Easter - 2018

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Where is the rain?

The lack of Rain in Indiana over the past month reminded me of this verse in Isaiah. I am also reminded that the lack of water parches the ground, our gardens, and the grass so it is with our hearts when we do not take time to allow the rain of God's word to quench our hearts.

Remarking on His complete sovereignty over His entire creation, the Lord says: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." - (Isaiah 55:10-11 (NIV))

If all of this seems incredible for us today, imagine how awesome the power of God must have seemed to the people that lived thousands of years ago, without the scientific knowledge that we possess today. This in itself, I believe, makes a strong case for the God of the Bible to be the One and only God - the true God. Polytheism was the general religious persuasion of that time. For the Hebrew people to have simply concocted such an omnipotent Being seems highly unlikely. It is understandable that creative storytellers of old could conjure up ancient tales of great wars between the gods, and gods engaged in titanic battles with colossalmonsters of the sea. But how could any ancient author or authors possibly contrive a divine Being Whose very words - indeed, Whose very thoughts - are truth itself? This impossibility strongly suggests that the Scriptures are not merely the product of imaginative storytellers, but rather the inspired word of God.

It is this same God that offers rain...Holy Spirit Rain Down is my prayer for you. He promises when we turn our hearts to God's words and declare His Worth in their lives, He will bring the rain. For more GREAT information on Scientific Proofs of God check out: "Answers in Genesis."

A fellow follower that is cherishing the proof and seeking the rain, you know I love ya, - Don

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Attention is a powerful FORCE!!!

Attention is one of the most powerful forces in the world. Paying attention is a sign of spiritual health. When you give someone your attention, you are saying, "You matter," "I am interested in you," and "I've got time for you."

I am sitting next to Nathan, our six month old. Psychologists use the word attunement to describe a phenomenon that happens with babies. A baby is a crib, at some moment, looks up and notices a face looking back. Someone is paying attention. For the first time, the baby realizes he or she is connected to, in tune with, another person. When the baby smiles, the other face smiles back.

Attention is an incredible gift; once we discover it, we realize we can't live without it. A popular Old Testament blessing says, "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." To turn your face toward someone is to give that person your complete, undivided, interested attention. To have God's face turned toward you is a gracious demonstration of God's mercy.

Luke 13:10-13
 "On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”  Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

The same is true of us, God looked over history and their you and I were...in the corner and God in the flesh saw us. He then reached out of history and paid the price for what we could not do ourselves. Everyone of us desires to be noticed. When we recognize that God pays attention to us, we seek to return the favor and turn our attention to others. Lance Witt suggest we can do this by the following four actions:
1. Slow Down.
2. Look People in the eye.
3. Ask Questions.
4. Leave space in your daily routine for interruptions.
5. Avoid being preoccupied.
---much of the above is from Lance Witt and his book Replenish: Leading From a Healthy Soul, Baker Books, 2011. I highly recommend it.
We can pay attention as God paid attention to us. We can are fully capable to turn our face to the people around us. We are to reflect the radiance He showers on us and then others will seek to have a relationship with us....just like a baby in a crib, the smile will return. You know I love ya, Don

Monday, May 21, 2012

Difference between an Employee and a Son/Daughter

Mercy is a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion....

There is a huge difference between being a son/daughter and being an employee. A company has a transactional relationship with the employee. You produce and then you are in. You don't produce then you are out. Your compensation is connected to your contribution.

It is different being a son or daughter. You are family. Your place is not dependent on your performance. As a son, my value is intrinsic, not transactional. We are often eager to listen to the voices that say, "prove yourself, do something important, succeed, achieve" rather than God's voice. God speaks to with the words, "Rest in me; I am your shepherd. You don't have to prove anything. You are not an employee, you are my child."

To many Christians listen to their mental script planted by a fallen world that refers to God as saying, "This is my employee, whom I have called. I am well pleased...as long as He or She performs." The reality is God does not refer to us as employees, but children. A good parent will do anything for their children....anything. There is no approval required or performance seeking. 1 John states, "So how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are!"

