Easter - 2018

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 is Coming!!!

I love the Imagery this pictures brings! I am ready to received the great things God has in store for this next year. You know I love ya and Happy New Year! Don

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Wish For You!

Looking forward to a great year ahead...you know I love ya, Don

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Watching Santa is a Great family event!

Norad always produces a great website for families to watch Santa's travels around the globe. It is also great to watch in the US because we are last on the list and can watch it during the Christmas Eve Day. The Link to watch is below:

Watch Santa

Merry Christmas!
You know I love ya, Don

Monday, December 19, 2011

God is Speaking!

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s have become a great festival time in our culture. It is probably the majority of the people’s favorite time of the year, but it is also the time of year when life moves faster, stress is greater, and the chaos of the season can easily drown out the voice of the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. It is this time of year, more than any other, that we need to stop and hear God speaking.

Our desire in Christmas is to be reminded that from the very beginning of time, all our failures and fears were on the heart of God as He sent His only Son to bring us hope and confidence necessary to live life to the fullest. The goal in these few minutes is to pause and listen to the voice of God Speaking.

We truly appreciate your reading of this blog. May you be blessed through all the hard work and dedication it takes to pull it off. May each of us hear God speaking in our lives through a child born in a manger and still working in our lives today.

You know I Love ya, Don

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas is a time for living!!!

Christmas is a time for Love; a time for Joy and Peace;
A time to trim the Christmas Tree and a time to stuff the geese.
It's a time when we can come together, however far or near;
To shed a little hope into a world of sorrow and fear.

Yet Christmas could be all year 'round, if only we would try
To gently wipe an old man's brow or soothe a baby's cry.
If we could smile throughout the year as we do on Christmas Day;
Just think what happiness we'd shed along life's weary way.

To give a gift of Hope to one who otherwise has none;
To be a Friend to somebody whom everyone else has shun.
To be Forgiving of our faults, and of our sisters and our brothers;
To Live in Peace and Harmony with ourselves and with each other.

Ah, don't you see that Christmas is more than opening up the gifts;
It's more than singing Christmas Carols and rolling in big snow drifts.
It's a feeling that can stay with you throughout each day, all year;
And all it takes is a loving heart.....and a sensitive little tear.

This poem was taken from http://www.diskworks.com/poem.html
Merry Christmas! Don

Monday, December 12, 2011

I have a sign from God...so do you!

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” - Isaiah 7:14

How many of us can say, "God has given me a sign?" Well, all of us...every person on this planet, of every color and creed, of every age can say they have received a sign from God. It is the birth of Jesus. Yes, he was born 2000 years ago and yes, He is just as relevant today as ever.

How? To the couple hurting from growing apart and selfish living, Jesus is the answer to our self serving desires and gives us the wisdom to think of the other person before and ahead of thinking of our own desires. To the person scorned by bias and prejudice, Jesus is the one that experienced complete and total rejection and He understands the world is not a place that serves, but Jesus will serve. To the outcast living a life of loneliness, Jesus was alone many times and truly felt alone even in a crowd just like when you attend the Christmas parties with crowds of people and feel like you are the only one there. To the parents of the child that is living outside the love of God and living in sin, Jesus cried over Jerusalem and over the loss of those that did not hear the message of hope. To the Muslim wondering why I have such a large religion, yet live with a whole in my heart that is missing the love and compassion that restores my life with my creator, Jesus rises up and declares, "I am the Way, follow me." I could go on and on and on....

You see ... Jesus is the sign to all the world. The virgin conceived a child and they called him Immanuel, God with us. Jesus dwelt among us so that we might know God. As we grow to know Him, we learn to share that knowledge with others....every other person we come in contact with.

It is every Christ-followers task to go and tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ was born. Notice we don't shout it into the hole of our self desire, but we shout it out from the mountains and over the valleys so that everyone in the valleys and on the mountains across the valleys can hear..."Jesus Christ has come." Join me in shouting it out and declaring there is hope for every situation...trust in Jesus and He will get you there.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

God Speaking Devotions!

Deidre Woods has been putting together devotions for our Christmas Musical on December 18th. This is our devotion from Sunday!

I recently got the opportunity to see “A Christmas Carol” on stage in Chicago. A series of events in the life of Ebenezer Scrooge had hardened his heart to the point of no return. I found myself crying as Scrooge’s wife was leaving him. I wanted to shake him. I kept thinking to myself, “Wake up, Scrooge! If you could only see. If you could only see what we see--- A hardened heart, no pity for others, self-centered, and so angry.” But then the tables turn, and he does get to see himself. Each ghost shows him something about himself that he couldn’t see before. As the last ghost concludes her visit, that’s when he realizes how bad it had gotten. You see a sparkle in his eye again, and he can’t move fast enough to right all the wrongs. He smiles again. He runs around town like a crazy man. He seems ready to scream at the highest rooftop through the little town. I think he would have ran to the chapel to ring the bells if he could. Everyone in the town would have stopped to wonder why the bells were ringing. He would have had their attention. He was a changed man, and he wanted everyone to know!

