What matters is the way you are headed

Major League baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the LA Dodgers last night.  Both teams have 30 wins and 30 losses going in to today.  And as strange as it sounds because they have the same record, the Pirates ship appears to be sinking and the Dodgers are excited about their future.  It is not so much where they both stand right now as much as it is the direction they are headed.  The Dodgers are headed in the right direction.  The Pirates are not.  There has to be positivity around the Dodgers clubhouse.  The Pirates have to be asking how they turn the ship around.

As a Christian, I try to remember that what matters most is not the wins and losses of the day, but the direction I am headed.  That direction, of course, means headed toward Jesus.  There are going to be ups and downs – that is a promise.  He also promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you.  He will not forsake you.  In your valleys, He is still on the throne and is also with you.  So if you love Jesus and are seeking Him and headed toward him, hang in there.  On the other hand, if you know you are headed in the wrong direction, He always provides an exit ramp from the wrong way and an entrance ramp to the right way.  Take it.

 

 

 

 

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One more point of light

President George H.W. Bush made famous the phrase “A Thousand Points of Light” in his 1988 RNC presidential acceptance speech.  It had been used in various ways by authors going back 50 years before that. Every time the church, and you as an individual representing Jesus, does a good work in His name, you are one more point of light.

Today Jesus is having our church take about 20 backpacks filled with goodies for kids to Keyser.  Each one will have a book, toy, stuffed animal, blanket, coloring book, crayons, water bottle, and more.  They will be ready for kids who get pulled from their homes because of unsafe situations.  They will be comfort in a time of chaos.  When the United Methodist Women decided to help pay for these, it is unlikely they thought about being part of the fight in the opioid crisis, but many of the kids who need this kind of thing are casualties of the drug problem.  Others are caught up in domestic disputes.  Some are pulled from abusive situations.  It will be for each of them, a light in the darkness.

I do not tell you things like this to brag about our church or myself (I had nothing to do with this, and I do not want to tell you who spearheaded it).  Today, I want to inspire you to be, or lead your own church to be, another point of light.  If you are a friend in another part of the state or country, maybe you will want to investigate the possibility in your area of doing this.  Or more likely, you will have an opportunity come your way in your own particular context.  If every church and every Christian would seize the opportunities God sends them, we would indeed change the world.  But all any of us can do is to change our own little corner of it, or perhaps just one person’s world….. perhaps a child’s.

“One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out.” ~ C.S. Lewis in The Magician’s Nephew

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When you need a reminder that God is good

If there is one thing I am not afraid of, it is being vulnerable.  I am not afraid to admit it when I sit in my office and cry or admit that I go to the church parking lot and look at the sky and yell at God.  It has been a while since I knelt at the altar and cried or sat in my office and had a good one.  This morning, with tears running down my face I have been listening over and over to Casting Crowns’ song Oh My Soul.

And no one would blame you, though
If you cried in private
If you tried to hide it away, so no one knows

I will be doing another funeral tomorrow.  I did not know Charlie, but every Wednesday night I spend an hour with people at an NA meeting that could very well have had the same ending.

I’m not strong enough, I can’t take anymore
And my shipwrecked faith will never get me to shore.

And in the midst of my tears and typing, I get a message from a friend from church, dear Nicole, who knows nothing of what is going on.

Can He find me here
Can He keep me from going under

She hopes I am feeling better (a week after a procedure to remove a kidney stone).  I tell her I am back to 100%.  And then, right on cue she reminds me that God is good.

One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
‘Cause you’re not alone…Oh, my soul, you’re not alone

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Posted in depression, Hard times, Obstacles, Opportunity | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We love you

There are two obituaries on my Facebook news feed today.  One of them is a 32 year old, one is a 27 year old.  I know 32 year old Charlie Snyder’s death was an overdose.  You can read his obituary here, and I dare you not to cry.  I assume the other one was, too.

I talked to one person at our Wednesday dinner last night about the possibility of starting a grief support group for those who have lost loved ones to drugs.  We have two in our church and three loosely affiliated with our church who unfortunately find themselves in this situation.

I, like everyone else, do not know what to do.  Our church has been bold to open its doors to try and do something.  We have seven people from our church who have taken classes and are certified recovery coaches.  I have applications on my desk for some of the recovery coaches to join the Potomac Highlands Guild going in to the jail in Augusta.  Our church currently houses the TPM Recovery Resource Center and is staffed from 9 am to noon every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday if anyone needs to talk or seek recovery — again, with certified recovery coaches.  We have NA meetings and NarAnon Meetings on Wednesdays at 7 after our community dinner.

