Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thankful for... my spiritual "investors"

As I look back on my journey, there are so many people God has used to "invest" themselves into my life, I could never list them all here. My father faithfully preached till it finally hit home that I was one of those sinners. My mother taught me to sing out to the Lord in praise. A faithful Sunday School teacher helped me put all the pieces together. College classmates kept telling me I was called to be a pastor.  A faithful pastor, George Schultz did some deep discipling in my life and sent me to seminary, where some of the most godly, humble men mentored me in so many ways.  Two elderly single deacons took me out with them to serve and share their faith.  Fellow pastors and elders have put into my life things that are lacking.  My loving wife and children have taught me much as well.  God has poured out his blessings of people into my life. 

II Timothy 2 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thankful for... that Head-on Crash!?!?! (and this song...)

It was 40 years ago this week, on icy roads going to work, that I had a head-on that changed my life. There is not a day since that I don't have some reminder of my physical injuries, or the way God stopped me in my tracks and began to turn me toward a new path, following His path the ministry, to my wife, and to a whole new way of  looking at life.  I don't like the headaches, or the stomach issues, but I love God's reminders that He is watching over me and still working on me all the time. I often think of what Paul felt like when he looked back on his experience in Acts 9:

 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing.

Was his thorn in the flesh a sight problem left over from this Head-on Crash?
And now... the song: (copy & paste)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thankful for... Our Unseen Parts...

They are always there when you need them: those members of the body who serve faithfully behind the scenes. People like John and Kraig, Margie and Ellie, Paula and Diane. They do those things that keep things going, without any public applause - paying bills, keeping records, looking over the books. There are countless more who clean the church when no one else is there to see, watch over the kids while parents focus on worship, and put together ministries that others carry out. They are the heart and guts of the Body. We don't see them and often don't appreciate them, but without them we die.  Thank you Lord, for our "unsightly" parts.  

I Corinthians 12: 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thankful for... my Blister!

That's not my nickname for her... that's the nickname my dad used when talking to me about my sister, Natalie.  Sort of like the apostle Paul's thorn in the flesh: painful at times, yet a gift from God with a purpose.  So, yes she did blame me for some things she did, and I got punished; then I learned how to talk. Staying out of trouble was easy for me; she got in more than enough for both of us. That poor guy on the right - that's her husband, Jimmy.  Doesn't his expression tell it all?  "Look what I have to put up with!"  I understand exactly.  But the truth is: Natalie is a blessing.  Many miles have separated us all of our adult lives, but when we get together or talk, we connect well. She has done many things in her life and done them well. I admire her for her love, couurage and tenacity. At present, if you want ballroom dancing instruction, look them up.  At least Jimmy doesn't have two left feet!  

 II Corinthians 12:So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thankful for... Our home...

Technically, it is not our house; but it has been our home for over half of my life.  Most, if  not all, of our kid's childhood was spend here.  It has been our schoolhouse, a fellowship center, a teen hangout, a nursing home, and so much more.  Much like my post on our Fridge, this is one of the first things a child will say he/she is thankful for, but we adults often take for granted.  It is a place of refuge and hope, not just a building.  Though there have been many changes inside and out, it is still the place to "come home to."  Thank God for any stability in our crazy lives!

Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
    my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
    ever singing your praise! Selah

Psalm 84

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thankful for... My Mother-in-law!?!?!

Stange, but true!  My mother-in-law Barbara is our last living parent, and we share a birthday.  At first she wasn't really sure about me, but over the years she began to trust me and respect our choices for our family.  As she spends her final years with us, we are constantly learning new things, and she provides some comic relief to the stresses of life.  Our kids all have special memories of times with her, and she has left her mark on each of  our lives.  Though we will have to remind her dozens of times today: "Happy Birthday, Barbara."

Matthew 8:14 And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thankful for... The Hornets!

During the last 20 years there have been two large sections of time when I have been deeply involved in the Homeschool Hornets soccer program.  I spent a lot of Fridays (and other days of the week) with these kids. I have been able to coach many wonderful players, meet families I never would have, and connected with some great coaches, administrators and referees in that time.  It has been a thrill to start the program, set it free, come back in, and now release it again. Lots of great memories, blessings, and relationships, preparing me for whatever God has next. Go Hornets!

I Timothy 4:6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful for... our Full Fridge!

Ask any child what they are thankful for, and by and large, one of the first things out of their mouth will be what goes into their mouth - some sort of food.  They realize they have been given so much, but as we "mature", we tend to take such things for granted.  I am thankful for the quantity, quality, and variety of foods we are able to have at our hands instantly.  So many people throughout history and yet today do not have enough food, do not have healthy food, or may not even have any food.  God has been so good!  (Yes, that coconut creme pie to the right has my name on it!)

