Faith/Feelings

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June 21

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

This past Sunday, as part of the Father’s Cay special the church had, one of the men used the father with the demon-possessed son. You can find his story in Mt. 17 and also in Mk. 9. It is the Mark 9 passage which is actually fuller with information and I’d like to use that one.

As Jesus, Peter, James and John made their way down from the Mount of Transfiguration, they were met by a swarm of people. Front and center was a father whose son was demon-possessed. He had begged and pleaded with the disciples to heal his son-to cast out the demon-but they were unable to. So the father tells Jesus what has been happening. Putting aside Jesus’ words about the faithlessness of the others, the father brings his son to Jesus and about that time the demon throws him on the ground and into convulsions. The conversation next is my point:

Jesus: “How long has this been happening?”

Father: “From childhood.”

Father: “But if you can do anything…” (emphasis mine)

Jesus: “IF? All things are possible to those who believe.”

Father: “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Jesus heals his son.

Notice the exchange? “If?”  “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

That father is me sometimes. There are occasions when I bring very little faith to the table. I’m barely holding on. But He is willing to take what little faith I have and make it greater. I have often said, “He takes my #2 faith and make is a #8 or a #10 faith.”

Jesus builds faith; He doesn’t tear it down. If there is any tearing down, it is to tear down our self-sufficient “faith” and build a kingdom faith.

May your (and my) faith increase.

 

February 15

Tuesday, February 15th, 2022

I was just told last night-the eve of Valentine’s Day-that today is Singles Awareness Day. The moniker-SAD-is not a good one. I know that VD is not the favorite of many, especially those who are single. Whether by a conscious choice of their own volition or a choice they had no control over, it is a day which makes them think they are not valuable. God says differently.  But that is another subject for another time.

After reading the Feb. 15 devotion of New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp, I was left with some thoughts. They give rise to the idea that being single is not a good idea. Hear me out, please, before you want to hunt me down and “shoot me like a duck.” Movie reference there. 🙂

His thoughts first: There are two lies Adam and Eve believed.

  1. The lie of autonomy. This lie says we are independent beings with the right to live as we wish.
  2. The lie of self-sufficiency. I have everything I need within myself to be what I was created to be and to do what I was designed to do.

My thoughts: the idea of individualism still permeates our thinking today. We still believe the ancient lie that we are enough. Take those lies apart and look at them individually.

  1. The lie of autonomy. I need no one else and you can’t tell me what to do. I make up my own rules and I can believe and do as I want. Can you say our culture as a whole? Can you say progressive Christianity? No rules. I’ll do as I please.
  2. The lie of self-sufficiency. “You have it within yourself.” Sounds like the gobbledygook of Oprah, et al. Sounds like the self-help movement. Sounds like the prosperity gospel.

Both are lies from the pit of hell. It is okay to be single-single in life and single-minded. It is not okay to be autonomous and self-sufficient and think as a Christ-follower you need no one else.

What do you think?

“Father, help me to see and remember I need others. I am not an island devoid of human interaction and relationships. And help me to never think I don’t need You.”

January 10

Monday, January 10th, 2022

Before I get started I would like to ask you to pray for two of my readers: Martha Orlando is in the hospital with bacterial pneumonia (not COVID-related) and Diane Ronzino is in the hospital with COVID-pneumonia.  Thanks.

One of the emotions many Christ-followers struggle with is bitterness. Frankly put: bitterness will eat a person alive. There is no one reason why bitterness rears its ugly head.

In 2 Kings 5 there is a story of Naaman. Naamen was a well-loved general but he was afflicted with leprosy. The real hero of the story is not Naaman (although he did have to exhibit faith). It is not Elisha, the prophet who told Naaman to wash in the Jordan 7 times. The real hero is, of course, God. But someone else is a player-a young Israelite girl who had been taken captive.

She approached her mistress, Naaman’s wife, about a prophet in Israel who could heal his leprosy. Her words were, “I wish my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria.”

She had every right to be bitter. But instead, she had a tender heart. She wanted the best for her enemy, rather than hoping for the worst.

Taken as a captive how could she possibly do that? By refusing to be bitter. She sets an example for us. What is interesting  is how it shows Jesus to us.  She was not a bitter person. If anyone shows us we should not have bitterness it is Jesus. If anyone could have or should have been bitter it was Him. But instead of raining down invectives and hateful remarks and holding a grudge, Jesus chose to use very few words: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”  That sounds like a great example to follow! It sure beats allowing ourselves to get eaten alive by poison inside us.

“Father help me to follow the example of the Israelite girl and ultimately, the example of Jesus. Help me not to hold a grudge or get bitter. Help me live in freedom.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

November 10

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

I finally said it out loud yesterday while talking to one of the elders on the way home from the one day conference in Trafalgar. “I’m tired,” I said, “And if I am honest, a little fried. I feel I guided us through the pandemic fairly well. I (we) worked hard trying to stay in contact with the people. I thought I was going to get some time away in about a week but that trip to AZ was postponed until maybe March. I make no apology for riding or working out. It is my safety net, my sanity trip.”

I said more, but the truth is I am tired. I’m also edgy. What scares me is exhaustion makes me vulnerable. To mistakes. To poor decisions. To raw emotions. To feeling incompetent.

Psalm 142:7-9 spoke to my weary soul this morning. Couple that with 144:1-2 and it was what the doctor ordered. {Please take a moment to read those verses}. Every morning I try to meet with God and have an Encounter Time with Him. I want this to be more than just read a few devotional “helps”; read Scripture; journal; and pray for the folks of OVCF by name. I want Psalm 143:8 to be me!  “Let me hear Your faithfulness in the morning, For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; for you lift up my soul.”  I WANT 143:1-2 to flood by soul. I not only want it; I NEED it. Especially now.

I want to burn for Jesus, not flame out. I want to make a difference, not be indifferent. I want to walk the path, not fall by the wayside. I want to be faithful, not fail.

“Father, be my rock, my faithfulness, my fortress, my stronghold, my Savior, my shield in whom I take refuge (Ps.144:1-2).”

November 8

Monday, November 8th, 2021

Even though we cannot see His hand we can trust His heart.

That is the statement that has been running through my mind this morning. I’m guessing it is not original with me (I wish), but if it isn’t, I am clueless as to where I heard or read it. But more importantly, I know it is true and it is absolutely essential that it be true.

On October 13, my daughter, Tami, had a heart attack. (I wrote about it). Minor or major does not matter-a heart attack is a heart attack. While it may have not been one that required a by-pass, it was major enough that a wire could not be inserted to open or repair the torn artery. It could be fatal to do any procedure.

In all of this (and often in other trials as well) it is hard to see God’s hand. The questions are easy to float. “Why?” “How come me?” “What am I to learn?” Gobs of others. I don’t know the answers to them. Tami sure doesn’t either. Honestly, I have not asked those questions. I stopped trying to run my life a long time ago. I was an abject failure in that department. This morning I read Psalm 138:7-8. Please take a moment to read all of Psalm 138 (8 verses). As you do pay special attention to verse 8: “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your faithfulness, Lord is everlasting.”

I may not always see His hand, but I know I can trust His heart. I like that statement. I believe I will stick with it (even though it probably is not original with me).  🙂

“Father, faith is trusting when the road cannot be seen ahead. Give me a simple faith to trust Your heart for me.”

November 4

Thursday, November 4th, 2021

I have been blessed in oh so many ways.  As our family grew, we have all been fairly healthy.  Other than the two babies, Jo was never in the hospital except for a hysterectomy and then a gall bladder removal. Other than my cycling accidents, I have been blessed with good health until my recent bout with long-haul COVID.  Our girls never spent a night in the hospital growing up.

I have been blessed with a personality that is outgoing, positive, and energetic (rumors of ADHD float around but I debunk those since I can sit for hours and read or work a puzzle).  Anyway, one of the hardest folks for me, and ones I have finally come to somewhat understand, are those who suffer from depression. Let me explain please.

When I was in my early 20s and still very much wet around the ears and very naive, I was a youth pastor who found himself visiting a lady (I will call her Jane) in a psych ward. I had no clue what clinical depression was. I had no clue that some had DNA that leaned that way. Jane was fine one week and the next she was in the psych ward. I didn’t understand.

Sadly, I was somewhat judgmental. I was also clueless. “How could a follower of Jesus have trouble with depression?” It has taken me years-and I do mean years-to understand the battle some face. I’ve seen how it is passed to children and grandchildren.

I think David may have had some of this. From the heights of some psalms to the depths of Psalm 42, one can see it. “Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me?” (v.5).  “My soul is in despair within me.” (v.6) “I will say to God, my rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me?’ “ (v.9) “Why are you in despair, my soul?” (v.11)

I’m much more understanding now. We all go through hills and valleys. We all go through highs and lows. We all go through moments of joy and despair. It usually has nothing to do with something we have done (although there are exceptions). What I’m concerned with more is my patience, or lack of it, with those who are. For all of us, Psalm 42:11 rings true.

“Father, forgive me when I am impatient or judgmental toward struggles of others. Change my heart and attitude.”

October 14

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

I’ve contemplated what to write this morning based on events of the past day.  First, from my Bible reading this morning are three passages:

Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make His deeds known among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Tell of all His wonders. Boast in His holy name; May the heart of those who seek the Lord be joyful.” (103:1-3)

“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For his mercy is everlasting.”(106:1)

“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence , And His children will have refuge.” (Pr. 14:26)

I needed those verses this morning. Yesterday about 10:00 I got a text from Tami, our daughter, that she needed me to take her to the ER. An episode at school had the school nurse tell the principal, “She needs to get to the ER.” Jo and I found ourselves sitting in the ER with her until 7:00, except for a short reprieve of coming home to grab a bite to eat and to get some of Tami’s stuff. Late last night, about 10:00, Tami texted me saying they said she was having signs of a heart attack and they were doing a heart cath this morning. She has been dealing with parosmia (distorted taste and smell) since March 1, a side effect of COVID. Food smells horrible. All meats smell rotten or like a dead animal and tastes the same. Being around certain smells has her wanting to head to the bathroom (and she teaches Kindergarten kids). We thought, at first, all the symptoms she had might be from that. We will find out some answers today, I hope. Meanwhile, I’m clinging to those 3 verses.

Another request: my good friend, Ryan S (techgeek), who comments on this blog and is my admin, emailed me yesterday that his wife’s sister’s house burnt down yesterday and it appears to be a total loss. I don’t know her name (but God does).

Would you please stop and pray for these two requests? And would you please pray for Ryan and Amanda and for me and Jo? I’m trusting those verses to be true.  Thanks.

October 6

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

There is one thing I am very passionate about. I preach it. I speak it. I counsel it. I’ve definitely said it more than once. I think Bob Goff’s quote by Nelson Mandela says it well:

As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison. (#279-p.329)

I have stated it another way countless times (just ask the folks of the church I pastor): “If you fail to forgive, you have become their slave. They own you.”

Sweet Comfort Band, an early iconic group of Contemporary Christian Music, recorded a song called Habit of Hate. I’ve recently begun listening to them again and had forgotten about that song. Here is a taste of the powerful lyrics: “Now you’re clenching your fist/And that crazed, evil passion begins/Now you’re waiting for you victim/Careful planning, getting even/And you strangle your love/When you strengthen your habit of hate.” (Album: Perfect Timing-1984)

They are right on the money. I have seen so many lives devastated-their own and those close to them-by someone’s hatred and refusal to forgive.  It is like they become another person.

I think Bob said it best in that same devotion:

When we become people who extend forgiveness, especially when it’s costly or hard, we’ll be well on our way to loving like Jesus. (Ibid)

May we all start loving like Jesus.

May I start loving like Jesus.

“Father, help me to love like Jesus. Help me to not be captive the destructive emotions that ruin me and those around me.”

If you want to hear the song, you can check it out here.

August 24

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

Years and years ago. So many I can’t remember when or where, I bought a magnet that has been on my file cabinet ever since and the only time it has moved is when I moved and packed up everything. As you can guess, it isn’t the magnet, but what it says:

The faith to move mountains is the reward of those who have moved little hills.

I thought of that magnet saying when I read a devotion by Bob Goff (#233) recently. He writes about a long-jumper named Lex Gillette.  Lex competes in the Olympics as a long jumper. Oops, I meant to say the Paralympics as…get this…a blind long-jumper. You are probably wondering, as I did, how he pulls that off. He has a coach who yells, “Fly!” over and over as Lex sprints down the 100 meter track.  His voice guides Lex as he sprints. It’s like a homing beacon.

Amazing! Bob makes the point that if we are wondering if we should take a risk or try something, we should think about Lex. Not “If a blind man can do it, so can I” type of thinking, but the sense of learning from his heart, his courage, and his wisdom.

What struck me-hence the magnet reference-are several things:

  1. He has to trust his coach.
  2. How did he learn to run in a straight line, when to jump and how to land?
  3. What made him want to do that to start with? Did someone tell him he couldn’t?

I admire a man like Lex-a man who wouldn’t let his disability keep him down. He started with a small hill. Then, as he stretched his legs, i.e. faith, he began to climb bigger hills. Until…he moved mountains.

Maybe it is time for me, for you, to to allow our faith to develop into a mountain-moving faith.

“Father, help me to exercise my faith. Help me to remember Proverbs 21:31.”  (I encourage you to read the verse).

Bob’s book is entitled Live in Grace-Walk in Love.

August 23

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

This past weekend Jo and I made a quick trip to Ohio on Friday to watch our grandson, Braden, play his first game as a Freshman in high school. We came back Saturday after the game. Driving 4-41/2 hours one way gives one a lot of time to think. Lately, the church family has been hit hard with “stuff.”

  • It started with me getting hit broadside on June 3rd and still working through several ETAs for the necessary part.
  • One of our ladies was heading to Indy for a quilting show and a semi sideswiped her.
  • One of our young men was hit head on. His ankle is broke significantly and may require further surgery.
  • Another had a car pull out in front of him on the way to a wedding. He and his fiance were shook up but the car is toast.
  • One young lady was rear-ended as she was turning into the church lot this past Saturday. She has a concussion and will be very, very sore.
  • One young lady’s 90+ y/o grandmother got COVID and they still don’t know how. She is, at least, able to get up and not lay around.
  • The church secretary’s father had a massive brain bleed on Thursday and was in a coma.  Yesterday afternoon he went to be with Jesus.
  • A 13 y/o has been placed in a center to get help with his anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
  • Our youth pastor, Ryan, is slowly watching his father waste away from cancer.

There are more, but you get the picture. As I thought about all of the “stuff” hitting us, I refused to have a pity party. I thought of Daniel and I thought of something I read this past week:

God is still God even when we don’t understand His ways.

The nonbeliever cannot sync with the idea of trials and suffering and a good God.  But the follower of Jesus can. We must choose to worship God and to trust His goodness, sovereignty, and power. We remind the world around us that we are in the hands of the One who controls it all. God is still God; I am still me; and He is still in charge.

And I must also say that I am not leaving out the idea this is a Satanic attack on our church fellowship. Add to the above the masks, the fear people have, the political sides being taken on social media and yeah…I am a firm believer this could very well be a Satanic attack.

“Father, I don’t understand but I’m certainly not going to blame You. You have been, are now, and always will be in charge.”

{Quote from The Daniel Dilemma by Chris Hodges, page 91}