The next step for us has to be publicity.  It is a tight rope between seeming like you are bragging and getting the word out.  I am hoping for dozens of Facebook shares and a thousand hits on this post today.  We really do love you all and we are here to help.  You can call the church at 304-726-7215 and leave a message and we we call you back. Thanks for sharing this to get the word out about what Wesley Chapel Short Gap has to offer.  Like us on Facebook to stay up to date.

Don’t forget you can read the obituary here.

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He is with me always

Yesterday I got a note from WordPress, the site that my blog is on.  They wished me a “happy anniversary”.  They reminded me that it was 8 years ago yesterday that I signed up with them to write a blog.  A lot has happened since then.  My wife Diane and our two sons have all graduated from college.  We have gone on 20 Samaritan’s Purse mission trips.  I have gone to Haiti six times.  We have moved from Mason, WV on the eastern side of the state to Short Gap, on the western side of the state.  I moved from my late 40’s to my mid 50’s.  And this is my 1,443rd blog post.  What comes to mind is “just keep swimming” from Finding Nemo, but I digress.

8 years is about 2,920 days.  On average I have written a blog post every other day for 8 years.  Part of it has been the one woman who told me 8 years ago that her husband read my blog and it was pretty much the only “church” he got.  Part of what has kept me going is notes (real handwritten notes) and emails from Lisa in Montana, “Don’t quit”.  Part of it is making time for it.  Even as I am finishing this day’s post, I know I desperately need to head out the door to do other good things in the Name of Jesus.

But the most important thing about the last 8 years of blogging is that I have felt called to it and I feel like nearly every one of the 1,400+ posts give God the glory.  He is with me always, just like He promised.  He is with you, too.  Just like He promised.

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Why does my desk always need cleaned off?

I know some people say a cluttered desk is the sign of a genius.  I do not know about that, but I know it is the sign of someone who bites off more than they can chew.  There are over 30 books on my desk.  I know the books go back to Good Friday prep because Charles Swindoll’s The Darkness and the Dawn is on the bottom of one stack.  There is also Naloxone (Narcan), a John Wesley Bobblehead with headbands, and a pineapple plant.  If I were to clean my desk, there is very little anyone would consider trash.  There is a newspaper that has an article in it about Haiti that I think I was supposed to give back to someone.  There is a bill the church is paying for someone.

This morning I see my desk as more than a cluttered desk, but I see it as a parable of life.  Most of the things in our lives are good.  Most of our commitments are worthy.  But every once in a while, the good things can begin to crowd out the better things.  In her book Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor says most of us are pretty good at choosing between good and evil, but do not do a very good job choosing between good, better, and best.  My life becomes so crowded with good things that I sometimes neglect the best – which for me is time alone with God.

I hope to clean my desk this week.  Yet, it is not as important as writing a letter to the US Embassy in Haiti, which has to get done this week.  It is not as important as the appointment I have tomorrow with State Farm Insurance, helping someone try to get fines from the Maryland MVA eliminated.  And it was obviously not as important as today’s blog reminding you and me to make time and room for Jesus in our lives.

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The same wind that blows the storm away

Photo taken by our friend Patricia

The other day Patricia, a friend of ours in Florida, posted many beautiful pictures of this dark, rainy sky.  This is one I swiped from her facebook page.  It made me think of this line from a song that talks about the wind that blows in the storm is the same wind that will blow the storm away.  I could not think of the song, and it is so obscure that Google could not help me.  I remembered it this morning.  It is Andrew Peterson’s song, “The Dark Before the Dawn. ”

I know when I post things about tough times and depression, lots of people stumble on to it and read it.  I know lots of people who suffer from the lies of the enemy.  Lies like they are not worth anything, nobody likes them, etc.

The truth is, the Bible says we are all made in the image of God.  The truth is that God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for you.  The truth is, He is always with His children, never leaving them abandoned.  God even has a name for His way of always being with you, “the Spirit of Truth”.

John 14:16-17: “And  I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, for He abides with you and will be in you.…”

I hope you will pause and concentrate for 4 minutes and 40 seconds, not looking at Facebook, or checking email, but focus as you listen to Andrew Peterson sing about hope from despair.

 

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Posted in depression, Hard times, Obstacles | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments