Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Jody's Journey

http://www.jodysbiblejourney365.com/

Jody is a Christian, husband, father, cyclist, runner, triathlete and friend who has been stricken with cancer. It is very serious and he has iniated this Bible study for the next year... I am doing it with him along with over 250 others..I encourage anyone else to go on this journey with us.



Below is a post from Jody:

Since I was a teenager I've been asking God to use me for his Glory. At 52 I have never felt that my life has honored him the way He intended for it to. I've always known something was missing. My 4 main passions have always been family, reading my bible, training for marathons and hunting. I had no idea in the world when Cancer came to try and take my life - that God would turn it around and use it for HIS Glory. This is 100% about Him, not you or I. This is His doing - not giving me cancer. He did not give me cancer. He is giving me roads to take me from the fear and despair that come with cancer. He is giving this a purpose. I am so grateful He is using me to help Him reach His children. I had always hoped it would be by winning the Boston Marathon, but that wasn't His plan for me and I accept that with a humble heart. I am in complete awe and without question the 180 people that have signed up and committed to read with us in 2016 are going to draw closer to their Father. That thrills me for them and I know it pleases God. I am looking so forward to healing, learning and growing with all of you in 2016. So many incredible adventures are before us.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Crossing the Torrents

It had rained a lot. Streams were full, some raging like the one near our house. It wasn't that wide; just a small stream about six feet across and 2 feet deep. But, the water rushed through it; my granddaughters ages 7 and 9 wanted to cross. Perhaps there is a latent spirit of challenge and adventure in all of us that comes forth sometimes in some situations, much like the rushing waters that had filled the small stream.

I couldn't take the chance to let them cross alone. In fact, they might not have made it without being swept off their feet and carried down by the current. So, I waded in half way across and stood there with the current swirling around my legs. I reached out for the hand of one of my grandchildren. She trusted and waded in behind the shield from the current which my legs provided. She reached the other side just fine as did the other grandchild and with an excitement special in childhood, they wanted to go back across. They did.

Sometimes our little dry stream beds become full with the rain in our lives. And, raging waters where once peace had been, scare us with its sound and its power. Can we get across the swolllen stream without getting swept away? Jesus says we can. I think Jesus wades into the torrents of our lives to stand as a shield, a barrier, an aide, and guide to get us across. "Take my hand all the way, from here to the great unknown. Oh Lord, take my hand, and let me stand, where no one stands alone." On we go in our walk with the Lord: Crossing the torrents of life; crossing the torrent from life to Eternity, holding firmly to the hand of Jesus.

Friday, December 18, 2015

When Flies Come in the House


There is a change in my weather coming. I feel it; much like I do an approaching cold spell or thunderstom. The air feels different. There is an unexplainable tension to it all, and flies come into the house at any opportunity.

Over the years I have felt, seen, endured many storms and changes in the weather. The take-home messages or lessons from all this storm experience is that storms pass, cold weather goes away and heat waves do too. And, storms in life pass as well often leaving my world a better place. And, I have learned that even in the worst of storms there is still God. God will not always calm the storm, but He will always steer you through it.

So I wait, bracing myself for the storm surge life will throw at me, but I am ready. The countless times God has brought me through have left my world a surer place, sure enough for a feeling of peace toward it all, even if I do see that the flies are trying to come in the house.

Monday, December 14, 2015

In God We Trust

"In God we trust" - Should we keep it on our coins and other places of a public nature? As a country do we want to continue to make this decaration? Is it even true? Do we live as though "in God we trust," or do our collective lives indicate we really trust something else? Do we really trust that much or are we going through the form of faith to support hollow religious ritual?

Who do I trust? In whom do I put my hope? Can I say "In God I trust" and it be true in my life? When the collective "we" consists of individuals, truly trusting not because it is majority, but because God is worthy of our individual trust. When individuals are living out, "in God I trust," then, among believers it is true that "in God we trust."

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas: God Is With Us

Last night my family put up our Christmas tree. It was nice; music, a nice fire, good relationship, but my mother was missing. She was in a nursing home, not knowing the season or what day it is. It was the first Thanksgiving in many, many years that I did not interact with her in some way. If she makes it to Christmas, it will be a Christmas without her as well.

So amidst the hope and joy of Christmas, these thoughts served a backdrop for an element of sadness with every Christmas song played. There were memories of her in that very room, under these same circumstance, helping us put up the Christmas tree. Now I think of a helpless old woman sleeping the moments of her life away.

But, the Christ child came as a child of Hope. He came to be Emanuel: God is with us. God is with her in her sleep. God will take her to an even greater celebration in His own good time. There will be the warm fire of the Love of God, the singing of angels, and the presence of the Risen Lord now and evermore. Emanuel: God will be with her.

