Am I unique, am I valuable ?

July 3, 2021

In some of my readings, someone will ask Am I unique? Do I have real value?

Not only do you have a reason for your life on this planet, but you also are a very unique and and valuable person You are a precious individual , taylor made by the great designer. You are God’s special creation, made in his image. Knowing that, we are made in his image and thus share many of his characteristics provides a solid basis for our self worth.

Before you were formed in the womb, the bible tells us that God was already involved in the shaping of your life. Here is what scripture says: “you knit me together in my mothers womb; I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.. your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before anyone came to be”(Psalm 139: 13, 14,16). God made you who you are not some random evolutionary process. Think it through, there are billions of people on this planet, and you are the only one with your fingerprints and DNA structure. Furthermore , if the DNA strands from your body were stretched out in a line it would reach to the Sun and back 400 times!! You are a complex unique individual.

When Jesus Christ was on the earth over 2,000 years ago he prayed to His Father “let the world know that you sent me and loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23) The Son of God wants you to know that God the Father loves you just as he loved His own Son. That is amazing and makes you very very special.

Can you think well of others even though you know they were made by God as well, even in the light of what is going on in this world? Can you think well of yourself? Do you feel that you are special and wonderfully made? God thinks so. If you are doubting yourself , turn to the creature who will surround you with his love. For God loves his creation!

The God who created you expects you to live a life for a higher purpose. He wants you to glorify Him, and as a creation of God, we can do no less than walk in the light of Christ and spread that light into the world. Amen

Some practical things

June 2, 2021

I have come across things that my wife and I talked about, meditated on or put into practice. First we talked about how we talk to others and how comfortable we are with them will determine the level of our talk. Level of our talk means

THINGS- cars. houses, clothes etc. On this level, we can feel comfortable talking to most people we meet. EVENTS: weather, sports events calendars etc. We progress to this level rather easily. However in some cases the discussions never get beyond events.. IDEAS: as we get more comfortable with the person (maybe over time ) we are comfortable discussing ideas such as “I think we should” or “I have an idea” BELIEFS: getting to this level probably takes time with a person. As trust develops you may be comfortable with sharing your beliefs (religious, political, social) This exposes you most in dealing with people.

Next, we think it is important to review and note the defining moments of your life. This will give you a map of your growth. It will give you more appreciation of what God has done in your life. When I did this I grew in appreciation of all that I had done, good and bad. There are moments in your life that define who you are, where you succeeded and maybe where you failed.

At the risk of exposing myself and my vulnerability , here are some of my defining moments:

1- my father constantly telling me that I had no mechanical ability. Consequently I am not comfortable fixing things.

2-Sr. Yr High School- got kicked out for a week, for cutting class for the day(the only day that I cut in 4 years) My mother was both devastated and at the same time very angry.

3- The day I arrived in Manhattan for my freshman year at K-State on the train from California, in the station I saw a cowboy with his 10 gallon hat over his face and his booted legs sticking out. Then I looked at the clerk behind the counter, with his green eyeshade typing out Morse code. I was stunned. I almost thought of getting on another train heading west.

4-Enlisted in the Army Reserve. This started a time of growth in maturity and resolve. Gave me a sense of responsibility.

5-While at K-State I got a call from a girl from one of the sororities on campus, wondering why I had not asked her “sister” out on a second date. So I told the girl who called , lets get together and I will tell you why…that turned out to be my future wife.

6- Became a dad for the first time…. Overwhelming love

7-Met Marilyn at a convention-married her 6 months later- best decision I ever made. We were together for 38 years.

As you can see there are a lot of blanks to fill but this give you an idea of times in my life that were significant. I suggest that you take the time to do the same thing. It will make you appreciate where you are now and how God has guided you through life. …….Didn’t mean to get so personal but I hope I made the point, bless you all.. Amen

Building Community

May 10, 2021

One of the elements of our growth as Christians is our association with other folks striving to be better disciples. We associate with them to help bear each others burdens. We call it a community of Faith.

But do we have a handle on what real community is about.? Dr. Scott Peck who wrote such books as People of The Lie andThe road less traveled stated that although the early church was a model of community, today’s churches are harder to build community. Peck sees most of todays congregations as groups that are merely pretending to be communities. Why? Because communities require work and what he calls discomfort. He sees two main reasons for the church’s unwillingness to become real communities.

