The birth of a child is an amazing thing.
When you see the world as it is on any given day, it is a sum total of all of the successes and failures of the people who live in it. The joys and happiness, the sadness and destruction, the wonderful architecture and art, and the waste and ruin. Like cycles, we seem to run from possibility to impossibility almost every day in every corner of the world.
The one thing that is precious and joyful is the birth of a new child. Such a simple yet ultimately complicated event which delivers a brand new life form full of hope and optimism. As the baby is removed from its mother’s cord, it is in its most pure condition. It has not learned to lie, cheat, steal, take advantage of another person, destroy needlessly, or any of the other behaviors man learns. It is a pure life waiting for the rest of us to fill in the blanks.
As a Christian, I have tried to influence the young lives around me as best as I can. But I am also aware that as a human I probably didn’t do enough. What witnesses have I given? I am not going to list everything I could have done better. I won’t tell you about all the times I swore or got mad in front of the kids in my life when I was younger. I won’t profess to not being a perfect role model since I know in my younger days I liked to party and I know those kids were watching. Frankly I missed a lot of opportunities to spend time with them one on one or teaching Sunday school or doing some other positive thing. I would imagine many people have as well.
Yes, a baby is like an empty shell and we spend the next many years filling it with knowledge, ideas, emotions, impacts, and witnesses. At some point, their ability to think comes into play and they learn that they can make choices. But even then, their ability to make those choices is heavily driven by the people who were around them in their formative years.
Sadly, despite everyone’s best intentions, things go wrong. The person grows up and loses the ability to fight. They lose hope. Many factors can be used to explain it away but it’s really complicated and inexplicable when a person choses to leave this world before their time. People close to me are struggling with that greatly today. I would appreciate your prayers.
Here is God’s infinite grace. This morning, a brand new baby was born into our family. A new shell full of hope and potential. I will try a lot harder to be a better influence if I get the chance.
God Bless you Kristopher. Rest in Peace.
The 2012 September equinox comes on September 22, at 9:49 a.m.
CDT (14:49 Universal Time).
The leaves are already changing and the days are getting shorter. Summer is fast becoming a memory and even though fall is officially a few weeks away, cooler weather is already creeping across the northern part of the country. Having lived in many parts of the world, I can honestly tell you that living in the northeastern part of the country gives me the greatest joy. The changing of the seasons is a reminder of the constant movement of the world and the beautiful rhythm of the seasonal symphony.
Fall is a time of preparation for the winter to come. The leaves are shed from their host trees to blanket the ground. That blanket offers protection to the more fragile life forms below. It’s funny how something that offers such splendor has to die to protect so many fragile things. Its even more ironic that the life forms that are protected remain so unaware of the sacrifice. To many, the added weight is burdensome. Yet the death of one (the leaves) provide life and growth for many. The cycle continues through the dark winter until new life is formed yet again in the dawning of the spring.
Christ is like that in our lives. He dies for us even though we did nothing to deserve it. He nourishes us in his sacrifice. He helps us to rise again from the dead through his own rising. celebrate his gift today even as the leaves begin to fall. Marvel in the miracle of life that is provided by the great One and Mighty God.
Sometimes when you think you need one of these…
You would actually be better off with one of these:
May 15, 2012: Spring Cleaning
The Chaplain’s Corner makes a return to theleansubmariner. Last fall, the staff had decided to try an approach where the Chaplain’s corner could have a place to shine on its own. Like all continuous improvement activities, it had some success but there seemed to be a missing connection to “TLS”. Today, it comes home, just in time for Spring Cleaning. I hope it has some meaning to those who chose to enter the “Chapel”. God Bless you.
Last weekend, I realized once again that decisions have consequences.
The decision in this case was the one made five years ago to install a solid vinyl fence around the back yard for Angus and Rufus. Both boys love to talk to the neighborhood dogs. Their best conversations are with the beautiful Rottweiler girls down the street. The poor neighbor in between our two houses has a lot of patience, but we felt the best thing to do was to put up a solid WHITE vinyl fence around their back yard.
The consequence of course is that we live in an area that has some light industrial work, lots of farming, and more birds than I have ever seen in my life. During the course of a year, we get airborne dirt from those plants, lots of residual farm dust during planting and harvesting and of course those lovely birds leave presents beyond counting. Rufus only stands about 24 inches tall and the fence is at least 48 inches so he finds it necessary from time to time to stand on his back legs to see what he can see. If it has been raining, his paw prints join the rest of the markings which make the fence less than white.
Once a year I break out my power blaster. It is older and has duct tape on many of the hose fittings. I suppose I should be ashamed of myself, but if duct tape was good enough to patch the ballast tank on the USS George Washington (my first submarine) why mess with success. It is quite a chore anymore to hook it all up. The hoses must be arranged, cleaning liquid properly mixed, selection of the right nozzles and on and on. Then comes the actual work itself. You start at one end of the house where the fence is tied in and gradually work your way around. About midway, the blaster becomes heavier (even with the wheels) and the hoses need to be dragged to the next spot. My arms get very tired from the up and down motion and my legs are sore as well. Every piece of clothing becomes soaked at one point and soggy shoes add to the misery.
Many hours later, you finally come to the end of the spraying. But your work is not done yet. The hoses must be drained and gathered for storage, one last bit of maintenance on the blaster before returning it to the shed and everything that was accidently knocked down must be put back in place. By the end of the day, you are exhausted but the reward is a shiny white fence that YOU have just cleaned. Even the neighbor above you calls down, “Great Job Bob”.