And, Emanuel: God is with us, during this Christmas season to hold our hands, as we face this Christmas without her. Praise God, Emanuel.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Jesus The Perfect Fit

There is a road bike on a bike trainer in my bedroom which I ride all the time. The front wheel is cradled in a holder that is on top of a book about an inch thick. Somehow that made it the perfect height and perfect fit.

The other day we were cleaning the bedroom and my wife noticed that the book I was using for a prop for the front wheel was a book about Jesus. That disturbed me that I had been doing that and I replaced the book about Jesus with another one.

Somehow, the bike just doesn't fit like it did with the book about Jesus under the front wheel. Things hurt that didn't before and I can't seem to stay on the bike for as long as I did before. It just isn't working out for me with the book about Jesus under the front wheel.

And, life doesn't work real well with Jesus under it either. Jesus is the perfect fit for the bike and for the sustenance of life as well.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Bible We Leave

My granddaughters and I were talking about my old Bible. It is very worn, torn in some places on the cover, and weathered. I told them I had taught, preached, and found my own way and my own Hope in this grand old Bible. It was like a special friend. When I die I want to be buried with me.

My youngest granddaughter thought for a moment and then said, "Pop-Pop, don't do that. Give me your Bible when you die. I want it." Not bad thinking for a seven year old. Give me your Bible when you die. "Will the footsteps that I leave, lead them to believe, and the life I've lived inspire them to obey. Will those who come behind me find me faithful." Will someone, through my life, read the Bible I have left into their own lives. And will they in turn, leave a Bible for those who come behind them? Will those who come behind us want to read the old weathered and torn Bible that we have left through our lives?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Singing Our Hearts Out

Visiting the nursing home on a Sunday morning, I came in on a church group holding a service for the residents. They were singing the old songs; the ones they had all known in their active days but now, most seemed unconcerned. Some were moving, or tapping a little to the beat but I wondered was it the message of the song, or the beat of it which moved them. The rest were almost oblivious to the singing. Even my own Mother, long a churchgoer, was in her wheelchair with her back to the service, looking glum. Most of the others were moving about, looking off, shuffling after something they wanted, or call for the aides to do something for them. But, God bless them, the volunteers kept singing like they were singing before an enthusiastic crowd.

I wondered about all this. Has the loss of mental facilities also meant the loss of spiritual ones? Has these residents spirits left already leaving only the natural being to cope with what was left of the life of the body on this earth? And I wondered too, do we sometimes act this way when the Lord's message is ringing in our ears, that we turn aside to attend to petty, selfish, temporal needs. Are we sometimes not being attentive to the eternal, consumed in our small, self-satisfying, myopic world?

Or, can we be like the volunteers; singing our hearts out for Jesus, giving our best for our Lord even when it appears no one is listening, knowing that is not our role to count listeners but to keep on singing our hearts out.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Coming Back to God: Arriving at the Beginning

Perhaps the Bible is a reminder of what already is in our DNA. Perhaps it is not necessarily an instruction book but a reminder book with the Holy Spirit teaching through the Word: a reminder of who and whose we are. Perhaps, we fully realize our kinship to God through His Word. We could be reading and learning about God, but also reading and learning about ourselves; rediscovering our kinship with our Savior. Coming to God seems to be a "coming back" experience. But, you can't come back; you can't come home unless you have been there before. I think of the father of the prodigal son, rejoicing so at the return of his son; returning home to the kinship he had left. I like the quote, "And the end of all exploration is to arrive at the beginning and to know it again for the first time." We may not have realized our kinship before we departed; stepped out of the bounds of that kinship to return to God like in the beginning. And in the beginning: God.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Right Stuff Within

We have all the right stuff within us, but that right stuff needs something to activate and enliven it to action. It is like a like the earth needs rain and all manner of plants then come from the earth from seeds unseen. In doing endurance sports I take energy gels out on long bike rides or runs. If I forget to take the gel in a timely fashion, I have an energy drop, my performance drops off and the workout gets much harder.

I find the same thing happens when I drift away from reading His Word, or regular prayer; when I let the world consume the most of my attention instead of giving my life a closer relationship with God. When my energy has sagged and I take an energy gel out on the road, it isn't long before I come together again toward my purpose. When I come back humbly to Jesus after a dry spell in my faith, He also brings me back together, releasing the right stuff within in me that was in there all the time, just waiting Jesus to enliven me.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Ordinary Gift

I had died and was meeting Jesus face to face in my dream not long ago. There was so much peace and contentment abounding in the place and the indescribable face of Jesus was looking at me lovingly and yet intensely.

