Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shout to the Lord, Psalm 100

Last night Micayla (age 18 months) discovered a turtle in our yard.  She was fascinated!  We began to watch.  The turtle would pull into his shell and then tentatively begin his journey again.  Micayla would position herself in front of him to  get a better view which would prompt him to alter course our pause in protective mode.  This continued for most of the next hour as he made the journey across our yard to the safety (?) of the woods.  Micayla wanted to continue her scientific pursuit but was finally satisfied when I told her that the turtle was going home to his Mama and Daddy.

I have lived for 63 years without spending so much time with a turtle and could have gone several more years, but to watch a turtle through the fascinated eyes of a little one was a priceless experience.  She was captured and captivated by on of God's creations.  There is holiness all around us.  There is sacred in the most mundane.  Do you have eyes to see?  Or do you need to see the world again through the unspoiled eyes of one who is not so far from heaven? 

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture."

It is good to know that we have a shepherd who is able to lead us to safety in all times of trouble.  God is good and ready to reveal so many mysteries to us when we are ready to stop and hear the still, small voice.  It might even come in the form of a box turtle.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Lord reigns, Psalm 93

Patty made the trip to rural Lawson this morning to retrieve 4 little 8 and 9 year olds who had spent a couple of days in their first Church camp experience at Wilderness Camp ( one of the great Methodist Church Camps in Missouri).  While she was gone, Micayla and I were left on our own for about 4 hours.  We went for a walk in the yard and had a great time experiencing nature.  There was a moment of exhilaration as I lifted her into the branches of one of the Sunset Maples.  The leaves brushed her face and the wind blew in her light blonde hair.  There was the excitement of picking up various stones in the driveway and feeling their texture before dropping them back to the ground.  There was the short walk up the street with occasional stops to examine the different hues of the black topped surface.  There was the obligatory picking of a few dandelion blossoms.  Their was the expectant listening for the birds' calls in the back yard.  There was the spotting of a pair of squirrels who were dance around in the tree tops.  It was an all together, nature filled morning.....which is to say, God was everywhere and everywhere adored. 

The psalmist sings, "The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength.  The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved."

As we laughed at the breeze and plucked the common dandelion; as we enjoyed the leaves of the trees and the frolicking birds and squirrels......we were casual observers of God at work in the world around us.  Would that we would have eyes to see and ears to hear and to marvel at God's goodness and his presence all about us.  The earth sings of his goodness as all of nature speaks of his glory.  God has revealed himself to humankind in many diverse ways.  He may speak to you and to me in different way, but always he speaks out of his creation and his creation says that God is still at home on high, still the ruler of the universe and to him we owe all praise and fealty.  I am grateful that my granddaughter causes me to slow down and see our God at work.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How lovely is your dwelling place, Psalm 84

I know that I am behind on my reading (can anyone tell me where we should be?) and I am also behind on my blogging.  I have no good excuses (too much vacation and granddaughters staying with us for a week).  My rhythms are off.  I'll try to do better in the near future.

Faith, Elisabeth and Makayla ( 3 of our 4 granddaughters) are with us for a week while their parents are on a youth mission trip to Chicago.  We love our grandchildren and are always glad to have them in our home, but an 8, 9 and 18 month old can wear an old man out.  Makayla is an absolute delight.  She loves her grandpa and wants to be by my side all of the time.  When I get home, there is no opportunity to read, write or work until she is out for the night (10p.m. or so).  That would work except I know that she is going to be up about 6:30 so I need to go to sleep when she does.  I have never had a granddaughter that wanted to cuddle with Grandpa, that was always Granny's role.  I'm not ever sure that I am good at it, but Makayla wants nothing more than to be at my side.  She loves her Grandpa!

Isn't that the relationship that the psalmist speaks bout in the 84th psalm?  "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty."  wherever God is that is a beautiful place, a place to want to abide in.  We think of the beauty of a forest glade, a white sand beach at sunset, a mountaintop vista; and all of these places are beautiful, but the psalmist says that just to be in the presence of God makes it an extraordinarily wonderful place.  A pigsty, a garbage heap, a dry and arid desert; all of these places become Holy and spiritually renewing when God is present.