You just can’t help but feel proud at what your hands have done this day.
The next day, Sunday, was beautiful and we went to Church. After coming home with my Sunday paper, I headed out to the porch ready for a relaxing day. It was then that I saw him.
The biggest, fattest Robin of the spring was sitting dead center on one of the newly cleaned posts in the WHITE Vinyl fence. He turned to look at me, hunched down a bit, turned away and left a very large and remarkably brown present that slid down the post. Memories of my pained shoulders, worn out hands, exhausted legs and the fading sense of pride I had put me in a very, shall I say, fowl mood. Despite my love for nature, I contemplated getiing out my .22 rifle and exacting some sort of revenge.
The moment passed. I thought to myself, well, I still had some touch up work so I would just save this for another day.
That night it started raining. It was the kind of rain you can smell coming in central Pennsylvania. A long hard soaker with little chance of a break. It has rained for the better part of two days now. Before we sat down for our morning devotions, I looked out at the fence and saw a miracle.
The stain was gone.
Not by my hands or the power of the blaster. Not by the sweat of my brow or the sacrifices of my body. The stain was washed away effortlessly by the One who removes all stains. Appropriately enough, the scripture for the devotions this morning was Psalm 51. Hallelujah indeed.
Psalm 51 is David’s song about the need for God’s cleansing redemption in his life. He had just wrapped himself in adultery, murder, intrigue, and shameful behaviors. Now he was face to face with the unbearable grief of knowing that despite his greatness and wealth, he was unable to wash away his own sin and the resulting guilt that came with it. From this stain and the guilt comes the words for one of the most cleansing hymns of all times: Create in me a clean heart, Oh God.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence; Take not Thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; And renew a right spirit within me.
Is there a stain in your heart today?
Do you still think that anything you can do will clean it? David’s song was really about the emptiness he felt from being seperated from God’s Spirit.
His salvation was in recognizing the power that God and God alone possesses. He alone can create a clean heart in you. He alone can renew that Right Spirit within you. Praise His name forever for the power of His redemption for your stains.
Standing Watch …
“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.“
I remember the first time I stood watch. I was a young “sailor” on board the HMS Dawn and we were moored in the City of Pittsburgh at the point. It was a wonderful time of life and a wonderful time in the life of our country. Even though the winds of change were blowing in the far corners of the world, we were blissfully unaware of any real problems. The summer of 1964 was warm and the Dawn was the perfect vessel for a young man and his family. The Dawn had its own generator and we were unique in being the only boat tied up near Point State Park that evening.
Back in 1964, none of us really worried about crime much. ALthough the Cold War was mid way though its wanderings, it really didn’t touch any of us personally. The Cuban Missile Crisis passed, people accepted the unstable peace we had with the Soviets and standing watch on the Dawn that night was more of a ceremonial thing. Frankly, my flashlight would have done nothing more than illuminate the bad guys if they had shown up but I had faith in the back of my mind that they would not.
We were raised in faith. Faith in an unseen God who would listen to every prayer and deliver us from evil. It was a summer of innocence and as a 10 year old, I was filled with a spirit that would not allow doubt to have a moments light in my life. I wasn’t even aware that in 1965 all of the peace would start crumbling away. The real conflict of Viet Nam had already started growing and we were not aware it had. Social unrest was about to challenge all of our beliefs as people became aware of the injustices that had existed right before our very eyes. For almost fifty years now, this nation which once stood as a shining example of “One Nation Under God” has been tested time and time again.
In some ways, it seems like the message of Habakkuk has come back to its rightful place. In three short chapters, this minor prophet captures the dangers that Israel was facing in that time before Christ. His words then were a harbinger of the Messiah that was to come.
“Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
The end in this case was the end of an Israel that had once more proven to be unfaithful to God. Their worship of other God’s and abandonment of his testimonies had made them vulnerable. Habakkuk was praying for the Lord to deliver them. God was promising that the delivery wold come but not in the way Habakkuk would understand.
“Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying, “‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion! How long must this go on?’ Will not your creditors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their prey. Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed human blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
“Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain, setting his nest on high to escape the clutches of ruin! You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life. The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.”
The Lord cries out to us now. We have placed our values on accumulating wealth at any cost. Our families, our neighborhoods, our Churches, our country. Every time you drive past the mansion that was built with money that could have been spent better in His service, you are witnessing what we were being warned against. The time will come where the real price will have to be paid for this arrogance.”
God gives us an out though. He even dares us to it! Have faith in that which you cannot see. Believe in the words of the prophets and in Jesus Christ. Be ready for the days to come for they surely will. The watch will not be relieved until He comes again to seal his Holy Throne.
The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him
Father, we humbly ask that you make us strong while we are on watch. Keep our eyes from failing us because of fatigue, our ears from deceiving us because of false alarms, and our minds as sharp as a sword so that we will not believe the words of those who would deter us from your path. Amen
Chaplain’s Call March 10
Isaiah 35:1 Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Rufus and I were making our morning round of the neighborhood. I mostly listen to music as we walk and Rufus searches for the other dogs he sees walking by our house each day. His walk is a little funny because of an accident he had as a puppy. But he gets really upset if we forget to walk.
We have lived here for a number of years and walked in all kinds of weather. Winter is the hardest. Not only is it cold and sometimes dark, but there is a sense of death all around you. The lawns are brown; the once beautiful and stately trees stand like stick figures against the grey skies and the wind even sound more hollow. I envy Rufus sometimes. He never sees the darkness or the sadness that this time of year brings. He only knows he wants to walk.
