Monday, May 15, 2017

Everything's Ducky

AFTER ONE OF OUR RECENT SPRING RAINS I noticed two mallards walking down our street, a male and a female. The female was searching the muddy puddles for a morning meal while her faithful partner stood by vigilantly.  As she moved from puddle to puddle he would waddle a few feet away always casting an eye for any hint of danger. It was only when he was sure of her safety that he ventured to scoop through the murky waters with her.

I watched my two feathered friends for quite awhile as they worked their dance of eating and protecting. It was only as the sound of an approaching car was heard that they made their way around the bend and down the street to a safer spot.

The protective relationship exhibited by Mr. Duck, brings to my mind the words of the psalmist found in Psalm 91:1-4. He writes,

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
They say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.
Surely He will save you
from the fowler’s snare
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Our God is the God who is with us. He is the God who stands by our side. He promises never to leave us, never to forsake us and in Him we can find our shalom.

My pray for you this day is that you would know the peace of the God that surpasses all understanding, and will live in the awareness that His peace shall guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, May 08, 2017

They Can Kill You!

MEDICATIONS ARE MEANT TO HELP, until you read the small print. If it wasn’t so scary I would find advertisements for medications quite humorous. Meds for heart problems can give you heart attacks. Meds for intestinal ailments can bring about cramping and diarrhea. If you have asthma you can take a pill to help you breathe, but the side effects can cause seizures. These medications can help, but they can also hurt.  It really makes you wonder.

I realize that the drug companies need to cover themselves from lawsuits, etc. but wouldn’t it be great if these drugs that were meant to bring us relief would do so without the threat of death? The promise of life is not life at all. I suppose, when you think about it, this is true for some many things in life. The tool or toy, if not handled carefully, can bring harm to the user. And let’s not forget food. That diet drink you’re drinking to cut calories can give you cancer. Yikes! The stuff out there to help you can kill you.

Too often we see God’s Word that way. We see it as putting chains upon us. Directing our lives into places that will take our freedom away. His Word can make us feel guilty and can give us the sense of not being able to measure up. But, that’s not the way God’s Word is. It is meant to bring us life, not death.  God’s Word is to bring us to the good, not to the grave. Consider Moses’ words to the Children of Israel just shortly before his death.

Moses came with Joshua son of Nun and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people. When Moses finished reciting all these words to Israel, he said to them, ‘Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you -- they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing this Jordan to possess.’” (Deuteronomy 32:44-47)

God’s Word is life. Yes, it may be a hard pill to swallow at times, but when taken regularly and faithfully they do not bring harm, but healing. Hey are for our good and His glory.

Therefore, I encourage you to take of them daily, take the full dose and receive the life that they are designed to give. As the writer of Proverbs wrote, “Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to all who find them and health to one’s body.”  (Proverbs 4:21-22)

Monday, May 01, 2017

A Blessing

AT THE END OF MOST OF OUR MORNING WORSHIP SERVICES we offer a benediction, a blessing to all as they leave the service and head back out to the “real world.” A blessing is something that we all need on a continual basis, and thankfully our God is a God of blessing.

He blesses us with that which we need, and often He’ll bless us with a few things we didn’t know that we needed, like trials. I was reading Oswald Chambers this morning, a little piece he wrote on the place of peace in our lives. He wrote, “we would never know the ‘treasure of darkness’ if we were all in the place of placid security.” (The Philosophy of Sin, Discovery House Publishers) The ‘treasure of darkness’ does not sound like a place I would desire to be, but without those dark times, we would not know the true and abiding peace that the Lord brings during those time. Jesus said we would have trouble in this world, but that He has overcome the world, so that we can have peace in Him. In the place of the unknown, it brings peace knowing that we are known and cared for by our gracious God.

Blessing is important, and not only from God, but from each other. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing. Our blessings come from the words we not only pray for others, but the words we speak over others. When is the last time you pulled your child aside, or a brother or sister in Christ, or a spouse and in their presence spoke a blessing over them?  I know this can sound like a scary proposition, but this blessing can truly lift a person up and help them to find peace and comfort.

The Lord said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) Giving a blessing can instill peace, it makes you a peacemaker, the very thing that the Lord called you to be. This is one of the reasons we offer a benediction at the end of our worship service, to bring peace.  With that in mind I would like to speak a blessing over you today. This blessing comes from a  prayer found in the Common Book of Prayer (from the Church of India, Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka) . The author writes,

May the cross of our Risen and Conquering Savior, which is mightier than all the hosts of Satan and more glorious than all the hosts of heaven, abide with you in your going out and your coming in. By day and night, at morning and at evening, at all times and in all places may it protect and defend you. From the wrath of evildoers, from the assaults of evil spirits, from foes visible and invisible, from the snares of the devil, from all passions that beguile the soul and body: may it guard, protect and deliver you. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon you, and remain with you forever. Amen.

May you go forth to be a blessing. Blessing in the holy Name of our God, and may you know His peace as you seek to bless others.

Ancestry.com

THIS PAST CHRISTMAS Linda gave me the gift of having my DNA analyzed through Ancestry.com. It was something I had desired to do since I heard of the process of checking your family roots. My mom always told me that my heritage was rooted in Ukraine and that on my dad’s side in Prussia. Sadly, Prussia, as a country, doesn’t exist anymore and the family records only go back to my grandparents. As far as I was concerned my roots were pretty shallow.

The idea of having my DNA checked struck me as pretty cool. A little spit in a plastic tube, put it in a special mailing envelope and in six weeks my history would unfold before me.

So I waited . . .

Then the day came when I received the results, complete with colored charts and graphs. The results? Not too surprising . . . my folks had it nailed down pretty well. I am Eastern European. I was hoping for some sort of exotic results, like I was Jewish or Hawaiian, but alas, my roots are firmly planted in Eastern Europe.

As I have pondered the results and gone over the charts I have been brought to the thought that the most important part of my heritage is not where I have come from, but rather where I am and where I can help my family go. As I write this I can look up and see a picture of my family. We hail from America, Bolivia and Burkina Faso. Three generations, an international mix, quite a lovely picture. I realize that my responsibility is not so much living up to my past, but preparing my family for the future. Specifically, that they know and follow Jesus Christ and that their homes are made secure in His love and grace.

History is important, it can give us a sense of rootedness to the past, but the roots we are nourishing now are much more vital. As a father and grandfather, how am I developing an environment that provides a rich soil in which my family can thrive? That is the question that must drive me today.

Providing a garden of God’s love, joy, hope and peace where there is security to grow as God designs. That’s this gardener's job.

How does your garden grow?