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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A free baked steak dinner

This morning I browned 140 pieces of cubed steak – about 37 pounds!  It’s going to cook all day and will be super tender for our community dinner tonight.  We are hoping for 100 people for dinner.  The dinners are always free.  We do put a container out so people can make a donation to help pay for it, but there is nobody taking money or keeping track of who puts money in and who does not.  It truly is a free dinner, and we do it every Wednesday.  It is certainly not a fundraiser.  The money donated is just about enough to cover the cost of the dinners.  We probably average $2.25 a person, which means if one person puts in $5, the next person puts in nothing, which is fine.  It is a free dinner.

Compare that to some of my friends in Cancun this week on a trip with their direct sales company.  I know what a great time they are having because my wife Diane used to be in direct sales with Partylite.  I got to go with her on trips to Aruba, Hawaii, and the Atlantis in the Bahamas.  She also went to Cancun without me.  But make no mistake.  Those ladies in Cancun earned their trip, just like Diane earned hers/ours.  It was always stressful for Diane getting new people started, making sure sales were turned it, etc. to earn the trips.  They may call it a free trip, but it was earned.  If it was free, I would have joined them.  I did not join them because I did not earn it.

This is a parable of being saved by Jesus.  Nobody can earn their trip to heaven.  It is free.  And that is a difficult concept.  It would make more sense if we could earn salvation, but it is something you can not earn.  We must humble ourselves and accept God’s free grace.  You do not earn it, but you must receive it.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

(lyrics from Grace Greater than our Sin)

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Hello from beautiful Cancun

You have to get up early to see the sunrise in Cancun, but it is worth getting up for.  Here is my picture from today.  You can barely make out a small lighthouse in the middle of the photo on the left.  We were coming in from fishing yesterday near dark and we were happy the lighthouse was there.  I caught a wahoo yesterday.  We also caught barracuda and a grouper.  They have two guys who clean them and it was worth the money to pay them.  They are slick.

Now you who spent yesterday with me at the Union Rescue Mission in Cumberland, MD, wonder what the heck I am talking about.  You know I was in Cumberland yesterday.  You who spent last night with me at an opioid presentation at the church, or you who joined me at the Short Gap Volunteer Fire Company meeting last night also must think I am delusional.  But many of you who read my blog from other parts of the state or the world probably believed my fish story and believed that was my sunrise picture.  The truth is, I woke up in Short Gap, WV this morning.  The photo is an actual picture from Cancun this morning, but not mine.  It was taken by our friend JoLynn, who is there with our friend Joy who earned trips with their company Nerium.

The purpose of my blog today is a reminder that you cannot believe everything you see or hear.  You can not believe everything you see on the internet and you cannot believe everyone who has authority in the church.  There really are people in very high church positions who are deceivers.  There are pastors in pulpits who are deceivers.  There are church members who are deceivers.  Some are deceived themselves and others are simply know they are lying.  There is a society who is deceived by all sorts of false gods and false teachings.  The Bible warns over and over about being led astray by deceivers, including this from 1 John 4:1, Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

If you hear anyone teaching anything contrary to the Bible, you need to get away from that teaching.  If you stick around long enough, you will start to believe it.

and many false prophets will arise and mislead many.~ Matthew 24: 11

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.… ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4

I understand the danger possible with anyone believing they have the sole truth.  That is why you must read the Bible and see everything in context.  It is dangerous to pull out a selected verse to support your personal cause.  Get into the Word.

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Discount love

Diane and I were at Ollie’s and saw a sign for Mother’s Day on Valentine’s Day candy.  I remember not having any money.  I remember one time Diane saw a stuffed animal at a store.  It was a big bear that had a zipper in the back that a child could put pajamas in.  That was pretty cutting edge in 1985.  We had enough money to buy the bear or to eat out.  I told her we could eat out with the money we had or we could buy that bear.  We skipped the food and got a bear.  I do not know, even at that point, if I would have bought her old Valentine’s Day candy for a gift for another holiday.  I did not look to see if the candy was from Valentine’s Day 2018 or if it was from 2017!