In our times, it wouldn’t do any good to run to the chapel with so much excitement and ring bells over and over proclaiming the good news as they might in Scrooge’s time. No one would even notice today. What would get people’s attention today? The people need to know the good news we have to share. It should get us so excited we can hardly contain ourselves. We should be bursting with happiness as we tell the greatest story ever told. How can you ring your bell this week?

Today’s Prayers: Pray for how you will ring your bell over the next few weeks as we go into the Christmas season with family and friends

Today’s Verse: Matthew 5:16

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Twelve days until our “God Speaking” musical! Thank You, Deidre. Praying God's Blessing on You. Don

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Wonder-Filled God

Sermon Notes to the above Sermon Video.
Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Mary was an ordinary girl that was given an extraordinary life through the wonder-filled counsellor.



Many times we have no idea what God is doing in our lives. But . . . the Wonderful Counselor grants us wonders that are often unexpected and often hard to comprehend...our response is...


Three suggestions on how we can move toward Wonder-Filled faith.

  • Remember God's Character.

  • Remember God's Track Record.

  • Remember God's Gift of His Son.


The response, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said" to God's wonders in your life may change the world, but if not the world . . . they will certainly change you.


Don's Facebook: DonCrane.worshipguy

Don's Twitter Account: DonaldCrane

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ordinary & Wonder Filled to the top and over-flowing!!!

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her"

She was a beautiful, young, vibrant, bubbly, jewish girl. She had dark hair and dark eyes. She was around 14 years old and had it all planned out...she was going to have it all. The wonder in her eyes said enough....Her parents had arranged a marriage to a good man, a solid man, a man with a skill and was well known among the people. He was even a descendant of King David. He was a carpenter and could make anything out of wood. He also handsome and bring great envy among her peers.

He might someday have a seat in the Synagogue. He could build them a nice house and fill it with great carvings, and cabinets, and furniture, and happiness. They were going to have many children and she would be the rave among all the other woman... a wonderful husband, wonderful children, a wonderful house, and a wonderful life.

Mary was an ordinary girl that was given an extraordinary life through the Wonder-filled Counselor.

I don't know what wonders are in store for you this Christmas. Some will sting, some will make you jump for joy, some will take you down uncharted paths, others will stretch you in ways you never imagined. But each surprise comes from the hand of the Father who loves you. And I pray that you respond with the words of Mary . . . "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said."

If you respond in that way, who knows, maybe God's wonders in your life will change the world. Yet, if not the world . . . they will certainly change you. I am chosing to make a point and follow Mary's example. You know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 28, 2011

Equation for Intentional & Effect Leadership (& Living)

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,” Hebrews 12:28

This verse has always inspired me to be a better citizen in God's kingdom. I see it as an equation for leadership and for productive living. Think of all the times you and I take advantage of the gifts being a Christ-follower brings to everyday life. Let me list a few...security in a great future, blessings of abundant life in joy and sorrow, relational gifts of love and mercy, eternal treasures that will never end, and knowing the creator of all the universe is in love with me. These are just a few of the benefits of God's Kingdom. I also like to notice in the verse that all these benefits and the benefits I didn't mention are "unshakable." In other words, they will never end nor can they be taken away.

Church leadership would do well to connect with this verse as well. Too many times church leadership pushes and pulls to gain position. In my experience, the best and most effective leadership I have had the joy and honor of serving beside has a humble and reverence for God. I think of Bob Russell of Southeast Christian Church. One of the largest church in the United States and Bob is one of the humblest men I know. I think of David Jeremiah and the same applies. Then there is the people in my life such at Lloyd Menning, Bob Kelly, Ronnie Jones and David Woods. Each of these men and their wives served with humility, with awe, with reverence, and a security in knowing their God and His Kingdom was unshakable. I wish there was space, I could go on and on about the effect Christ-followers such as these in my life.

Karen and I have tried to be ministers and Christ-followers after their example. The equation is given out in this verse of Hebrews. First: give thanks...saying thank you to God, His Son, and to others. Second: worship...declare on a public and personal level how much God is worth everything in our lives. Third: live in awe and reverence...allowing the Spirit to grant your heart, soul, mind, and strength an over-powering, over-whelming sense of God's greatness and might. As an intentional leader, I make it my goal to live this equation.

Giving Thanks + Declaring God's Worth + Living in Awe = Effective, Intentional Kingdom Leadership

For those of us that are not leaders, this is also a great equation for daily productive living. A result of the equation is a keen awareness of how unshakable God's Kingdom truly is. The awareness of God's power granted to the humble of heart brings a new and heightened level of God. Although, we may not be leaders in a large scale of the church, every Christ-Follower must always remember their leadership influence on those around them. The world is watching and waiting to point out how Christ does not work. So, we can all say we are leaders of some sort or another. Thus, the equation of Hebrews 12:28 is important to all of us. It is important so that Jesus will be praised and the non-believing world will see that He is Lord.

