Sunday, October 26, 2014

WHAT'S IN THE BOX?

I HAVE BEEN DOING “WHAT’S IN THE BOX?” for over a quarter of a century. Yikes! When I see that typed-out it makes me feel old! (25 years x 52 weeks, give or take a few.) I have seen LOTS of different items, some easier to discern than others, but I don’t think I've ever been stumped.

Actually, it’s one of my favorite times of the morning worship service. There’s nothing quite like sitting with a bunch of kids whose eyes are fixed on the box, just waiting to see what it holds. Truthfully, I know they don’t always follow the object lesson, but it’s great fun, and some lessons are learned. And of course, I just love being with the kids. They seem to “get it” more times than not.  It’s that child-like faith. (Matthew 18:1-9)

Kids, boxes, surprises, and an important story of God’s love, that’s what Operation Christmas Child is all about. A simple box, filled with simple things, bringing the extraordinary message of God’s love.  I guess it’s not such a “simple box” after all.

For the past 17 years Felton Bible Church has been actively collecting shoeboxes filled with the love of God, as well as some toys, toothpaste, socks, all sorts of special items, and sending them through the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse around the world. Over those years we've collected hundreds of boxes and each one of them finds the perfect recipient, at the perfect place, at the perfect time, God’s time!

Can you imagine what it would be like to sit in some far away village and gaze into eyes’ of a child that are filled with expectancy and wonder as they open up a special box created just for them?  I don’t know who would be the most excited the child or me, but I am sure my eyes would be filled with tears of joy.


What’s in the box? Well, you can decide a lot of the details, but one thing is for sure it’s to be filled with your prayers and your love and when it is we know that God’s love will travel with it, too.  Let’s get packing!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

THE LORD'S LEGACY

TODAY WE DEDICATE A CHILD, but more than that we are given cause to pause and remember the legacy which is given to us as God’s children.

In one regard we are all God’s children, for He alone is God, the giver of life. And it was for all God’s children, those near (the Jews) and those far (the Gentiles) that Jesus came to die upon the cross as the perfect, atoning sacrifice for our sins, and to bring us the gift of grace, forgiveness and the opportunity to be reconciled into God’s family. (Romans 11:11-36)

In today’s Child Dedication we remember the legacy of God’s grace and love. As parents we follow God’s design as we bring ourselves and our children back to Him who has redeemed us.  

For those of us who are adults of various ages and place in life, we come again to our Heavenly Father and re-dedicate ourselves to Him; to follow His desire and design for us in being conformed to His Son. (Romans 8:29)

For those who bring their children it is a time to give thanks, to offer blessing and to covenant before God and His church to raise these God-given gifts in the love and grace of the Lord. We come praying for our children that they will give their lives unto the Lord for His glory as we also pray for their protection.

As the family of God it is a time for all of us to re-dedicate ourselves to love well, just as we have been loved by the Father. To live in  the legacy of His love as we seek to pass His legacy on to each following generation.

So let us love!

Friday, October 17, 2014

TO SPEAK HOLY WORDS. TO DO HOLY WORK.

THIS IS A POWERFUL TED VIDEO. Moving. Humbling. Challenging. It not only shows us the resilience of the human spirit, but the importance and power of love that speaks, cares, expresses, longs and  celebrates.

As a follower of Jesus, I was moved by the lesson that I have been given the responsibility to speak the Words of God. I must be close to Him, watching closely the "movement of His eyes," and then record and recount His message to the world. True, God is not paralyzed, but He has called us to draw NEAR to HIM, so that we can SHARE HIS WORD to the world.

The final words of this video also carry for us a great truth, a powerful challenge. We, even though we may see ourselves paralyzed by so many issues, both from with-in and with-out, we have a HOLY WORK to do.

May the HOLY SPIRT cause our spirits to tingle with new life!

 
video

Thursday, October 16, 2014

HOW TO HAVE A HAPPY LIFE

THE PSALMIST WRITES in Psalm 104:15
Wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread sustains their hearts.
Psalm 104 is a great recounting of God's creative, providing, and sustaining work in all of His creation.  In verse fifteen I  note not only His physical sustaining work, but His salvific and sustaining work for our souls.

Wine, draws us to remember the saving blood of Jesus. 
                                                                    (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
Oil, the anointing and preserving work of the Holy Spirit.
                                                                                         (John 14:15-27)
Bread, the very Word of God which grants wisdom for life. 
                                                                                            (Matthew 4:4)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

MUSINGS FROM GENESIS 32:22-32

MORE AND MORE I FIND MYSELF DRAWN to the Jacob's wrestling with the Angel of the Lord. (Genesis 32:22-32) Here are some thoughts from today . . . 
English: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. Česky...

Forever the limp,
Broken to bless.
True encounters
with God shall
demand damage
to the Old Man
in order that a
New Man can be
reborn.
A witness out of me
from the weakness in me;
so that the Glory may be
to Thee,
for Thee.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

WHAT IS IT, Randy or Randal? Why, in fact, the name change? Well, it’s a long story, but let me see if I can relate it in a short manner, with some Biblical precedent.

