Monday, November 16, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
This Sunday is the one-year anniversary of Deb's death. It has been a hard year, actually, it has been a hard four years. She battled Stage 4 Colon Cancer for nearly three years before it finally wore her down. Since her death, I have been battling grief, depression, and trying to keep functioning and doing what I need to do to keep a roof over my head. I wish I could share some sort of glorious testimony about how peace had overtaken me and life has worked out. But I can't, without lying. It's been hard. There have been bright spots, but all in all, it's been less than great.
I say this not just for myself, but for anyone who is grieving. If you are one of those people who said "call me if you need anything", please answer the phone. In the widow(er) groups I have belonged to, there is a common refrain of how people just slowly slip away. Surely some of us may talk too frequently about our loss and our pain. Some may seem to be stuck in a place. I have attended a Grief Share grief group and retained a therapist to help me process all of this. But I, and others have noticed how couples we once hung out with now seem awkward around us. The third wheel phenomenon is real. My request to you is to reach out to anyone who is grieving a loss - spouse, child, parent, sibling, job, dream etc - and just sit with them. Have a ministry of presence and let them know that someone cares. They don't need words of wisdom, they need a person. Be that person. In doing so, you will fulfill Paul's command in Galatians 6:2 to " bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
Monday, June 19, 2017
Sunday, November 23, 2014
There is something about gathering around food that is cooking, especially food that cooks slowly. It gives you time to converse, to relax, to appreciate each other as you wait for the mouth-watering goodness that is about to happen.
I truly appreciate all those who made this possible - Tim with his welding and sandblasting expertise and friendship. Steve and Steve, with their mechanical know-how and willingness to put up with me making it up as we went along. Rachael, for having the idea of getting, no, building a smoker. Deb, for putting up with the goofiness and the seemingly endless amount of wood that keeps showing up.
Below are some pictures of Steve and Steve with our progress and the finished project.
Finally getting close
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
For too long in the church we have read this scripture Ephesians 4:11-16 incompletely. We read verse 11 with gusto - "It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers," and we stop there. We stop because most of us can say "God didn't give me to that calling" and we move on. The problem is in the remaining verses: "12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God—a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. 14 So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. 15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. 16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love."
The purpose of some being called is "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ." For too long we have professionalized things and left these jobs that were designed for the lay people to be done by the clergy. We are doing no favors when clergy does jobs that God has for the laity. It stunts the spiritual growth of the laity, it doesn't build up the body of Christ as it should be, and it burns out the clergy. This has been going on for way too long - more than 1000 years. The good news is that it seems to be changing.
In our little tribe we have people who are volunteering to visit the sick and the shut-ins. We have people working in the nursery. We have groups of young adults and teens looking for service opportunities in the community. And we are working to find those opportunities so they can grow their faith. James declared that faith without works is dead. That is so true. We need to have our beliefs drive our actions which reinforces our beliefs which drives new actions. It is how we grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We are committed to helping all believers achieve their God-ordained potential in Christ. Sometimes that means we don't do the easy thing and do things for them. We have to let them work through the bumps so they can grow their faith and become the people God wants them to be. It also means that those who have chosen to sit and do little and not fulfilling what God has for them.
Tough stuff, but good stuff. Let's reclaim biblical Christianity and cast off Churchianity
Thursday, June 27, 2013
I cannot imagine this happening in a service where the Good News of Jesus Christ is supposed to be preached. Evidently something is going on there, and it appears that it isn't good. A step back to reassess the situation might be in order here.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
|Dr. David Busic|
|Dr. Gustavo Crocker|
Monday, April 15, 2013
It follows on a theme from John 14 where Jesus told Judas:
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Too often in this life we equate words with faith. We confess that we believe certain things, but our lives do not show evidence of that faith. We are caught in a trap where we have orthodoxy - right beliefs but we do not have orthopraxis - right actions- in our life. We talk a good game, but like Peter, when the rubber hits the road, we fail. We fail to do that which we claim to believe. We fail to be the hands and feet of Christ. We fail to avoid the sins that ensnare us. We fail to do that which Christ has commanded us:
This is a year to put actions to our words. A year to be the people we are called to be. We no longer have a privileged position in society. We have to go out and earn that position by our actions that show the love of Christ to a hurting world.
Let's be that people.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
As a first-time solo pastor, one could view having your predecessor still in your congregation to be a challenge. Jerry and Jean never made it an issue. He had retired after serving the Hobart congregation for 37 years, and he was retired. He was also battling the disease that ultimately claimed his life.
In the 2 years I knew him, I was able to laugh, cry, tell jokes, and run ideas past him. I valued his counsel on things in the church and in the town. I also appreciated having someone to talk to about ministry. Being a solo pastor is hard because you have to work to find people with whom you can share some of your ideas, fears, burdens and frustration. Jerry had already been there, done that and had a couple of T-shirts to prove it.
Jerry, you fought the good fight and made a difference in the lives of many. Well done good and faithful servant. I will miss you.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
This one just makes me cringe and shake my head at the same time.
So dating a woman who has adopted children internationally is akin to taking on the United Nations? Will someone at CBN please tell the emperor that he has no clothes? And then take his microphone away?
As Kenny Rogers said, you have "know when to walk away..."
Friday, August 03, 2012
What I find interesting about all of this is the way certain folks reacted to a private citizen saying the same thing that President Clinton said when he signed the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s. President Obama also espoused the same view when he was campaigning in 2008.
It is interesting that Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Boston, and Chicago aldermen did not attack candidate Obama they way they have attacked Dan Cathy for espousing his views on marriage.
In my opinion, this is a battle that is going to go on for a long time, just like abortion has. It will raise millions of dollars on both sides, and little will be done to resolve the issue in the political arena. What needs to be done is for the church focus on teaching what the Bible says in a POSITIVE manner and not engage in Westboro Baptist tactics that do not show the love of Christ in any way.
If we are going to change the culture, we are going to have to be the shining city on the hill that calls people to seek forgiveness and grace as they repent of behaviors that are sinful. That is what the First Century church did, and it changed the very corrupt and highly-sexualized Roman culture over time. The church needs to be the church and remain a voice that can speak to all parties in politics. It's hard to watch your country go down some of the paths it has chosen, but God is not an American, and not all Americans recognize God's authority. That is an unfortunate reality.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
If we ever needed another reminder that our sin affects more than just us, just look at Penn State University. The sins of a few men in leadership have injured many who had nothing to do with the actions there, and had no idea it was happening.
Some of those injured include:
The players who cannot play in bowls through no fault of their own
The victims of Mr. Sandusky
The people who idolized Paterno and PSU
The non-revenue sports at PSU who may see a reduction in funding given the reduction in $$ from the football program
And the list goes on and on.
It is a good moment for us to remember that our sin can potentially affect many around us. And that is why God's grace is there to help us overcome the power of sin and death. We are called to live in community, not as Lone Rangers. Our actions, however big or small, affect others whether we want to admit it or not.
Lord make it so.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Pray for a Godly friend to come alongside your pastor so that he/she can have someone they trust to confide in. It makes a huge difference in the lives of clergy members.
Friday, May 20, 2011
I just don't get it.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
I don't know how to reconcile this with "“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father…” [Mark 13:21]"
But it must be true. I saw it on the internet.
Friday, May 13, 2011
It is no wonder that the secular media believes that Christians are fair game. We provide them with both the target and the ammunition. And we wonder why they take shots at us?
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I really don't understand why we are refusing to harvest our own resources and insist on importing oil from countries that do not have our best interest at heart. I'm sure this will be a presidential campaign issue,
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
10. McGonigles Market on Ward Parkway - Good BBQ and meat at reasonable prices
9. The friendly folks and open air feeling of the city.
8. Smokestack BBQ.
7. Christ Church Anglican - I went there for my worship class and was hooked.
6. Jacob's Well - same story. I love the evening worship there.
5. The faculty at Nazarene Theological Seminary - they made me feel like a part of the community even though I as an in-service student.
4. Jack's Stack BBQ - fine dining and BBQ. What more could you ask for?
|Country Club Plaza|
2. Oklahoma Joe's BBQ- great BBQ served in a gas station. Need I say more?
1. Nazarene Theological Seminary - I am a bit wistful thinking about completion of my degree. I made some great friends there and greatly enjoyed the interaction with students and faculty. I will honestly miss being there.
Monday, May 09, 2011
Monday, May 02, 2011
by surprise and created a number of conflicting thoughts and emotions. My first visceral reaction was to celebrate. The man who ordered the murder of thousands of Americans is dead. He finally got what was coming to him. And that is true.
I also wondered if this will trip some wire in the Al Qaeda organization that will bring on a new series of attacks set in place in the event of his death. Do we really want to go through that again? Endless lines at the airports. Gas prices climbing through the roof (even more than they already have).
As a Christian, I find the conflicting emotions to be more troubling. I don't think we should celebrate the death of one of God's children. But I do understand the reaction of those who have lost loved ones in the attacks and ensuing wars who may be finding relief, closure, and even some joy in this event. The advent of terrorism is just a reminder of how fallen our world is and how we need to continually say "Come Lord Jesus Come" in our own hearts and minds as well in the world around us.
Bin Laden is gone. I pray that this marks the unwinding of the terrorism activity that has dominated our country's thoughts for the past 10 years. I hope it does, but I suspect the battle will go on.
NY Daily News
Fox News Headline
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Saturday, January 01, 2011
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Take a look at this piece in Christianity Today. The author makes a valid point that the statistics we love to go around quoting are all negative statistics, and many of them are flat out misleading if not fabricated falsehoods. I remember sitting in a meeting watching a video of a prominent teen evangelist who was breathlessly telling us that only 4% of American kids will be Christians in the next generation. I leaned over to the pastor sitting next to me and said "I know how to lie with statistics too" and we both smiled. That number comes from an informal survey (read nonscientific) done by a seminary professor more than 10 years ago with a sample size of just over 200 people. More on that here. Yet people keep running around repeating it as if it were inscribed on stone tablets found found on Mt. Sinai. It's wrong people! Get over it! Stop repeating the lie.!