"Lord, Thank you for this equation that brings benefits to us all. Thank You for the wonderful examples in my life that have made this equation real to me. Please bring thanks, worship, and awe to my life so that I may return it to you and you alone. In Jesus' Name, Amen."

Thank You for sharing this with me and reading it. You are a joy and you know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving ... thoughts to ponder

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. - 2 Corinthians 4:15

Thanksgiving prayers were first uttered by God's people in the Old Testament and God ordained a specific sacrificial offering for thanksgiving. David, the psalmist, wrote many Thanksgiving devotions and Paul the apostle taught that we are to always pray and give thanks to God in all circumstances. When we use the Bible for devotions and for prayers, we are following after the hearts of men and women who led exemplary ideals for worshiping God. This Thanksgiving, if you are looking for good lessons to share with family or for prayers to pray during the day, turn to the Bible and find inspiration that turns a heart towards gratitude and finds the peace that much of the holiday season is promoting.

It's interesting that during the very seasons that Christians celebrate gratitude and the birth of Christ, our lives get the busiest and we are often so overloaded with schedules and shopping lists (turkeys to cook and potatoes to smash) we experience extreme stress and time seems to slip out of our grasps. This is actually the perfect time to stop all activities and reflect upon worshipful Thanksgiving devotions.

God ordained many traditions and specific rituals to teach His people proper responses to His love and mercy. "And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the Lord. If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil...." Jesus fulfilled the law of the Old Testament, and because of His ultimate sacrifice, we no longer must practice the laws that were in place to teach us of our shortcomings. But, Christ clearly promoted special times of giving thanks, and the teachings of Paul include turning our attitudes constantly towards gratitude.

Gratitude is a choice. When Nicholas died in January of this year, Karen and I made a choice to praise God even in the hardest time of our life. This Thanksgiving is a blessing because of the two new ones in our family, but it still just as hard because one is missing. Nicholas' absence is the new reality and the normal we will live on this side of heaven. The choice to praise and give thanks is the strength granted by God to live the journey. So, we give thanks and we turn to God's word for sustaining grace in everyday life.

Giving thanks for a great family and for a very special little boy that made last year's Thanksgiving one that I will never forget. You know I love ya and have a great Thanksgiving! Don

Monday, November 21, 2011


I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. - Psalm 69:30










© 2003 by Sarah Berthelson

I am giving thanks for you...you know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude is Thanksgiving all year long!

"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."
2 Corinthians 9:11

"Thanksgiving" is an American holiday that we will celebrate next week. Yes, other countries have a day of "Thanksgiving." Some countries celebrate much like the United States, but there are some countries that take thanksgiving and apply it to holidays or festivals such as the Chinese New Year or in many European Countries there are "Victory Day" celebrations that celebrate and give thanks for the victory over Nazism. Many British countries celebrate, "Boxing Day." Boxing day is celebrated the day after Christmas and is much like the American Thanksgiving. Therefore, most, if not all cultures have a nationally recognized holiday to give thanks.

As I read 2 Corinthians 911, it becomes apparent that giving thanks is a Judeo/Christian concept that spread through all religions over time. God wants His people to give thanks. From the very beginning, God and Adam walked to together and Adam gave thanks to Yahweh. Giving thanks was also a lifestyle for every major God fearing character is the Old and New Testament. I have also lived it with examples of Christ-followers all my life.

My lesson for the day is that I need to have thanksgiving as a way of life. I am not talking about the food, the festivities, and the football...I am talking about....giving thanks. The point of Thanksgiving is to remember the things we have to be grateful for...it is an attitude of gratitude! It's our special time to look to God and say, "Thank You"... not just for the obvious, like food, but for the thousands of fortunate moments, the multitude of blessings that we receive each year. It is seeing life and the blessing life truly is and not taking it for granted.

This past year has been a major journey for most of us. As my readers, you know the ups and downs we have experienced. There were highs and there have been deep sorrow. Thank you for taking it with me and I look forward to many more years of joy and being together.

You know I love ya - Don

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Nicholas!

Today is and would have been Nicholas' First Birthday. How do we wish happy birthday to my son that is with Jesus? This is the dilemma of the day. Alice suggests we have a party with balloons and cake. Now there's a good idea. Matthew suggested we sing. Another good idea. We will probably go by the cemetery and maybe we will take a balloon. So, what shall we do? We will play the day as it comes. One thing is for sure...we will miss him.

I think of 1 Peter 1:3-4:
"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..."

Every Christ follower has a hope that is granted in mercy. The hope is birthed in mercy...it is new life. This new life is in serving and giving of this life to the great and might servant of all man...Jesus. It is hard to understand, yet the more you give and serve the more the new life is realized. I am finding the discovery of eternal mercy in this life, even before the end of this life is achieved. It is the gift received in return to giving and serving...it is the living hope of a great and awesome future. It is the knowledge and awareness of the inheritance that is in heaven.

