The cross

Earlier today I was reading my Bible and I began to write a sermon.  In the Book of Matthew, and chapter 16, the Bible says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”  I must have read that passage numerous times, but this time the Lord impressed upon my heart something I must admit, I’m not sure I ever thought a lot about.  If we are to be followers of Christ we are to take up “our cross” and follow Him.  Every one of us, young or old, rich or poor, educated or not, has a cross to bear.  Sometimes I think we expect life to be smooth sailing, or at least “smoother” sailing than what it is.  The fact is, whether we like it or not, or whether we want to think about or not, we all have our crosses.  For some it is health, others it may be finances.  Some have family problems, others seem to be on a life long trek to find happiness.  The Bible says the servant is not greater than his Lord (Jn. 13:16).  As Jesus was forced to carry a cross He wished He didn’t have to, we ought to bear up our crosses and gladly follow Him.  We each have our own distinctive crosses (burdens) to bear.  Just a thought.

Will he make God laugh?

It seems the world is saddened today at the death of Robin Williams.  On the news a billboard outside a comedy club read, “RIP, Make God laugh.”  I hope for his sake that Robin IS in heaven, in the presence of God, rather than spending eternity in hell.  Contrary to the way some people feel, to me it’s sad when anyone dies.  For Christians, we know after death is eternity in heaven with the Lord.  For saved loved ones we know we will see our departed loved ones who were saved again.  But they still leave a void.  As the Bible says, we don’t grieve as the world grieves, yet we still grieve.  The death of Robin Williams is a solemn reminder that money cannot buy happiness, fame cannot buy happiness, nor can success buy happiness.  It seems with everything he had going for him he was still sad inside.  The man that could bring you to tears laughing was most likely lonely and hurting inside.  I know people with very little of this world’s riches, yet are happy people.  I believe inside every one of us, as God’s creations, there is a void that can only be filled by the presence of God Himself.  No money, fame, success or even alcohol or drugs can fill.  As we bid goodbye to Robin Williams, I truly hope he was a Christian, “saved by the blood of the crucified One.”  They say later today the coroner will announce his/her findings.  Does it really matter?  I guess in some small way to some it might, but the fact is, he’s gone.  Will he make God laugh?  I truly hope so.

Where was I?

I lay here in bed trying to get some much needed sleep and the thought crossed my mind that I find myself feeling like Rip Van Winkle.  I feel like I’m awaking out of many year slumber only to find that things have dramatically changed.  I ask the question over and over, “Where was I?”  Where was I when what once was good, now is looked on as bad?  Years ago (when I was young) that if a girl got pregnant out of wedlock it was a shameful thing to a family.  Now we celebrate the pregnancy even though the young lady may be unemployed and the child will grow up never having the good fortune of having a Daddy present.  There was a time when the church was the focal point of the town.  It was where people gathered to worship and grow together.  Not anymore.  The outside world looks at Christians and calls us hate mongers when nothing could be further from the truth.  When the government is only concerned with people eating their veggies and keeping us from having an extra large coke, it is the church who concerns themselves with people’s souls.  We don’t hate gays, alcoholics, or anyone else.  We love them because Christ loved them.  We don’t consider ourselves better than anyone else, only forgiven.  If we’re honest with ourselves we’ll admit that we are as much a sinner as anyone else.  When people need a helping hand paying their bills, or help putting food on their shelves they call the church.  When a family member passes away and no one attended church, they call a minister they don’t know to conduct the funeral.  And if at all possible, the church comes through.  Again, I ask the question, when did we become the bad guys?  The only time you see Christians portrayed on television is as some over zealous extremist or the brunt of jokes.  I guess the only response I can come up with is that of Jesus when He was being crucified, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Gospel Text Mission

Yesterday we were blessed to have Bro. Mike Viscome and his wife Georgann at our church, representing Gospel Text Mission.  What a blessing they were to our small group.  Bro. Mike did an outstanding job sharing the Gospel as well as testimonies as to the success of their sign ministry.  I would def have them back again and would recommend them to any churches interested.  The signs they offer are first rate and they truly convey a Christ-like spirit.  I look forward to seeing fruit from their visit with us and pray for much fruit to be added to their account.

“Lessons”

I am 54 years old, and I’m glad to say I still enjoy learning.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being a Dad were the times spent helping my daughter study and do homework.  I hope I never quit learning, nor lose that thirst for learning.  I thank God for all the things that we have learned all because of Him.  If it weren’t for God revealing Himself to man, either in the Person of His Son or through His written Word, we wouldn’t know Him.  Oh I guess He could reveal Himself to us through His indwelling Spirit (as with Christians).  But most of what we know of Him has come through those 2 means.  Another thing I really don’t think we could fully understand without God is love.  Oh sure, we love, but our love can be self-seeking.  We love for what we can get out of it.  We love in hopes that love will be returned to us.  God’s love is pure.  It is without conditions.  God loved us way before we ever thought of loving Him.  “For God so loved the world…”  He loved and still does love those who choose not to love Him.  He showed us that love is giving.  “For God so loved the world that He gave…”  He taught us that love (internal), must be evidenced (external).  God’s love for me has enabled me to better love my wife, my daughter, and those around me.  He has taught me that love is forgiving, as He has so often forgiven me.  As He has given His life for me, I too am willing to give my life for those I love.  I hope that for however long the good Lord allows me life on this earth, may I never quit learning.  And may my learning begin  with Him.