I am reminded of what God did for me.  He did the exact opposite of buying heart shaped “Happy Valentine’s Day” candy for mom on Mother’s Day.  Instead of giving something less for something great, He gave something great for something less.  He gave Jesus for my life.  From my perspective, that seems like a bad deal on His part, and a real steal on my part.  But He does not see it that way.  If we could only see ourselves as God sees us it would change our lives.  He sees you and me as so valuable that He would give His one and only Son to save us.  And that is what He did.  Hallelujah.

But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8

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It is no secret

Diane and I have the best macaroni and cheese recipe.  People love it anywhere we serve it.  We got it from Mrs. Snyder (her name at the time) at a dinner at our home church many years ago.  She always brought macaroni and cheese and I always loved it.  I asked her if she would share her recipe.  She said she would.  She said it was called “Macaroni and Cheese Casserole” and was on the back of the San Giorgio elbow macaroni box. It is best when Diane makes it in Pampered Chef stoneware.  I make it in big double batch foil pans when I serve it to bigger crowds.  It is my favorite mac and cheese, and is even better with bacon mixed in.  I have shared it with many people who have asked me for the recipe.

It was hilarious when I asked if she would share the recipe and she told me where it was.  It is right there for the world to see.  I just needed someone to point me to it. It was no secret.  In a similar way, Jesus is like that.

  • When people lose a loved one and the world says, “How can you get through this?”
  • When you have every right to get even with someone and you choose to forgive.
  • When you tithe to a church, or give a generous gift.

It is no secret how or why Christians do what they do.  It is Jesus who gives us the promise that death is not the end, so we do not mourn as those who have no hope. It is Jesus that tells us to forgive, and He was on to something because unforgiveness eats away at us and when we forgive we are freed.  And there is no doubt that we were designed by God in such a way that giving fills a need in us.  It is no secret.  It is right there for the world to grasp.

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The end of a long winter

I keep as many plants as possible safe through the winter.  I keep most of them in my office.  If plants are good for a room, it would be hard to imagine a healthier room through the winter than my church office.  I had four palms (the tallest over four feet), a five foot wide pineapple plant, a lemon tree, bamboo, and at least 40 spider plants.  One of the palms did not fare well.  As a matter of fact, most people would probably toss it.  None of the plants will be any happier to see the end of this long winter than this palm.  I could certainly afford to buy a new one, but I believe that there is still something there worth saving.  I believe the plant will come back to life.

I am reminded of the story of the dry bones from Ezekiel 37:

He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, `Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.

And the bones did come back to life.  And this plant will come back to life.  And you who have gone through a rough winter, or have gone through a valley, or are perhaps still in one, hang in there.  I know that God believes that you are worth saving.  I offer you hope…

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Romans 15:13

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Things that really matter

Nobody ever thinks they are old.  I remember the secretary where I used to work telling me a story about her in-laws.  She had taken them to the store, and these white haired 80 year olds stopped and talked to a friend.  Upon parting ways, they discussed how old their friend looked.  My co-worker laughed as she told the story, remarking how her in-laws did not see themselves as looking old.

I know I am getting old, whether I see myself that way or not.  The internet reminds me.  Google, Facebook, Words With Friends, and all the other programs we use target their advertising.  The ad on the left popped up on my phone a couple of weeks ago.  I took a screen shot of it.  I want to write to the company and tell them they are being ripped off because the app I was using is sending ads for old people to people who are not old.  Then I remember I am closer to 60 than to 50.  (For the record, my wife is much, much, much closer to 50 than to 60).  I am reminded for the entire week after I help lay flooring that I am no longer young.  I hope I am not close to needing a “help I have fallen and I cannot get up” necklace, but the truth is, I am at the age that I begin to worry about wasted time.

While I believe I will spend eternity living, this life as I know it will end.  Faith will be sight.  Until then, I want to fight the good fight.  I want to spend my years doing what matters in eternity, like my friend Cindy Hall who serves as the choir director for teens who have been dealt tough hands and are being loved by Cindy at Burlington United Methodist Family Services.  And like my friends Matt and Cara Smithson and Ben and Andi Lunsford who serve at Hope Rising Children’s Home in Haiti.

You are not getting any younger.  Are you doing what matters?

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