Back in March I wrote the following and it still applies today:

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Matthew 6:20-21 (NIV)

My computer is crashing on a regular basis this days. Matt is working on a new one, but until then I save and store my data very regularly....wink, wink. I will not let this computer get the best of me. Well, not all the time.

While I was saving and storing data, I recalled this verse and have a very real comfort in knowing that I have stored a very precious treasure in heaven. His name is Nicholas. A entirely new dimension emerged for me. I always thought the treasure would be good works of service and compassion; relational actions that make an eternal difference. I am sure it is those things, but then I think there will be tangible treasures in addition to the memories and actions...a hug, a touch, a smile, and best of all that ability to share life again.

I have a treasure stored in heaven and not even my computer can loose this treasure. Until then, I wait for the Lord.
Nicholas Mark is an inheritance in heaven I look forward to. He is resurrected from the heart issues he felt in this life. He will never perish, spoil of fade...in reality, he is just like the great shooting star that crossed over Indianapolis the day he past into eternity...Shooting stars are always bright, but never last long enough.

Happy Birthday, Little Guy! We miss you and will always love you. Daddy

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Best, Better, Great, Greatest!

"At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." Matthew 18:1-5

The disciples come to Jesus and ask, "Who is the greatest in the Kingdom?" They are asking the greatest creation of all, the actual Son of God, and the One all creation will worship in the new Kingdom. What arrogance and boldness on the part of the disciples. They are literally looking into the eyes of the greatest One in the Kingdom of heaven and asking, "Who is the greatest?"

Yet, Jesus doesn't zap them down like the fig tree. He doesn't curse them with boils or call down fire to burn them off of the surface of the earth. Jesus could have easily made it so that they had never been born. Jesus doesn't show any anger in the text at all.

Jesus simply call over a child, holds the child and says..."Do what he is." Jesus doesn't tell us to mimic what this child does, but that we are to be what the child is. A child is a follower, filled with joy, amazement, wonder, and innocence. A Christ-follower sees a child and does what the child is.

It is easy for us to look at the disciples and pass judgment on their arrogance. It is easy to point the finger at them. But, are we not just as arrogant, egotistical, and self-absorbed. Every time we decide to do it our way without considering God's direction, wisdom, and support, we are figuratively saying, "Who the greatest Jesus...you or me?" We should not accuse the biblical disciples, you and I are just as bad as they were, if not worse.

So, the next time you see a little child in all their innocence and joy...see yourself in their eyes and don't just mimic the child...be the child. Trust Jesus beyond the words of life and give him everything you hold and the "stuff" that is holding you. You Know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 7, 2011

All this waiting and now all this work!!!

"After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus." - Matthew 17:1-3

After a time ... Jesus took them up a mountain ... and there appeared... Isn't this just like God. First, he makes us wait. We have to wait on a job or we have to wait on word about getting a job. We have to wait for the perfect date for a wedding or we wait for the big birthday celebration. Then, there is the times we have to wait for answers to our problems or for the consequences of our actions. The hardest one of all is when we have to wait for someone else. We know they are going to make a huge mistake, yet we have to wait for them to come through the fire.

After we wait, then Jesus takes us "up" the mountain. He does lead us down the mountain with ease, but we have to walk up the mountain. We are already tired from the wait. We probably have to carry our "stuff." Then, there are the rocks and branches that are in the way. The sun is bright and often hot as you climb to the top. Yet, we follow Jesus up the mountain.

Finally, we see something around the clearing at the top of the mountain. It is a glorious appearing of Jesus along with all the other things we cherish. He is standing with the Moses' and the Elijah's of our experience. We then are in awe of his great power and might. We celebrate, we forget about the wait, and we don't ever think of the work it took to get up the mountain. In the glorious appearing all things are made clear and all the worry, doubt, and struggle disappear. He is good to those who love Him. He is also faithful to bring us the transfiguration in our daily lives.

So, if you are in the wait or following Jesus up the mountain, just remember He is good and it won't be much longer. Keep your eyes open and look for the appearing because it will be glorious in every way.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Trusting is assurance in the storms...

This story was sent to me by my Aunt Sue. I pray it touches you as it has touched me.

A pastor had been on a long flight between church conferences. The first warning of the approaching problems came when the sign on the airplane flashed on: Fasten Your Seat Belts.

Then, after a while, a calm voice said, "We shall not be serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence. Please be sure your seat belt is fastened."
As the pastor looked around the aircraft, it became obvious that many of the passengers were becoming apprehensive. Later, the voice on the intercom said, "We are so sorry that we are unable to serve the meal at this time. The turbulence is still ahead of us."

And then the storm broke . . .The ominous cracks of thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightning lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean. One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if were about to crash.

The pastor confessed that he shared the discomfort and fear of those around him. He said,

"As I looked around the plane, I could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying. The future seemed ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm.
Then, I suddenly saw a little girl. Apparently the storm meant nothing to her. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat; she was reading a book and everything within her small world was calm and orderly.
Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world"

When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid. The minister could hardly believe his eyes.