Almost twenty years ago, my Dad passed away at a fairly young age. It was during this time of year that he was so ill and I was so far away on my ship. When the Captain called me to his stateroom to tell me the news, I walked as if I was in a dream. I knew the day was coming abut it still hit me harder than anything ever had. Dad and I had spoken on the phone every Saturday morning for as often as we could and the sudden realization that there were no phones where he had gone set in with a hollow thud.
As a Christian, I do not fear death. I have had several close brushes with it and on the last one, I came to an acceptance that Jesus was my only hope and nothing I could do would change my final date with physical death. But death is still a hard thing to live with when it comes to those who we love that pass before us. Depression is easy; coming to terms with it is not. No matter what we do or try to do, we can’t touch the person who not long before that day we could hug with abandon. You can still ask them questions, but they are no longer able to speak back to you. The wisdom and humor you once shared is now missing.
So Rufus and I walk. We walk in a large circle always coming back to the same place. Today was different though. Today I saw two things that lifted my spirit and reminded me of the promise God makes to us.
The temperature was very cold but the sky was as blue as I had seen it since the late summer days last year. It was still early and not many other people were out with their walking companions yet. As we went down the street little stands of purple and green could be seen among the still brown grass. The crocuses were returning.
When you think about these perennials, it reminds you of God’s love and gift to us. In the fall, the colors of the trees replace the brilliant rainbow of the spring and summer flowers. The reds and browns are harbingers of the cold winter that lies ahead. Winter brings a time of darkness.
But in the spring, these tiny messengers of hope perform a miracle. Despite the hard ground above them and despite the limited sunshine and moisture, they break through to the surface. They are not physically powerful as we would normally describe it, but they have the strength to overcome great barriers. They instinctively know that they are to appear at this appointed time as reminders of the Resurrection of the One who will take away all sadness and sin. It is no coincidence that they are purple reflecting the majesty of his sacrifice for us.
As I rounded the last corner, the last song in my IPod started playing. Just as it did, Rufus and I spotted a funny looking Red bird off to the right that we hadn’t seen for a long time; our first Robin of the spring. Another promise that life continues on and the shadows of death are not powerful enough to stop God’s promises. As it flew away, I realized that the song in my ears was one of my favorite songs of hope.
It is well; it is well, with my soul.
Thanks God, Say hello to Dad for me. I’ll be along in a while.
January 6, 2012
Special Announcement From the Chaplain:
This Page is moving to a new address:
The remaining Leansubmariner pages will stay at the current address
My Executive Officer had suggested the new site since it is searchable by Bible Chapters, Types of Articles and other Categorys not Available here. Most of the stories already published have been transferred. All new Chaplain Entries will be stored at the new address.
Thanks for visiting and supporting in the past. See you at the new address.
Chaplain’s Call January 5, 2012
Psalm 119 Verse 105
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm and the longest Chapter in the Bible. This psalm is one of about a dozen alphabetic acrostic poems in the Bible. Its 176 verses are divided into twenty-two stanzas, one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet; within each stanza, each of the eight verses begins (in Hebrew) with that letter. The name of God (Yahweh/Jehovah) appears twenty-four times.
Verse 105 has always been one of my favorite verses since it it an affirmation that if we allow God’s light to light our path, we will be able to stay true to the beliefs that make our lives more fulfilled. This morning at our devotion time, we went through our list of supplications and prayers for others. As is our recent custom, we switch the prayer over to our recognition of the Holy Spirit’s influence on our life. This is a time of thanks and praise. We were thanking God for his light over the past six months as we have been recovering from a great humbling. Maybe recovering is too strong a word. A better word might be “Learning”. Despite the negative impact this could have had, we have grown and learned so much in these months together.
The prayer got very intense as we both felt the Spirit moving in our hearts and our prayer place. As the tempo of gratitude increased, the winter sky yielded a bright light. That light warmed us and surrounded the room in a way I can’t remember before. It was difficult to speak much more and I felt my voice grow weaker. Holding hands with eyes closed, the light became very intense. As the prayer was closing, the light faded back behind a grey January cloud. But the warmth it left in side of us was a very real reminder from the Spirit that God’s light is always there, even in the darkest times, even in the deepest places.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for this great reminder of the light that is your Son and the Holy Spirit.
Chaplain’s Call January 4, 2012
Wherever you are, wherever you go.
Psalm 139 7-12 (A submariner’s prayer)
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
As we travel through life, it is easy to think we are alone. Being alone can cause us to think and act in ways that are far different than if we were being watched by a counselor, a parent, or a trusted friend who lives a straight life. This set of verses from the Psalm is a gentle reminder that all of those people are represented by the loving gaze of God who sees each of our moments and is always ready to shine the light on our darkest places. It is also a comfort as the boat sinks below the water and the mighty ocean pressures build around the hull. As she creaks and groans with each passing fathom, you can have comfort in knowing that even in the deepest parts of the ocean, he is still there watching over you.
People may separate themselves from God, but it is all in vain since he will never separate himself from us. The joy in life begins not from earthly pleasures or pursuits, but from recognizing that his light is the real source of joy and fulfilment. Looking back over the wasteland that was your life, you can see it littered with the previous passions in your life that failed you. No matter how much temporary pleasure they may have provided, when you needed them most, they abandoned you.
When all of life’s frills fade away, you are left standing alone. Alone except for the loving presence of the Holy Spirit. If you deny his presence, than you have truly made yourself a stranger to the one thing that can give you relief.
As we start a new year, keep this in your heart. Let your actions be guided by the Spirit. There is no depth you can go that He is not there.
Chaplain’s Call – November 23, 2011
USS BREWTON FF-1086 THANKSGIVING DAY PRAYER- 1983
ALMIGHTY AND MOST MERCIFUL FATHER, FROM WHOM COMETH EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT; WE GIVE THEE HEARTY THANKS FOR ALL THY GOODNESS UNTO US.
THOU HAS FILLED THE SEA AND LAND WITH PLENTY THAT NO MAN SHOULD GO HUNGRY. HELP US TO SHARE THY GIFTS WITH OTHERS. ON THIS DAY, OF ALL DAYS, WE WOULD NOT FORGET TO OFFER OUR GRATITUDE. AMEN.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving
Chaplains Call… November 13, 2011
Honoring Medal of Honor Awardee Captain Cassin Young
Commanding Officer USS San Francisco CA 38
Killed in Action this date 1942
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
Something a little different: make sure you have your speakers turned up and are not in a noisy place”
You may have to copy/paste but it is worth the effort
Words from Jeremiah that echo through the ages
to the New Jerusalem
Jeremiah 15 – 19
15 I am going to bring upon you a nation from far away, O house of Israel, says the LORD.
It is an enduring nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know,
nor can you understand what they say.
16 Their quiver is like an open tomb; all of them are mighty warriors.
17 They shall eat up your harvest and your food; they shall eat up your sons and your daughters;
they shall eat up your flocks and your herds; they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees;
they shall destroy with the sword your fortified cities in which you trust.
18 But even in those days, says the LORD, I will not make a full end of you.
19 And when your people say, “Why has the LORD our God done all these things to us?”
you shall say to them,
”As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours.”
We were given a new land with flowing streams and endless forests
We were given a chance to serve God in a pure and simple way
We were given a land where freedom was coupled with responsibility
and We, like the old Jerusalem have wasted it with our worship of the new Baals
Ill gotten wealth and corrupt politicians
Media and sports stars who have prostituted themselves and led people astray
doubters who seek to banish God to a locked up room or destroy Him altogether
How long, oh People of the New Jerusalem
do you think He will wait to deliver his justice to us for our arrogance?
Mid Week Chaplain’s Call
Numbers 6:22-27: The Priestly Blessing
22 The LORD said to Moses, 23“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
24 “‘“The LORD bless you and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’
27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
I have been a singer since I can remember. My Mom was from a very musical family and I think it was always expected that we would just follow in their footsteps. Back a few generations, one branch of the family was from Wales and the stories about the men coming together to sing are legendary. My brothers and I (four of us) used to sing together when we were young and sadness I have now is that we almost never find time to do so anymore.
In High School, I was part of the Warrior band and the Warrior Choir. Talk about politically incorrect! I can’t see how we have been allowed to have our symbols for this long considering how many people find them offensive. Our school symbol was an Indian Warrior in honor of the many Native Americans that roamed the land in Western Pennsylvania in the early days.
Even more politically incorrect though was the fact that we used to sing the “blessing” song during school hours and at the end of every concert. This mixed choir would often sing the song a capella and I will never forget the feeling I had my senior year when we sang it for the last time. All of us knew that our real journeys were about to begin some forty years ago and in some cases we would never see each other again in this life.
Nowadays, I suppose some lawyer from the ACLU would show up and put our leaders in the limelight for such insensitivity. But considering how much water has gone under (and over) my bow in these forty years, I thank God that we were sent out into the world with such a blessing. I also thank the Choir Director for her faith in teaching us this song. May the Lord Bless her and keep her. The sweeping Amen at the end was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard or been a part of. I expect to hear it in Heaven
The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord lift His countenance upon you,
And give you peace, and give you peace,
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious unto you, be gracious,
The Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.
Lyrics: Peter Christian Lutkin
Music: Peter Christian Lutkin
September 11, 2011
Mid Week Chaplain’s Call
Can you imagine?
Could you endure?
You are alone in your cabin on a ship heading east in the North Atlantic. The cold November winds are howling outside but you sit quietly listening to the sounds of this ship as it creaks in response to the waves pushing up against it on its forward path. There is a small sensation of the ship slowing and you anticipate the visit you have been waiting for. A knock on the cabin door and the messenger of the watch tells you the Captain is waiting for you on the bridge and requests your company. You following him on the rolling decks through the darkened passageways and finally reach the bridge. The helmsman and others avert their gazes to anything but you and you can’t help but feel sorry for them to have to be right here at this very moment.
The Captain calls you over to the chart table and simply says “A careful reckoning has been made”, he said, “and I believe we
are now passing the place where the de Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep.”
On November 2nd 1873, the ‘Ville de Havre’ had a collision with ‘The Lochearn’, an English ship. It only lasted for a final 12 minutes before it sank to a watery grave, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the
survivors of the wreck had been rescued, Mrs. Spafford’s first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her, “You were spared for a purpose.” And she immediately recalled the words of a friend, “It’s easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.”
Horatio Spafford had learned about the cost of the wreck in a simple telegram from his wife which merely state: “Saved Alone” I can only imagine the grief he would have had to endure at that moment. Now he was standing in the chart house almost exactly on top of the watery grave that clutched his children. Compounding the grief was the knowledge that they had already lost a son to scarlet fever and his wealth had evaporated in the Great Fire of Chicago.
What would you do in his case? How would you bear such losses in such a short time?
What Horatio did was something that bore witness to his great faith and made a lasting contribution to Christians everywhere.
