Easter - 2018

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