It’s Official

With the level 2 snow emergency, we will have only one service tomorrow at 10:30 a.m.  No first service or Sunday School.  Please advise everyone you know.  Do not put yourself at risk.  If you live off the beaten path, use your common sense.  Also, don’t forget that we lose an hour of sleep tonight.  You will have to turn your clocks forward.  So it will be dark even till 9:30 or so. 

Spread the word.  I will put it on the radios and television.  Play it safe tomorrow.  See you then.

Michael

Good for Nothing

Good morning on a very wintry day.  With the time change and road conditions, we may alter church times tomorrow but will still have church.  I will check with police and elders before any decision is made.  Weather doesn’t pay much attention to schedules.

"Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?"  Job 1:9-10

As I watch the blowing snow, I realize that we have a tendency as humans to believe things will improve if given time.  Every downturn will have an upturn, every storm is followed by sunshine and every flood will drain away.  It is the way of life but not necessarily the way of faith.

We think that if we are good and work hard enough and pray long enough, every difficult circumstance will turn around.  A sort of formula for blessing.  But Job plays havoc with that formula.  Here is a man that did nothing wrong and everything right.  And what happens to his life cannot be revoked or regained.  He will feel that pain the rest of his life.

Don’t get me wrong.  Doing the right thing is the right thing.  There is reason and purpose for our prayers and our trust in God.  What Job teaches us is that our good living is no guarantee for blessings.  It rains (snows) on the just and the unjust.  But it also teaches that God will never leave us. 

Satan believes that we will crumble at the first sign of trouble or when things don’t go our way.  He thinks our devotion to God is because of the good things God gives us.  Here he makes his fatal flaw.  We believe like Job believes.

"Shall we accept good from God and not trouble.?" (Job 2:10)  There is no doubt that God puts a hedge about us and holds Satan at bay in ways we cannot see.  But He is no respecter of persons.  He does the same for all His children.  And He allows us to deal with life face to face which is sometimes tragic.

No, the world doesn’t understand.  We will love Him even if there is no upturn, the storm persists and flood increases.  We don’t His church because we can afford it or it is the acceptable thing to do.  We are family and He is our Father.  We will do with Him wherever it leads.  So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Michael

That’s The Way It Goes

I moved wood in on my porch so it wouldn’t be covered by snow.  The wind blew more snow on my porch than in my yard.  That’s the way it goes.

It’s official.  We will be moving the Ladies Retreat to Sunday afternoon from 3 to 7 with an evening meal.  Maybe they need someone to pray about mealtime.  I’ll check.

Well, got to make a cup of coffee and settle in for a long winter’s night.  Stay warm.

Lucky You

"In the land of Us there lived a man whose name is Job."  Job 1:1

Lucky you.  It’s snowing and going to get worse and I am doing my meditations out of Job.  So it looks like a double whammy for you.  I hope one can help the other.  Keep Sam Hotchkiss in your prayers.  His Parkinson’s is taking it’s toll.  I’m not sure how much longer he can fight.   Rock is doing great considering what he has been through.  Hopefully home by the first of next week.  God is good.

I read some news releases on the economy and especially retirement for we boomers.  So now I am looking to Job.  (ha)  But few Bible characters provide a better example of how to live than Job.  He successfully managed his family, spiritual life and career.  Realizing how little control he had over his life, he simply tried to do it right today and let tomorrow take care of itself.  Not bad wisdom for us right now.

He also did some deep soul searching.  He discovered that circumstances can change regardless of your piety.  What he learned was that we weren’t meant to live this life alone.  We need each other, especially those who are going down the same road.  Only such a person can provide that iron-on-iron interaction spoken about in Proverbs 27:17.  It we want to deal effectively with our lives we need both truth and accountability. 

Sometimes we ignore the truth and don’t want to be accountable.  We are only hiding our heads in the sand.  You reap what you sow and sometimes you reap what your country, leaders and corporations sow.  With so much out of our control, it is helpful to have someone in the same boat.

So the next time you commensurate with your friends, remember to also hold each other accountable.  Accepting bad news is just the beginning.  Dealing with it takes friends.  Ask Job!

Check back.  I will update any church changes.

Michael

Trade-Offs

"In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.  This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil…he was the greatest man among the people of the East." Job 1:1,3

I appreciate your patience these last few days.  With Rock’s surgery, Sam Hotchkiss in decline, Phil Darlage with severe pneumonia and a funeral service, I haven’t had much time outside of my regular work.  It gives a person pause but I wanted to get this blog off tonight before the weather sets in.  Check back with me for weather related alerts for church activities.

This pace got me to thinking about how people view success.  Some would say being busy is a sign of success.  Others would say finding time to pause is the result of success.  So I thought I would reference one of the most successful men on earth and we could both learn from him.

We tend to view a success person as one dimensional.  They are exceptionally skilled in their career or a wonderful parent and spouse or gifted in their spiritual calling.  It’s more difficult to find someone who  has all three at once.

Job was such a person.  He was aggressively and successfully engaged in commercial efforts, family priorities and spiritual passion.  He was a successful businessman, his family loved him, he was a well-respected member of his community and had an authentic, vibrant relationship with God.  Now this was a success in anyone’s book.

What struck me was that most people concentrate on one area of their life at a time.  They focus on their career and set home and church in the back seat.  They invest in the children and promise themselves they will be more active in their church later.

But here’s the point.  Such trade-offs seldom work.  There are ebb and flows in various areas of our lives to be sure.  We may not be at the top of our game in every area at the same time.  But we need to make sure that we are not focused on just one area of our life.  Neither can we settle for mediocrity in our work, family or walk with God.  As Job so aptly demonstrated, a successful life is an integrated life.

I will take a little more time this week to be with my family and to spend alone with God.  Being busy isn’t success.  Being balanced is!  I pray you will find that balance this week.

Michael

Trivia

Can you answer the following?

Lack of iron in the diet causes what disease?

What first name is derived from Greek for rock or stone – Paul or Peter?

What does a barometer measure?

A plant produced by crossing different species is known as what?

What kind of animal does a chamois resemble?

I will post the answers on the bulletin Sunday.  I missed the last one.

Win Something Today

Today I will conduct a funeral service for a husband whose wife was buried but a few months ago.  His body shall now rest beside hers.  He was a highly successful man with wealth few accumulate but you wouldn’t have known it.  He was one of the most humble men I know.  What really speaks for him is his love for Christ and openness about his faith.  He just loved to talk about Jesus.  No push or shove.  It was natural for him.  His name is Don.

The passion to proclaim Jesus Christ is born from the Christian’s conversion experience, but enthusiasm can fizzle unless we continue learning and growing in faith. We have no reason to speak about someone we barely know.  Don knew Jesus.

Conversely,conviction about who God is strengthens the desire to share. We have the remedy for all of the world’s ills—Jesus Christ!  What good have we done for the kingdom of God or for our unbelieving friends if we stay quiet about Him?  Don never noticed his enthusiasm about Christ as a tool of evangelism.  He just knew what Jesus meant to him and assumed you would want to know as well.  People might start talking to him about money or investments and end up talking about life and faith.

Jesus does more than simply save people from the penalty of past transgression; He frees men and women from sin’s power every day.  When Christ was on the cross, God saw each believer crucified with Him so that sin’s allure was broken. That means we can say no to those things that enslave others.  The Gospel message we are called to proclaim frees others and teaches victorious living.

That is the legacy that Don leaves behind.  He taught victorious living in more ways than one.  Most of all he taught how to enjoy life, to explore life and to expand life.  It all began with Jesus and those around him.  It is the same for us.

Have a victorious day!

Michael

No Better Friend

As I write this, Rock Hurley lies in a CCU awaiting open heart surgery.  Phil Darlage had a filter implanted to prevent more clots in his lungs.  I am now heading to meet with a family in Columbus to prepare for the father’s funeral service.  So time is precious.  I have borrowed from Marcia’s meditation on Friendship for tonight’s class.  It is good to have a wife who is your best friend.  Thanks Marcia!

As you read 1 Chronicles 27, your eyes move down the list of the officials who performed important tasks for King David. Azmaveth, son of Adiel, was in charge of the royal storehouses. Ezri, son of Kelub, supervised the field-workers who farmed the land. Jaziz the Hagrite took care of the flocks. Jehiel, son of Hacmoni, took care of the king’s sons. Ahithophel served as the king’s counselor. Joab commanded the royal army. Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend.

The king’s friend?

Why is Hushai the Arkite listed among those who bore heavy responsibilities in David’s kingdom? Was he a relative who deserved mention? No. Did he pay David some bribe or special favor to be close to the king? Nothing on this charge either.

Apparently, David wanted at least one man among his trusted advisers who was simply a friend. And Hushai fit that role very well. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from Hushai about being a good friend.

One by one, David and his army had beaten his enemies and acquired their lands, weapons, and soldiers. And God had promised David that his kingdom and throne would be established forever. What more could a man ask for? Yet something important was missing from David’s life at a time when he desperately needed it: a friend.

David’s dear friend Jonathan was gone, and he felt the loss keenly.

I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.  2 Sam. 1:26

As David entered middle age, the Scriptures do not mention any close friends. Interestingly, this was when he fell into deep sin—committing adultery with Bathsheba and then arranging the murder of her husband, Uriah, in battle (2 Samuel 11). Perhaps David learned an important lesson from this failure about the value of good friends—or, rather, the danger of not having any.

David needed a friend. Not just a friend in name, but someone who, like Jonathan, would be there to encourage and help him. Hushai became that kind of friend.

When David was being hunted by his own son Absalom, David and his followers wept as they walked along and covered their heads. As they ascended the Mount of Olives, who was there to meet David at the summit? Hushai the Arkite (2 Sam. 15:32).

What was Hushai doing there? The place where he met David was a special place to worship God. This verse says that Hushai’s robe was torn and that he had dust on his head. There is no doubt what he was doing: mourning for the hardships in David’s life and bringing his friend before God in prayer.