He thanked the Captain for his courtesy and returned to his small cabin. In the light of an oil lamp, he penned the words to a poem that later became a hymn.
like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul!
It is well … with my soul!
It is well; it is well, with my soul.
The words which Spafford wrote that day come from 2 Kings 4:26. They are based on the response of the Shunammite woman to the sudden death of her only child. Though we are told “her soul is vexed within her”, she still maintains that ‘It is well.” Spafford’s poem reveals a man whose trust in the Lord is as unwavering as hers was.
It would be very difficult for any of us to predict how we would react under circumstances similar to those experienced by the Spaffords. But we do know that the God who sustained them will also be with us if we place our trust in him.
Church Call – August 14, 2011
Wimps or Warriors?
1st Timothy; 1:18-20 18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
Timothy was a man of faith that had been installed by Paul in the Church at Ephesus. h
History tells us that he was a timid man and very intimidated by his youthfulness. What made that particularly challenging was the status of the church he had been assigned to lead. In the early days of the church there were many who joined with the intent of gaining personal power. Not only that, but these people wanted to adopt the familiar ways fo their old world into the new religion in order to justify their behaviors and actions. Paul warned Timothy numerous times about the blasphemers who were trying to subvert the early church to their needs. The battle Timothy was sent to fight was no place for a wimp.
Timothy was directed specifically to direct people to reject those who were teaching false doctrines. Specifically, those from the Greek community still held to the pagan beliefs that Christ could not have been a man since no god before had ever been a man. In their eyes, he was nothing more than a spirit who walked among the people of Israel and that is where his power was applied. The resurrection therefore never happened (since he was never in the flesh) and their teachings concluded that the real resurrection began with man. Paul urged Timothy to Fight the Good Fight to persevere in the struggles ahead.
Being a committed Christian in those days was tough enough already. During this time period, Nero had already laid hic plans to eliminate these Christ-men and murders and executions were becoming more and more frequent. It was not in Nero’s or any of the leading Roman’s best interest for this new religion to flourish. The idea of servant leadership was only beginning to be understood and it was in direct competition with the rule of the Roman ‘gods”. The promise of salvation gave people hope and a desire for freedom to pursue different ways of living. Emporers and kings have always feared freedom since it made people less likely to be easily ruled and subjugated. How can you be a powerful ruler if no one fears you? If they know that the worst tha can happen to them is to join their one True God, death has less of a threat. And amazingly, this strange new religion almost welcomed tha chance to follow their Christ to a painful death.
Such was the community that Timothy had been assigned to bring back to the true teachings. Without these beliefs, the church was falling into divisions and losing sheep to their old ways. The idea that any way of worshipping was acceptable was exactly the poison that was killing the fledgling community. People still clung to their old beliefs and their twisted the words of the early church to support their lifestyles and personal choices. Words were twisted in order to confuse the strong message that had first been brought. How could a God who is so forgiving wish death to sp many who never believed? How could someone who called them self a Christ man put any stock in a God who was so selective in his condemnation?
1 Timothy 1:6-11
New International Version (NIV)
6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
But as Paul instructed Timothy, the path to salvation is open to all men (and women). But that path is a very narrow path and Christ himself made that narrow path visible. It is only through Him that men can enter the kingdom of heaven. All other paths are folly in his eyes and deny His reign. Timothy was a timid man when he started but through the next two chapters he finds his voice and his strength. He challenges all of the people who profess to be of the faith to stick to the one true path. Many fell away. But the glow of the embers burned brighter with each passing day. Despite threats of death and persecution, the church continued to grow. The courage of the Timothy’s of the early church have led to an unbroken string of prophets and Christ men even up until today.
Paul’s words of admonition ring as true today as they did in Timothy’s day.
2 Timothy 3
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
We are in an age where Christianity is under attack around the world but specifically in our own country. There are forces and powers that would strip the long-held association between America and God. You will hear all manner of people creating attacks based on the justification of their own form of disbelief. Religion itself is under attack by people who are corrupted by their own personal desires. Many churches have allowed this invasion in the name of “tolerance” and “fairness”.
Here is the rub: we are instructed to love the sinner but not the sin. If someone claims Christ as their master, it is not possible for them to pick and choose which of the rules they will obey and live under. There are not multiple choice questions on the final exam. There is only one way.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Feel free to negotiate that statement when the day comes that you are called to answer for your life. Feel free to make up your own religion in the vain hope that somehow you will be the one that is the exception. Feel free to do nothing at all. Just know that the promises made by the one true God will come to pass. The day is coming sooner than you think.
God Bless You
It was just a boat ride
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have tested the wisdom of the true message contained in Matthew 14:22-33. As someone who was called by Christ to be his own at the age of 15, I have struggled to maintain my focus so many times in my life and in almost every case with a consequence almost too much to bear.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Have you ever found yourself in that boat, alone and afraid? The storms of life come strongly at you and the boat is tossed to and fro. You can see Jesus coming towards you in his glory and you start walking towards him. All you have to do is keep your eyes upon him and all will be well. But like Peter, sometimes we just look away…
The day had been long and the team had worked hard to contribute to the organization’s immediate future. Many had been called from all over the globe to participate in this first of its kind event. The energy was high and there was a good feeling being part of a group that rarely met together except by conference call. Everyone gathered by the dock where the sleek vessel was waiting to take them for a fantastic dinner and evening of entertainment. The wine started flowing almost immediately and as the team boarded the boat, it was obvious that this was to be a happy celebration. Wine flowed freely and soon it was followed by shots of chilled schnapps and other assorted liquors.