"I taught Sunday School for years; I preached about a dozen sermons; I tried to live right according to your Word; I studied your Word daily; I prayed all the time."

"Yes, I know," replied my Savior, "and, well done, well done. But what did you do with my gift?"

"What gift, Lord? I didn't have any gift, did I?"

"My gift came wrapped in plain paper, so you took it, called it ordinary, set it aside, and never unwrapped it. The pretty packages you unwrapped, and the many colored papers covered up the true gift, and you forgot what and where it was."

The dream ended before I could ask Him what my gift had been. And now, I can start turning over all the pretty papers in my life to see if I can find the ordinarily wrapped gift I was given to use. Perhaps, there is still time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hope in the Heat


Tough training week coming up; very hot, very humid. The cattle are in the ponds cooling off. The stray cat is panting in the heat. The pool water at the health club was just a little over 90 the other day...yes, these are the "dog days."

Heat can be more than just a physically debilitating factor. It can weaken and destroy resolve as well. Out there training, the body can be drained down by the heat with resolve bleeding out along with the volumes of sweat.

Today, the world of heat and humidity will take the index into triple digits. God help me to have steadfast resolve, anchored in the assurance-blessed assurance-that better weather, a better day will surely come. This is my story this Sunday night, tomorrow, and for all eternity. Hope: even in the heat. Thanks God.

(taken from my other blog: http://milesofthejourney.blogspot.com/)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I Do Believe


This was a post from 2009 in my other blog: http://milesofthejourney.blogspot.com/ With the addition of this blog, this particular post seemed it should be included here.

It is cold and raining outside. Weather has been cold and damp; training has been little and unmotivated. My shoulder hurts all the time and physical therapy doesn't seem to do any good. There is the prospect of an operation. All of this a far cry from the hope and prospects six months ago when the training was going full steam.

It is my birthday and wishes for a happy birthday abound; I am loved. And I do believe that I am loved by God as well. I believe that as deeply as are my present disappointments, as low as the moment may seem, I do believe I will be taken even higher than all that through His power and His Grace. He will lift me up and beyond this winter; beyond my winter. Ah yes, there is spring; there is hope; eternal hope. This I do believe




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Inspiration

Inspiration can be for all of us who hide behind our list of excuses. Inspiration can call us out from under the rock we have felt comfortable hiding under. Inspiration can change people and the direction of their lives. Really? Can we be sure? Seriously, can people really be inspired? Isn't inspiration a form of judging in that we are making an the assumption that our way is the best way? and it would be better for that person to become inspired to change? Is the motive for inspiration a concealed form of ego; that is, trying to inspire people to be more like us?

No, no - I don't want to inspire people to be more like me. I would have them be more like Jesus: I am not the model, the pattern to follow, not me, an old sinner saved by grace. But, I have found the missing coin, the Pearl of Great Price, and want to share it, not because I am judging but because I know it is a better way, the better way, for me, for anyone. This direction, this journey is not the best way because I am on it, but that Jesus is leading the way; my hope, my own inspiration, and my treasure. Yes, I want to inspire, share the treasure, the treasure of life with Jesus; a life without end in His Name...Amen


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hanging on the Piling - A Fathers Day Story

Our small outboard pushed hard against the strong current but we were making slow progress. A large piling stuck out int the middle of the river ahead of us: a metal I-beam. They were building a large dam on the river here and the river had pushed back progress and destroyed some structures but left the I-beam in the middle of the river. For some reason we wanted to tie a line on it. It had already been bent over by the force of the water and we motored right under the leaning piling. My father stood up and bear hugged the piling to hold us steady so he could tie on.

A sudden swirl of the vicious current, a stall in our small motor, and we were pushed backward, leaving my father dangling from the piling in the middle of the river. Anxious moments were spent trying to get the boat back up the river under the piling, and under my struggling father. Finally, his feed touched the boat and he released his death-grip on the piling. We moved on to quieter waters.

Since then, as I watched my father struggle with his losing battle with cancer, I again experienced that same desperate feeling that I was leaving him out there hanging over the raging river. Sure, I realize there was was nothing more I could have done, but still, there is that same helpless, desperate feeling of not being able to save. Now dad is gone. His boat is no longer challenging the raging current of life. He has moved on to quieter waters.