First of all building community requires work and time and few people are willing to give that much work and time to the church. Secondly church congregations are rarely willing to go through the pain of times when everything seems to be falling apart, yet such times are necessary. To achieve real community, these tensions and conflicts must be openly dealt with. Churches usually see conflict as something to be avoided.

But in real community people don’t feel they must constantly hide their real selves or stifle conflict. They feel free to speak of what really concerns them the most. According to Peck, another important part of developing real community is that it must have support from the top.

I can say that the church I now attend (as a lay person) is tackling all of this head on. The sermon series that we are now in is called “Decision, Stand, Walk”. The lead pastor begins the series by asking “Why Discern?” His focus is on the lies that are told in the community and in the outside world, We need to discern what is biblical truth. Then we stand on the truth of the bible and we speak those truths. Therefore we walk in His Light and we shine our light in this world.

These themes from the pulpit are carried on through all the teachings in Sunday School. So what we hear in Sunday School is what we heard in the message. But with this church (and I had never seen this structure) they have what they call “House churches”. Small groups that meet weekly in homes to discuss what has been preached and taught at church. I believe this the place where community comes full circle. If you have ever been in a small group it is a place and atmosphere where people who are fellow Christians and who love each other, can express their concerns and ask for help to be better followers of Christ.

As a pastor I have encouraged and led many small groups on various biblical subjects but there was not a cohesive message throughout the church. If this the situation in your church, I urge you to visit with your Ministry Team and develop this plan. As you can see, the church I attend is all in to 1) making disciples for Jesus Christ; 2) Helping Christians know what is biblical truth; 3) developing a biblical world view.

I thank God for bringing me to such a church. Amen

The resurrection and beyond

April 5, 2021

Last month I talked about the Lenten season beginning with Ash Wednesday. Lent was over the Saturday before Easter

Sunday. I am writing this after the Easter Celebration ..He is Risen..He is Risen indeed!

Our belief and faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basis for our Christianity. Christ conquered

death for all believers. Perhaps we should define “believers” at this point. A believer is one who has given his or her life to Christ by asking for forgiveness of sins, acknowledging that the cross took them away and that they want Christ to come into their life. Oh, we have physical death, we don’t get out of this world alive, but then we live with the Lord for eternity.

This is not the forum to give detailed biblical descriptions but as a student of the bible, I can tell you that there will be a time when all mankind will be judged, and a time where it will be too late to be a believer. That time is called the Rapture and the Tribulation. At the Rapture all those who have died in Christ will be raised first then the believers who are still alive will be raised. All will meed God in the air.

The tribulation will occur on this earth and (again not detailing) there will be in for a time where God will send his wrath on this earth. At the end of the tribulation , this earth will be destroyed. God will then come down to a new earth and a new heaven to rule for 1,000 years and all those who were will Him in heaven will be with Him. There is so much more to fill in about the Rapture and the Tribulation , but this is a blog not a book!

I encourage you to study scriptures, find out more about what I have said and with that knowledge, if you have not done so , you can become a believer and live with the Lord forever.

I invite questions–I will try to answer or direct you to the biblical passages that fully explain what I have talked about today.Again, Happy Easter and may you be blessed this day. Amen

March 3, 2021

The traditions of Lent

In the tradition that I have been with (two different denominations) Ash Wednesday was always an important event. It is a reminder of our human mortality and the need for reconciliation with God. Ashes are administered by the priest or pastor on the forehead of the congregant in the form of a cross. This signifies both death and repentance.

It is also the start of Lent. This is a period of 40 days of prayer fasting and support of the church. Lent ends sundown on Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) It is a time of true denial by self control over some aspects of our life. An emphasis is on prayer, meditation and fasting during this period…there are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday, but Sunday’s during Lent are not considered days for this discipline. This is also a time to cone to a realization of the Spiritual Gifts God has given us and to offer them to the Church.