At least one of the team members struggled for a bit. Not wanting to seem out of place in such a happy occasion yet remembering the warnings about not consuming alcohol while on the life-saving medicine that had been prescribed. At a critical moment, that team member could have looked out the window on the boat and seen Jesus walking towards them. But at that critical moment, the team member looked away. As it always happens when you take your eyes off of the only one who can save you from yourself, you become self-reliant again. False courage leads to false bravado. Words are said and actions are taken that cannot be undone. Feelings become hurt, confusion reigns and the devil has a field day with the weakened souls of those who follow the crooked path. Within two weeks, the world of the team member comes crashing down around them. Every effort exerted for the past five years is tossed into the lake along with dreams of greater days to come.
That is when you truly find yourself alone on a stormy sea. People who you once thought would come to your side are no where to be found. The boat is rocked and buffeted by the new storms and you are clinging to the gunwales for all that you are worth, crying “Lord, please save me”.
But here is the miracle.
Despite the fact that you took your eyes off of him and started sinking, he has never taken his eyes off of you. He reaches his hand out to you and you take it. The seas become calm again and together you start to sort out the broken strands of the life line you once had. His love helps you to bring a sense of what is important back to your life. His compass guides you back to the place where you should have never left. His forgiveness wipes away your tears and sorrow.
When you get that sinking feeling, remember the old hymn:
- O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.
- Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
- Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu’rors we are!
- His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well;
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Have a great Day!
At the completion of all Naval Church services, the Navy Hymn is sung. It is also used as a memorial for those who have recently passed into the great beyond. In honor of all those who have recently given their lives (and especially the Navy SEALS) I would offer this tribute:
Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid’st the mighty Ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
for those in peril on the sea.
O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
and calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!
Most Holy spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!
O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee,
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.
God, we pray today for the souls of all those who have given their all.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Church Call – August 7, 2011
Habakkuk 3:19, Psalm 18:33
What is Strength?
With all of the worldly turmoil from the past week, I was pondering what the meaning of the word strength is. Friday night as I lay quietly in my bed, the message for today came into my mind and it was reiterated when we did the daily devotions this morning. It was a special time of devotions since we had some time with my Mother and she joined us in the reading and prayers.
Strength. It has many definitions for many people I suppose. The most visible sign of strength is physical strength. The pre-season for football is just around the corner and the television is filled with pictures of the teams in their spring training camps. The visible strength has powerful images and many people rely on it. But there are those moments when physical strength fails and even the strongest are brought low by unexpected events. People who have trained and made a temple of their bodies can be brought down by stronger physical forces and often by something even the eye can’t see like a germ or virus. Physical strength has many strings attached to it.
Mental strength. I have known people who pride themselves for their ability to learn and absorb what they discover. They can analyze, dissect, reconstruct, use various thoughts threaded together and synthesize new ideas. These people are superior to all around them in their ability to manage their cognitive powers and many people look to them for wisdom. But even these mighty mind warriors can be brought low in the passage of time. Words become elusive and thoughts become less focused. As their lives wind down, their strength fails them at just the very time they need it. One of the most gifted men I have ever known was a victim of the most horrible mind wasting disease I can think of. I watched him slowly slip into darkness but he held fast longer than many expected because of his reliance on another type of strength.
We all rely upon and hide behind worldly strengths at one point or another in this world. There is nothing wrong with taking care of the temple God has created. Being healthy serves his purposes and should be a focus to help you glorify his name in all places.
But the only true strength comes from him. There are two verses that show the nature and the power of the strength that comes from him if we seek it:
Habakkuk Chapter 3
19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
The path is not always smooth. There will be rough places along the way. Our physical and mental strength will fail us in the times when we need them most. Relying on God’s power and grace give us the only strength that will last through the trials and tests we pass through. But the great joy of that strength is that even in less troublesome times, it gives us the voice to praise him all the days of our lives with great joy.
Find your strength. Ask his Holy Spirit to fill you
with the one true strength today and always.
Chaplain’s Mid-Week Musings
August 3, 2011
Wimps or Warriors?
There are some interesting stories coming out now about Chaplains in the service as we march towards a “guilt free zone” more commonly known as the death of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I was never a big fan of the policy since my age was working against me. When I joined up, being gay was not a problem as much as it was against Navy Regulations. Yep, back in the dark ages, the military considered un-natural sex acts counter to the principles of good order and discipline. Because so many boys had been educated in a public school system where prayer was allowed and church was required, the majority of people came to the service with at least some exposure to the Judeo-Christian heritage that was prevalent throughout the first 200 years of American history.
I never imagined that there weren’t gays around. If there weren’t, why bother having so many rules against being so in public? But at least in that day, it was still not considered a normal behavior and guys that did it could not be depended upon. Before you go screaming to the politically correct police, just remember the historical context. Since the activities associated with being homosexual were “in fact” illegal, people who practiced them were very viable targets for blackmail which could compromise security. Plus, back in the day, a lot more people reacted pretty violently when it was discovered so keeping it quiet was in the Navy’s best interest.
Now there are changes coming and many of the military chaplains and members will be tested. If you come from a faith that says that this activity is a sin, government cannot make you accept it as normal. Not that I don’t think they will try with sensitivity training and all, but in your core beliefs, as long as they do not infringe on someone else’s rights are your beliefs. Despite afternoon television trying to indoctrinate the youth of America for years about how okay it is to be gay, many people still hold firm to their beliefs that it is not okay.
