Getting through bad times

May 11, 2017

We all go through trials in our lifetime. We have events that affect us deeply. You can’t live a very long life until sin, sickness, tragic death, loss of a job, children in trouble or a myriad of other events hit you when you least expect it.

I want to talk about two elements of dealing with those events. You can either deal with it or let it overwhelm you. If you don’t deal with it ,your life can reflect your suffering by depression, sickness, addictive habits. lost relationships If you ignore the pain that you are going through, if you say to yourself, i’ll get over it , if you tell yourself suck it up and go on, you will most likely suffer for it.

So may I suggest you start following James 5:13-16. It says, “Is anyone of you in trouble,?
he should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well, , the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous man is powerful and effective”

What we may glean from that scripture is that the community of faith will be there for anyone who is going through distress. Can’t we all remember when we had a problem we could discuss it with someone we knew and trusted, they listened and were supportive. Wasn’t that a relief when you unburdened yourself? The church is our sanctuary, a place we can go to help us heal. How? Expanding on the scripture I would say that through church friends, fellow Christians, believers, through their individual concern and listening But let me suggest another church activity and that is small groups If you are a member of a small group at church whether it be bible study, Sunday School our outreach ministry, to name a few, hopefully you bond with members of that group.

The second element of dealing with these life events is grief. We could write several blogs about the elements of grief. But for this discussion I want to focus on being able to grieve. So many people deny their grief., and as I have said above, it manifests itself in unhealthy behaviors. This is where I think small groups (as well as individual Christians), play a part in getting that person to verbalize their grief. I have had many occurrences where a person in grief found comfort and solace talking about it with the people in their group

The people in your group have known you for a while, maybe have known some of your struggles and maybe have shared their struggles with you,, but most of all, have worked with you, studied with you and prayed with you, and will reach out to to help you through the valley.

Your grief may be for something that happened many years ago and you didn’t deal with it at the time. Now you have an outlet , a sounding board to help you through it. I can’t express enough the need for you to come to grips with your unresolved grief. Because of what happened to you may have frozen you in a life today that is less fulfilling because of it.

Oh you may never forget the incident, but God guides you through it and wants you to have life and have it abundantly!! Amen

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Happy Eater

April 17, 2017

I want to reflect on the activities surrounding Easter and the Risen Christ.

It was on Feb 27, 1991 at the height of Desert Storm that Ruth Dillow received a very sad message from the Pentegon. It stated that her son Clayton Carpenter ,private first class had stepped on a mine in Kuwait and was dead.

Ruth Dillow later wrote “I can’t begin to describe my grief and shock.. It was almost more than I could stand. For three days I wept, for three days I expressed anger and loss; for three days people tried to comfort me , to no avail because the loss was too great.”

3 days after receiving that call, the telephone rang. The voice on the other end said, “Mom, its me, I am alive!” ” I couldn’t believe it at first. Then I recognized his voice, and he really was alive, the message three days ago was a mistake!”

She said ” I laughed, I cried, I felt like turning cartwheels, because my son, whom I had thought was dead was really alive. I am sure none of you can begin to understand how I felt”
Perhaps not. But some who walked the pages of the New Testament wold have understood how she felt because they experienced the same emotions themselves. One days the watched their best friend and teacher being nailed to a cross. They witnessed his pain as he cried out “I thirst” and “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me.?”

They listened as finally he bowed his head and said “it is finished” and “Father, into my hands I commit my spirit” They watched as his body was taken from the tree and buried. All their hopes and dreams were buried with Him. Scriptures say that early in the morning on the first day of the week, some women came to the tomb to anoint the body. But the tomb was empty., and an angel said to them, “you are looking in the wrong place, he is not dead, He is alive.. He has risen!”

Maybe we have heard this biblical account many times before. But we who are here today need to have the same emotions that Ruth Dillow and the women at the tomb had. We should be laughing, crying and shouting Hallelujah!
Have we believers become so complacent that Christ’s death and resurrection that cancelled all our sins and gave us life eternal, is just another biblical story? If Jesus Christ had not came to earth to teach, preach heal, die and was resurrected to leave us a legacy of leading an exemplary Christian life.,we would be in darkness with no hope for a future let alone life on this earth guided by the Devil and not the Spirit.

