Medic 1 – Help is here

When an ambulance or fire truck from Mineral County leaves the station, whoever is on board notifies the Mineral County 911 center that the vehicle is on the way to the emergency.  In addition, they tell the center how many are in the vehicle.  An ambulance will usually have at the least, an EMT and a driver.  However, when a paramedic is on board or on the way to meet the ambulance at the scene, the paramedic will notify the 911 center and say, “Medic 41” en route.  Each medic has his or her own number.  The EMT can handle most basic emergencies, but sometimes the more highly trained paramedics are required.  That is why the 911 center is notified that the paramedic is on the way.  Paramedics can also begin IV’s and administer drugs.

I was thinking about this in relation to Jesus.  As Jesus’ followers, when we go into the world, we are like the crew that leaves the station, saying “crew of one on the way”.  When there is a group of 4 of us going out to eat, it would be “crew of four en route”.  We can handle basic things like being kind and showing love and grace.  In certain situations, we might even tell someone about Jesus.  But, be sure of this my friend.  Medic 1 is always on the scene with us.  The One who can do all things is always at our side.  Today’s blog post is another way to try and remind you that God is always by your side. So when your crew of one responds, never forget that Medic 1 is always on the scene.  And when the emergency is yours, He is there.

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Posted in Hard times | 2 Comments

Hard to believe September is almost here

Is it not hard to believe September is almost here…. wait, what?  September is almost gone?  Where did September go?

That is how it seems, does it not?  September has come and is nearly gone and in what will seem like three weeks, Christmas will be here.  And you do not even like that I wrote that because you know it is true and you do not want to hear it.

There was a man in his 90’s, who on Sunday talked about getting old.  To talk to someone that old, it always seems as though they try to figure out when it happened… how it happened.  How did they get so old?  It seems to them like just a few years ago they were so young and had their whole life in front of them.  Now here they are in their final moments, and they long for yesteryear.

Most of you reading this are not in your 90’s.  Most of you reading this are not young, but you are young enough… young enough to live on your own… young enough to drive… young enough to go for a walk if the rain would quit…  young enough to go to Walmart and not have to take the cart that may one day carry you around the store.

One of the great things about being a pastor is that I am constantly reminded of the frailty of this life.  I am always visiting people in the hospital, visiting people in the nursing home, performing funerals, etc.  In addition, running ambulance calls with the Short Gap Volunteer Fire Company, I am reminded that you never know when the emergency will be mine.  I thank God at this moment, that I am not in a personal crisis.  Sometimes I feel led to remind others to appreciate when they are not in a crisis.  And to remind those who are, that it is only a season and God will go through it with them… that He is with them.

So appreciate today.  Today is a gift. Give God thanks for your options.  Call someone.  Send a card.  Enjoy a cheeseburger.  Visit someone.  Bake cookies with your kids when they get home from school.  The days go slow and the years go fast.  Seize the day.

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Words of Encouragement

It has been 11 days since I made a post on my blog.  I expect a card from Lisa Ohlinger is probably in the mail.  (Don’t feel bad if it’s not, Lisa.  I’m half joking.)  Lisa and her husband Jeff own and operate the Elk Horn Lodge in Cooke City, Montana.  Diane and I have been there and recommend it.  It is a wonderful place a few miles from Yellowstone.  Nearly every time I take more than a week off from my blog, Lisa sends me a hand written card to encourage me to keep writing.  She is very encouraging.  Most of the time the reason there is a lengthy time between posts is that I have been away. Sometimes I am not away, but am just too busy to spend any time on it.  As a pastor, I am always choosing between good ways to spend my time.

Lisa’s constant encouragement over the years came to mind as I set my mind on a “Jesus lesson” for you today.  Any time you send someone a Facebook message, a card, a text, or go “old school” and call them, you know how that makes them feel, because you know how you feel when you get a word from someone.