Today there was a story about the Air Force shutting down a class called the “Christian Just War Theory”, an ethics Class for missile officers to help them identify moral justification for their tasks. The class has been in place for many years but an atheist group laughingly called “Military Religious Freedom Foundation” threatened to sue and the AF bailed out. The class used quotes from the Bible and that is what brought it under the attack from the MRFF. Spokesman Mikey Weinstein hailed the decision as a great moment. He said “the use of Bible passages and other elements was just inappropriate.” Hm. Thanks Mikey.
Before you get mad at the Chaplains or the military, consider this:
I remember hearing a statement a long time ago that said that the military is really a microcosm of society. The men and women there are a reflection of who we are as a country. It’s as old as the story in Judges 10 verse 14 where the people of Israel had adopted the gods of Baal and become earthly in their worship. God’s response when they were in trouble? Go get help from Baal.
Stop by many churches this Sunday morning and see how empty the pews are. Where are the people? At Billy’s soccer game and Suzies dance practice. At the casino and the NASCAR race. Tailgating at the foot/base/basket ball games. Don’t kick the AF for what we as a nation have chosen to do. We will continue to tear down the fabric of the American dream until there are no barriers left. God will be relegated to a small portion of true believers who will have to keep their thoughts and beliefs secret or risk the wrath of the politically correct police.
I hope not to be here by that time. But if I am, I sincerely hope that we as a a nation don’t need to call out to God for help. I kind of think I know what his response will be. It may be late in the day but there is still time for Warriors for the King. It does not mean trampling on the rights of others. Its just a strong effort to stop them from trampling on yours. If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. What do you stand for?
God Bless America. (If you read my “About” page, this mid-week musing should come as no surprise. No one forced you here but all are welcome)
Church Call – July 31, 2011
Judges 10: 6 -18
Its been an interesting month. We have had a personal time for devotions almost every single day which has given us time to renew our commitment to each other and to the Lord. We no longer start each day discussing the “event” and many days it doesn’t even become part of any conversation. I give all credit to the Lord and his main helper (cleverly disguised as my wife of thirty plus years).
I am working on the Sunday School lesson for July 31 and the subject is about Forgiveness. We are the fill in teachers when others can’t be there and I try to spend some time understanding what the author is seeking to achieve with his program. Recently, we have been spending a lot of time in the Old Testament talking about the Israelites journey as God’s Chosen People in the promised land.
The comparisons between the people of that age and the people of this age is stark and disturbing. As a people, we have continued to claim God as our own but worship other things. You can point to many of our new idols which are similar to the ones that they embraced. The easy ones are money, fame and power. Those are so prevalent in the world today because of the hero-worship we have for sporting stars, race cars, and people with too much wealth and not enough self-control. When is the last time when you saw a devotional book in the check out lines of your supermarket? And we can’t blame the supermarket or the magazines… they are only delivering what people have expressed a desire to buy.
In Judges 10 verse 6 you can sense that things are about to go terribly wrong for the people of God. Anytime a verse starts with the words “Again, the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight” you just know the judgement is not going to favor the Israelites. It goes on to say that the Israelites embraced the idols of the people in the lands they had been given. They became of the world and not of their God. And they suffered for it. So much so that they finally cry out to God “We have sinned against you because we have abandoned you as our God and have served the images of Baal.”
God was not taken in by the long-suffering people. He directed them to seek relief from their new gods and see how that worked for them. We seem to be stuck in the same cycle in America today. We are all racing around seeking relief from our sadness and loneliness by worshipping the things we have replaced God with. Go and look at any soccer field on Sunday morning or the golf course where precious tee times are full. Then go to God’s houses and look at the empty pews. Count the crowds flocking into the stadiums and race tracks and then go and seek out how many people are ministering to the needs of others. The balance is completely in the evil one’s favor. (And by the way, saying a prayer that your team or car will win does not substitute for actual worship… I’m just saying).
It was not until verse 15 that the people of God get it. They cried out once more and asked for forgiveness and then completely cast aside the idols and foreign gods to once again serve the Lord. God was merciful finally and heard their prayers and restored them… for a time at least.
We have not stayed faithful as a people to Him. We are quick to anger and slow to forgive. The illustrations in the Old and New Testaments are meant to be lessons for us in the path we should seek to worship the one true God. I can barely imagine the ugliness and bitterness that fills a person who has lost the capacity to be compassionate. The bile must well up inside of them each day like a flood of caustic acid. Maybe that person doesn’t even feel the damage they are doing to themselves as they cling on to the hurts and wounds (both real and imagined). Their lives can’t be spent on worshipping God because they are worshipping the inner emptiness that has caused them to be so self-destructive. Withholding forgiveness is one of the great sins in God’s eyes because it demonstrates a belief that the person withholding that forgiveness is greater than God himself.
Yes, idols come in all shapes and sizes. What are your idols? Who are you unable or unwilling to forgive? What damage are you doing to yourself and others in this state of turmoil? And finally, how can you pray to God for something you are unwilling to do yourself?
I am at peace today. Those who have temporarily impacted my path here on earth provided me with a view of myself. I was one of those who had idols keeping me from the one thing that really matters… worshipping the King and serving him all the days of my life. May the Holy Spirit fill you today with compassion and life-giving joy. All you have to do is ask for forgiveness and open your heart to Him.
Jeremiah 29 verse 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future
We are all given two choices on the start of each day (including Monday). The first is to curse the dawn and worry about all the things that have failed in our lives or at least not come to pass. This is an easy course since it requires little thought or action. Just fall back into vicitmhood and pray for the day to be done as quickly as it can.