We are Easter children and our excitement at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, should motivate us to share the Good News with others. Scripture calls us to make disciples of all the world, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,. Go forth and shine your light into this sometimes dark work. Amen

What the Lenten Season Means To Me

March 13, 2017

As a pastor and as a lay person, I have been through many Lenten seasons. Each on has made an impression on me and my walk with Christ.

Of course Lent starts with Ash Wednesday. I have had the privilege of administering the ashes to the foreheads of the faithful as they begin their Lenten journey. This rite makes me reflect on the humble, sinful persons we are and that we are in need of cleansing.

This then is the time for us to “clean house” of all the things that keep us from being like Christ. We do this with a heightened prayer life, a prayer of confession and of repentance.
As I go through the days of Lent I am constantly reminded that even though I am an imperfect human being, I am forgiven of my sins and am loved by God and he will never stop loving me.

This gives me a sense of peace, a sense of belonging, a sense of being accepted. Open your hearts and minds especially during this season to here the voice of God guiding and directing you in all aspects of your life. The Holy Spirit is the conduit of Gods direction and we should be aware of how the Holy Spirit acts not only as our guide but as our comforter.
Each day during this special time, try to discover what gifts God has given you
to use in this world to make it a better place. We may be in this world but not of it. That means that we, as believers don’t conform to the evil and depravity that we see around us. We are to be change agents, one person at a time.

So many people say that Lent is a time to give up something. How many have remarked to me, well, I am going to give up sweets or I am going to give up beer or all kinds of things that they think will show their spiritual discipline. I like to think that Lent is a time to take on something that we have not done. Like a new bible study or read a book by a Christian author, or get more intimately involved in the lives of some of the hero’s of the bible. There are many things you can do during these 40 days (not counting Sundays) to improve your spiritual life.

I look forward to this season that prepares us for the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That day, Easter Sunday is a celebration that reminds us that those of us who believe will have eternal life and no longer be afraid of our passing from this life.
Praise God for the Gift of His Son ! Amen

Christian Communty

January 24, 2017

We talk about one of the elements of growth as Christians is our association with other folks striving to become better disciples. We associate with them to help bear each others burdens.. We call it a community of faith. We worship together, we reach out in the community together. We work in the church together.

But do we have a handle on what real community is all about. Dr. Scott Peck, who wrote such books as People of the Lie and , The 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 today’s church congregations as 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 communities 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 that they must hide their real selves or stifle conflict. They feel free to speak of what really concerns them most. According to Peck, another important part of developing “real community” is that it must have support at the top. If so, community can be accomplished.

What ever your church, you and your congregation need to understand that God is in control. Real community is built by giving up control, then comes freedom and creativity. So what we need to do is to make a concerted effort to be a community of faith that will help shape and form, take care of and lead each other to a greater understanding  of our relationship with Jesus Christ and which will lead us to do effective ministry together.  I want to end this with a sad story. The board of a church was having a heated discussion about some project of the church. Finally the pastor said. ” I think we ought to pray to God for direction” From the end of the table came the exclamation  “What does God have to do with this!”  Well, God has everything to do with our church, our community, our family and our lives. Amen

 

Memories of Christmas

December 20, 2016

Christmas never fails to evoke memories. Most of us all can recall Christmases of great joy and of disappointment, of warm camaraderie and frightening loneliness.

I can remember a Christmas over 50 years ago (isn’t it funny how memory works-I can remember 50 years ago but sometimes I forget what happened weeks ago!) We had moved to Visalia California that fall. With a year old baby and a new job, we looked forward to the future. My folks had come down to spend Christmas with us. I had to work late on Christmas eve. When I got home, there was my family, parents, wife and baby all having a good time by the fire in the living room. That three days was one of the happiest Christmases I can remember.

On the other hand, many years later, after a divorce ,I was living by myself but dating a wonderful girl . We hadn’t been dating long and one evening she said to me that she was
going to her parents for Christmas, and at that stage it didn’t seem appropriate for me to come along. Of course I understood, we didn’t really know each other that well and to go to her parents for Christmas I knew was a little early (I rationalized). My parents were half a continent away and I had no brothers and sisters to spend the holiday with. So there I was in my apartment along–never having been alone at Christmas before. I was disappointed and very lonely . Right then and there I vowed to never be alone a Christmas again!!

