Monday Night Meditation

I have had a lot on my mind today. A friend from North Carolina lost her 42 year old son today to a heart attack. She has just posted a sweet birthday message to him on Saturday. Today is her birthday. My heart aches for her and her family. I pray that God will shower them in His mercy and comfort. I also found out one of my preacher buddies had a heart attack last night. He seems to be doing well tonight but has a cath scheduled tomorrow. I pray that God will touch him and strengthen his heart.

Today is the second day of the Advent season and I can really understand why Jesus had to come to this world. There is pain and death here and the only way those things can die is for Him to kill them once and for all. Part of the plan to do that required Him to take on flesh and walk among us for a while. We often focus on the little baby Jesus in the manger with cute little sheep and cows milling about. We forget that the little baby had to grow up and walk up Calvary’s hill.

I started listening to Christmas music today. I think that Christmas carols may be my favorite form of sacred music. I’m not too big on secular Christmas tune. I’m not much for Jingle Bells or Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire. I think my absolute favorite Christmas song is Angels We Have Heard On High. I have probably twenty different versions of it. I think Sixpence None The Richer’s version is my favorite. I’ll close this short post with it.

Grace and peace.

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First Sunday of Advent 2015

14 ‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah.15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.’

Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NASB)

 

1 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in You I trust,
Do not let me be ashamed;
Do not let my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.

Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.
Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.

Psalm 25:1-10 (NASB)

For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, 10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?

11 Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; 12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; 13 so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 (NASB)

 

25 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon theworld; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

29 Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

34 “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; 35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 36 But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:25-36 (NASB)

Hmmm

I read a story that claims Tim Tebow’s girlfriend (a former beauty queen who also dated a Jonas brother) has broken up with him because he doesn’t want to have sex until he is married. Whoever wrote the article makes Tebow out to be a joke and this poor girl a victim of his outdated value system. 

Honestly, I was offended for him. What does it say about the current state of the world when a young man is made the butt of a joke because he holds a high view of sex and marriage? I can’t believe the young woman actually shared that bit of information publicly. You would think that she could have blamed it imcompatability. If Tebow had been a raging womanizer would that make him more of a man? Sheesh.

Well, I’m crashing for tonight.

Grace and peace.

A Brief Word

Today is/was Black Friday. I do my very best to avoid going out during the madness that usually takes place. The one exception that I remember was back when Geo was five. I was at Walmart at 2:00 in the morning so I could get him a Nintendo Gamecube. That was the last time I ever did anything like that.

We did go to Walmart up in Horseheads tonight but it was after dinner and most of the insanity was over. We only went to get some groceries, but I did manage to sneak on one Christmas present while no one was looking. I roll like that.

Anyways, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’ll be transitioning into Christmas mode come tomorrow. I’ll still be eating lots of turkey but that’s okay with me. I actually had turkey ramen today for lunch. God bless.

Grace and peace.

Happy Thanksgiving

We have had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was just the four of us. Robin cooked turkey and ham. We also had dressing and mashed potatoes. She cooked herself some rutabagas. She also made a Boston Creme Cake and a banana pudding for deserts. It was nice being able to sit down and have a traditional lunch. After that we played Apples To Apples and Trivial Pursuit. It would have been nice to have had the rest of our family here but that is just one of the things that happen as we all get older. People move away and we see each other less. I believe that makes us even more thankful for them.

Robin has to work in the morning. She’s still watching orientation and training videos so it won’t be like working the register on Black Friday. Of course, she worked at Walmart for years so it’s not like K-Mart would be any different. We’re just thankful that she has a job now. So many people are less fortunate.

That’s about it for tonight. It’s now time to start getting into Christmas mode. I want to get an Advent calendar for the house this year. I also want to follow the daily Advent readings that are found in the lectionary. I know that our particular group doesn’t follow the Church calendar and we don’t use the Book of Common Prayer or anything like that. I just thought it might be something neat to do in my personal devotions for the next month.

Grace and peace.