The second is to see the day as another chance for hope and promise. Surround yourself with thoughts of great joy for the things you do have, knowing that the Lord has great plans for you. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but if you are so wrapped up in pity and sorrow each day, you may miss the path that will take you to the place you are meant to be. This path does not have to be harder. Just listen with your soul and know that He has never failed or faltered.
Have a great week!
Church Call – July 24, 2011
Mark 13, Verses 1-8
1As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
2“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4“Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.”
When you think of the events in Norway over the past few days, you can’t help but think that the world is once again spinning out of control. So many innocent lives ripped from their families too soon. So much destruction and sadness that cannot be comprehended no less understood. This kind of thing shouldn’t happen in a place like Norway. But then, it shouldn’t happen anywhere. The evil that roams the earth takes many forms. The pictures of the man accused are almost haunting from how normal he seemed when it was taken. What will the devil look like when he manifests himself on this earth? Will he look evil or just look like any person? Will you be able to recognize him? Or her?
Jesus warns us in Mark to be vigilant. His warning was part of the preparation he wanted his followers to begin. We will neither know the time or date of his return but the challenge for us is to be ready each day of our life. The force of evil unleashed so long ago is a living force in the world. It never rests, it never sleeps, it waits for every opportunity it can find. Then it ensnares the weak and uses them for its purpose.
We are to be ready and armed with the Spirit. We are to be strengthened by fellowshipping with other Christians. We are to be guided by His holy light in all the days of our life. When we neglect those cares, we are most vulnerable to his dangers. I have come to believe that his real purpose is to remind us that as long as evil roams the earth, any one of us could be called home at any time. You must be ready and vigilant at all times.
The end for all, when it comes will be triumphant for all those who profess his name. Then, and only then will evil’s reign truly end.
Pray for the souls of those children this day as we pray for all who have been victim to a senseless tragedy
Another beautiful sunrise despite the heat. I saw a funny post the other day from a friend that seemed to capture a lot of people’s thoughts:
The Devil called… he wants his weather back.
It was really nice to be out walking Angus and Rufus at 0600 this morning. As I was walking, I realized that for the first time in a long time, I was out in God’s creation listening to the sounds of nature and feeling His presence through the breeze of a soft cool wind. For a number of years, I was in a prison of my own making every morning at 0600. It’s not so much that the walls were dark and dingy or that the day was going to be long and hard. It’s the fact that until the past six months, I rarely ever thought about God. I thought about production and schedules and problems. I thought about finding enough money to fix the plant roof and how to manage through another people crisis. I thought about how to motivate a group of people all across the company to try to be better at what they did through the principles of production I believe in so strongly. In other words, I created a prison for myself because I thought about that so much that I put Him in a storage place until I felt I needed him.
Thoughts of recent events started to creep back in at one point this morning and so did the memory of something I said to a fellow Christian not long ago. We were in Sunday School class and he wanted to ask the class a question. It seems like someone in his life had done some injustice or unkindness and it was not the first time. The question was “How long do you keep forgiving someone who has done something ?” I thought about it for a moment and remembered the verse about Jesus and the servants. (Matthew 18 verses 21-22)
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
I looked at my friend and I said, you have to forgive them all the way up to the cross.
This morning as I walked, I was reminded that my heart is still struggling with forgiveness. But as I so easily said those words to my friend, it occurred to me that what God wants me to do right now is to remember those words and put life to them. What a witness we will be to the world if we can truly forgive those who have done something that is life changing and beyond the sense of what normal people would do.
Jesus! what a friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul
Friends may fail me , foes assail me,
He, my Savior makes me whole.
(Evangelist J. Wilber Chapman, author)
Have a blessed day. Do something nice for somebody … we are all in this together if we choose to be.
When you see the beauty of the world we live in, its hard to imagine that it can only be a random event.
Isaiah 40 Verses 25-26
“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One
Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out one after another, calling each by name.
And he counts them to see that none are lost or have strayed away.
He knows each of his people personally and waits anxiously for them. We describe Him with a limited view of what can be.
But we limit our understanding of Him and His power when we try to compare Him with things we see on earth.
Don’t underestimate His ability to lift you from the places where you have dwelled and help you to fly.
It was a great sunrise this morning with a blue sky and the promise of a day filled with promise.
Sometimes you get blessings from unexpected places and today was no exception. The other night when I was typing the Church Call for Sunday morning, I think I was letting the events of the past month drag me down a bit. Hey, I told you I am still in need of a lot of growth (spiritually) and when the storms of life knock you around, it can be easy to look on the wrong direction.
So two things happened today to remind me that God is still in control and that his people are all around us.
The first thing was an unexpected email from a former colleague offering me support in ways that are meaningful. She had her own problems at one point but she took the time today to give me a positive message of hope.
The second thing was a phone call from one of the team members I was just separated from. He was just calling to check up on me. Without revealing too many details, I can tell you that he has been going through more problems than even poor old Job. Throughout it all, I have been praying for him and he wanted me to know that God gave him relief from the worst of the ailments. He has never lost his faith, never lost his humbleness, and never lost his belief that God has a plan. What humbled me and made me cry a bit was that he felt the need to comfort me.
(yep even grizzled old Chief Warrant Officers still shed a tear every once in a while).
Not a speck of judgement, not a question about what I may or may not have done. Just a sincere concern for me as a person.
Thanks God. You have some pretty good messengers