"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.  For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless."

May we always seek God's face and may we always find rest in him.  May our heart's desire be to seek his presence and glory in his peace.  May you day be filled with God's blessing.  Amen

Saturday, June 25, 2011

from cradle to grave....Psalm 71

We do not know the author of this psalm, but we can see that he is growing old and asking God to be with him in the closing years of his life. 

This last week, I was a part of two funerals.  Both men had died to young, both of cancer, one 69 and the other 73.  They had led good lives, left loving family and a rich heritage.  As we grow old and begin to face our mortality, we, too, should consider our legacy.....that which we leave that speaks of our days upon the earth.

The psalmist gives thanks to God for his life, for delivering him from his mother's womb.  Life is to be cherished.  It is a gift from God and every day should be lived in thankfulness to the author of life.  Every day, every year of our lives, is a season that should be filled with thankfulness.  Certainly, as my young friends will learn, it seems that some of the things that we deal with in our older years are not golden, but still life is to be treasured and each season of life reveals something new for us to marvel at.

The prayer of the psalmist is that God would keep him thankful and that righteousness would forever be his mantra and the testimony of his days.  The song of our hearts that escapes from our lips should always be of praise to our heavenly Father.....he is always good.  Even when our days are filled with hardship, and our coming and going is more difficult, still God is good.

As we grow older, the litany of God's goodness should also grow longer.  We have more experiences, more wisdom, more opportunity to see God at work in our lives and in the world.  Our testimony should be richer, fuller, more confident.  Our love should be more steadfast and our praise more constant.

One day we will breath our last on this side of eternity, but our confidence is in the one who is master of both mortal and immortal.  It is in him that we have our life, our breath, our faith and our hope.  His promises are true and in the infirmity of our final days, it is that faith and that assurance that we should testify to.  God has made a way and even when our steps grow feeble and frail, we will walk in that way and speak boldly of all the goodness that we have experienced in service to the King.

Praying that you will experience a holy moment on this Sabbath Day and that it will kindle a new song in your heart.....a song of God's goodness.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

O God, You are my God Psalm 63

This psalm is thought to have been written by David when he was being pursued by his enemy.
As a child, I remember being separated from my parents on a return trip from the State Fair in Sedalia.  We had stopped for gas and my brothers and sisters exited the car to stretch our legs and burn some energy.  We started walking around the block.  About 1/2 way, I decided I would go back the way we came and beat my siblings to the car.  When I returned to the gas station, my brothers and sisters weren't their but neither was my Mom and Dad or the car.  They were gone and I was left behind!  My heart was filled with terror at the thought that with 7 brothers and sisters, my mom and dad might not miss me until they got back to the farm at Strasburg and finally counted heads.  What would I do?  I wanted nothing more than to see that old 55 plymouth station wagon and the faces of my parents.  I longed to see them and be with them again!!

That is the emotion of this psalm as David, in his exile, cries out to God.  "O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you."  Just as I longed for the security and safety of my parents, David longs for that same security in the presence of Yahweh, God eternal.  David expresses his longing in the most passionate of languages, "your love is better than life."  And he promise to worship and praise God in a variety of ways. 1. I will praise, 2. I will lift my hands, 3. I will sing, 4. I will remember.