The Sunday before Holy Week is Palm/Passion Sunday. IT is a time to recall through reading of scripture Jesus entry into Jerusalem the week before His crucifixion. It was my custom to also have the Passion story of Christ’s last days on earth. The significant times during Holy Week are Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday. It is called Maundy which is the Latin word for “command” and refers to Jesus’ command to his disciples to “love one another as I have loved you” This commemorates the Last Supper and Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples. We celebrate this meal at most churches either weekly or monthly as the Holy Communion or the Eucharist.

The next day Friday is called “Good Friday” This day marks the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is probably called good and may have been translated from Holy. Someone was asked about that and their answer was “how would you characterize the crucifixion” -answer is was good. Good because Christs death on the cross paid for our sins past, present and future.

Next time we will talk about the resurrection and the traditions of Easter. Thank you for reading this! Blessings to each of you this Lenten season.

where do I fit in God’s kingdom

February 8, 2021

We all think at times, what can I do for the Kingdom of God with my limited skills. I don’t seem to fit anywhere . We are told in Matthew to go make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28: 19-20) First Corinthians says that “these three remain, Faith hope and love and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

So how can I follow Christ with the command to make disciples and to love all God’s children?

There are several things we can do to shine our light in this troubled world By loving people you can:

keep in touch with friends relatives and neighbors with phone calls email and Facebook;. Write a letter (a lost art but one that has a great impact to the recipient); Complement others. There is always something good to say to them; give people your time..what a gift to others..to take your time to spend with them; Point them to scripture. Share your belief that the bible is our guide and inspiration. I always start with the book of John; Fill a need . We should be more sensitive and aware of the needs of others and see if there is a way to fill that need; Be forgiving. A good example for non-believers and new believers is that God forgives us and that he will forgive you so you should forgive others; Set a good example. I love to tell the story of the new Christian in China. He had been baptized and started reading the bible. He was at his job one day when one of his fellow workers noticed that he was always in a good mood and had a smile on his face. He asked him what was different about him. The new Christian told him that God had come into his life.

What is the saying: “preach the Gospel and sometimes use words” If you are not like that Chinese man who said that God had come into his life, you can change that right now. Ask God to forgive you of your sins and turn from them. Ask Him to come into your life and guide you every day. If you sincerely prayed that prayer, you will now be part of Gods kingdom and the Holy Spirit that is send by God will be in you and with you.

May you be blessed in your walk with the Lord. Amen

January 8, 2021

God has a plan

I moved from Missouri to Kansas in August. While in the Show Me state I became acquainted with a columnist with the Columbia Daily Tribune. I would give her name but do not have her permission so I will call her Sally. All of her columns are human interest and more than likely talks about her family and their trials tribulations travels and extended family.

I told her that I really enjoyed her columns and was disappointed that I would be moving to Kansas and not see them each week. She wrote back that she appreciated my comments and that she would send me the column each Monday when she publishes for the newspapers and magazines. I was happy that she would do that because her writing is her stock and trade and she charges them for the column. 2 weeks ago I noticed that she had sent me that weeks column in an email. I was distracted that week and didn’t get around to reading it until later in the week. When I did she was talking about her husband and that he had some medical issues and they went to the doctor. She described sitting anxiously after the exam for the doctor to come back in and tell them what was wrong. The Dr. said that he had cancer and they wanted to start him on radiation and chem. Right away I wrote back saying how sorry I was and that I would pray for both of you.

She immediately wrote back and said that while in the process of radiation and chemo he got Covid went in the hospital and passed away the next day. It was almost as if one of my family had died. I was stunned. I tried to say words of comfort as I responded to her. Those who are not believers would say, “well, too bad but life goes on” We as believers would say, that maybe it was his time. God does have a time for all of us on this earth. But we are also prone to say God, why would you hit a healthy man , a believer with cancer and Covid at the same time.

This a lesson for all of us. It is not how healthy we are, not how much we tithe, not how much we give to others, not even how strong is our walk with the Lord. God has a plan for each of us and even though we have a plan, Gods plan prevails. As a pastor I have talked to several widows and widowers who couldn’t understand why their spouse was taken so soon. I went through the same thing myself. I have also followed up with some of those who asked that question and they reported later that their lives had taken a positive turn and they were now doing things and involved in things that they never thought would be of interest to them.

