Safely Home

Thank You for a wonderful day, yesterday, Father. You blessed us in our worship. You were with us as we remembered the life of a man who sought to serve You with his all. I realize that you never leave our side but it is a beautiful gift to be alert enough to be aware of your presence and to feel Your touch and to respond to Your direction. All praise to Your Holy Name. Amen.

1 Peter 3:18 (<<click here)

In the late 80’s I was on staff at a church in Marietta, Ohio. We were only there for a year but we made some dear, lifelong friends in the process. Even after we left, for quite some time we would meet halfway (unusually in Zanesville) to share a meal and catch up.

For whatever reason the weather never seemed to cooperate when we would meet – I remember a tornado in the area one time – but one trip back home sticks in my mind.  It was a white-knuckle on the steering wheel trek through a full blown snow storm. It was bad! It was snowing and blowing so badly that it took us forever to get home.

I’m sure Karen threw up a lot of prayers that day and if Massey was with us at all, he would have been very small, but it was my responsibility to get my loved ones safely home.

The journey of life is a treacherous one. And, thankfully, I am not the one behind the wheel. I am incapable of doing so. Only one Person can “bring [us] safely home” and that is You, Lord. Sin was sweeping us away into an eternity of separation from You. But You – You alone“suffered for our sins once for all time…[You] died for sins to bring [us] safely home.”

Thank You, Lord, for Your sacrifice. Thank You for taking on the responsibility of getting us home safely. There is no way we can do it on our own. Praise You for Your wonderful work of salvation, Blessed Redeemer! Amen!

Jan 16th, Mon, 5:43 am

Impact of the WORD

As I have sat here this morning, Father, my thoughts have been on a friend who from our perspective unexpectedly crossed the threshold into Your waiting arms this week. We just never know when our time here on this earth will be complete. My friend was ready to be called home; he was Your faithful follower. May we all be ready to do the same and may we all be diligent in bringing others to You so they may be ready as well.

1 Peter 3:13-17 (<<click here)

Lord, in reading this passage and the coinciding notes in my study Bible*, it brings to mind once more my friend. His name is Kerry Hooper. I met him almost 30 years ago. He printed just about everything for a Christian bookstore that I worked for. The whole time I knew him, he lived a life worthy of the calling You place upon his life – both professionally and privately. He truly worshiped “Christ as Lord of [his] life.”

He lived out his faith and if anyone asked about his life as a believer he was always ready to explain it. Even after going into business for himself, he was truly a Christian businessman. He was upright and a man of integrity. He shared his faith in a “gentle and respectful way” with a conscience that was clear.

Kerry was a humble man of God, and I’m sure he was far from perfect – for none of us are – but his faith was genuine and it was obvious that he was a man after God’s own heart.

Lord, may I live out my life as a beacon for you. Help me to live out my life as Kerry did – as so many of Your followers do – may Your kingdom be increased as Your will is made known through us. Amen.

Jan 15th, Sun, 6:50 am

Plate Spinners

Father, it was wonderful having Massey home for almost a month! We cherished our time together. But as those times often do, schedules get scrambled. We were up later than usual which usually means we got up later than usual. Thank You, Father, for great moments together and for answered prayers for a safe journey home. As we all step back into normal routines help me to be driven to sitting down and spending time with You, each and every day. Amen.

1 Peter 3:10-12 (<<click here)

Using a quote from Psalm 34 Peter drives home the point of avoiding evil and seeking out peace. As my study Bible* alludes to, finding and maintaining peace is not an easy task. Peace is elusive and even when we do find it, even in the best of circumstances it is a delicate balance to maintain.

The idea of maintaining peace brings to mind entertainers who spin plates on poles. Each plate must be kept spinning or it will fall to the floor and break. One is not such a big deal once you get the hang of it but four? six? a dozen? The Guinness World record is 108! I can’t even imagine!

But how many times is keeping the peace the same challenge? Keeping everybody happy, not rocking the boat, not saying the wrong thing, doing all the right things, not doing the wrong things – it’s maddening! But as Christians, it is part of what we are to do.

Lord, this day may I be the best “plate spinner” possible. May I focus on people today, may I love them as You do. It quite often is a balancing act but may I be a man of peace in a world of craziness. And may I do so with Your wisdom, love, and strength. Amen.

*Live Application Study Bible, New Living Translation

Jan 13th, Fri, 7:09 am

Not Consumed

Father, as I sit here with You this morning I am watching the fire as it dances about in the stove. It has an alluring beauty but as the minutes tick by the wood once whole and solid is consumed. Yes, it is used up, but in doing so it gives heat to the whole house. We prepare the wood by cutting and splitting and stacking and covering it, when these have been done, the wood is ready to serve. We have invested time and energy in getting it ready but until it is set aflame, it accomplishes nothing. If it is not used, over time outside factors, insects, fungus, and moisture will render it useless.

Lord, each of us was created for a purpose. We have been prepared, by Your hand, to serve as You see fit but, unlike the wood, we can choose to not be used. All that You have invested in us comes to naught.

We fear the fire…but unlike wood, we are not consumed, we are refined. The impurities in our lives are burning away as we are exposed to Your holy fire. It does not destroy us but brings us closer to what we were created to be. The sin of the world is purged and wholeness, found only in You, is restored.

Lord, more often than I care to admit, I can say with the Puritan writer, “I am utterly ashamed that I am what I am in myself; I have no green shoot in me nor fruit, but thorns and thistles…” But I also, as he, can proclaim,

“Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride.
 Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life,
     from everything that is natural to fallen man,
         and let Christ’s nature be seen in me day by day.”

Amen.

Jan 5th, Thurs, 7:10 am

Fuel to the Fire

Father, over the last couple of weeks I have purposely not written much and have not posted at all. The rest has been beneficial in many ways abut I am glad to be writing regularly once more. I may have taken a respite from writing and blogging but I would never be benefited by time away from You. I am grateful that all along the way we have continued to walk side by side. Thank You, Father, for Your sustaining grace.

1 Peter 3:9 (<<click here)

Lord, as sin continues to drive our world, we cultivate the mindset of “it’s all about me.” We are all over getting what “belongs” to us – freebies, rewards, handouts, etc. we are just as bad at lashing out. Retaliation is the name of this game and we are obsessed with getting “even” – you hurt me, I hurt you. And if I can one up you, hurting you more than you hurt me, so much the better.

This may be the way of the world but it most assuredly is not Your way, Lord. Peter states Your truth when he writes,

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you.”

We live in an upside down world and for many of us, it is extremely difficult to pull away from the multigenerational habit of retaliation – it’s how we’ve been raised! Every single one of us has roots, going way back, in lashing out and getting even. Sin is at the root of it all and has been there from the time sin entered the world. Cain took his anger out on Abel even though Abel had done nothing wrong. Cain wasn’t happy that his sacrifice had been rejected but Abel’s had been accepted. His anger was expressed in retaliation and his retaliation was murder. “God, You reject mine? Fine…You’ll not have his either!”

Retaliation is acted out every day. It’s all around us, from conflicts in the Middle East going back millennia to the driver flipping you off because of some driving infraction on your part. And retaliation takes us – all of us – nowhere but down.

Lord, as Your followers, we’ve got to put a stop to it – not doing so just continues to fuel the fire. We’ve got to stop paying back “evil for evil” and insult for insult. Believe it or not that’s the easy part.

The hard part? “Instead, pay them back with a blessing.” Lord, help us! Lord, help me… As You are, Lord, may I be…a lover not a hater. Help me be a giver and not a taker. Amen

Jan 3rd, Tues, 6:04 am

Doing it right for once.