Fear will be driven away by remembering God's goodness and praising his capability. Isn't it true for us as well?  When we fear, if we remember the many times God has delivered us, we will grow confident of his continued presence and power.  Our enemies will not be able to stand against the power of the one who loves us and keeps us.  Our troubles cannot compare to the glory of the one who lights the night sky and kisses the earth with the morning dew.  God reigns and his servants (you and me) should glory in all that he has done and will do.  O God, You are my God.  I long for you as a body in the desert longs for water.  Your love is better than life.  I will lift my voice in praise to your high and holy name.  God be praised on this day and every day until we are perfected in Christ.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Sould finds rest in God! Psalm 62

I laughed as I read this Psalm this morning.  Last night our 18 month old granddaughter, Micayla, slept with Patty and I.  She thrashes around a lot and can do physical damage to the unsuspecting, but on this night she was very tired from our day in Disney World.  She lay between us for a few minutes and then crawled onto my chest and then finally nestled her body between my arm and my body with her head resting on my shoulder.  In just a few moments she was sleeping soundly.  She had found her place of rest.  I tremble at the confidence that she has in her Grandpa.  One day she will know that I have feet of clay, but for right now, she finds rest with me.

David speaks of his confidence in God.....there is no other place that gives the assurance of rest.  The world is filled with unrest, our friends can forsake us, even our closes relationships can contain misunderstanding and heart, but God never forsakes.  He always cares, always loves, always seeks the best for us, always forgives, never grows weary of us.  He is a fortress that can never be shaken.

God gives strength to weak.  He gives comfort to those who sorrow.  He stands in the gap for us when we sometimes cower in fear.  He shadows us from the harshest of elements.  He is bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty and a cloak to those who find themselves naked before the storms of life.  His word is sure.  His promises are true.  He is our rock, our refuge. 

We would all do very well to commit his words to our hearts and walk carefully in the way that he leads us.  It is in that leading that we will know that we can never go astray.  It is the perfect way, the way that leads to the assurance of eternal peace and a life that makes a difference.

Looking forward to seeing you this Sabbath.  Don't forget to honor your Father this Sunday even if it is only in prayer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Your love is great, Psalm 57

David has fled from Saul and hidden in a cave.  He could have killed Saul, but he recognized him as annointed by God and would not harm him.  Psalm 57 is purported to have been written by David as a remembrance of those events in his life.  It could also serve as a devotional for us when we are feeling a little out of sorts because things in our life aren't going quite as planned.  When life seems like a lump of coal pray the prayer voiced by David when he said, "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me."  After all, isn't that what we all need...a little mercy?  Certainly we don't always want what we deserve.  That would make us a miserable lot for sure.  It is mercy that we should cry for, on our good days and our bad days.

"I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed."  There can be no better comfort than knowing that God's shadow protects us.  When storms come, as they always will, hunker down in the knowledge that God knows your predicament and he will work good in every circumstance for those who know and trust him. 

We should always be ready to exalt the name of the Lord.  His goodness only provides breath for our lungs and meaning to our lives.  It is God who keeps the demons at bay and prevents the evil of this world from overwhelming those who seek to live within the shadow of his divine will.  It is God who causes the sun to rise each day and by that mercy gives us another opportunity to do his good will and sing his praises.

It is the goodness of God that keeps the evil from overpowering us.  It is the mercy of God that offers us opportunity to live into his plan and purpose.  It is God's love that seeks us unrelentingly and gives us hope for eternity.  "For great is his love, reaching to the heavens; his faithfulness reaches to the skies.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth."  That day will come.  We should work for it.  We should pray for it.  And until it comes we should live as though it will be here tomorrow.

Another great day with my grandchildren, this time in Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Micayla's hugs and the lights in the eyes of Faith, Elisabeth and Sophia are a great joy in my heart.  I hope your days are as filled with blessing as mine have been.  Looking forward to seeing you this Sabbath Day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The fool says, Psalm 53

"The fool says in his heart, 'there is no God'". 

Do you ever wonder what someone was thinking?  I know that I sure have.  Sometimes the things that make me wonder are simply a matter of personal taste.  For instance I saw a young lady here in Central Florida who was tattooed on nearly every observable part of her body and complimented the body art with several body piercings.  I wondered, "what was she thinking?"  But I know that we are simply removed by a couple of generations and view our bodies a little differently.  She could well have been a lovely young lady doing great work to the glory of the Lord. 