Yesterday in church Diane said, when it comes to showing someone love, that we cannot always do grand things, but we can all show love and kindness to others in our path in their times of need.  It occurred to me at the time that showing love to someone who is having a trying time is actually a grand thing.  One of Mother Theresa’s famous quotes is, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Maybe this is the Lord today reminding you and me to drop someone a note or a message.  When we do so, they may see it as an encouragement from the Lord, which it will actually be because you read today’s blog post!  God’s timing is everything, even 11 days between blog posts.

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The keys to the kingdom

When I first became a pastor back in Mason, WV in 2007, I remember how strange it seemed to me that I show up and the people gave me the keys to the church.  Looking back, it would have actually been stranger if they had not, but at the time it was just a weird feeling to be given the keys to the church that to which I was just arriving.  When I got to Short Gap, and the second church I had been sent to, it was less weird.

Now I am going through the same feeling about driving the ambulance for the Short Gap Volunteer Fire Company.  One day I will get used to it, and I can feel it coming as every trip out I become more comfortable.  I will probably always be in awe of the fact that I can drive that $200,000 ambulance down the road lights flashing, siren blaring, and cars pulling over in front of me, and lives in the back of it depending upon me to safely and expediently get them to the hospital.

As these things come to mind, I am reminded of the most important keys to which I have access.  I have the key to peace in this life and the key to eternal life.  If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, so do you.  And just like the ambulance, I will always be in awe of having this key as well.  It is amazing to be able to share the words of life with people who are far from God and words of hope with people who are in crisis.  It is humbling to think that God trusts us with unlocking the door to Him for others.  Yet, we must walk this line between being comfortable enough while still acknowledging what an honor it is to have the keys.  And we must never begin to think that our keys can lock anyone out.  Our key can only open the door to Him.  Then it is up to them to walk through this open door.  Do you need to walk through the door?  Or do you need to use the key to unlock the door for another who needs to walk through the door?

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First Responders

There’s a lot of unknowns about Hurricane Florence.  It’s pretty certain that North Carolina is going to receive a direct hit.  The eastern panhandle of West Virginia may receive historic rainfall and subsequent flooding. I pray not. But last night I was reminded that there are a group of men and women who are always there, ready to risk their lives for you.  They are the men and women of your local fire company. Last night, fire chief Colby Simpson and I took an ambulance back to Fountain that the Short Gap Volunteer Fire Company had been using while theirs was being worked on.  I drove the ambulance down and rode back with Colby.  He had received a call from the governor’s office asking the SGVFC to make plans for the possibility of historic flooding.  He was talking over scenarios and possibilities.  The SGVFC will open as an emergency shelter.  Some of the money that you have donated to the fire company through the road drives, donation letters, etc. has gone to get a donated generator running.  Medical Chief Lauren Trenter called me last night to check on what food the church may have available through the food pantry to feed people who are housed at the fire hall.  Not only are these people willing to get up in the middle of the night to come to your home with the ambulance or fire truck, but they are always preparing behind the scenes to be ready for whatever their community needs.

I do not normally share things people tell me when we are alone.  But last night on the ride back from Fountain Colby told me that he could not bear the thought of sending one of the people under his charge into a danger that might lead to death from high water and if that situation comes up, he would want to be the one to lose his life.  This is not particular to Colby.  Everett Metheny was chief there for about 25 years and I guarantee you that Everett felt the same way.  Lauren feels the same was as medical chief of department 34.  This band of brothers and sisters are each one willing to lay down their lives for each other.  Do they fight in meetings?  Yes.  Do they bicker about leaving trash in the ambulance and not filling supplies?  Uhhh…. what do you think?  But when it comes down to it, each one relies on the other on the scene.  They want to bring each one home on every emergency call.  And God forbid if they were to lose one, almost every one of them would wish it to be themselves.

Fresh on my mind is this writing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that I read recently.  He wrote in A Testament to Freedom:

Christianity is one great people composed of persons of every country in concord with their faith and their love because there is One God, One Lord, One Spirit, One Hope. That is the marvelous mystery of the people of God.  Above all differences of race, nationality, and custom, there is an invisible community of the children of God. There each one prays for the others, be he or she American or German or African; here each one loves the other without reservation.