It was not surprising that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, our pastor lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time. Having commented about the storm and the behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid.
The child replied, "Cause my Daddy's the pilot, and he's taking me home."

There are many kinds of storms that buffet us. Physical, mental, financial, domestic, and many other storms can easily and quickly darken our skies and throw our plane into uncontrollable movement. We have all known such times, and let us be honest and confess, it is much easier to be at rest when our feet are on the ground than when we are being tossed about a darkened sky.
Let us remember: Our Father is the Pilot... He is in control and taking us home. I choose to trust in Jesus. You know I love ya - Don

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Saint's Day - Halloween is the night before!

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Cranes at the Buddy Walk 2011 in Indianapolis. What a great day and we even had our Nicholas Mark Crane Buttons. Auntie Bon Bon joined us for the weekend. It was terrific!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pearls, Pigs, and Peace!

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." Matthew 7:6

This is pretty strong language Jesus is using. It might seem to go against the teaching he just gave about being non-judgmental in the text prior. In fact, this is a teaching that is connected to the preceding teaching about being judgmental. Jesus tells us that being non-judgmental does not mean we are undiscerning, unwise, and fools in our choices. A Christ-follower is to recognize that there are some people so hardened to receiving the message that they will not listen.

Don't waste time trying to convince them or expound on talents on their behalf. Jesus uses powerful imagery of a well-known proverb to make his point. He has other teachings on the same topic in a softer means elsewhere. It narrows down to a realization that some people will not hear the Gospel message and others will not appreciate your talents and gifts. Those individuals have repeated determination not to hear and their unwillingness to respond does not mean we are to try harder, but simply to try elsewhere! Being a nonjudgmental person does not mean we bury our heads in the sand and/or keep wasting our efforts on those who refuse to hear.

We are to use Godly wisdom in all things...be discerning and be kind. It is not ours to judge or bring down heart ache in criticism. We are to be wise and use our hearts and minds to discern the pearls and talents in our lives to the best of our abilities.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, October 24, 2011

How to fight the strugles of life...Habits of Praise!

This is my son Nicholas.

We adopted Nicholas when he was three days old. He had down syndrome and would need to have heart surgery. We didn't fret over that too much because Matthew also has Down Syndrome and had already had heart surgery. Nicholas was born in New York City to a couple that were Moldovan immigrants who are wonderful people. We brought him home to Indiana and after about 5 weeks, he got a virus and that put his blood flows out of rhythm. His surgery would be sooner than later.

On January 4th of this year, he went in for a complete AV canal heart repair. When he returned from surgery, his blood pressures had trouble stabilizing. For two weeks, we watched the blood pressures go up and go back down...Back to surgery was the plan. A two hour procedure turned into 7 hours. Coming out of surgery, the doctors wanted to meet with us. They told us that he probably would not survive the night. We wanted to be with him.

They took us to the High Level Pediatric Intensive Care Room and we saw our little boy. As we reached in to him, the cardiologist leaned over and told me, “His blood gases are at a rate that he will not be with us more than another couple of hours.”

We chose to hold him and we sat face to face with Nicholas in our arms. At first he was awake and would turn his eyes to us when we would speak. We told him how wonderful he was and how much of a blessing he was to our family. 90 minutes later, his heart rate and breathing repetitions were very shallow, so we asked for the tubes to be removed. And for about another twenty minutes, we had our son in our arms...

In the last nine months, we have been asked, “How are you handling all this...?” The answer, “We are not!” Very early, we chose to praise God regardless. The survival of life's struggles is successful in habits of praise. Making a solid and convicted choice to give God the glory regardless of the circumstance is survival.

For a habit of praise, consider Shaddrack, Messhack, and Abindigo. The made a choice and that choice was a habit of praise in their lives. “King Nebuchadnezzar, even if God does not save us, we will not bow down to you.” The was not a spur of the moment decision. It was a habit in their life that was chosen years earlier. Is your habit the choice to praise God and not bow down, even when it gets HOT?

For another habit, consider John 9. The only miracle where Jesus goes to a blind man. The man is not calling out or pleading. His disciples ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, the man or his parents?” Jesus responds with, “Neither...you are asking the wrong question. The question to ask is how is God going to be glorified through his situation.” Is your habit to ask, “How is God going to be glorified in this situation?”

Consider, the Lord himself. He is in the garden. He knows the cross is just a few hours away. He pleads, “Lord, take this cup from me?...yet not my will but yours be done.” Jesus looked at his struggle to come and his habit is to follow his father's will. What about you...is your habit to do God's will regardless of your struggle?

Survival tips for life's struggles are to make it a habit to praise God in all circumstances...by choosing to praise, asking how is God going to be glorified, and following God's direction and will. I have a new treasure stored in heaven. I have always said, “I am looking forward to heaven because of a new heart that does not have a sinful nature. Then I am going to find Jesus and just thank him for letting me in the door. After that, I know Jesus will turn around and put Nicholas back in our arms.