First, Randal is my given name and Randy was a name I assumed sometime in my unremembered childhood. It served me well, but as I moved through this recent time of challenge and growth, with many changes in my understanding of myself spiritually and emotionally, I have taken some steps to mark the positive and desired changes. Reassuming my given name was one of those steps.

As stated above, this is not without Biblical precedent. Consider Genesis 32:22-32 where Jacob wrestles with the LORD all night. Pleading for a blessing the LORD changes his name to Israel and then breaks his hip which will give the newly renamed Jacob a forever reminder of his struggle with and his blessing from the LORD.

This past week I have been meditating (that’s a Biblical concept, see: Psalm 1) on Isaiah 43:1-7. In verse one Isaiah writes,
But now, this is what the LORD says –
He who created you, Jacob,
He who formed you, Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name, you are Mine.

God created me. He placed me in my mother’s womb, where I was made in the darkness, but not without the spark of His Image. Now, God is continuing to form me into that Image that was marred by sin. He is doing His good work of conforming to the Image of His Son. (Romans 8:28-29) In that process, changing my name and my character.


I asked for His blessing and He broke me, I guess that’s the way it works. I wish I could say I’m walking straight and the limp is gone, but I believe it shall forever be a part of me, there to remind me of my blessings and the need I will always have to lean on Him.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

CARING FOR WIDOWS, ORPHANS & THE FATHERLESS

Orphans by Thomas Kennington
Orphans by Thomas Kennington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I WAS OUT FOR A RUN IN THE HOT, HOT SUN yesterday and my mind drifted to the plight of widows and orphans and the fatherless in our world.

I realize that this group of individuals comes in all forms. Those who have lost loved-ones to long-term illness, or an unexpected tragedy. There are orphans throughout the world, even right here in the good old USA, and of course thousands, dare I say millions, throughout the world. Children bereaved of parents due to war or epidemic or worse of all because they are simply unwanted. 

Then there are the fatherless. Those who may have a place to call home, or are cared for in some sense, yet lack the loving father that is there to protect and provide for them. However you cut it the situation for each of these groups is tragic.

I suppose that is why God, our heavenly Father has such a special place in His heart for those you suffer in these ways. He was constantly calling His chosen people back to show true righteousness and sacrifice and worship by caring for such as these. (Psalm 82:3; Psalm 68:5; Exodus 22:22-24)

And again, as a mark of the true righteous in the church, James writes,
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:27)
Yet, in all this, what tugged at my heart most as I ran was how well do we care for the spiritual widows, orphans and fatherless?  By this I mean those who are part of our church families but attend without spouse, or without parent.  How well do we even see these as widows, orphans and the fatherless?

I know that in our church family there was those who are such. Who come week after week, hopefully not to sit alone, and yet is some real, unspoken sense, are alone. There are kids who attend our AWANA program, or weekly youth group, who may have homes to go each night, are well-fed and cared for, except when it comes to the things of the Lord.

How do we care for these? Truthfully, I don't have a list of answers except to first of all remember they are with us and second, to love well, as Peter Scazzero reminds us in his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and The Emotionally Healthy Church.

The call of the Lord still echos for us: to care for those the world has forgotten or placed aside. This is part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Let us see all, let us love all, for so the Lord did for us.

I WANDER . . .

THERE IS A NOTE UNDER THE GLASS on my desk that my daughter Lizzie gave me which says, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.” To which my pessimistic mind responds, “Yeah, but there are a few who don’t have a clue where they’re headed.

The truth is I love to wander. Since childhood my mind wandered, and I enjoyed a vivid imagination. Both of those can get a kid in trouble, both in the classroom (the wandering part) and late at night (the imagination part, you know those monsters under the bed well they’re . . . let’s not go there, little kids may be reading this.)

I still like to wander. I like to wander in the woods. I like to take hikes from our home to Wilder State Park and then to Santa Cruz. And the thing about my wanton wandering, I like to do it alone. I know there can be mountain lions and rabid raccoons in the woods, but there is something about being alone that is good. I don’t like being lonely, but I do like being alone. In the spiritual disciplines of the Christian faith we call that solitude.

Solitude is of vital importance to maturing in our spiritual lives. It is a time when we get away from artificial stimulus, yes that means no cell phones or books, and spend an agenda-less time with God.

Solitude is not a time for Bible study, though Scripture hidden in your heart (Psalm 119:11) can be put to good use. It is not necessarily seeking wisdom on some deep need, though wisdom may arise. It is a time to be alone with God.

Solitude may take place during a walk in the woods, or sitting in your favorite chair gazing out the window or sitting on the warm sand of a secluded beach, but wherever your solitude finds you, that place is holy ground. (Exodus 3:5)

I encourage you, if you’re seeking to grow spiritually, to plan times of wandering with God. For those who wander with God shall never be lost.