On the other hand when Harold Camping was spending millions to tell all who would listen that the world was coming to an end on May 21, I was wondering, "what was he thinking?"  My reading of the scriptures tells me clearly that "no man knows the day or hour".  Still, I am able to cut him some slack.  Others have made similar mistakes over the years.  My heart goes out to those who follow such false prophets, but still I know that they are trying to point others to God and a day of judgment that will come one day.

And then there are those who traffic in human misery.  People who have calloused their hearts toward God and the laws of love that he has called us to.  These people rob, cheat, rape, abuse, kill, slander and do every manner of evil that the human heart and mind can conceive.  They slander God.  The violate the creation.  They do evil to humanity.  One day they will be judged by one who knows only righteousness.  Theirs will be an awakening that will crumble their pride and vanity.  Their hearts will be chilled by an awareness that God is incredibly real.  They will suffer for the evil that they have committed.  Theirs will be a judgment that none of us will want to see.  They will rue the day that they said in their heart, "there is no God".  They will indeed be convicted of being terribly ignorant fools.

Pray for those who have shunned God and have sought to live in ways that harm God's creation and God's purpose for humanity.

The sun of Central Florida did us in today.  Six hours at Disney's Epcot Center was all we could handle.  The kids might have done more, but the adults were toast.  we have greatly enjoyed our 5 grandchildren on this vacation.  Each one is a special gift from God.  They are unique creations.  One of our prayers is that God would be so gracious to us that we might live to see the fruit in their lives.  Like any doting grandparent, we believe that God has gifted them to do great and mighty works.  We pray that their lives will bring glory to God.  Hope your week is filled with God's very best.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How awesome is the Lord, Psalm 47-51

What a delight today has been.  Attended church at St. Luke's in Orlando.  A large UMC with 5 services each Sunday.  We attended a 11:00 traditional service.  We had started out to a 9:30 contemporary service but got lost on the way.  Thank goodness for garmin who corrected the error of our way.  Doesn't that sound like the Holy Spirit on this sacred day of remembering God's goodness to humanity on Pentecost as he came as comforter, director, encourager, healer and transformer.  Praise God all ye peoples....he is so good to us.

The worship we attended included liturgical dancer celebrating pentecost, a 40 voice choir, a marvelous men's vocal group and good preaching.  It was good to sit with Patty in worship and feel God's gentle presence, but I missed the familiarity of Faith UMC.  I hope your worship was blessed as was ours.

I can amen the psalmist of Psalm 47 who chants his praise, "clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.  How awesome is the Lord Most High!  He is awesome indeed.  I can testify as we ate lunch at a Panera's in Orlando and watched a couple pray at their table, God is alive and doing marvelous things in the lives of those who love him and who seek to do his will.  We may not be constantly aware of God's movements in and around us through the Holy Spirit, but he is at work, always seeking to save the lost and to sanctify we who have committed our lives to him.  "Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise.

From the rising of the sun to the setting of the same, God is on his throne on high watching his creation and loving us.  But he does not simply watch from a distance, rather he has entered into the domain of our creation and set before us a most marvelous example of righteousness in the one that we call Jesus.  This same one became the perfect lamb that was sacrificed for our salvation and has conquered death for us.  He now sits at the right hand of the father and has sent us this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit to live within us who even now encourages us in acts of spiritual holiness and urges us to holiness of heart and life. 

It is this Holy Spirit that convicts us of our sin and urges us to receive the benefit of Christ's death upon the cross which was for the forgiveness of our sins.  Come even now Holy Spirit, "have mercy one me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions."  I know the blackness of my own heart and only a God of such great mercy can cleanse me in the way necessary to allow me to be judged righteous.  Is there need for any greater proof than this?  I think not.....God is good all the time!

Praying for you today, asking God to bless you out of the abundance of his great love and giving you the powerful and awesome gift of his precious Holy Spirit.  May we be a Pentecost people bringing light, life and hope to a broken world. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

God is our refuge, Psalm 46

One of the great truths of the Christian faith is that in good times or bad, God is the source of our strength that sees us through.  This is particularly true in hard times, times when we cannot see the light of day or believe that we can endure another day of whatever it is that we are going through.  In times of persecution and trial; the church not only endured but flourished.  God delights in our faithfulness when the world would say (as Job's wife did) "curse God and die".  Trusting that God is blessed by our obedience in hard times strengthens our faith and makes us a "light to the world".