You want to survive...Make it a habit to choose to praise, ask how is God going to be glorified, and follow God's direction.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, October 17, 2011

Are you Listening???

It was September 17th, 2003. I was about to become a father for the first time. BUT: Hurricane Isabel was headed toward Richmond, VA, our home. So the doctors decided to induce labor and not take the risk Matthew would arrive during Isabel's fury. We are leisurely driving to the hospital and Karen looks over and says, “you can go faster.” I reply, “but I didn't want to make you nervous...” She said nothing, but gave me “the look” and drove faster.

We arrive and the process is started. At 9:30 AM, the world's perfect minster's wife, sweet, kind, and hospitable to a fault...grunts, “I think it is working!” grabs my arm and squeezes so hard, I had a bruise for a week. After several hours of labor, Matthew was not cooperating...so off to an emergency C-section and then the news...He has a heart defect and has Down syndrome.

For six hours we were told over and over how bad things were and then that evening at 11 PM, I was called into Nero-natal intensive care unit to get more information from the Neonatologist, the Cardiologist, and a nurse...they were waiting for me. They give me all the bad news and hurricane Isabel turned into hurricane Matthew. Then I said, “OK, I am the biggest guy in the room and no one is leaving this room until I hear some good news? When do we get to take him home?” The Neo-natologist said, “Maybe by around Thanksgiving IF EVER!” I looked at him and said, “You fired!” Looking over at our little, petite Cardiologist, I said, “you're next.” She stated, “I see this on a regular basis and it is going to be a journey, but we will get you there.” I took that and we began walking out...and Nurse Marie leaned over and said, “I will be giving him his first bath at 3 AM, you come back and we can do it together.” She was listening...All the diagnoses had gotten in the way... all the crisis reports were clouding the goal... all the dreams were changing ... all I wanted to do was be a dad. Nurse Marie, was listening and she heard my request.

With email, facebook, twitter, text messaging, Ipods, I phones, and I pads... we have forgotten the art of listening...The Apostle James stated, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

What is speaking to you today?...

God speaks to us everyday....

Spouses, children, and family speak to us everyday...

Neighbors, colleagues, competition speaks to us everyday...

Creation and all its beauty speaks to us everyday...

Our inner conscience speaks to us everyday...

What is speaking to you today? Are you Listening?

Are you willing to lean over and say, “I am going to give him his first bath at 3 AM, come back and we will do it together.”

You know I love ya and want to listen...Don

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Funny - "Meet the New Neighbors"

A Friday Funny worth repeating!!!

My quiet Saturday morning ended abruptly when my 12-year-old son, Billy, and one of his friends burst through the door.

"Hey Dad, announced Billy, "have you met the new neighbors?"


"Come on Dad, you have to meet them."

"Some other time; I'm busy."

"Dad, you have to meet them now."

From the urgency in Billy's voice, I assumed the neighbors were waiting
outside. I set aside my project and went to the front of the house. No
one was there.

"Where are they?" I asked.

"Well, Dad," he explained, "we haven't met them yet either, but our baseball is in their living room!"

You know I love ya and have a great Friday! Don

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Established in 1982

"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude." Colossians 2:6-7

Have you ever witnessed the sign over a business or restaurant that states, "Established in ___." You fill in the date. What is the purpose of those signs? The date for the establishment of an organization, business, or even a family is a time for celebration and a means of honoring the beginning of something special.

As in Colossians 2, there is a need to be established in our faith. Our faith becomes the sign for the rest of the world to see. We celebrate in that which we believe while honoring the One in which we have faith. Now, what does it mean for God to establish us in our faith? In this verse that phrase means that we are not simply established, we are confirmed in our faith; our faith is a sure thing. It’s not just a sure thing for today, but it will remain true into eternity (1 Cor. 1:8).

Great! Now we can just close the Bible on that one and live free knowing we are established in our faith, right? Not really! If I know that I’m established in my faith . . . why do I still struggle with doubt and fear? Why is it I do not love others as He has loved me?

Seeing a sign on the side of a building that says “Established 1992,” I certainly don’t doubt their word for it. I don’t look up the record of the building to make sure it’s true. If I’ve done business there and know firsthand what they’ve been doing since 1992, I would be silly to doubt that they were established. Isn’t this what God is saying about our faith too? I can see God has built faith into my life . . . I can see the business He’s been doing in and through me. He is established in me. My actions and responses become that sign for the rest of the world to see.

Learning to demonstrate my "establishing" is not always as easy as hanging out a sign. We work at the example in practicing our dedication and commitment to God and each other. We have a short life time to be a witness and to give testimony to the work in our lives. Personally, I am striving to make every effort to increase the ease in seeing my "established in" sign.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Created" He did it...!