New Songs

I fleshed out two new songs today. One is something that I’ve been playing with for a few days now. The other is adapted from something I wrote back in 1991 when I was still playing with All The King’s Men. Both of these are keyboard songs. They have a definitely Jeff Lynne influence but that really isn’t surprising. I recorded them using  my iPhone and this little Casio keyboard that Kay (from church) gave me. Here is a link where you can hear them and all the Oldmangrady demos that I have posted. The lyrics are posted with the songs.

Grace and peace.

Oldmangrady at SoundClick

 

I Don’t Have A Good Title

We got a smidgen of snow this morning but it was gone in an hour. I don’t mind it, either way. It is supposed to be a little warmer for the next couple of days so our Thanksgiving Eve service will not get snowed out this year.

I slow cooked a pork loin today. I had pulled pork burritos for supper. They were very tasty. I imagine that some people might put salsa and other things into theirs but mine were simple. A bit of shredded cheese and pork. That was all I needed.

We just watched the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special. I never get tired of seeing it. I think the Christmas one comes on next Monday. I will definitely watch that one as well. I’m knocking this out so I can watch UNC play basketball at 10:00.

Robin had her first day at K-Mart today. All she did was paperwork and all the orientation stuff. She’ll have the next two days off but will go in on Friday. I hate that she has to work like that but we are both thankful that she’s got a job.

That’s really all I have at the moment. I hope you all have a great week and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Grace and peace.

A Blast From The Past

I found some things that I wrote about six years ago. I thought it would be neat to share some of them. This is from something I called Thoughts On Colossians.

I grew up going to church almost every single time the door was open. I learned all of the Bible stories and all of the Sunday School answers about God, Jesus, Heaven and Hell. I never really understood it all though. I don’t know that I ever really took it seriously either. I guess you could say that I may not have really believed all of it either. They were stories…much like Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy and The Easter Bunny. I believed all of those were real too…for a while. The one thing I did believe in was the concept of Hell. I don’t know why the idea of frying for all eternity was the one thing that my mind latched onto at such an early age. I wish I had known about the concept of reconciliation.

I do believe that we are all alienated/estranged from God. I also believe that Jesus is the one who fixes that problem. Paul writes that Jesus made peace through his own blood. That is amazing to think about. Even though we are hostile to God…He makes a way for us to be brought back into fellowship with Him. We can stand before Him and be viewed as holy and blameless…no matter what we’ve done. That’s something a lot of us have a hard time grasping. We want to categorize sins and label people based upon their actions when the truth is…we are all in the same category. We are all separated from God. None of us stand a chance on our own. The good news is that God doesn’t want any of us to be that way.

I needed to know that a long time ago. I spent so much of my life living in fear, guilt and doubt. I believed in God and I believed in Jesus but I didn’t truly understand what Jesus did for me. It’s easy to say that Jesus died for us but I believe it’s difficult to truly understand what that means. I thought that I was going to get baptized and everything would be wonderful after that…Jesus died for me…awesome. But I never counted on the process of sanctification. I never counted on continuing temptation. I spent my life in a constant state of comparison and contrasting. I would look at my shortcomings and think that there was no way I was as good as the “Super-Christians” I saw around me. I also looked at my shortcomings and told myself that they weren’t as bad as those heathens around me. I might not be as good as the preacher…but I am better than some of those deacons and elders. I was definitely better than those outside of the church.

I failed to recognize the fact that we are all in the same position when we stand before God. We are all sinners who have failed Him. The only difference and the only thing that saves us is the blood of Jesus Christ…and it was spilled for every one.

I never wanted to think about homosexuals or terrorists or Democrats being able to be sanctified through the blood of Christ. Those folks were bad and they were the enemy. That’s why Hell was invented. I never understood my position before a holy God. I never understood grace and mercy. I never truly understood the Gospel. I never understood that it is truly a life-changing experience because it never changed mine. I never truly believed it. Even though I denied it with my mouth…I was a firm believer in works-based salvation. It was all about what you did or did not do.

After all these years I just am now starting to “get it” a little more. I was dead for all those years and because of Christ…I now live. I must be something new and different if I have truly experienced the Gospel…not because I have to meet some standard to get into heaven…but because Christ should be the single motivating factor in my life. Paul tells the Colossians that they need to put their old selves to death. Romans 12 also talks about being a living sacrifice.

