Back Into The Swing Of Things

I was fighting sinus issues for the past four days so much of my free time was spent in a Benadryl-induced stupor. I didn’t do much on Saturday before going to work at Walmart. I honestly didn’t feel well so I rested. I took a nap after lunch on Sunday and then got up and went to Power Hour at 5:30. We went over to the Teribury’s after that and didn’t get home until 9:00. I didn’t have to work at Walmart yesterday. I went to the bank first thing then came here to the office to some non-work related things. My sinuses were still bothering me so I took Benadryl and went to sleep from Noon until about 5:30 when I got up and went to here about a potential ministry opportunity here in Bradford county.

I am feeling much better this morning. I’ve got coffee on and I’m working on tomorrow’s Bible study and this Sunday’s sermon. I do have to work tonight but as I said, I am feeling better today and I hope I’m through all this sinus yuckiness.

We’re in the book of Acts on Wednesdays. The afternoon group and the evening group are at different places (which is normal) so it’s almost like studying the book twice in a week. Actually, it’s exactly like that. I have been surprised at the things that have stuck out to me as we go through a text that I have read many times. Sometimes we read through things and assume that we already know what’s there or that there isn’t anything new to pick up on. Here is just one example. This is from Acts 1:20-26 (NLT) when the apostles replace Judas.

20 Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’

21 “So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus— 22 from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”

23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen 25 as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.

 

I typically focus on the names of the two men and how the apostles decide between the two. According to Luke, they cast lots and God is the one who actually chooses. What I sometimes overlook is the qualifications required to be a candidate. The two men chosen had been with them the entire time they had been with Jesus. Luke says that Joseph (or Barsabbas or Justus) and Matthias had been there when Jesus was baptized and had followed him all the way up his ascension. These guys were committed disciples and it only makes sense that would be a requirement to be an apostle.

I know it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but it’s the little details like that which makes Bible study exciting to me. I do my best to never assume I know everything there is to know about a particular passage even if it is one I have read hundreds of times. One of the things the Holy Spirit does is help us understand Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). I pray before each Bible study. I pray that God’s Spirit will speak to us  and reveal to us the things He wants us to see. As I said, I am amazed by the things (even the little things) that I have missed in the past.

Well, we’re up to speed now. I really need to do some work while I am here.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Whatever I Do

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Colossians 3:16-17 (NLT)

 

I sang and played guitar in a little band several years ago. We weren’t famous or well known outside of the local circuit of churches we played at but we did play quite a bit and most of the time we were pretty good. At one point we made a demo (in the truest sense of the word) and sold them at shows. For some reason, kids at these shows wanted us to sign these things. Honestly, I felt silly doing it but I took it seriously. I always referenced Colossians 3:17 after I signed my name. It was my so-called life verse at the time. Even though I don’t necessarily hold to the idea of a “life verse” any longer it is still a passage I try to live out every day.

It seems to be even more appropriate now that I am out working in the public in a non-church job again. I was working at Pizza Inn and at other jobs during the time I was in the band so it helped me remember that I could be serving God no matter what my “ministry” looked like. That is helpful on days like today when I am already tired and have an eight hour shift at Walmart ahead of me. It helps me to keep things in perspective. Even if I am tired and not looking forward to the job I still need to approach it with the right attitude. I’m standing at that door greeting people for Jesus. I just know that I’ll be hearing Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus in my head for the rest of the night.

It may sound simple or even silly but it helps. There have been times at Walmart where I have had to repeat (in my head), “You’re doing this for Jesus. You’re doing this for Jesus.” Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be doing it if they weren’t paying me. There is the financial benefit from working but I do take the other part seriously. I really can let this be an extension of my ministry. I really can use this as a way to be a blessing to others.

Whatever I do in word or deed. Right now that means looking people in the eye, smiling, and saying, “Welcome to Walmart.”

May God our Father give you grace and peace.19250852_10156007088725260_696188921189714296_o

Down Time

I don’t have much down time these days so I try to make the most of it when I do have it. I have been trying to get as much reading in during the day as I can. I used to do a lot of reading at night before bed but working until 11:00 and then getting home close to Midnight has pretty much cut that out. I have been listening to a lot of music lately. I guess my posts here kinda give that away. Petra has been in my playlist a lot lately. I know I’ve written a lot about that Linkin Park album but it’s not the only thing I’ve been playing. Honestly, it’s such an emotionally draining album that I have to play something upbeat and positive afterwards.

I’ll finish up my current sermon series this Sunday. I think it has gone well. I have gotten some positive feedback so that’s definitely a plus. I try to preach things that I need to hear. If I need to hear it and can benefit from it then others most likely will. It’s working so far. I do listen to what folks say as well. I take suggestions for sermons and Bible studies from the folks here. That makes sense to me.

This post is disjointed and will probably come across as rambling. I didn’t really have anything to share and I wanted to post something just to be posting. I don’t know why it’s so important to me to have something every day. I know I don’t always succeed but that’s what I strive for. Perhaps I should worry more about quality than quantity.

I need to go home, eat lunch, take a shower, and get ready for work. I’ll leave you with a track from Petra’s 1974 debut album. That’s what I’m listening to at the moment. The lyrics are kinda simple and may seem a bit corny these days but this would have been cutting edge in 1974. It was downright scandalous. May you rock with The Rock. Enjoy.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

 

 

 

Begging At The Gate

Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!”The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. 10 When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! 11 They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.

Acts 3:1-11 (NLT)

 

We were discussing this passage in Bible study tonight. I never get tied of reading Acts because it seems like something new is always jumping out at me. I am very familiar with this event. I have preached about it, I have taught it in adult Bible classes, and I have taught it to children. I’m sure I noticed it before but for some reason verse eleven really popped out tonight. The man who was healed was over forty years old. Luke tells us that later on (Luke 5:22). That isn’t the part that makes me stop though. It’s verse 11. It says that the man was holding tightly to Peter and John. Why do you think he was doing that?

Someone tonight suggested that it may have been out of fear that the healing would go away if he let go. It was also suggested that he wanted to see what else Peter and John might do. Others have thought that he may have been worried that the crowd was going to drag him away or that the religious leaders might try to dispose of him. Perhaps he was so grateful that he just couldn’t let go. We really don’t know do we?

What we do know is that this man had been spending his day just like every other day before. He was outside the “Beautiful Gate” of the Temple because it was a high traffic area. Someone (friends or family maybe) had taken him there so he could beg for money to survive. When he begged in front of Peter and John he got more than he ever dreamed. Imagine how excited he must have been when they actually stopped and began a conversation with him. How many people had breezed on by and intl dropped a coin or two? How many had shuffled past without giving anything. I’m sure the man was used to both by this point.

However, here are these two guys and they want to talk. I have a pretty good imagination so I envision his excitement slowly fading when Peter says that he doesn’t have any money to give him. What went through his mind? Was he disappointed? Angry? We don’t know because what Peter does next changes this guy’s life forever.  He heals him in the name of Jesus. The man is literally jumping for joy. Think about that for a moment. How long does it take muscles and bones to react after periods of inactivity? Think about the hours of physical therapy required of people recovering from injuries or surgeries. This man had never walked. He is suddenly using muscles and bones that had never been used.

I think about how long it takes me to use my hand or foot if I sit or lay in the wrong position. The blood has to resume circulation. The numbness has to wear off. The pins and needles have to go away. Even then I don’t just jump up and go about my business. It requires time to readjust. Think about this. How long does it take for a baby to learn to walk? How difficult is it? How many stumbles and falls does it take? This guy jumps up on two feet that have never been used and starts to dance and worship. No wonder the people are astonished. This is a miracle in every sense of the word.

Think about one more thing as I bring this to and end. Someone had to take the guy up to the gate every day. Someone had enough compassion to put him in a position to be blessed. You might be the beggar right now. Perhaps you’re sitting there expecting just enough to get you through. May God truly surprise you and bless you in ways you can’t even imagine. Perhaps you’re sitting there and you know someone who needs a hand getting to the gate. Are you willing to give of your time and resources to make sure he/she can be there?

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

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Smashing Idols

When the festival ended, the Israelites who attended went to all the towns of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, and they smashed all the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and removed the pagan shrines and altars. After this, the Israelites returned to their own towns and homes.

2 Chronicles 31:1 (NLT)

 

This is one of the verses in today’s One Year Bible reading plan. This section of 2 Chronicles is detailing the revival and reforms put in place by King Hezekiah. Unlike many of Judah’s kings, Hezekiah was righteous and honestly sought to please God. One of the highlights of his reign was the purging of pagan idols and shrines. He wanted people to worship the one, true God. Part of that required the removal of all gods that got in the way.

We may not worship pagan deities today but we all have things that get in the way of us worshiping God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. I know I do. They’re not always bad things. It is true that we sometimes let sin get in the way and we follow our own selfish desires but I would guess that most of the things that distract us aren’t bad. We let jobs, relationships, entertainment, and all sorts of things take precedence in our lives. Once again…I am guilty as well.