I have rambled on about about this. I miss my wonderful wife but I am now in a new phase of life that is interesting and fulfilling. At the time of her death I couldn’t see the good that was to come. But I ask you to keep that in mind when and if you lose a loved one. We need to think about that person that has left us. As a believer he/she is with the Lord in eternity. He/she will no longer be in pain or distress and will meet up with loved ones that had gone on before. We need to celebrate our loved one coming home to Jesus. How many widows or widowers have said ” I am anxious to be with my loved on in Heaven”

As I mourn the loss of Sally’s husband, and I mourn the loss of my wife, I say Hallelujah, as they are now with their Lord… Amen.

January 2, 2021

Do we need a faith checkup?

December 3, 2020

A while ago in a bible study we were talking about the Christian Walk. In that discussion it was emphasized that it is our FAITH that keeps us on that walk.
Some of the material we were studying was part of a sermon by Ellsworth Kalas, and I quote: “when the scores of life are totaled and God’s troops report back home, He will not say ‘well done you brilliant servant’ or well done you ball of fire’ . No, no God will say ‘well done good and FAITHFUL servant.
In God’s lexicon of values, it is FAITHFULNESS that makes a star.
I wonder how man of us really understand why God was manifest in Jesus Christ and put on the earth? God created all that we see and touch, God created us in His image. He gave humans a utopia, a garden that would fulfill all our needs. Then man sinned and was banished from this perfect place and all of us including you and me, carry that original sin.
So God sent His Son Jesus Christ to be born a human, that we celebrate this season. to live among the people and to teach preach and heal and love us as His children. But his real mission was to atone for the sins of the whole world, so that someday we may be in the presence of God. He did this by His death on the cross. He suffered and died as a human so that we would not be lost to His love and that we would not suffer as He did.
They the miracle of miracles , Christ rose from the dead and ultimately sits at the right hand of God. Jesus conquered death and He conquered it for us all. This was God’s ultimate gift to His creation.
Do you believe? Do you believe that God loves us so much that he gave His only Son to die on a Roman cross for our redemption?
Go to the bible and read stores of FAITH and how God walked through life with yesterdays FAITHFUL; God was with Abraham and Sara in a new land; Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness; Meshack, Shadrach,and Abednego in the fiery furnace. God has been and will be with us today and always.
Our FAITH reminds us to make of our lives HIS story. Let God stir in the pages and each line of the tale of our living. Give new meaning to FAITH, FAITH in God and all that he does for us.
As we gather this Advent season with family and friends and celebrate in worship, share our walk with Christ and the FAITH we live by. Bill Graham has said at his rally’s: “I don’t know all I need to know about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ but I believe it by FAITH” Let us take those words to heart and make them ours. Merry Christmas. Amen

God is Near

November 4, 2020

I an going to start with an illustration that should clarify what I want to say in this blog. Psychologist Jean Plaget carried out psychological experiments in which he observed that very young babies ,
(under 6 mo old) would be clearly interested in a toy placed a few years in front of them until Plaget placed a blanket over the toy. Then the infants showed no further interest, assuming that the toy was no longer there.
I have observed in my self (full disclosure) and in others that there are times where it seems that our focus is on God such as when at church, at prayer, reading the bible and meditating. However there are other times like the infant where we are distracted from our focus on God as though he wasn’t there.
But if we are true Christians , and we have given our lives over to Christ, then the Holy Spirit is with us all the time and we should be looking to that Spirit to guide us in everything that we do. We need to have the attitude that we don’t venture into our day without opening our heart to that Spirit.

But we sometimes want to go it on our own. Sometimes we say that we can handle it God . another illustration drives home this point. A man was in the parking lot of a big box store and couldn’t find a parking place. He kept driving around and finally in frustration he said “God, find me a parking place.” Shortly a place opened up and the man said “never mind God I found one on my own”
We might chuckle at this but too many of us have the attitude that “God is there if I need Him” Jonah thought that taking a ship to Tarsus rather than facing Nineveh, that God would no longer be in control of his life. But as you know the story, Jonah did come face to face with God once again.

We need to understand and acknowledge that God is ALWAYS with us. And that we need to surrender control of our life , for God has the perfect plan for each and every day. We should:
“lean on the everlasting arms of God” Amen