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him." Colossians 1:15-16

Through Jesus, all things were created in Heaven and on Earth. Do we truly realize the significance of being created. Sure, we are the building blocks from our parents DNA, but the reality is that we were created. I am keenly aware that I have a beginning and an end. I have also read the poem of the dash and what we do with the dash on the gave marker between the beginning and the end defines our eternity. Yet, I think if we truly learn and live as if we are created, our action will follow a path of love, compassion, and serving others.

What does it mean to be "created." The definition of "created" is to "bring (something) into existence: he created a lake; 170 jobs were created." I was created and you were created. I was brought into existence, as were you.

This brings me to discovering, I was created has much to do with God’s ability to love me and Jesus' willingness to die for me. What I mean is, the fact that I serve a God who personally created me suggests that I serve a God who is knowledgeable of every aspect of my being, and has a complete understanding of my identity. And I believe that it is this understanding that allows for unconditional love. This knowledge also empowers me to be faithful to Him and to others.

It is possible the reason humans are so inept at loving each other "well" is because we have such a vast misunderstanding of who others are- of their inner workings, of their worth and value. We forget we were created and others were also created. God, however, with a full understanding of our thoughts, mistakes, feelings, intentions, desires, fears, and actions, loves beautifully. Maybe our fleshly bitterness and hate has something to do with our inability to see this full picture of humanity that God is able to see. We truly do not understanding our place in being created.

What a blessing it is to be truly known by the Creator God, who understands us. May we follow His example and love each other as He has loved us.

You know I love ya, your fellow created brother.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rest, Resting, & Restful ... the rest of the story!

Following up on Monday's post...

At that time Jesus said,
“I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants."Matthew 11:25

Another point to ponder and act upon in David Woods' sermon from last week is the above verse. David said,
"God is the determining factor in coming to salvation and finding rest for the soul! It is God who either reveals the truth of keeps it hidden. If you think you are wise and learned, the truth will be kept from your! Only the humble see it and get it. Jesus prayer is very clear about that. This is the reason of when Christians write to corporations whose CEO's endorse and support immoral and destructive legislation. Or when we write to Congress and plead for right choices on morality issues, they don't get it. This is why political correctness flourishes!

Truth is hidden from the arrogant, intellectual-pluralistic minded community!
Only the humble who recognize their limitations will receive and submit to the truth of God! The truth of such arrogance and egotistical knowledge is turmoil, hurtful consequences, and living in a lifestyle that God will not bless.

Only the humble will understand and gratefully receive the invitation of Jesus!
The question for us today is, "How humble are we?" David was not talking about living ignorance or as my father-in-law would have said, "ignorance gone to seed." What David and this text is teaching us is rest comes in going to Jesus and living in humility. The heart of of God is revealed in the request of a humble petitioner.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, October 3, 2011

Come to Jesus!

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30

David Woods preached on the above text Sunday. We are starting a new sermon series titled, "The Heart of Life." It is going to deal with topics such as exhaustion, aging, lust, and a few others. Sunday was the first and this text is the one David started with. The text was about sharing your heart's loaded life with Jesus is the way to finding rest. I wanted to share a very specific section of the sermon with you.
"Reading the verses leading up to this text today, there is a love of unrest going on around Jesus! His cousin, John the Baptist is in prison and is in there because he stood his ground on a moral and spiritual issue with King Herod. Jesus is also surrounded by a generation of people that he describes as whiners, complainers, and dissatisfied continually about somethings! Not that we sound like that today...in Matthew 11:17 it reads, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' The adult generation, he says are acting like children! They were a generation of people that were never pleased, never content. The cities around the vicinity had witnessed the miracles of Jesus and were not convicted of their unholy ways, refusing to repent!

Around verse 25 of Matthew 11, it seems to me that Jesus takes a deep breath PAUSE as he observes the issues all around and prays thankfully to God! The essence of Jesus' prayer is that he is thankful that God set up life to operate by a system of humility! It is not the obstinate or the loud voices of demand that get it! It is not the knowledgeable and wise that get it. It is not the wealthy and famous that get it. The relationship with God is only through becoming humble. This is the only means Jesus is willing to come into a person's heart and reveal the heart of God to people.

And it is from this backdrop that Jesus offers this invitation to find rest from the maddening, dysfunctional lifestyle of the world and to come to Him for rest!
How David phrased these words spoke to me. The humility to live a life in Jesus is to be a humble person. I am thankful for the reminder!!! You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gospel According to John

“By far the most important development in recent studies on the fourth gospel is the application of various forms of literary criticism, social-scientific analysis, and post-modern readings...The tendency in all of these approaches is to treat the text synchronously, that is, to treat the text as a finished product and to ask virtually no questions about its historical development or its referents.” There are benefits and losses in this type of modern study. A benefit is a refreshing look at the text while removing traditions that hinder the study. The loss is the study looses it look into the beginnings or the historical accuracy.

John is historically accurate in the it has a focus on the dynamics of presenting a witness of the Son of God in Jesus. John seeks to answer the social-textual questioning of “what happened.” In a modern sense, we must not loose sight of the intentional testimony of John to “write down these things so that the reader might believe Jesus is the Messiah.”