And over the years I have come to realize that now it is really me that has been left hanging out there in the middle of the raging current of life. I have my own piling I am gripping tightly, waiting for that someday when Jesus will moves His lifeboat under me, get me off this piling safely, and take me out of this raging river to peaceful waters to be with Him.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Shall Remain

The place looks great: mowed and our old garden taken out...sort of nostalgia there...raised lots of food in that plot of ground. I can remember when it was a thicket you could not walk through but I cleared it, pulled out the roots and such, broke the new ground and made the earth say potatoes, beans, cabbage, spinach, etc instead of bushes and weeds. Now it returns to grass to be mowed. When we have coffee in the morning watching the sun rise through the trees, the pungent smell of mowed grass will complement the morning freshness. "Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall remain."

Monday, June 1, 2015

What Did You Plant?

My Mother, one hundred years old, tired, and confused, sat alone at the table in the nursing home dining hall. There was little emotion in her face only acceptance, patience, and resignation. This was the best it could be for her. I'm sure she feels very alone: unable to see much, or hear much, or understand much about what she is doing, and even where she is. After all she had done; all she has been; and all she has been through; this is how it ends? Is this the sum total of life?

Back home it brings me down when I conjure up the vision of my Mother sitting alone and numb in that nursing home dining hall. What's the sense of it all? Then my gaze takes itself out the window to a tree: Mother's tree; a tree my she pulled out of the ground when it was just a sprout, put it in a container, and nourished it. She gave to me when it was time, and I planted her tree there when it was scarcely knee high.

Now Mother's tree is taller than the house with long branches making shade for the yard. Birds nest among its branches, and in the fall it bears acorns to feed wildlife. And some acorns stay in the ground and sprout, bringing the prospect of new life from the old, another tree for another time.

My Mother's world has shrunk to a very small circle of life, but like the tree, she has provided shade and fruit in her time, and in doing so, she has left new life sprouting where she has sown. "Who so ever shall lose his life shall find it ---" My Mother has essentially lost her life now, but the fruit she has left will remain. And it will remain in me. Because she has planted and nurtured, she will leave much more than a single tree. Her influence will be felt long after she is even known or known about or anyone knows where the influence came from.

Knowing all this, what will be my life sum total when I reach that lifeless life at the end of life? Will I have planted weeds that only crowd, congest, and consume, a product of a life lived mainly for myself? Or will I have planted trees - fruit trees - that bear fruit for the Glory of God for this and future generations?

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit: so shall ye be my disciples.
John 15:8

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

To Do Unto the Least of them.

A preacher once remarked that if you like his children, treat children good, you would have about won him over. My Mother is a hundred years old and in the nursing home. And once I thanked one of the many dedicated nurses aides there for treating my Mother so well. I went on to say that as she treats my mother well she treats me well. As we treat others well, we are indirectly treating Jesus well too - not a bad thing. How many of those who are the "least" have I treated well? How well have I treated Jesus today?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Lesson From Grazing Deer

Out there in the pasture four to five deer were grazing. I noticed that they looked up, ears aright, occasionally to check for danger, then it was back to searching and nibbling; finding the next tasty tidbit; looking for the next acorn. And I wondered what they get out of life but this: living in the moment; finding the next acorn; watching for danger. For deer, perhaps that is enough. But what about people?

How often do we find ourselves living only in the moment, on guard for danger, trying to find our next acorn? But God has breathed into us His Spirit and we are called to do more and be more. In the words John Baille, "Thine was the Spirit that first led them out of their brutish estate and made them men." We were called higher from our momentary satisfactions from the beginning. My belief is that God would like us to find our way past the moment into His eternity; to live the enlarged life He has prepared for us.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

I Will Be OK


Mother is a 100 years old and often says when I ask about her recent weakness - I will be OK. I'm fine. While acknowledging her recent and somewhat rapid deterioration mentally, and physically, she seems to have that peaceful, "I will be OK" attitude about it all.

I believe it is true. I believe her. I believe she will be OK. Coming soon is healing, Coming soon is eyesight, hearing, capability, and joyful eternity. It is like the John Phelps song says, "There will be no more night, no more pain, no more tears, neither crying again." I love that song. I believe it. So, I understand my mother's meaning when she says she will be OK. Better than OK even: she "will live in the light of the Risen Lamb."

The song is mine as well. The best is yet to come. I will be OK.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Up Is Where the Hope Is


"How old will I be when I get married?"

"Much older," I answered my six-year old granddaughter.

"Nineteen or twenty or even more?"

"Yes, I would hope at least that old. But, I probably won't be around to see it."

"Where will you be?"

"I will be gone home to be with Jesus by then, my dear. But, I will be looking down from above, standing next to Jesus and saying how pretty you look, and how proud of you I am at the fine young lady you are."

"Pop-Pop, you are very big, but you will have to look up to talk to Jesus. Jesus is very, very big; much bigger than you."

"You are right. Jesus is much bigger than I am, and if I want to talk to Jesus, I will have to look up. Up is where the Hope is."