Hezekiah realized that the best way to make God first is to remove those things that take our worship away from Him. He knew it was time to smash idols. I have to continually stop and examine my life and see what I need to smash. Perhaps you do too.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Relaxing

I’m getting ready to head to Walmart for another 4-11 shift. It’s not always fun but it isn’t too terribly difficult. I haven’t done much today other than take Robin to work and take Jamie to her therapist. After that I decided to sit down and just relax. I come up the office on Mondays because it is quiet and I can just sit, listen to music, read, or write. Sometimes I just sit. Today has been one of those days.

I really don’t have much to say today. I don’t want to miss a day but sometimes it is a struggle to come up with something meaningful to share. That’s why I share songs and Bible verses. They give you an idea as to what is on my mind. Honestly, I have tried to keep my mind free today. It’s hard for me but I came pretty close. I haven’t listened to my sermon from yesterday. I’ll do that tomorrow before I put it online.

I need to leave early today so I can stop and get gas. It can probably wait until tonight but I won’t feel like stopping at Sheetz at 11:00. I have a feeling I’m going to be ready to get home and go to bed.

That’s all I’ve got. I guess I’ll share a song. That’s what I do on days like this.

This one may seem a bit out of left field but enjoy it anyway.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

 

 

Nobody Can Save Me

What a catchy song. What sadness in the lyrics. I don’t know that I would have ever heard this song if Chester Bennington hadn’t killed himself. Now I can’t stop listening to it. How many people feel this way and aren’t able to express it or seek out help?

Too many.

One line screams at me:

Stare into this illusion
For answers yet to come
I chose a false solution
But nobody proved me wrong

Please know that you do have another solution. If you know someone struggling. Reach out and let them know that there is another answer.

Been searching somewhere out there
For what’s been missing right here

Let’s do everything we can to help them find it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-272-8255

I do not know why this Linkin Park album is having such an effect on me. I wasn’t a real fan. I didn’t follow the band. The “shock” of Chester Bennington’s death has worn off. The album isn’t even a style of music I normally listen to. Apparently the music critics think it is unoriginal and extremely derivative. Some even feel it was a deliberate money grab by the band. I don’t know enough about them to make an educated guess. I do know that it sounds NOTHING like what I expect when I think Linkin Park. Admittedly, I only know the first album.

Why can’t I stop listening to it? I have had listening marathons in the past when someone I liked died. Most of you probably recall the Chris Cornell one just a couple of months ago. It lasted a day or two and then things went back to normal. I haven’t taken One More Light out of the CD player in my car. I am even writing about it. Why has this touched me so deeply?

I honestly can’t explain it.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

A Time For Everything

 

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT)

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Psalm 77

I came across a group today that I had never heard of. They’re called Sons Of Korah and they record their own versions of different psalms. Here is the text of Psalm 77 from the New Living Translation and then Sons Of Korah’s take on it.

I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
    Oh, that God would listen to me!
When I was in deep trouble,
    I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
    but my soul was not comforted.
I think of God, and I moan,
    overwhelmed with longing for his help. Interlude

You don’t let me sleep.
    I am too distressed even to pray!
I think of the good old days,
    long since ended,
when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
    I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
    Will he never again be kind to me?
Is his unfailing love gone forever?
    Have his promises permanently failed?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude

10 And I said, “This is my fate;
    the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

13 O God, your ways are holy.
    Is there any god as mighty as you?
14 You are the God of great wonders!
    You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
15 By your strong arm, you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Interlude

16 When the Red Sea saw you, O God,
    its waters looked and trembled!
    The sea quaked to its very depths.
17 The clouds poured down rain;
    the thunder rumbled in the sky.
    Your arrows of lightning flashed.
18 Your thunder roared from the whirlwind;
    the lightning lit up the world!
    The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your road led through the sea,
    your pathway through the mighty waters—
    a pathway no one knew was there!
20 You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep,
    with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.

 

 

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Jeremiah 17:5-10

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
    according to what their actions deserve.”

Jeremiah 17:5-10 (NLT)

 

This passage (along with Psalm 1) reminds me that worldy wisdom (even from my own mind and heart) cannot be fully trusted. We often think we have it all figured out and the truth is that we are deceived and don’t even know it. As I look back on my life I can see that I have been out in the barren wilderness more than I care to admit. Many times I was heading towards what I thought was an oasis only discover it was a mirage. I was chasing things that I thought would nourish me only to find myself deeper in the desert and further from the things I really needed.

The good thing is that God knows our thoughts and He will only lead us to things that bring life. He knows the things that are going to derail us and send is off into the wasteland. He gives us the way to escape if we will just listen and obey. As I get older I realize just how better off I am when I am fully trusting God and I’m following the lead of His Holy Spirit. The world (and my own mind) may tell me I’m missing out on things but I know that in the end I will be better off. I have to keep reminding myself of that and keep praying for the strength to persevere. May you do the same.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Tree-by-a-Stream