The Gospel of John is worth taking a good look at. I strongly suggest it. As it is read the words bring to life how Jesus is the Messiah.

"This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written." John 21:24-25 NASB.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, September 26, 2011

The "rule"

The New Testament text was passed along or copied by eager converts to have the written words of their teachers. The autographs were lost because of the organic materials the words were written on (Parchment). Thus, documents were then copied and the texts were spreading through out the region very quickly. As the church grew there was a need to establish a “canon” or group of texts that have authority or the ability to rule over the others. Thus, the books were reviewed by church leaders and given authority by specific criteria. Some of the criteria was asking the authority of the author, eyewitness or to be heard directly from an eyewitness, and the application to the Christian life. As more and more Gentiles were converted, the community of believers became more and more pluralistic and a need arose to condemn minor variations. These debates and declarations truly helped the church clarify its doctrines, it also point out serious threats, such as Gnosticism.

There would be many more threats to the New Testament and the the church, but over the first two-three hundred years the New Testament Canon (Rule) of books was established through a set criteria. This criteria would also face opposition at times and even today there are variations on the “rule” of the books. Yet, in all the threats, the scripture emerged and has an authority so that the reader can be confident it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Critical thought of the scriptures has always been present among believers. Political changes often affected the spreading of the texts and how the texts were often translated to Latin in response the Roman world and its leadership. As Christianity became culturally desirable, leadership among the groups of believers rose. The leadership started to gather on occasions and these gatherings were labeled as councils. During the councils the leadership would discuss and interpret conflict with in the texts, such as the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.

I am in a Graduate Class at Johnson University discussing an Introduction to the New Testament. The professor is Carl Bridges. I am enjoying the research and work. The question of the day is, "do you read the rule?" or maybe another way of stating it is, "Do you (& me) allow the rule of the scriptures to rule in our lives?"

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.- Colossians 3:15-16

You know I love ya, Don

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Funny - You mean to tell me...

We have not had a Friday Funny in awhile...I thought I would share this one from the sermon last Sunday...

"The photographer for a National Magazine was assigned to get photos of a great forest fire. Smoke at the scene was too thick to get any good shots, so he frantically called his home office to hire a plane. "It will be waiting for you at the airport!" he was assured by his editor.

As soon as he got to the small, rural airport, sure enough, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in with his equipment and yelled "Let's go Let's go!" The pilot swung the plane into the wind and soon they were in the air.

"Fly over the North side of the fire," said the photographer, "and make three or four low level passes." "Why?" asked the pilot. "Because I'm going to take pictures! I'm a photographer, and photographers take pictures!" said the photographer with great exasperation and impatience.

After a long pause the pilot said, "You mean you're not the instructor?"

Happy Friday and have a great weekend! Don

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I want to KNOW!

"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'.” John 8:31-32

The results of hold on to the truth is learning and knowing Jesus. Knowing the Truth comes as we hold on to the teachings of Jesus. The definition of knowing is to perceive directly. It is to grasp with the mind clarity and certainty. Knowing is experience and awareness.

We know Jesus when He becomes real in our lives, in our hearts, and in the holding on to His teachings. As we stay the course and are suspended over the cliffs and valleys of life... knowing what is holding us and what we are holding on to becomes much more real. It is the truth that gives us life...when we GROW in Jesus and GROW in His teachings that awareness only enhances our knowledge of Him...that knowledge then sets us free from the bondage of this world and we have peace with abundant life.

Let me ask you...do you know Jesus? Is He real in your life? Do you have an awareness of Jesus that permeates the very fibers of your being?

How does Jesus become real? When a believer holds, abides in, and cherishes Jesus' teachings. Paul writes it this way in Philippians 3:10, I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

Looking to KNOW Jesus more, Don

Monday, September 19, 2011

Holding on as if my life depends on it!

"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'.” John 8:31-32

What was Jesus teaching?

1. Love God – Jesus was asked, “What was the greatest commandment?” He tells us that the greatest commandment is to Love God. Jesus teaches us that salvation comes from faith in God and living out that faith. If you love God, study His scriptures, pray to Him and listen to His Spirit within you...then you are loving God and He loves us in return. Loving God is a relationship.

2. Love Each Other – He turned to them and said the second command is to love each other. Jesus taught we are to give to each other on a regular basis. We are to help a person in need. Helping may simply holding a door or taking a meal to a neighbor. Helping and loving others could be offering to watch a person's children, teaching a Sunday School class, or offering to pay for a person's meal. Loving each other is leaving a bigger tip for a waiter or waitress. Loving others is to pray for others, to visit the elderly and care for children.

3. Jesus then taught us that all the other laws can be summed up in the first two.

Let me ask you...do you hold on to Jesus' teachings? I am striving to hold so tightly to Jesus' teaching that you will see the grip marks in the hands of my life.

Hebrews 10:23 records it this way: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Holding tightly, Don