Sometimes I tell the people at the fire department I wish the church was more like them in their sacrificial love and service. Bonhoeffer nails it, the church is called to be.  Sometimes I wish the fire company was more like the church in less coarse language, and in having their focus more on Christ.  But on this 9/11, I count myself blessed to be part of both groups.  My prayer today is that more people from churches across the country would volunteer at their local volunteer fire companies, even if you can never go fight fires.  The servants of the Lord Jesus Christ can learn something from their local volunteer fire companies.

(an acknowledgement: Wesley Chapel currently has many associate members and an honorary member of the Short Gap Volunteer Fire Company and and has been a great supporter of the fire company over the years.)

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What do you go by?

Yesterday Galen was taping the walls in one of the halls to be painted.  He was taping a line in the middle of the wall down a 40 foot hall to paint below the line.  It was obvious after the first three feet that his measuring with two yard sticks taped together were not going to be sufficient.  He retreated to his truck and came back with a laser.  Since he had that laser with him, I wondered why he was trying it with the two yard sticks.

The laser is great for horizontal lines.  A plumb line is great for vertical lines.  A plumb line is a string with a weight at the bottom hanging from a point.  Gravity pulls the string straight up and down.  In the book of Amos, God had pronounced a judgement on the people for failing to live up to God’s standard of righteousness. Amos pleaded with God to forgo the punishment so God placed a plumb line to give them something to go by.

God has given us the Bible to go by… to teach us right from wrong.  Do we all agree with everything in the Bible?  Of course not.  But how can we, who are so prone to wander, who are so prone to ebbs and flows of society and our own desires, how can we trust anything else?  What else is there to go by?  Do we go by the rules of presidents?  Do we listen to modern day prophets, popes, or pastors opinions?  I hear people say all the time, I do not agree with the Bible on (fill in the blank).  There are things I find troubling.  But what else is there?  So we are to go by our own opinions?  We can all look back on times in our lives we were wrong about things we thought we were right about.  And without a doubt, one day down the road we are going to look back on things we believe today and realize we were wrong.

The Bible is never wrong.  The older I get, the more I realize that any time my opinion differs from God’s Word, I either do not understand it correctly or I am flat out wrong.  He has given us something better than two yard sticks, better than a plumb line, and even better than a laser.  And what we need to do is do our best to believe and live by His Word and as we do, He will work in us to help us better understand and accept what is right.

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Our limited perspective

I was at the hospital early this morning and I had just walked through a set of doors by hitting the metal square on the wall.  Once my business there was finished, I hit the button to go back through the doors, but the doors would not open.  From my point of view, I was now trying to get out of the area I felt trapped in.  Somebody came from the other direction and opened the doors so I could get out.  They told me that those doors were locked to keep people out, so they could not get in.  I said I was not trying to get in, but get out.  I know it sounds like an Abbott and Costello routine.  What was going on was that I had left the emergency room and was in a back hallway at the hospital.  Even though I looked at it as wanting out of that hall, the people in the ER saw me as wanting in.

It is a great reminder that perspective is of the utmost importance.  We can not help it that our perspective is just based on where we are and what we know.  We can, however, try to remember that we have a limited perspective.  If we can simply remind ourselves that there are things going on that we cannot see, that there is a loving, caring God who knows things we do not know – – as a matter of fact, a God that knows everything, then we may be able to better handle the times we feel trapped.  We may be able to better handle the times that things do not go our way.  Sometimes when we think we want in or out, God wants exactly the opposite for us, and it is always for our good and for His glory.  And while you and I will never be able to see things from His perspective, remind yourself any time you doubt Him that although He is doing something that you do not understand, His way is perfect.  God is good all the time.  All the time, God is good.

Now we see a dim reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:12

 

 

 

 

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