Embracing our blessedness brings incredible freedom and great responsibility We no longer live or die with the praise or criticism of others. We no longer have to frantically chase after significance. It takes the pressure off and delivers us from striving to please the world. In contrast, we desire and make it our goal to share life with God, our creator. He is filled with mercy and grants on us divine favor and empowers us to demonstrate and live compassion. We are free to bless others and tell them how much they matter to God. We can allow others to succeed (& help them) without envy because our identity isn't wrapped up in our achieving. Our identity is found in Jesus and Him alone.
---much of the above is from Lance Witt and his book Replenish: Leading From a Healthy Soul, Baker Books, 2011. I highly recommend it.
 Embracing you and thankful for the mercy God has given each of us. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

To give life and not criticize others doing life....


"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." 
1 John 3:16

It is hard for me to watch others tear people down. Especially, when the person doing the "un-constructive criticism" repeats the offense over, and over, and over....I just can't find the patience needed to stand back and not say anything. Then, I read the above passage and realize that is what I have done to Jesus over and over and over...yet, He continues to love me and offer me life. It is through His love that we truly find the ability to adopt three more awesome loves and bring them into our home.

So, what does it mean to find this love and seek the revelation of this passage in our personal spiritual formation? Heartlight Devotions puts it this way:
"God loves us! That is the triumphant message of the Bible. That is the greatest message we will ever hear. Thankfully, however, this is not just a message in words. God wanted us to know his love for us, so he demonstrated that love at great personal cost. God loves us! We know that because he gave his Son for us. God loves us! He didn't want the power of "perish" to claim us, so he gave us the power of his love. The power to be generous and to stand up for the right. The power to be Jesus as He reflected God's love. God loves us! He sacrificed so we could have life. God loves us! Don't ever doubt it. Don't let the evil one rob you of this life-giving truth. God loves you and wants to give you life!"

Let us love and demonstrate the power of His love in everyday life. You know I love ya, Don

Monday, May 14, 2012

Seeking to avoid a loveless life of unrighteousness!


1 John 3:12, 
"Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous."

The above text was in our sermon text yesterday in the sixth sermon of our "Economy of Mercy and the Currency of Grace" study series. The sermon was on the topic of "love." Spending the currency of grace is to live love in daily actions. It was a great sermon, I highly recommend it for Mother's day and for a study on sacrificial love. The link is Park Chapel Podcast. 

The above verse has had me thinking all day about the jealousy of Cain verses righteousness of Abel. So many people embrace the unrighteousness of the world. I have found that in my own life this tug to the unrighteous usually is a desire to compete or fulfill a need to be better than the next guy. In the economy of mercy that was established in Jesus' resurrection, daily living is directed by love while seeking to better the next guy. It is to serve, give, and live a life of generosity in all aspects of life. 

Gracepoint Devotions puts it this way:  
To what extent have I personally come to see that “anyone who does not love remains in death”?

Loving others as a follower of Christ is not an option in living my life here on earth.  I don’t think it’s the case that being righteous before God just means being sinless or sinning less and less.  In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees were suppose to be the most sinless people.  What Jesus made clear about them over and over again, was the fact that they may be ‘righteous’ in the legalistic sense, but their biggest sin was their loveless lives.  They were so focused on perfecting their lives and religious practices, that they had neither the desire nor need to love others.  It was all about them and how well they do.  They had no concern about how others were doing.