"There is a river" that flows through the church and sustains her in every season.  That river is the blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, God's eternal purpose for the church.  God sustains his creation in every storm, blesses her and those who honor God through her.

The world and the deceiver who inhabits this world may bring every manner of evil against God's chosen and redeemed, but it cannot destroy her.  In every situation we will honor God with our words, deeds and very lives.  God will be exalted and one day all of creation will sing song's of praise that honor the Creator.

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nation, I will be exalted in the earth."
Praising God today as I enjoy each member of my family as we vacation together in Central Florida.  The smiles and laughter of our grand children causes our hearts to sing.  We praise God for the gift of our incredible children, their spouses and our children's children.  God has been very good to us and we are more blessed than we deserve.  Thanks be to God for his mercy and grace.

Hope your weekend is blessed and your Sabbath includes

As the Deer, Psalm 42

In all the times of our lives there is no better place than in the presence of God.  The psalmist tells us in 139 that there is no place that we can escape from God.  But the truth of our humanity is that we often ignore God's presence, even hide from his face.  When times are good, we go about our business like we have the world by the tail and it is all because of our wise decisions and superlative abilities.  When we are in the midst of our disobedience, we hide from God and ignore what we know to be true.  When there is no place to go but to God, it is then that we turn our face tentatively to ask God to intervene in our affairs and set them aright again.  The truth for the Christian should be that we are always seeking God's presence and to fine tune our spiritual sensibilities we should be practicing spiritual disciplines such as prayer, meditation, bible reading and worship.  The more we know God, the more we will long to submit ourselves to his perfect will and way.

Like an animal that has exerted itself fully and is in search of the refreshing afforded by a clear mountain stream, so should we seek the refreshment that God offers to all who would be sheltered in his perfect love. "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God."  The soul which bears God's image is always seeking the Creator.  To deny God is to damage our inner being, the eternal piece of ourselves.  God feeds us, cools us, heals us, loves us, sustains us in every situation.  Seek God and know the peace that only he can provide.

Spent a day in Disney World with my grandchildren and an hour in the swimming pool.  I am feeling human again, but I hear them talking about going back early in the morning.  I am praying for good sleep to sustain me in all the fun that is ahead of me.  Hope you have a most God blessed day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Trust in the Lord, Psalm 37

Psalm 37 reads a little like Proverbs although the primary focus of the chapter is to remind us that we are to never be envious of those who have profited by their selfish and/or illegal ways.  Remember Bernie Madoff who enjoyed a lavishly opulent lifestyle as he cheated and robbed those who had trusted him with their savings.  Bernie will spend the rest of his life in jail and be the butt of jokes about how the rich have fallen.  But even if he had not be tried and convicted, even if he had lived his full life enjoying the riches of his theft, there is much more time than we will experience in this human life and there is a judge who already knows every deed, every thought, every motive of our hearts and his judgment is sure and true. 

The fame and fortune that this world holds may go, for a time, to the most powerful but the riches that count for eternity will go to those who have put their trust in the God of eternity.  They will one day be exalted and rewarded for their faithfulness.  In a little while, the psalmist says, the evil will be no more.  Patty and I often talk about the rampant evil that surrounds us.  There are folks who would steal your possessions, steal the innocence of your children, violate and use and discard everything that is good and holy and decent and not think a thing about it.  I chose to believe that God will deal with those who have sworn allegiance to the evil one and who have committed their hearts to the deceiver.  In the meantime I am going to trust God for justice and mercy and protection.  I am going to trust that the meek will inherit the earth and the merciful will be shown mercy and the pure in heart will one day see God.