Hushai willingly entered into David’s troubles and allowed himself to feel what his friend was feeling. But he didn’t stop there. Hushai then lifted his friend up to God in prayer, knowing that He was the one who could help and comfort David in his day of distress.

What about us?

Most of us don’t have friends who are kings or queens. But we do know people who face hardships or discouraging circumstances and need our support. They are tempted to make wrong decisions sexually, financially, and ethically. Each needs a loyal friend, just as King David did.

How can you be a "Hushai" to someone who needs a good friend? Are you willing to walk into hardships to encourage, offer comfort, and pray? Are you willing to sacrifice your time, resources, energy, or maybe even put your reputation on the line to help a friend in need? Are you using your gifts and abilities to help your friend?

Each of us has an opportunity to be a "Hushai" today. Take a careful look at your friendships at church, at work, or in your neighborhood. Consider who needs your friendship and encouragement.

You may not save a kingdom. But you may carry a friend through tough times, protect her from a poor decision, or inspire him to be all God wants him to be. Hushai was that kind of friend to David. Whose "Hushai" are you?

Pray for Rock and Sally.  Remember Phil and Brenda.  Better yet, be a good friend.  They wouldn’t ask for more.

Dressed for the Weather

Ephesians 6:13-18

I don’t know about you but these weathermen could use a little help.  My coat never quite matches the weather and I find myself too hot or too cold.  Then the idea struck me.  What if knew what spiritual weather I would face today?  Would that help me?

It would if I dressed accordingly.  So consider the following dress appropriate for today.  Our first prayer before rising should include step-by-step application of God’s armor. 

First,we strap on the belt of truth.  A leather apron protected the Roman soldier’s abdomen; our protective girdle is the truth of who we are in Christ: saints with supernatural power from God’s indwelling Spirit.

Next, the breastplate deflects arrows. As difficult situations arise,we can repel the temptation to live by emotion—whether anger, fear, or dissatisfaction—and respond with a right spirit instead.

The sandals of peace help us to stand firm.  Roman battle sandals usually had thick, spiked soles so that the soldier could anchor himself in the dirt.  Regardless of the fierce enemy rushing against us, we can remain firmly planted in God’s peaceful will.

The shield of faith is no  tiny, round piece of armor; it is door-sized equipment representing Christ’s protection against anything Satan throws.  Faith brought us salvation—the point at which we exchanged our old thought patterns for new ways of thinking.  Consequently, with salvation’s helmet, we put on the mind of Christ, which gives us discernment and wisdom.

Finally, we take up the sword of the Spirit so that we can combat Satan’s lies with Scripture’s truth.

Now here’s the neat part.  Knowing precisely what we will face each day, the Lord has graciously
provided the perfect equipment needed for our challenges.  So don’t worry about the spiritual weather.  Put on the right armor and the day is yours.

P.S. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.  They are greatly appreciated.

Here’s Your Oscar

Good Morning:

My wife and my daughter watched the Oscars last night.  I assume they did because I didn’t.  It’s not that I don’t like the Oscars but more a guy thing.  I preferred a movie.  But it gave me pause to consider the impact that these awards were having here and around the world.  This was a ‘big’ deal.  For a few hours, nothing else mattered.  Not even politics.

Then I began to wonder what it meant to the actors who received their Oscars.  Recognition.  Acclaim. And yes, big money.  Their name alone will command hugh salaries.  But is that what they were after.  In our worlds, why do we do what we do?  Why do we put the long hours and extra effort into our work and responsibilities.  Obviously, not just for the  money.  We don’t make the ‘big’ bucks. 

I looked back in God’s Word to understand that motivation and found a disturbing verse.  It comes from Solomon who was best at what he did.  He wrote, "I observed that the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy!"  Ecclesiastes 4:4 (LB)

I didn’t enjoy that insight and had to review what drives me or you.  Are we truly just driven by our envy of what others have or enjoy?  Could our efforts be so shallow?

Thankfully, Solomon wasn’t finished with that thought.  In the book of Proverbs, he offers a contrast for this greedy motivation.  He writes, "A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life." Proverbs 113:7 (MSG)

There are actors that do their work the best they can irregardless of awards or recognition.  They do what they do because that is what they love to do.  They don’t do it for the hype or the glamour.  They never let the lights go to their head.

We should be much the same.  And we do.  You go through your day to day existence and few but those who know you realize what all you do.  Except God.  He takes great interest in what you do each day and the level of effort you put into it.  In heaven, He will recount all those unseen moments with us with the attention this world cannot give.  What a day that will be!

But for our patient sacrifice, He gives us something now.  He gives us a full life.  He lets us experience all the things that last like love, faith and hope.  He surrounds us with those we care about and gives us the chance to bless their lives.  And that is the greatest satisfaction.  It’s the gift of a clear conscience and an uncomplicated life.  We don’t have to worry about people expecting another Oscar performance.  We don’t have to worry about being labeled a one-time wonder.  We get to go and do this again today and tomorrow and tomorrow. 

So celebrate you rather plain and simple life.  It comes with something better than an Oscar.  It comes with fulfillment.

Michael

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: