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November 28

Monday, November 28th, 2022

Thanksgiving 2022 is now history.  That is true if you only see thanksgiving as a one-day-a-year event. However, if you see thanksgiving-thankfulness-as part of your life as a follower of Jesus, then it is not over by any stretch.

The church I pastor has served a Thanksgiving meal to the community for years. I’m not exactly sure when we started it (I do remember the two ladies I asked to lead it), but except for 2020, we have offered it to the community. This past Thanksgiving was no exception.

We served, delivered, and did curbside meals for about 120 people this year. I say “about” because I’m in charge of deliveries and will sometimes miss people who come in to eat.

I’ve thought about this some. It takes a gang of people to pull something like this off: the initial set up team (five ladies who knocked it out of the park); the ones who cooked the food and brought it to the location; the ones who served; the ones who put the delivery meals together; the clean up crew; so many others. Why?

Here are my thoughts: you can choose to do something because you have/feel obligated to or you can do something because you cannot not do it.  Guilt vs want to. The latter is much more satisfying. I’m thinking of Paul’s words when he says, “The love of Christ compels me.” How much more satisfying it is to serve, to do, because your motivation is the love of Christ.

Christmas is just around the corner. Once again, we will be challenged to do for others. Ask yourself this question: “Why do I want to do this?” There is much greater joy and satisfaction because we want to than because we feel obligated to.

Your thoughts?

October 19

Wednesday, October 19th, 2022

One of the hardest things for me to do is to shut my mouth. My wife would agree. I am very extroverted…very. She often says we can’t go anywhere that I don’t know someone. In fact, she said just the other day that would be reason enough to go back to Alaska for our 50th anniversary in June…no. one. know. me.

While being extroverted has its advantages, it can also be a detriment. I have this bad habit of talking to fill “dead air.” When I was a younger pastor, I also felt I needed to speak because “I had the answers.” It seemed incompetent to me to be silent and not offer some type of biblical or theological answer.

I remind myself of Job’s friends- Zophar and Eliphaz in Job’s book. (What an ugly thought). Job is suffering and they are “waxing poetic,” i.e. making foolish words in an effort to act like they know what’s going on. Zophar foolishly reminds Job it could have been worse (he deserved it) (Chapter 11); while Eliphaz stupidly says it is because Job sinned and needed to listen to God more closely (Chapter 4).

I’ve learned that sometimes the best thing to do is not say anything. Don’t pretend I have the answer. Don’t presume I speak for God.

This came to me as I spent time in a hospital yesterday…waiting with a daughter while her father was being scanned, and then I visited with him and helped him eat when the daughter was called out into the hallway.  (Oops bad move. The OT wanted him to feed himself). I was at a loss for words-for him or his daughter.  I suspect that is better anyway. Empty, hollow, religious platitudes are not what they needed.

Maybe all they needed was someone to just sit with them…and to feed them (and I messed that up)…and BE. QUIET.

“Father, help me to know when and when not to speak. When I speak, may my words be  those of wisdom, not empty platitudes.”

September 9

Friday, September 9th, 2022

As always, Friday is my day off from work and also from posting here at “Shadow.”  I invite you to see what we have been up to lately by looking at some previous posts. If you care not to do that, we have been looking at discerning and following God’s will…whatever that is. 

I have been using the book by Ed Underwood:

The Trail: A Tale about Discovering God's Will

You are invited to join me and take part if you like.

On another note: Jo and I will be leaving early this morning for Ohio in order to see our grandson plan football on Saturday morning. Hard to believe the dude will turn 16 in October. But I got him beat by a mile! I turn 70 in October. He can outplay me, outrun me, out smart me any day of the week.  🙂  I have the looks though…and his dreamed-of height.  Prayers for our safe travel would be much appreciated. We will be heading back Saturday afternoon following his game and lunch.


July 25

Monday, July 25th, 2022

I will be MIA today and tomorrow (and possibly Wednesday depending on Jo’s report from the nursing home about her sister). The original plan was to leave after worship on Sunday and head to Ohio, stay until Tuesday morning and then head home early so I could spend part of the day either helping Tami with getting her classroom ready, or to do church ministry. But a phone call late Saturday from the nursing home about Jo’s sister, Vicki, may add another day to our trip.  Vicki is older than Jo but has been suffering from Type 2 diabetes for many years and also has dementia. She was having trouble breathing so they were going to have an X-ray done to see what was going on. The results will determine whether we go to visit her on Tuesday before we head home. So we may end up spending another day in Ohio.  Since I don’t take my computer and don’t like to do my blog on my phone, I don’t see me posting anything unless it would be really short or an update.

Jo and I would appreciate your prayers for our safe travel. It has been over a month since we have seen Janna or Braden and we were looking forward to just getting away (which I have not done this summer or in quite awhile).  I know Jo would also appreciate prayers for her sister, and also for her as she is POA.

Thanks. I will try to keep you posted in some way. Perhaps you can check back each day for an update.

January 24

Monday, January 24th, 2022

Note: I wrote this Sunday morning (yesterday) as I awaited the opportunity to preach knowing things would be greatly different. These are my musings.

As I sit here this Sunday morning, a mixture of emotions flow through me. Due to the state and county both being in the red (COVID-wise not politically), the decision was made to do live stream only this morning.  Add to the state and county statistics the fact that some of the church people are also testing positive or simply struggling with illness, it seemed the wisest thing to do.

Am I happy? I would be lying if I said I was.  But I also understand. As far as I’m concerned, someone getting vaxxed and boosted is a matter of personal choice and I will not take a side on that issue. It is not for me to impose my will or thoughts on someone, even though Jo and I have both been double vaxxed and boosted. She will be 71 next Sunday and I am 69. Yeah…she robbed the cradle. 🙂

No, my issue is not even a health issue. My issue is how much I look forward to Sunday morning and seeing people. Sure, I do get to do what I possibly love more than just about anything-emphasis on “just about.” I know I’m a social creature and I really look forward to seeing people, laughing with them, hugging them, fist bumping them, and just all around greeting people.  I love seeing smiles and the joy of connecting with people I have grown to love. I love seeing new people and the fact we have some “mo” right now makes it a bit harder to take this break. But that is the way of life in 2022…and in 2021…and in 2020.  I just think there is great value in meeting together.

But thankfully, we have live stream-a vital second to our ministry. Where would we be without it? Given today’s scenario, we would have had to cancel services or require (gasp) everyone wear a mask. I’m thankful for the live stream. I remember how we started in late 2020 with nothing more than an iPhone.  The live stream has really been a life saver.

My personal hope is that this will just be a one week glitch. If not, we will use whatever means we can to get the message of Jesus to others. I pray God will bless our efforts and I am going to take Him at His Word that His words will never return void.

October 15

Friday, October 15th, 2021

Update on Tami:

I do not have a devotion today. My past few days have (obviously) been taken up with Tami, our oldest daughter.  While I read and had my devotions this morning, time to write one is limited. So here is the update:

A heart cath on Wednesday showed a tear in the front artery of her heart. She did have a heart attack. Her heart and numbers (cholesterol, etc) are in great shape so he can say she did nothing wrong.  He did say this happens due to stress and she has had that. He also said it happened that morning at school.  Time heals this tear so there is no surgery involved.  In fact, he said putting a wire down through it could be fatal. The tear limits the blood flow through that artery.

She will be off school for 2 weeks and will live with us during that time. She will have 6 weeks of cardiac rehab but it is right down the road from her school so that is good. She can teach then head to rehab.

Your continued prayers are much appreciated.

October 8

Friday, October 8th, 2021

Today is Friday, October 8. Just in case you didn’t know or aren’t awake to realize it. 🙂  We left yesterday, Lord willing, for Ohio. Tami is venturing there with us this trip since she is on Fall Break (she gets two whole days off!). It is (for us) Braden’s last football game to attend. We have made multiple trips to Ohio this fall-most generally over there on Friday and back home Saturday after watching him play Saturday morning. It has made for some tired grandparents, especially mamaw, on Sunday. I think adrenaline flows through my veins Sunday morning. Plus I tend to have much more energy than Jo does.

Anyway, what we do for our grandchildren! 

That being said, you may have come here expecting a devotion. Unless I was inspired sometime Wednesday or Thursday morning to write two devotions, all I can ask you to do is to read Psalm 98-100 along with me or Proverbs 8.

I’d also like your prayers. We plan to return tomorrow morning since he plays Thursday night (a change in schedule) and then I also turn 69 Saturday.  Thanks!  See you Monday morning.

September 13

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Air Force veteran and current Indiana State Police officer, Ryan White, (also part of OVCF), spoke at the memorial on Labor Day for the 13 fallen soldiers in Afghanistan. I liked what Ryan said so I asked for a copy of his notes. Here is some of what he said:

“These men and women epitomized the definition of Duty, Sacrifice, and Heroism. I want to take a closer look at the meaning of those three words.

  1. Duty– The force of moral obligation.
  2. Sacrifice– An act of giving up something valuable for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.
  3. Heroism– Conduct especially as exhibited in fulfilling a high purpose or attaining a noble end.

The word noble in that definition sure rings true when describing these young men and women. They were there to help evacuate Americans and Afghans from certain slaughter from the Taliban regime. What could possibly be more noble, than risking their lives for someone else’s? “

Ryan said more but those hold the weight. We are grateful for these men and women. But do you see Someone else who is pictured in those three words?

Here…let me help you…it begins with a J…ends in an S…and has a ESU in the middle.  The most heroic, sacrificial, and noble person who ever lived.

“Father, may I be like Jesus if ever called to be (outside of living a daily life for Him).”

June 2

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get resentful? It doesn’t start out that way.

You have a friend/neighbor/acquaintance who has something good happen.

You are happy for them. But then as you maybe see more good stuff happening, you being to sense some resentment.

Why him? Why her? Why not me?

It’s easy to have that happen. It gets particularly bad when that other person is not a Christ-follower. Take a look around. You see a Marxist-someone who is supposedly opposed to capitalism-getting rich off people and spending gobs of money on houses, land, possessions, etc. All while decrying the rich.

Then there is the atheist- vitriolic toward God and His people- being honored for their godlessness and all the while drawing others into their godlessness.

Psalm 53 speaks to that attitude.

First, he says that only a fool says, “There is no God.”

Second, he says they are “corrupt, and their actions are evil.”

Third, they will find out soon enough that all is not right in their world. Verse 5 is rather explicit: “Terror will grip them, terror like they have never known before. God will scatter the bones of your enemies. You will put them to shame, for God has rejected them.” (NLT)

Here on earth. Stand in judgment before God. Either way they lose. My thought is this is “prophetic” speaking of their end. They may seem to have it all here, but in the end, it is worthless chaff. And they will find out that the God they denied existed…does.

Ooooops. Or is that uh-oh?

“Father, help me not to get resentful or jealous of what others have. Ultimately, it is nothing But let me rejoice in You.”

May 20

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

“I’ve reached my limit.” I’ve heard those words used. I’ve used them myself. They are used to express the feeling of fullness. A full belly, for example. A person (never me 🙂 ) eats so much that they are simply saying, “I’m done.”

I can remember as a young ‘un that once a year my dad’s mother and her husband would make the trip from Westminster, MD to West Mifflin, PA to visit us. Sunday was smorgasbord day. Johnny Garneau’s Golden Spike Buffet in Monroeville, PA to be exact. “Grandpa Walter,” as I would call him, loved to eat, especially at buffets. He was a well-driller and worked hard so he had to eat to sustain himself. 🙂 I would eat so much I walked (or is that waddled) out of the restaurant bent over my stomach was stretched so tightly. I wondered if I would ever be able to straighten. In true Grandi form, in just a little while I was ready to eat more.

Unlimited food. Unlimited trips to the buffet line. Unlimited misery.

I thought of how I gorged myself when I read Ephesians 3: 16-20 this morning. I am particularly stopped by the words in verse 18: “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” (NLT)  I could simply say there is no way of knowing-there are no limits- to its width, length, height, and depth. Like a buffet, God’s love is unlimited.

What an especially great truth that is for today. To live with the knowledge of the unlimited love of God is beyond words.

“Father, help me today to stop and think about how unlimited your love is.  Overwhelm me today.”