I would encourage you to give your heart, your life, your will and all that you consider to have value to the care of our God in heaven.  Trust him with your family, with your wealth, with your job and your leisure time.  He alone is able to make something holy of those of us who have been damaged by the sin of Adam.  He alone is worthy of our praise and adoration.  Cities will one day crumble, our money will be consumed and gone, our youthful vitality will suffer from the effects of old age; but God can keep us for eternity.  He can restore our vitality.  He can bless us out of the abundance of his bounty.

Evil will one day be vanquished.  It will vanish in a burst of God's righteous power.  All that will remain is that which has been dedicated, trusted to him.  Trust him, I pray and take refuge from an evil and violent world in the arms of the only one who can protect and keep you.  "The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.  He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blessed is the man Psalm 32

How often have you carried guilt with you and allowed it to keep you from enjoying the fullness of the life that God created us for?  Adam and Eve hid in the garden because of their guilt.  Sometimes we inflict pain on others because we are feeling guilty.  Psalm 32 tells us "Blessed is he (she) whose transgressions are forgiven."  Have you ever been in need of forgiveness?  Of course you have and so have I.  I remember being in trouble at school in the 8th grade.  It was a big deal in 1961 and I was carrying a really big load.  I remember most distinctly the afternoon when my Dad came to get me at school.  I met him in the hallway.  He had been talking to my teacher and the principal.  He knew my sin.  We met and he put his arms around me and told me that everything would be all right.  That is what I needed.  I needed someone bigger than me to tell me that it would be all right.

God stands ready to do that for us....he is ready to forgive our sin and bear our burden; freeing us to victorious and abundant life.  That doesn't mean that we won't have a civil penalty to pay, in my 8th grade case a little suspension time to pay, but to tell us that it will be all right, we can be forgiven.  Forgiveness makes all the difference.  We are restored in our relationship.  Have you sinned against a brother or sister; a spouse or a friend.....perhaps you need to ask for forgiveness.  Saying the words, "I am sorry" and promising to do what you need to do to make it right can lift terrible burdens from you heart.

Forgiveness frees us.  "Blessed is the man (or woman)whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit."  God forgives every confessed sin.  Try it.....go to God in prayer and confess the things that have been failures and see if you don't feel a little better.  Don't forget to apologize to the other human as well.....that might become a double blessing.

Patty and I are packing up for a wonderful family time (all of our children & grandchildren) and heading to the land of Mickey Mouse.  I'll try to keep up with my Bible reading and blogging while we are away.  Larry Chitwood will be in the pulpit as we celebrate Gideon Sunday.  Thanks for supporting Duane Rathbun with your presence last Sunday.  God Bless you in your coming and going this week.

Monday, June 6, 2011

God from the perspective of a Child, Psalm 30

I find Psalm 30 to be most interesting as David speaks to God as a child might speak to their parent. He expresses great confidence in God's love; his anger does not last because his love is pervasive.  Isn't that a good, good thing.  Even in our failure, God does not abandon us.  In the Wesleyan way, we call this prevenient Grace.  No matter how far we wander, God's love follows, pursues us and in the moment that we turn and reach for God....he is there.  What a wonderful promise is contained in this chapter, "our sorrow may remain for the night, but joy comes in the morning.  God's love is never far away!

And then there is the petulant child appealing to the parent, asking to be spared the punishment that he deserves.  "what gain is there in my destruction?  Will the dust praise you?"  Hear our prayer for mercy and grace and restore us to your blessing.  It is a prayer that we have all uttered.  God do not give us what we have earned, but treat us as your loving child.  Restore us to your side.  Do this, heavenly father, and I will sing your praises for ever.  Certainly God deserves our eternal praises, but don't get smug when everything seems to be coming up roses.  There is a deceiver who is looking for those that he can topple.  Be vigilant in your prayers, your devotions and your service.  Remain humble in your walk and know that God will preserve you by the power of his breath.