Maybe Christians should try this form of therapy.
Let's try something new for a while. Let's only say positive things about the church that are true. Let's declare a fast from criticalness. Let's speak positively about the Body of Christ, and see if it becomes more attractive to people. How about that for a change.
I realize this will crimp the fundraising plans of many who make their living out of scaring Christians into thinking they are under siege. But this too shall pass. And the world may just be a better place afterward.
It's worth a shot, don't you think?
Sunday, May 30, 2010
The other scene that just tears me up is the two WWII vets in the cemetery, one missing part of a leg. I can't imagine standing there where brave young men who you went through training with are buried. Why did you live and they die? Fate? Luck? Divine intervention? We may never know.
Watch the clip and remember those who gave all for our freedom.
Friday, May 21, 2010
The first three receive quite a bit of attention, but the last one receives scant attention outside the church, and not much more inside the church. Pentecost celebrates the arrival of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. This was the Comforter that Jesus had promised to the disciples. It was the fulfillment of the Emmanuel - God with us - idea. Jesus was the incarnation of God and walked with us on the earth. But he was limited by time and space and the human body. The Holy Spirit is not limited by time, space and the human body. The Spirit can be with all of us at the same time,and he can, and will, indwell in our soul and shape our character into the Christlikeness that we are called to.
This Sunday, take some time to celebrate Pentecost. If your church doesn't celebrate Pentecost, encourage your pastor to do so. The Spirit of the Living God dwelling with us gives us the power of God in our lives. It is the greatest gift of God this side of heaven. The Spirit is there to guide us, comfort us, encourage us, enlighten us and so much more.
Celebrate Pentecost and thank God for his Spirit who lives with us. It is the greatest gift we can receive until we see Jesus face to face.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Admiral James Stockdale's opening questions during the 1992 Vice Presidential debate are good questions for all of us to consider as we travel through our journey of this life as we prepare for the next life. Who am I? Why am I here? These are great existential questions for us to consider as we live each day.
Who am I? Am I the person I born to be? Am I the person who had bad things happen to them previously in their life? Am I the person who did many bad things to myself and others? Am I a child of the King? Am I a victorious Christian? Am I a guilt-ridden Christian lamenting my life and the way it has turned out? Am I someone who looks forward to what each day brings? Or am I someone who looks forward to each day as a way of getting one day closer to the end and receiving my eternal reward. Am I someone people turn to for guidance and comfort? Am I someone that people don't turn to unless they have to?
I don't have easy answers because each of us is in a different place. But, for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, we know that we are brothers and sisters of the King. In Mark 3:35 Jesus said "whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." Emotionally we may not be there, but that is the reality of what Christ has given to us.
Why am I here? I'm not going to list all of the possibilities for this, just meditate on the question. Why am I here? Do I have a purpose? Has God shared with my my raison d'etre? Go read the beginning of Exodus or Isaiah 6 to see examples of God-given purpose. Read Mark 3 where Jesus calls his disciples. Read the accounts of Jesus and his mission. Ask God what your purpose is. Pray, and sit quietly and listen as he speaks to you. Let the Lord speak to your soul and it may help you answer some of these questions.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Last summer I wrote this paper on the issue, and I think it is worth revisiting.
When Doing Good May Be Breaking The Law -
Christians are in a particularly difficult spot with this issue. We are commanded to look out for the "least of these" and we are also commanded to obey the law.
I encourage you to read the paper and offer your thoughts here. It's not that long and an easy read. But is is a vexing issue for our country.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
My business has been battered by the disaster that is the Michigan economy. I'm still waiting for the recovery that has been talked about some time. But it is what it is. I knew there was a risk when I went out on my own. There is a high risk and a high reward in a venture such as self employment, and I'm in the risk phase right now. I'm praying that the reward phase is just around the corner.
But the real struggle has been in the health of our family. Last year I tore my rotator cuff and labrum in an unfortunate incident. The recovery from the surgery has taken many months and much hard work. Today is the first day I have been able to throw a tennis ball without any tightness or hitch in my motion. It's a small victory, but I need a victory.
My kids have both had their share of issues. One has developed POTS, and the other has a spinal malformation that has just come to light. I know you never want to ask the question "What else can go wrong" but I'm about there. I know that my issues are not life-threatening but they are potentially serious medical issues that have turned our lives upside down in the past year. I long for the days when I awoke and assumed that everything was going to be OK that day. I say this not to evoke sympathy or pity, but to bring up a point.
I have gained a great appreciation for people who have been through periods of suffering. I have had a taste of what it is like to have the concerns of life just grind you down and suck the joy out of your day. I've seen the depressive effects of losing hope that things will return to normal. I've seen the bills that chronic illnesses can generate.
If you have been suffering and I have been indifferent to you, please accept my apology. Sadly it has taken some ugly life events to open my eyes to the suffering of others. I pray that God will use this with me in ministry to help others during their time of sitting with Job. If you haven't read Job lately, open your Bible and take a look at a story of suffering and redemption. It's a good, but difficult at times, read. You will also learn that good, Godly friends are invaluable because Job's friends were next thing to useless.