Monday, February 16, 2015

Tribute to My Sister


It has been ages since I have posted anything in my blog.  Life seems to have been topsy turvey (sp?) for me the last several years.  Some good and a healthy dose of bad.  Most recently we memorialized my sister.  She was a beautiful woman.  Beautiful in appearance yes, but beautiful in more important ways as well.  She touched so many lives.  People from all over the world traveled to pay their last respects.  As difficult as the day was I was inspired to see the lives that my sister touched. 

What can we do to live our lives so that we can be a positive influence to those around us?  How can we live as my sister did to inspire hope and goodness?  How can we make others feel like they are important, valued, cherished, and loved?

I shared this at her Memorial:

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:10-18 (HCSB)

Elissa lived this way.  The people, that knew her, are her testimony that this truth from the Bible was on living display in her life.  If we want to celebrate Elissa’s life today we can do that by showing family affection to one another, outdoing each other in showing honor, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, being patient in trials, persistent in prayer, pursuing hospitality, blessing others regardless of whether they return the blessing, humbling ourselves, refusing to repay evil with evil, but rather pursuing peace with everyone. I hope I can honor her memory living this way.  God Bless You All
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Serenity Prayer (Acceptance)


“…to accept the things I cannot change…”

Many times I feel like a toddler in an adult body.  Prone to fits and tantrums.  I recall watching an interaction between a little boy and his mother at a store.  I cannot recall if it was candy or a toy, but I do recall how desperately he wanted it.  First he asked his mother in a pretty straight forward manner, “Can I have this?”  His mother looked distracted so he said again with a little more emphasis, “CAN I HAVE THIS?”  His mother looked down and said a simple “No”  Which was immediately followed by a loud shrill, “PLEEEAASSE!”  The word was neither pleasing nor magical.  Wonder why they call it the magic words?  This continued on for what seem a very long time.  Most likely it was just a minute or two, but I am sure that it was an eternity for this little boy’s mother.  To her credit she did not give in, but boy did he make her pay for it.  I could still hear the little boy screaming as they exited the store. 

In my own spirit I have been the mother having to calm another soul that is screaming out about the injustice of a life that does not give them his or her desires.  However, if I am honest I find myself more often playing the role of the little boy.  Screaming out to anyone who will listen why I deserve what I desire.  To my shame I sometimes take this heart attitude to my prayer life with God.  I tell God what is fair for me to have or not to have and then with a shrill “please” I say Amen.  When my prayers are not answered I do not reflect on passages like , “You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires (James 4:3).”  Instead I like a spoiled little boy threaten to take my ball and go home, because I do not want to play anymore. 

Contrast that with this prayer heart, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39  God is not so cold so as to be completely unaware or insensitive to our doubts or struggles.  He can hear them when we pray for those things that trouble us.  On the other hand this attitude ought to be in us that call ourselves mature in Christ.  That we (like Christ) say “Yet not as I will, but as You will.”  You see at some point we have to come to a place of acceptance of things as they are and return our confidence to God that our present circumstances has not caught Him unaware.  He continues to have a plan and purpose, even when we or someone else is the cause of suffering in our lives. 

Let us move to acceptance that God may produce a good work in our lives.  
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Serenity Prayer


“GOD, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”

Over the next several newsletters I am going to write about the “Serenity Prayer.”

God is the giver of all good things.  If you are like me though I struggle with the notion that God would allow things into my life that cannot change or better yet will not change.  If God is sovereign (which He is) then what in the world is he doing?  It is during these times though that I also come to realize that even though God is on His throne in heaven He is not on the throne of my heart.  I would rather have a deity that fulfilled my desires than to try to grow and understand what I can through unchanging circumstances.  This realization comes quickly if I let it.

“God, grant me the serenity…”  In quietness I can discover God’s abiding Spirit in my life.  He was there all the time but my complaining seemed to drown out the still small voice. 

Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still.
Selah
Psalm 4:4 (HCSB)

How does God move a troubled heart to serenity?  Do not sin, reflection, and being still.  Sin will get in the way of God’s work.  Sin will magnify and give life to many more anxieties than it will ever quiet.  Do not sin.  Reflection is a lost art.  We long to be told or entertained, but rarely do we reflect.  Take time to meditate not on what troubles you, but on God and His truth.  Finally be still.  Now I struggle with keeping my focus so being still mentally is not an easy task, but it is fruitful when I am able to do it. 

Now that I am in a place that God can grant me serenity what do I do next?  Acceptance; More on that next week.

God Bless You All

~BJ
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The Blame Game

Sermon preached on February 17, 2013: Personal Responsiblity
 
 
There is a game is the most popular game in the whole world.  It has no pieces, board, cards, or moving parts.  It does not require a game controller, yet it is extremely popular with children, youth, and adults alike.  It is free and can be found being played in every home around the world.  It does not need to be translated into other languages because it is universal and come in one’s native language.  People keep playing it in spite of the fact that when you play it you lose in some way.  The name of the game?  It is called the “blame  game.”
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Personal Responsiblity

13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. James 1:13-15 (HCSB)
Why are we as humans so adverse to personal responsibility? It would seem that we tend to blame everything under the sun for our moral shortcomings. Christians will do this to greater or lesser degree than any other non-believer. That leads me to believe that it is embedded in the human psyche.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Judging, Examining, and Specktating

“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘LET me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5 (HCSB)
I have previously preached on this passage (see here).  I recently was reflecting on this passage and I had another insight into what Jesus was teaching.
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Anger Presentation

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Exodus Presentation

This is a Google Earth presentation that examines a possible route of the exodus and site of Mt Sinai.  It includes photos and a 3D tour using Google Earth.  You will need to download and install Google Earth.  Then you will need to download the "Exodus" Google Earth File.  The steps are not synced with the audio so you will need to click through the items on the side bar to the left.  To view an item click the check box and double click the icon.  Some of the stops are hyperlinked with text (mostly Bible verses).  To open the text box just click on the blue underlined hyperlink. You will need to zoom in on some pictures using the tools upper right corner.

Audio:
Egypt to the Crossing of the Red Sea
Red Sea to Mt Sinai
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What Did You Go Out to See


Audio: Listen
Slides:



Text:
As these men went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind?
Matthew 11:7 (HCSB)
Jesus as you recall had just responded to John's disciples about whether he was the one. He now turns his attention to the crowd. He asks three rhetorical questions. "Did you go to see a reed swaying in the wind? Dis you go to see a man dress in fine clothes? Or did you go to see a prophet?"
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Friday, March 9, 2012

Sermon: Great Expectations

Audio: Great Expectation
Slides:
 
Text:

Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over.
The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean Chippie's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said "hello" when "ssssopp!" Chippie got sucked in.
The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie -- still alive, but stunned.
Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.
Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.
A few days after the trauma, the reporter who'd initially written about the event contacted Chippie's owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, "Chippie doesn't sing much anymore -- he just sits and stares."
It's hard not to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . That's enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.
~Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, p. 11.
I would like to share from Matthew 11:1-6.  In this passage we will see how John the Baptist had been sucked in, washed up, and blown over, and how Jesus pointed John the way to restore the song of his heart.  Let’s pray.
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