I think this is the same kind of pitfall that I can fall into, despite how much I may be involved in church activities or ministry or evangelism.  If I set my definition of being ‘righteous’ before God to be how many hours I spend at church or doing church things, I can easily do all the activities and care less and less about others.  I can go to the prayer band time on Saturday morning and sit there saying prayers through the topics on the prayer request sheet about the church plant team members, and not miss them or personally feel their burdens or anguish over their needs.  I can invite students to come to the Bible Study to learn about God’s word, but not care about how their week went or what they are stressed about or how their family is doing back home.  I can just be satisfied with the fact that they came to the Bible Study.  I can pray for someone’s salvation even, but not really long to see them in heaven with me standing before God someday.  It’s rather amazing how I can have a person right in front of me, and rather than thinking how this person is doing or what he/she must be going through, I can just think about how this person views me or past grudges or hurts this person caused, or how and in what things he/she may be better than me, etc.  In this kind of loveless state, it’s about what I did, how much I did or did not do, rather than about God or the other person.

That kind of loveless and self-centered heart is a dead heart.  God is love, and his most significant commands have to do with love:  Loving God and loving others.  If I am not living the life of love, then I become a stranger to God as I do not know the very character of him, and I am not living in obedience to Him.  Disconnected and in disobedience, I remain in death.

These words are a stark reminder of the life we seek to live. We are developing Christ-Followers...seeking spiritual formation as God would develop His love, life, and faith within us. Therefore, we make it our goal to please Him by following His example of generosity, mercy, grace, and love. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The GPS is clear: There is only One Way to Get there.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6 - (NIV)

The GPS pointing to a happy, productive life is clear and it points out there is only one route to get to the destination. Lynne Phipps <lynnephipps@hotmail.com> of Atlin, British Columbia, Canada writes the devotion below:

As the publisher of our small bi-weekly town paper, I always have a backup plan. I backup my computer documents with a stick. And I backup my computer with a backup computer. I also backup my printer with a backup printer to ensure that the paper always gets published on time and out to both the e-mail subscribers as well as in hard copy.

Backup plans: as human beings, we like to have them, as we know how quickly things can go wrong, and a backup plan gives us a measure of security amidst everyday mishaps.

According to Jesus, however, there is no backup plan available for a relationship with God the Father. The one and only plan is Jesus, Himself. He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. No one has access to the Father but through Him.

In this day and age, this is not a popular view. Our society is rampant with various beliefs which all promise access to heaven without faith in Christ. To disagree with these beliefs is often to rain down anger upon our heads, which unfortunately can cause us to be quiet about Jesus, when perhaps God is giving us opportunity to speak the truth to those who are clinging to a false hope.

Backup plans have a good and worthy place amidst many areas of life, but according to Scripture, God's written Word, there is no backup plan when it comes to the good news of Christ. Yes, when it comes to truth, the good news of Christ still stands alone in the world of faith, over two thousand years after His death. For truth, popular or not, cannot be changed; it has no backup plan. It is the Plan.

God's has provided a clear GPS for everyone who believes...why do we deviate and make up our own rules? It one thing to get off course by missing a turn or making a mistake, but to intentionally go another route is foolish and will end up not arriving at the destination. You know if I didn't love ya, I would not say anything at all....Don

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mowing the Lawn and Learning a lesson

"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:1-2

I was mowing the lawn this morning and thinking of the Psalms and listening the birds while feeling the cool breeze. The lawn was long and the time for mowing was way over due. Things have been busy. The times available for Karen or I to work on the lawn always were filled with cold or rain. So, it got down early this morning before I came in to the office. I found this devotional thought by Jane McLaren <janemcl@cnwl.igs.net> of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She writes for the Presbyterian Church of Canada Devotions. She is very correct in that our dedication to God's word and righteousness is the same as our yards...read below:

