their heavy loads on their laps and not on the floor. I then asked them, "Why don't you set your loads down on the van floor?"

To my surprise one of the men answered, "We did not want to make your van dirty."

Even when we are invited, we are sometimes reluctant to lay our burdens down. I started to think about this in regard to our relationship with Jesus Christ. We come to church, we participate in Bible studies, we attend prayer meetings. But we are not willing to unload our sins on Jesus, who invites us to let go of what weighs us down.

Jesus is able and willing to help us with our daily burdens. When we are set free by his love, we can find the joy and meaning that God desires for us.

Anil Reuben (Suva, Fiji)

A shepherd's rod was a thing of status and comfort. It demonstrated hard work and wear. It granted a sense of pride and it was a piece of wood that was familiar to the shepherd. It took a great deal of faith for Moses to throw it down. When we take a step of faith and throw down our shepherd's rod, the rod no longer belongs to us...it becomes the rod of God. With the rod of God, you can turn the Nile river into blood, you can charge your protests against Pharaoh, you can part the Red Sea, you can strike the rock and water will flow, and with the rod of God you can set the people free.

So, join me in throwing down our burdens and letting go of that which so easily entangles us...our sin. You know I love ya - Don

Sunday, May 9, 2010

WORDS affect our worship!

"The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver." - Prov. 10:20

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." - Prov. 18:21

My mom used to say to us when we were children, "If I was not a Christian and I saw how you are acting, would I want to become a Christian?" She had high expectations of us and for that I am very thankful. One of those expectations was in our words. What sort of words proceed from our mouths? Words that encourage, words that inspire, words that are positive and faith filled, or words that pull down, words that criticise, or words that are negative! We must realize that what we allow to reside in our hearts will eventually come out of our mouths. Matt.12:34......"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."

It starts with our thoughts – whatever thoughts we take on board and accept as truth, will become a part of our lives. The foundation we build in our own lives, will be the foundation we pass on to others. If we build thoughts of negativity into our lives, we will build negative words into our children. If we build criticism into our lives, our conversation with others will be based on criticism.

Some people, as soon as they open their mouths, speak negativity and criticism. I don’t want to be one who sits in the seat of the scornful. It is easy to fall into a habit of being a faultfinder where we seem to always major on the faults instead of the positive elements. This can become a pattern in one’s life. When others are being critical, do we join them in their criticism? Paul says to the Ephesian church in Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

You and I have so many opportunities of speaking into people’s lives - opportunities of speaking spirit and life to our children, our grandchildren, our friends, our partners, the man in the street, and our neighbors. The question is, do we seize the opportunity? King David said “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be pleasing in your sight O Lord”.

"Lord, help me to think about the words I allow to proceed from mouth. Help me to guard my heart so that what I speak brings healing, strength and growth to people's lives. Help me to draw away from those that are bitter and critical and let my words be sweet and those that will build up and edify. Amen."

You know I love ya - Don

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Funny - "What else could you do?"

It is Friday and this could happen to me.....
One day, a guy was on his way home from work when the most remarkable thing happened. Traffic was heavy as usual, and as he sat there at a red light, out of nowhere a bird slammed into his windshield. If that wasn't strange enough, the poor creature got its wing stuck under the windshield wiper.

Just then the light turned green and there the guy was with a bird stuck on his windshield. Without any other apparent options, he turned on the windshield wipers to try to get rid of the bird. It actually worked. On the upswing, the bird flew off, and it slammed right onto the windshield of the car behind him. Unfortunately, the car behind him was a police car.

Immediately the lights went on and he was forced to pull over. The officer walked up and told him that he saw what had happened at the light. Trying to plead his case fell on deaf ears. The officer simply stated, ''I am going to have to write you up for flipping me the bird.''
Enjoy life and keep those smiles on your face - keep 'em guessing! - Don

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Light House Keeper - Keeper of the Light!

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

-1 Peter 2:9 (NRSV)

When we pray, we are like a light house keepers in a storm. We cast our faith and our prayer into the dark wind and rain. We also trust in the faithfulness of God to guide those in the storm home. I found this devotional from Teresa Murphy. She describes it so well.

LIGHTHOUSE keepers have to be a sturdy breed. It can be wearing and lonely to be stationed where they are. The work is generally heaviest when and where conditions are the worst. A lighthouse might be more comfortable stationed inland. But those in the riskiest locations -- out where the wind howls -- have the most opportunities to rescue people.

The glow of a lighthouse isn't meant to illuminate the inside of the building. It's meant to pierce obscurity when darkness descends and storms arise. The noise a lighthouse makes isn't for the keeper's entertainment. It's for cutting through fog too thick for light to penetrate, for raising an alarm, for guiding the lost.

