Pastor's Blog
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August 4, 2013, 3:50 PM

Would They Miss Us?

It was a thought provoking question:  If our local church were to disappear overnight, how long would it be before our community knew our church was gone? 

The crux of the question is about how relevant, needed, and important is our local church to our community.  Another way to view this question is to ask what ministries do we currently have that are impacting our neighborhood to the point that they cannot function without us?   It is tragic to admit, but if many churches were removed from the landscape tonight, those living in their neighborhoods would be unaffected and probably would not blink an eye.   They are ineffective in reaching those within ten-blocks of their facilities. 

What is even more tragic is the realization that a great number of people who reference a given church as their "home church" also would not miss the church.  Because of their spiritual unconcern, carelessness, busyness, and a host of other disruptions, they have disregarded the importance of church attendance.  If the church "disappeared" tonight, how long would it take before they discovered it?  Would it be next Sunday...next month when they make their quarterly visit...Christmas...Easter?  How long would it be before YOU knew the church was gone?      

The truth is, if we neglect church attendance, fail to involve ourselves in the ministries of the local church, disregard financially supporting the local church by giving God's tithes and our offerings in excess of the tithe, if we fail to pray diligently for our local church...we will soon find that the church will "disappear."  Will the closure of your church really matter to your community?   It is a convicting thought and a challenging consideration for each of us.  Would anyone other than the small group who gathers on Sunday mornings miss your church if it was gone? 




July 22, 2013, 2:20 PM

Being More Grateful

It seems most folks today are quick to complain, but very slow to express gratitude, if they express it at all.  I have made the statement that if we were giving $100-bills away at church, there would be someone upset and grumbling because the other person was given a “greener” bill than they received...or they wanted two $50-bills, not a $100-bill...or they wanted a gift card instead of cash!   That sounds a bit extreme until you begin to listen to some of the life-stories of your friends.  A friend of mine shared a heart-breaking story of a family member who repeatedly took advantage of their generosity with no sign of authentic gratitude.  As I listened to them tell of their situation, I thought, “I would never have been that nice to a relative who did that to me!”

Each of us, myself included, needs to evaluate the ratio of “complaints” vs. “thankful statements”  that come from our mouths.  Our vehicle may not be the newest or nicest, but if it is running well, we should be thankful.  Our physical bodies may be showing signs of ageing, but if we can still function fairly well, we should be grateful.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us it is God’s will that we “give thanks in all circumstances.”  We can do this by:  1—realizing God has everything totally under His control; 2—if I have accepted Christ as my personal Savior, I am a Child of God and He has taken the responsibility for watching over me; 3—all that comes my way is “Father filtered;” and 4—He has promised to never leave me, so even if I can find nothing else to be grateful for, I can be thankful that He is with me through everything that comes my way!

What would happen to the folks who surround you if you began to verbally express gratitude as frequently as you should?  I dare say you would find yourself having MORE FRIENDS nearby than before.  We all enjoy being appreciated.  Let’s make a conscious effort to be more grateful for all the blessings God has given us.   

 




July 11, 2013, 9:53 AM

Foreign Objects

A few years ago, Peggy and I were trying to enjoy supper at Pizza Hut when I suddenly felt “a foreign object” along with the cheesy pizza in my mouth.  I was stunned to discover the “foreign object” to be the artificial tooth from the nearly $1,000-dental-work in the back of my mouth!  I had done nothing to cause such a problem.  When the dentist looked at it, he admitted he had never heard of such a thing happening before.  His initial observation was that the dental structures were “defective.”  The metal brackets holding the artificial tooth in place literally broke.  Although my frustration at the situation kept me quiet, my somewhat warped sense of humor almost caused me to tell the dentist, “You’ve never worked on the jaws of a Nazarene preacher have you?  We have strong jaw muscles!”

When was the last time “a foreign object” interrupted your life and wrecked what you had spent so much time and money on?  Those unexpected, unwanted intrusions into our lives often leave us stunned, wondering WHY? We have all had them...and they will continue to appear at the most inopportune moments.  How should we deal with life’s unexpected turns?  As a follower of Jesus Christ, we have the assurance that NOTHING surprises Him!  He is more than able to help us deal with those events that come upon us unexpectedly.  He will use the twists-in-life to build character within us, mature our faith, and draw us closer to Himself.  He may even allow some of the situations in order to get our attention or reveal an area of spiritual need or neglect in our lives.  Early in my ministry I was told, “Everything is Father-filtered,” i.e. nothing comes my way that God is not aware of.  He will provide more than sufficient strength to deal with it all.  Some of life’s surprises are difficult to understand and bear, yet when we realize God has it all well in-hand, we know He can be trusted.  We must constantly seek to increase our faith!

Determine to live with ALL surrendered to God and trust Him with the “foreign objects” in life.