We are home from Annual Conference.  It was a good 4 days.  Important stuff accomplished.  I am glad to be yoked to our Bishop.  Bishop Schnase exhibits a great love for God and calls us all to greater service in the name of Jesus.  The Missouri Conference received an award from the United Methodist Committee on Relief for our great generosity in serving those who had suffered tragedy....more than $2,000,000 given above and beyond our regular apportionments.  Faith is a part of that generous spirit.  Our scout troop (310) was given the Bishop's Award, the highest honor a Methodist Troop can receive from the church.  Oh yeah, I was appointed to Faith for another year.  God is good.  I think I will stop and give thanks for his goodness.  Hope you do the same.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Lord is my light, Psalm 27

Thanks to Duane for his good work in the pulpit today.  And thanks to Faith for supporting him as he stepped into the pulpit for the first time.  I know that he and all who worshiped at Faith were blessed by his obedience to God and for the words that he shared.  Ken Howard and I have one more day here at Annual Conference.  We have spent much of our time in elections as we select representatives from Missouri for General and Jurisdictional Conference.  General Conference meets every four years and is the legislative body that provides the Discipline (rules) for governing the United Methodist Church.  Jurisdictional Conference is the body that elects Bishops.  We have had 12 ballots so far to elect 14 clergy and 14 laity to this important work.

David speaks of the great joy of faith as he proclaims "The lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear."  The light of God leads us through our lives and illuminates our path.  Later the psalmist will say, "thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."  The word of God that is committed to our hearts and minds guides us in a path of righteousness that honors God and keeps us from the tempter.  "The Lord is the stronghold of my life."  Being in the middle of God's will is the safest place for us to be.  It is in God's heart that we will find peace and eternal security.   The world may be spiraling out of control, but those who trust in God will find strength for the testing that comes in this life. 

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life."  This may be our hearts' desire but God did not create us for palace life in this world.  This journey is meant to be lived in the arena of life to practice our faith and grow stronger in our witness.  Salt was meant for seasoning and light is meant to illuminate the darkness.  We are created to be salt and light.  If we spend our mortality working in God's harvest, we will one day spend an eternity in God's presence, but we should always remember that if we are too heavenly minded we will be no earthly good.  We were created to project the goodness of God upon all that we touch and to usher God's kingdom into the places that we influence.  Be ye therefore agents of the most high God as you do your life's work.

Praying that your new week will be filled with opportunity to speak the good news of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Why hast thou forsaken me? Psalm 22

Another day at annual conference.  Richard and Cathy Sanderson drove down to Springfield to represent troop 310 ( Faith UMC sponsored troop) and to receive the highest award give by the United Methodist Church to a scout troop, the Bishop's Award.  It recognizes excellence in religious education by a troop.  We were proud to receive the award from Bishop Schnase.  Congratulations to our Boy Scout Troop!

We have heard a lot about the tornado tragedy in Joplin.  A special offering was taken during one of our sessions and $46,000 was received.  In addition, the Texas Conference sent a $25,000 check to support our relief efforts as well.  One of the Joplin pastors made a presentation to the Annual Conference.  It was very moving, much weeping for our brothers and sisters in Joplin.

David's 22nd psalm was written a time of great distress for David, but it would certainly describe the feelings of those who have endured the hardships that Joplin has, " My Go, my God why have you forsaken me?"  Have you ever felt like that?  You cry out to God in heaven, but it seems that God is silent.  You have seen the prayers of others answered, but God seems silent to your requests.  What do you do?  You walk by faith, you pray in faith, you live by that faith.  We who call ourselves Christian must believe the promises.  Righteousness will roll down like rain.  Justice will be restored.  The widows and orphans will be comforted.  The hungry will be satisfied.  Every tear shall be dried.  Cancer will be cured.  Heart disease will be conquered.  Families will be restored in love.  The day of the Lord will come and those who have lived by faith will rest in the land of milk and honey.  The kingdom of God will find us living in fellowship with one another and in cooperation with our Creator.

God has not forsaken us.  Just because we cannot see his hand at work in the moment does not mean that he is not shaping tomorrow with us in mind.  On the day of our restoration, we will see the driest of places produce beauty.  Can you imagine God's goodness on that day?  Can you feel the sweetness of God's grace.  God is even now at work restoring us to himself.  He may even being using us as part of that restoration.  Working in conjunction with God can help to usher in the Day of the Lord. Are you ready to do your part?