I’m not a Greek scholar but it seems to me that Paul is using some very specific imagery in chapter 3 of Colossians. He talks about putting away (or taking off) the old stuff and putting on the garments of Christ. What did he say that they (and I believe we) are to put on? Compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience are listed.
He talks about believers having forgiving spirits…after all…we’ve been forgiven. We are to let the love of Christ rule in our lives. Everything we say and do should be done to bring glory to Him.

What do you think would happen if all believers actually lived their lives that way? What would happen if just the believers here on (this website) totally sold out to that concept? What would happen if just I would buy into that 100%? Do you think the world might be a little bit better place to live? If we truly recognized that those still living in the world are not that different from us…would we treat them differently? If we were honest and reminded ourselves that we were no better…would we be a little more merciful and graceful?

I don’t want to get into the part about family relationships right now. Paul addresses those and I have some opinions about that as well…but I really feel like I need to think about them more. I need to pray about them more. I will say that I believe that our relationships with others are directly related to our relationship with God…but I need to think about it some more.

I feel like I’m rambling a bit…but there is so much going through my head and I wanted to put as much of it down as I could. I may re-read this post and offer additional commentary later…especially if some of you respond.

 

Grace and peace.

But Lord, They’re Like…My Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48 (NASB)

I have been preaching a series called Church On Fire, which discusses the persecuted Church and how we should respond. It was developed by a group of guys who shared ideas back and forth on Facebook. Some of them I know personally and some of them are friends of friends of friends. Anyway, the series well organized and I thought it would be a great series to do, especially since several other churches were doing it at the same time. It was as if we were all uniting to address a vital issue facing the church. I am thankful for all of the guys who contributed.

Today was Week Three for me (I started a week later than some due to ICOM) so I was discussing the Christian response to persecution. One of the texts for today was the passage from Matthew that I quoted up top. I came right out at the beginning of the sermon and confessed that I have a difficult time with this. When I see those stories on the news and I hear about all of the people being beaten and killed…well…it makes me mad. I sometimes wonder why we (whoever WE is) don’t just wipe them (whoever THEM is) off the face of the earth. That’s what they deserve.

It is difficult to have this conversation with politics bleeding into to, but that’s what I want to try to do just for this moment. I want to forget about the politics of the situation and look at it from the spiritual side of things. I am a Christian. That means I claim to follow the teachings of Jesus. What did Jesus say about persecution and our enemies? When I read those words from Matthew’s gospel I cringe. LOVE your enemies. PRAY for those who persecute you. How in the world can we be expected to do that? He doesn’t mean ISIS or Boko Haram…right?

I confess to you, just as I confessed to those in church this morning, I don’t know. I don’t know how this works. I don’t know how I can forgive those who do inhuman things to others. How can I pray for them? I don’t know. But that’s what Jesus seems to be saying here. I know that are going to be those who disagree with me. I have heard nearly every argument for and against taking in refugees AND bombing most of the Middle East back into the Stone Age. I have heard all the reasons why this country cannot sit back. I know…I know. Honestly, there are moments when I agree completely.

But then there are the words of Jesus. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 12, elaborates. Keep in mind, this is a guy who actually persecuted the early church until he met Jesus. After that, he faced intense persecution for preaching the gospel. What does he say?

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:14-21 (NASB)

Not only does Pail say we’re supposed to bless our enemies, he says we’re supposed to reach out and meet their needs. What? Really? But Lord…they’re like…my enemies.

Grace and peace

 

Saturday Night Update

This will be short. Dale and I hauled wood this morning. We got two really good loads in. Came home and watched some football before going over to the church to meet with the guy who is doing the siding. After that, I worked in the office for a bit.

That’s about it. Tomorrow’s sermon is week three of Church On Fire. I’ll finish that up next week and then we’ll be in Christmas mode.

Been working on my Greek alphabet. Trying to learn it, write it, and pronounce it. Using Mounce as my guide. I am enjoying it so far.