Genesis 9:3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. 
And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thankful for... our D & D!!!

What a group!  These men and women serve God not only "officially" as deacons and deaconesses, but with their lives in so many ways. They are observant of people in need and respond with hearts of love and compassion.  They will be at it again today and on various occasions throughout the coming month, reaching out, making sure nobody "falls through the cracks."  Each one is a blessing, and when you put them all together, watch and see what God can do!

I Timothy 3:13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thankful for... my Mini

By no means is the "Snoop Coop" more important than the things or people I will be listing in the coming days, but it is a sunny morning - good to get a quick pic of my means of transportation. It is unique... like me, and like some of the other vehicles we have owned. My wife often wishes we had some "less unique" cars, but the Mini is fun and functional - amazingly it still runs and I'm not afraid to drive it anywhere. In our society, a car is an essential, and God has always provided what we need. So, whereas the Mini is not the muscle car of my dreams, or a luxury dream ride, it gets me where I need to go, turns a few heads, puts a few smiles on faces, and rumbles up and down the hills.

II Kings 9:20 Again the watchman reported, “He reached them, but he is not coming back. And the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously.”

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thankful for... our Administrative Assistant...

First, Laura spent a number of years as our Recording Secretary, and as a member of our Publicity Team.  So when it came time for the church to hire a secretary, it was a smooth transition, and an answer to one of her childhood dreams.   She has now served for many years doing whatever needs to be done for whatever ministry it is, and never knows what she will walk into on Monday morning.  So, cut her a break; she is not the complaint department or a professional counselor if I happen to not be in, though she often serves that way too!
Romans 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church...  that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thankful for... our Elders...

Through the years I have had the privilege of working and serving together with a number of godly men in our church.  There is much to be said for shared leadership, and these men have been a blessing.  It is great to be able to entrust various aspects of ministry to them, and also have men who are willing to tell me the truth about what I am doing.  I have enjoyed sitting back this month and hearing what God has to say through them. 

I Peter 5 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thankful for... our Church Family

Rather than have a picture of our building (not the church!), or the congregation (always changing), this logo represents those countless people who have been a part of our church family over the past 30 years (and even before...).  God has impacted my life and blessed me by so many people who call Him "Lord,"  We have studied, worshiped, worked, served, laughed and cried together, and so much more.  May we keep learning to trust Him more, together. 

Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Thankful for... our Homeschool coop...

For almost twenty years, our Fridays have been spent as a family at our homeschool coop, and before that on a smaller scale, on various schedules, in the homes of fellow homeschooling families. God has brought some amazing people our way, and has enriched our family through it.  This year the coop has finally and formally become a ministry of our church, which has been hosting it for many years. We are thankful for the many lessons learned, relationships developed, and lives affected by this group, which presents a valid Christian worldview to every subject matter.

Deuteronomy 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thankful for... Jim & the CBA family...

I am very grateful for the long friendship and co-worker relationship I have had with Jim Leary. We have journeyed together, and he has often served as a mentor/friend/co-leader. He is representative of many other brothers and churches in covenant community with one another in the Conservative Baptist family, where I have been blessed by grace and truth.  We have many special times to look back on, and a great future together in glory. I will be glad to spend time with him and other brothers in Christ once again today. 
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near
(Hebrews 10)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thankful for our... Carefree Caed

What a face full of expressions!  What a boy full of talents!  Sometimes he seems so full of energy and motion, while others he seems so laid back.  Nate and Alle's second son Caedmon is full of life, creativity and surprises.  We are looking forward to seeing the where, what, and how of what God does in his life, and going along for the ride.
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
II Timothy 1

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thankful for our Authentic Augustine...

Alle takes so many great pics of the boys, it's hard to choose just 1 to represent the fullness of Auggie's character!  His eyes tell it well: he is a deeply insightful young man. He explores the world of people, God's creations, music, soccer, and a whole host of other disciplines.  He is being trained to sing, to serve, to seek after God and enjoy life, and live up to the name of  a great saint.

II Timothy 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thankful for... our Alle!

When we first met Nate's wife Alle, we immediately realized she was extremely musically talented. But over the years we have found her to me so much more! She is also very creative when it comes to establishing her own business, decorating, and creating a unique and interesting education for her sons.  We keep discovering so many ways that she is a blessing to our son, their sons, our family, and many other people in their community.  We love getting pictures of her latest adventures.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
(Proverbs 31)