Yesterday I passed by a young boy learning how to mow the lawn. He stretched his arms up as high as they would go just barely reaching the mowers' handles. Even over the motor you could hear the young child's excited voice.
I couldn't help but think that it wouldn't be all that long before this young child would take over the responsibility of mowing the lawn for the family. At first he would probably be proud of his new responsibility and look forward to completing the job entrusted to him. All too soon, though, summer days would find him in front of the TV, or in the pool, with mom or dad reminding him that he still had to mow the lawn, "not tomorrow, today!"
What began as a fun adventure, grew into an exciting responsibility, and became a boring job to be avoided and postponed.
How many people could parallel this with time spent reading the Bible. When you first receive the Lord, His Word is fresh and you read as if it would disappear tomorrow. As you grow in faith, time in the Word becomes an exciting responsibility as you learn about God and His children. But, later, it seems to be a tedious job for which there is no time. Reading and studying the Word often takes low priority in the business of our lives.
Yet it is in God's Word that we learn how to live. It is from the Word that we receive courage, strength, power, freedom, comfort, and grace to sustain us in times of trouble. It is in God's word that we learn who God is and, by this knowledge, learn to trust in Him.
So, when was the last time you sat down and just read the Word of God.
Do you do this daily? Weekly? Only when you are stressed out or in trouble? Do you call on God when your lawn of life is way over grown and things are out of control? What's your excuse and what does God say in response to it?

Prayer: Dear Lord and God, you have entrusted us with Your Word and sent Your Holy Spirit as a guide and interpreter as we journey through it. Father, forgive us for putting so many things before You and before spending time with You. I choose this day to take the time to listen to what You have to say to me and pray that You will give me a hunger and a thirst for the Word of God that will require a daily feeding. Amen. 

We must never neglect the scriptures and our dedication to study, meditation, and application to it's truths. You know I love ya. Don

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

To be Far More....You must be passionate in your faith!

Psalm 93
The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
    the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
    indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
    you are from all eternity.
 The seas have lifted up, Lord,
    the seas have lifted up their voice;
    the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.  
 Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
    mightier than the breakers of the sea—
    the Lord on high is mighty.
 Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
    holiness adorns your house
    for endless days.

 To be Far More....You must be passionate in your faith!

Paul tells to the Corinthian church this concerning Macedonian Believers, “And they exceeded our expectations:” They were Passionate in Mercy and Grace. Lets consider King David for a moment. Here is a man that is in touch with everything. His strength in killing bears and lions, slaying the Giant. His heart in making music and being so good at it is tames the angry heart. His mind in grasping the language and framing poetry and words of music in worship that is recorded in the book of Psalms and reaching the inner most being in worship. His soul in the creative means of framing the kingdom and establishing leadership and administration. King David was passionate..... God says this is a man that I seek. Acts 13:22 Luke records, “After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do'.” God testified for David... “I have the man”...What was it that pleased God? It was David's passion.

David was in touch with Life....He was in touch with nature, he was in touch his praise and worship, he was in touch with war, he was also in touch Bathsheba. He had passion....He was so in touch with life that his heart overflowed “far more” than most others....He is passionate about life.

We feel like that can never work for us, there is too much working against me. Yet, David had conflict!.....He was a man with a life filled with conflict....That conflict was strong, yet He was a man far more willing to demonstrate his feelings and far more willing to passionately live than to allow the conflict to dictate his life.

David was
  • Far more Passionate that he could write prolific poems.
  • Far more Passionate that he could compose songs that are sung 4000 years later.
  • Far more Passionate that he could lead with delegation and administration modeled yet today.
  • Far more Passionate that he could go to war and cut off the head of giants.
  • Far more Passionate that he could steal your wife and then kill you...and then he could cry out to God forgiveness.
  • Far more Passionate that he would seek God for healing of a son and stand up when the child dies.
  • Far more Passionate that he would birth a nation that would produce the son of God in Jesus.
  • Far more Passionate that he would not turn from faith in hardship, but thrive in the struggle so as to be a Follower of God and leave a legacy the resounds throughout history.

David had a passionate heart for God and God responds with..... “I have found a man”

How passionate are you for God?

People who look back value what they have lost,
          People who look forward value what they have have.
                    Do you look back or do you look forward?

To be Far More – We confess our sin, we are bold for Jesus, and we are passionate about God in our lives and then we choose to worship....that is we choose to declare God's worth in our lives.

Seeking to be Far More....you know I love ya, Don