When I see a lighthouse situated at the far edge of safety, I think of our call to light the world. Our call to pray for peace, wisdom, and bold actions for Jesus. Like the beacons that guide ships to safe harbor, we are the hope of the Lord made visible. We drive our light into the darkness and our voices through the fog of life. "See! Hear! Come! Christ is where chaos ends." Let us shine boldly so that those still tossing in the storm may find their way to the safe harbor that Christ offers.

Teresa Murphy (Oregon, USA)

Jesus is the beacon...it is our job to pray, to trust, and to live that trust in all we do. You know I love ya - Don

Monday, May 3, 2010

Prayer - Dwelling with the Messiah

Once there was a monastery in the woods that had fallen upon hard times. In the past it had been a thriving community that was well known and respected throughout the region, but over the last generation the monks had died one by one and there were no new vocations to replace them. Besides this, the monks did not seem to be as friendly to each other. Something just wasn't right. The Father Abbot was quite concerned about the future of his monastery, now consisting of himself and three brothers and, thus, he sought counsel from the local rabbi who was known to be a great sage. The abbot went to the rabbi and asked him if he had any advice on what to do to save his monastery. The rabbi felt at a loss and said that he, too, worried about his own congregation; people were too busy and simply were not coming to the synagogue any longer. The two commiserated together and read the Torah. As the abbot was getting ready to return home the rabbi looked at him and said, "One in your home is the Messiah." The abbot walked home puzzled as to what the rabbi's words meant.

When he arrived at the monastery the monks asked the abbot what he had learned. He responded that the rabbi had given him no concrete advice, but he had said in cryptic language, "One in your home is the Messiah." Over the next days and weeks the monks pondered what this might mean. Was it possible that one of them was the Messiah? If that was the case then most certainly it was Father Abbot. He had been the leader for more than a generation. On the other hand it might be Brother Thomas, for he is a holy man and full of light. Certainly it could not be Brother Eldred. He is old, crotchety, and often mean-spirited, but he always seems to be right, no matter what the situation or question. The rabbi could not have meant Brother Phillip. He is very passive - a real nobody, but one has to admit that he is always there when someone needs assistance.

As they continued to contemplate this question, the old monks began to treat each other with great respect, on the off chance that the one with whom they were dealing really was the Messiah. They again began to live the gospel message. The monastery was a much more prayerful place once again.

Because the monastery was located in a beautiful portion of the forest it was common during the spring, summer, and fall months for families to come and have picnics on the grounds. During this period people who came seemed to sense the new spirit of respect and love that was present at the monastery. The people returned often and one day a young man came to the Father Abbot and asked if he could join the community. Soon others inquired and joined and, thus, after several years the vibrant community at the monastery was again restored because the wisdom of the rabbi had transformed hearts. The monks had once again started to live their lives according to the Golden Rule.

The monks in the monastery learned, "through the back door," of the need to treat their brothers with respect. They were converted to an understanding that prayer must be a way of life. They learned that through prayer, they were in the presence of the Messiah and the old Rabbi was correct when he stated, "One in your home is the Messiah."

Prayer, one's daily communication with God, is a staple of all organized religion and a central tenet to the Judeo-Christian tradition of which we are all members. In the Hebrew Scriptures there are numerous examples of various kinds of prayer that are used to invoke God to act. In Numbers 21:7 the Israelites ask Moses to save them, "Pray to the Lord to take the serpents from us." More positively, Ezra calls the Hebrews to "pray for the life of the king and his children" (Ezra 6:10). Jeremiah wrote to the Jews in exile telling them, "Pray to the Lord on its [the city of Babylon's] behalf" (Jeremiah 29:7). King Zedekiah asked Jeremiah, "Please pray for us to the Lord our God" (Jeremiah 29:7). The book of Psalms is filled with prayers of praise to God. The psalmist writes, "You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him" (Psalm 22:23). Psalm 148, familiar to many, begins: "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all his angels; praise Him all his host! Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you shining stars! Praise Him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord."

The New Testament is equally filled with references to the importance of prayer. It is clear that Jesus was a man of great prayer; it was the center of his life. Many times Jesus went off by himself to an isolated spot to pray to the Father (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12), sometimes spending the whole evening in prayer. Jesus encouraged his friends to pray. He took Peter, James, and John up on a mountain to pray and there he was transfigured before them (Luke 9:28-36). After the Last Supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and he told these same three apostles to pray as well (Mark 14:32-42). When Jesus' hour had come he prayed for those who would be left behind; he never forgot his friends (John 17:1-26).

My prayer is that I never become too arrogant that I forget prayer is the essence of survival in this life. Praying for you and may His love and grace be found faithful in all our lives - Don