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Lord is my Rock Psalm 18-20

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise and I am saved from my enemies."  So says David, King of Israel.

My baby sister Susan was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.  An operation was scheduled to remove 9 inches of the diseased organ.  The surgeon met us in the recovery room and told us that the surgery was successful as far as the colon was concerned, but the cancer had spread to both lobes of the liver.  Our prayer for healing had seemingly not been heard.  The oncologist said our best course of action was chemotherapy that would, hopefully, eradicate the tumors in one of the lobes allowing surgeons to remove the remaining damaged lobe.  We hoped and we prayed and Susan began her treatments.  After 6 treatments we sat with Susan for the results of new PET scans.  What a wonderful encouragement when the Doctor told us that the tumors had been reduced by nearly 50%.  The chemo was to be continued.  At 9 weeks new Pet scans were scheduled.  Patty went with Susan to hear the results of the new scans.  Our prayer was that the Doctor would tell us of new progress as the tumors continue to shrink.  Patty called me with the news, my Sister was weeping for joy because the Doctor had told her that she HAD cancer.  It was in the past tense.  Her cancer no longer appeared on the scans.  We rejoice at the goodness of our God who has mercy upon us and hears our prayers.

I do not understand why God heals some and not others.  Surely he hears the prayers of every sinner.  I only know that I must agree with David when he says "You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.  My prayer for you tonight is that God would reveal himself to you in all of his glory and you would be able to speak in a very personal way of the Glory that God has revealed to you.

I am praying for Duane Rathbun tonight as he prepares to deliver the message at Faith this Sunday.  Hope you will stop in at Faith to be an encouragement to him\.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A fool says Psalm 14-15

I am writing today from Springfield and the Missouri United Methodist Annual Conference.  All of the Methodist Churches in Missouri will be represented here as we do the business of the church; adopt budget, ordain new pastors, set appointments, receive reports, elect delegates to Jurisdictional (where Bishops are elected) and General (where the Discipline is approved) conferences.  We will be here through Monday.  Duane Rathbun will be in the pulpit at Faith on Sunday.  He has shared his sermon notes with me and I believe that he will be a blessing to you.  Hope you are able to be with him.  Pray for the church as we do the business of United Methodists in Missouri.

David speaks wisely when he says The fool in his heart says there is no God.  Certainly, we all know somebody who is living like this is all there is.  How sad it will be when the day of judgment comes and the fool finally realizes that there is an eternity ahead and we will be accountable for the decisions and actions of our lives.  I find some comfort in that promise when I see the great evil in the world; child abusers, cheats, liars, those who take advantage of the poor, those who amass great wealth while ignoring the cries of the widows and orphans will all find that there is a God who will reign with righteousness and justice.  The fool will learn a very difficult lesson when he has to bend his knee to the One True God and atone for the sins that he refused to acknowledge.

In the 15th Psalm come the question: Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary and who may dwell on your holy hill?  Follows with lists of those who cannot and if I am honest I must confess that I am contained in those list of sinners, but my hope is not in my righteousness; my hope is in my Savior, Jesus who is the Christ!  I cannot stand before God on judgment day, but I can stand in the shadow of the one who stands at the right hand of God and find sanctuary there.  Praise God that he has found a way even for a vile sinner such as me to find eternal rest on his holy hill.

We know David as a great King, as a man after God's own heart, as a part of the linage of Jesus, but did you know he was also a prophet?  Look at Psalm 16:10 and see a piece of Old Testament Prophecy of the one who was yet to come.  "my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, NOR WILL YOU LET YOUR HOLY ONE SEE DECAY."  David is foretelling of a time when God will send one (Jesus) whom the grave will not be able to contain.  David is speaking of Easter long before the Resurrection.  Isn't that an amazing thing?

Hope you are having a great and God blessed day.