“I’m rich!”

When I was younger, I grew up hearing stories of how financially tough things were for my family when my brother and I were very little.  My father worked 2 jobs to support us, and at times mom brought in income by babysitting neighborhood children.  There were times (I’m told) that my mom was in the hospital and either my brother or myself were as well.  Dad would simply sign over his paycheck to pay the hospital bill and get some change back.  There is also the stories of how mom and other neighborhood women would swap cans of soup to have some variety.  Mom and Dad have since passed away and now my brother and I are both fathers.  I have a God-given wife and a wonderful daughter.  Although nothing in comparison to what my parents went through, times are still tough economically.  My parents could have bought more than ten of their home’s for what we had to pay for ours.  I live in a nice neighborhood in a nice small town in New England.  There’s not much money in the bank, but God has been far better to me than I deserve.  Not only has He saved my soul, but He has allowed me the family that I have.  He has allowed me the privilege of serving Him and my congregation as His under-shepherd at Colonial Hills.  The people in our small congregation love me in spite of myself.  I love and pray for them and consider them some of the dearest friends I have.  I honestly believe they would do almost anything for me, as I would for them.  Yes, I consider myself rich.  True wealth is not measured by what is in your wallet, nor in your bank account.  I believe true wealth is measured by those you love and those who love you.  I have God and a great company of earthly friends that I’m blessed by.  And that my friends makes me rich beyond compare.

Blessings

Yesterday at our church we were blessed to have evangelist Gary Hawkins and his dear wife and children with us.  I can’t begin to tell you how much of a blessing they were to us.  When you look at all the chaos going on in our world today, it was inspirational to see so much positive from this lone family.  Bro. Hawkins is a faithful man of God who still preaches the glorious Gospel from the time-tested KJV Bible.  He makes no apologies for it, nor should he.  His dear wife radiated grace and a Christ-like spirit.  His children added to his ministry like spices to a fine dish.  The family fit in our church like they’ve been members for years.  The Holy Spirit def is using this family for the glory of God.  In a world of “wars and rumors of wars,” it was such a blessing to see that God is still on the throne and hard at work.

Grace

                                         “Grace”

 

We’re living in a world today where people want things free;

But everything worth having will cost either you or me.

I often feel unworthy, for blessings I have known;

From God Who is in heaven, or kindness others show.

It truly makes me humble, for I know I deserve them not;

The only thing that I can do is share what I have got.

May my life always picture the grace of God I know;

As we each run the race and as we onward go.

I thank you Heavenly Father, for Your mercy and Your grace;

Until the day I live with you, and see you face to face.

D.R.P.      8.1.14

“Little things”

The following poem or nursery rhyme came to my mind.  It is not mine, not original, and as far as I can find, it’s origin is unsure.

For want of a nail – rhyme

For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

For want of a nail – rhyme

 

From what I understand the purpose was intended to teach the reader the importance of the consequences of our actions.  I want to use the poem, which from what I gather was used in some form by Ben Franklin, in his “Poor Richard’s Almanac” to stress the importance of “little things.”  We sometimes get this idea that only the “big things” in life matter.  God specializes in using the “little things.”  A young boy’s lunch,  a young “ruddy” shepherd boy, a little child sitting on His knee to use as an object lesson.  Behind every great vessel, are many vital, little parts.  They say the Titanic was lost not simply from hitting an ice berg, but from the builders using rivets made of inferior quality materials.  A ship once thought of as unsinkable, lost due to tiny rivets (in comparison to the size of the ship).  We may be small or inconsequential in the world’s eyes or even in our own eyes, but in the hands of the Master, we may accomplish great feats for His honor and glory.  We can do all things, through Christ (Phil. 4:13, paraphrased).  God is not so much interested in ability, as in our availability.

Patience

This is the first in what I hope may be many “blogs.”  My purpose in doing this is just to share what is going on in my life, or my experiences with the Lord.  I want to thank Bro. Pierre Covert for his never-ending assistance with our church website.  I also want to thank my daughter Amanda, who, at this moment is by her Dad’s side “guiding” me through this new experience.  Obviously this is by trial and error and so patience indeed has been a virtue for the both of us.  I’m sure things will get better and easier as we go along.