June 26, 2013, 10:58 AM

Powered, But Useless

For the past few evenings, I have attempted to install a 12-volt outlet on my Goldwing motorcycle so I can use my GPS while traveling.  Such an outlet will also be helpful if I need to charge my cell phone while on a lengthy ride.  After researching the internet to discover how to install such an outlet, I was pleasantly surprised to find the process really was not difficult at all, even for someone who is “mechanically challenged” like me!  After obtaining the necessary materials, I began the installation.  I will spare you the details, except to say things DID NOT go as smoothly as in the online videos I watched.  I was overjoyed to finally get the outlets installed, use the tester to assure there was power in the outlets, then get much of my motorcycle put back together.  Before I did my “happy dance” in celebration, I had the GPS plugged-in.  To my amazement, it DID NOT WORK!  I plugged the phone charger in, only to find it DID NOT WORK either!  There was power in the outlets, but not enough power to run either the GPS or the phone charger.  I now have to re-do the entire project and likely get different 12-volt outlets.  Technically, the outlets are ‘powered,’ but they are useless to me.

That is a snapshot of a lot of professing Christians…’powered’ (i.e. forgiven of their sins), but of little or no use to God’s Kingdom.  Serving Christ is far more than merely being forgiven.  We are called to live as spiritual conquerors!  Romans 8:37 reminds us,  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” We are to live daily with unlimited spiritual power!  In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Living for Jesus Christ is to be a lifestyle of spiritual growth, excitement, constant renewal, fresh power, and victory over sin!    If we are living at a minimal level as Christ’s followers, if we are not vitally involved in His Kingdom, that is a sure indicator that something is seriously wrong in our spiritual lives!  It may be we need to follow Christ’s instructions to the church at Ephesus found in Revelation 2.  There He tells them to “Repent and do the things you did at first.”   

It is insufficient to have “minimal spiritual power” when Christ calls us to be filled with His Spirit and to overflow with His power.  How is your spiritual power level today?  Are you at full-strength and ready to be used of God in any area He needs you?  Or is there a trickle of spiritual power, but not enough to really accomplish anything significant for the Lord?  We each need to honestly check our spiritual power levels to make certain we are fully connected to the Savior and ready for Him to use us in whatever way He needs us today. 

 




June 3, 2013, 3:19 PM

I Hate Alzheimer's!

My mother has fought an on-going battle with dementia and Alzheimer's disease for nearly a decade.  I HATE both of those diseases!  It has been almost seven-years since Mom has known my name.  My step-dad made a heroic effort of taking care of Mom at home for eight-years.  He lovingly tried to protect her and did his best to help her fight this awful disease.  Although he did not have Alzheimer's, it played a major role in his untimely death.  He carried such a heavy load of responsibility for taking care of Mom, the stress and burden seemingly brought on his heart problems which took his life on July 4, 2012.  My step-dad was thrilled beyond words that we were moving back to the Midwest and would be just 4-5 hours away.  He died while we were in transit, moving from Florida to Illinois. 

During her last few years living at home, Mom seemed to recognize that I was her son, but only knew my name if she heard someone else say my name.  At the end of 2011, Mom's Alzheimer's made significant advancements.  She became hostile, threatening, and was continually walking out of the house, wandering away.  In February 2012, my step-dad made the decision to do what he did not want to do...he placed Mom in a nursing home.  I had discussed such a move with him in the summer of 2011, urging him to NOT allow Mom's condition to destroy his health.  In January, I reminded him that Mom needed to be under trained care and he had no reason to feel badly.  After placing her in the nursing home, he drove the 50-mile round trip every day, seven-days per week, spending the entire day at the nursing home with Mom.  My step-dad literally gave his life for my Mom.  We sometimes talk about "sacrificial love," but Ray Wiseman demonstrated what love is as he gave everything he had to care for my Mom!  

Even though Mom no longer knows my name or knows who I am, she recognizes I am "someone special" in her life.  She is always glad to see both Peggy and me.  I praise God that up until recently Mom has continued to have her sense of humor.  She laughs a lot, just as she did when I was a kid growing-up.  In those times of laughter, I find a momentary path back to the Mom I have always known.  Words fail to express the joy that overwhelmed me some six-months ago when Mom looked at me and excitedly declared, "You are my son!"  For the first time in several years, she knew who I was!!!   I walked with her through the lock-down unit of the Alzheimer's ward as she held my arm and joyfully told the other residents, "This is my son!  He came to see me!"  I could hardly keep my tears from pouring down my face.   What a precious memory that is for me!  There have been many other times when she has asked who I am, then became violently angry when I told her I was her son.  That pain is great. 

My most recent visit with Mom was two-weeks ago.  My sister had warned me of another major decline in Mom's condition.  When I walked into the Alzheimer's lock-down unit, I was not prepared for what I saw and experienced.  The nurse stated she believed Mom had digressed to the next level of this disease.  Although I repeatedly tried to carry on a conversation with Mom, I was unable to do so.  She did not recognize me on any level.  I sat there thinking I may have seen the last of the Mom I have known and loved all my life.  

The heart-pain and emotional weight of watching a loved one decline like this is almost beyond description.  Rather than be angry or bitter, I thank God for the many memories I have of Mom.  Those home videos made across the last 25+ years when we would visit Mom have taken on a priceless value!   Alzheimer's is my enemy.  However, it has shown me the importance of making awesome memories with my family and friends...memories they can embrace for a lifetime.  I want to invest myself in the lives of my children and grandchildren, as well as in the lives of those around me so they will rejoice, laugh, and be inspired when they remember me.  Most of all, I want them to recall the close relationship I had with Jesus Christ.  

What will people remember about you?


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