So as we approach Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I hope you make wonderful memories of this time of year. That you go to church to celebrate the coming of the Christ Child.. That you tell the people that mean the most to you that you love them.
After all what is Christmas but love.? God’s love for his creation, to send his son Jesus Christ into the world to love us and to show us how to love others, to forgive us for our sins and to die on a cross so that we might be in communion with God. And most of all that he was resurrected and conquered death so that we might have eternal life.

What is there to celebrate this Christmas season? The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but not just at Christmas, but each and every day of the year. Amen.

We Are One

November 2, 2016

We sometimes look at other denominations and say to ourselves, I am glad I am not a member of that church. Or we promote our mission projects or congregation size over the other churches in town.

But we have gotten far afield on what we as human beings made by God in His image are about. God joined us together. We are not dogs, Not wolves. So we shouldn’t be so to each other. When Jesus talked about the church, he wasn’t talking about the Baptists,l the Presbyterian, the Methodists. the Catholics, the Lutherans etc,

We as Christian believers, who walk with the Lord need to look at each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. So lets review what that means:
One Body, We are all members of the Body of Christ
One Spirit: When Jesus went to be with the Father he sent the Holy Spirit to reside in each of us.
One Hope. We are the heirs of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
One Lord: All who claim to be Christians serve the one God, the one Lord.
One Faith: We might have some disagreement on some of the minor things but we all believe in the one faith that gives us grace and joy in this life and the life to come.
One Baptism: Again some differences but no question that we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins and being members of his Kingdom.
One God. We all agree that there is but One God. The God who created the world and made each one of us.
Let us wrap this around scripture…. Ephesians 4: 4-6 which says:
“There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope–when you were called–One Lord, one Faith one Baptism one God the Father of all, who is over all, in all, and through all.”
In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Chirch and State

September 30, 2016

There have always been differences of opinion about the separation between the church and the state. Lets try to clear up some of the misconceptions . The first amendment to the constitution reads:

“Congress shall make no laws respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”

I know this is the whole amendment and some of it doesn’t apply specifically to religion, but it gives us a context for what the framers of the constitution were intending that the government has no right over these things.

The idea that those who wrote  the constitution were atheists who wanted religion to creep into the business of the state is absurd. The opposite is true. Most of the founding fathers found the bible and the Christian religion the very foundation of the new republic.
You might say that they wanted to make sure that the new government was not the oppressive one that they had fled from England. There, a state religion was formed and it was between the Church of England and the Catholic church. This caused very uncertain times and even war fought over it. That is why the colonists who came to this country wanted to make sure that one of the freedoms was religion.

So the phrase “separation of church and state” was penned by one of the signers of the constitution, as he wanted to make sure that the state did not interfere with the practice of religion. And then, many years later, it was taken out of context by the Supreme Court in two decisions , you can look them up…. One was in 1947 (Emerson vs Board of education) and in 1962 (Engle vs Vitale)

IF the idea was to keep religion out of government, why did they allow church services on Capitol Hill? There are services in a chapel outside the House Chamber to this day. So religion and government can exist together, with the government bodies embracing religious services and the religious community ,…. the people,, can embrace their religious beliefs openly.
pray to God that we can get back to that in total…..Amen

I am back

July 29, 2016

I had issues with my WordPress account but it is now ok (I hope) This gives me a chance to get away from my usual biblical/theological blog to let you know about an organization that I feel needs to be continually praised.

In May, my wife and I went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. We arrived a day before the first appointment. The next morning a shuttle came and took us to the Mayo/Gonda building (which is the main clinic) We went in and were met by a guide who told us which building and floor to go to get to our appointment. We were a little early but as soon as we were checked in they called us to the exam room. Tests were run, back to the waiting room, more tests. Then they told us we were to go to the waiting room to talk to the doctor. Immediately we were escorted into an exam room. The doctor came in and said, tell me why you are here and what is your complaint  He said the preliminaary tests ruled out many things that had been bothering us. And we needed to come back tomorrow for blood and other tests.

 

We came back the next day went for blood tests ( they had several people in that area to take blood) We were early for the next appt. We really wanted to get going home so the earliest we could get the tests run and get to the doctor the better. We went to the area for the next test , told them we were anxious to get the test run and they accommodated us we were off to the doctor. He gave his preliminary opinion and said when the final test results were in he would write us a letter (in addition to contacting our primary physician)

He was as god as his word and we are in better shape than before. With the hundreds of people coming and going in that clinic, I feel we were treated with very professionally.

I thank God for medical facilities like Mayo’s who save lives and improve the quality of life for thousands.

 

 

Is There Life after death

May 14, 2016

This is the last in a series gleaned from Partners In Ministry on questions we have asked at one time or another, but when others ask us, we sometimes dismiss them. This blog will deal with the question, “Is there life after death?”

Where do people go when they die? Do they cease to exist? Do humans have a soul that will live on forever? People like yourself wonder about these questions every day.The truth is that you are a living soul and God has devised a plan whereby you can spend eternity with Him, in the life to come. The plan  involves your decision to believe in Jesus Christ with all your heart and soul. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die  ( John 11: 25,26) Jesus made it clear that there not numerous ways to get to Heaven-but only one way-He is the way.”I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)

It doesn’t seem right to wonder  if there is life after this physical time on this earth, and then when presented with the way to eternal life someone would say, no thanks! Admittedly Jesus isn’t handing you a  ticket for a one way trip to Heaven. But he is offering you that trip.We have been told  that through Christ we can attain eternal life, but we have to have faith that what Christ says is what Christ will do. Yes God loves you and He wants you to come to Him, being his child and be alright in this world and His side for all eternity.

Does this make sense to you? If it does, wouldn’t you like to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? If you are willing to put your faith in Christ and receive Him as your Savior, you need to pray to receive Him. The bible says that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, will be saved (Romans 10: 13)

Why not tell God right now in your own words that you are sorry for your sin and that you believe Jesus Christ  died for you and rose from the grave.  Tell God that you are receiving Him right now as your personal Savior.  You accept His forgiveness from sin and by faith you receive the gift of eternal life that He has provided for you. Tell Him you want Him to be the Lord of your life. Tell him you are willing to surrender your life to Him, and follow His leadership. ….then you can live this  life knowing that it is not the end when we physically leave this earth. What a marvelous gift that is!  Amen

 

 

Why don’t I do what I know i should?

April 8, 2016

This is the 6th is a series gleaned from Partners In Ministry on questions we have asked a one time or another, but when others ask us , we sometimes dismiss them. This blog with deal with the question, “Why don’t I do what I know I should?”

If you are honest you will admit that you have suffered personal failures. If you say you haven’t, you are only fooling yourself. Every human being does the wrong thing at times , even though he fully intends to do the right thing. Why do you say things that hurt others and do things that damage your credibility and integrity. The bible gives us clear guidance on this subject. You can’t do what you know your should because of your sin nature.The bible says “therefor just as sin entered the world through one man , and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) The sinful nature which you inherited, is what qualifies you as a member of the human race! But it also means you need a Savior. Jesus Christ came to give you the ability to overcome your tendency to sin.

When you think back at the time in your life that you did something that you wanted to do but at the same time you knew it was wrong.. What did you think in the aftermath of that time? Did you dismiss it as a one time thing , a boys will be boys, girls will be girls do dumb things? Do you have any remorse over those things you have done over the years that you now know were sins? IF you are still haunted by any of these things, you need to understand that when you receive Jesus Christ as your personal savior , you receive a new nature. But in addition to that Christ died on a Roman cross to take away those sins and any sins you might commit from now on, (and you will)

The Bible tells us: “through these he has given us his very great and precious promises,
so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the word caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:4) The new nature is God living in us, The new nature is spiritual , but you still have your old nature which is human. It still wants to do the wrong thing. However, now you have a choice. You can choose to follow God’s way and experience life and peace to its extreme fullest.  The bible puts it this way: “the mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) This does not mean that you will become perfect. IT does mean that after you receive Jesus Christ as Savior, you have the God given ability to do what is right. The conflict is still there but the Divine nature of God is also there to empower and guide you…..Amen