Sunday, August 31- Better Than a Hallelujah!

Psalm Pseries Better Than a Hallelujah     The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building.
Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play. “Here’s a copy of the service,” he said impatiently. “But you’ll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances.” During the service, the minister paused and said, “Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected, and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up.” At that moment, the substitute organist began playing…the National Anthem! And THAT’S how the substitute organist became the permanent organist!
Today, we wrap our current sermon series- The Psizzlin’ Psummer Psalm Psermon Pseries- taking a good, hard look at the Old Testament Book of Psalms. This book is a collection of religious poems set to music. And in these 150 Psalms, every human emotion, every circumstance of daily life are captured. Over the past 11-weeks, we have been carried through the summer…AND the trials and tribulations, the highs and lows of life. Today we close by focusing on the fact that a life lived in, and for the glory of, God is:
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Better Than a Hallelujah.
Isaiah 43:16-21 This is what the Lord says- He who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim My praise.”
Psalm 150 was probably written after the exile. The Israelites had been carted off to Babylon, which is modern-day Iraq, where they lived in captivity for 70 years. When they were allowed to return, they rebuilt the city walls and the temple…AND they compiled the Book of Psalms. It is thought perhaps they used existing writings to create the bulk of the book but that they wrote two new Psalms- 1 and 150- to serve as bookends to their response to returning to their homeland.
The first and last Psalms have the same number of verses. They are both short. They are both very memorable. But their scope is very different. Psalm 1 is a rather detail set of instructions on how we are to live our lives. Psalm 150, on quite the other hand, focuses on the joyful worship of God AS we live our lives in Him. There is perhaps nothing more majestic or more beautiful in the entire Book of Psalms than this brief but spectacular finale.
Psalm 150 Praise the Lord. Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens. Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness. Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise Him with the harp and lyre, praise Him with timbrel and dancing, praise Him with the strings and pipe, praise Him with the clash of cymbals, praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
A woman approached the minister after the sermon, and thanked him for his discourse. “I found it so helpful,” she said. The minister replied: “I hope it will not prove as helpful as the last sermon you heard me preach.” “Why, what do you mean?” asked the astonished woman. “Well,” said the minister, “that sermon lasted you three months.”
There is a tradition that says that, back in the day when church bells were being cast, the event was seen as a religious ceremony. The tradition goes on to say that this Psalm, Psalm 150, was chanted by those doing the casting as they stood around the furnace and poured the molten metal into the mold. As the bright glow of the casting fire illuminated their ruddy faces, their deep, rich voices rang forth this hymn of praise. Perhaps Psalm 150 was sung by the Israelites after they rebuilt the temple, as they carried their firstfruit offerings into the sanctuary.
Thirteen times in this short Psalm, the word “praise” is used. It seems clear that the writer wants us to understand, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God is to be praised and that all ways and means to praise Him should be used. Let’s quickly walk through the verses of Psalm 150:
Verse 1- Praise the Lord. Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens.
Psalm 150 begins with a bang: “Praise the Lord!” It goes on to say that we should praise God in His sanctuary. Now, when Psalm 150 was written, God’s sanctuary was the Temple in Jerusalem. BUT…once Jesus showed up, the temple became…us! WE are His temple and therefore we are called to live out all of the implications of what that means.
Further, the call to praise God, according to Verse 1, also extends all the way to the “mighty heavens.” The psalmist is calling the earth AND everything above it to break into a joyous celebration of praise. Verse 1 says, “Praise God in heaven, on earth…everywhere.”
Verse 2- Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness.
We’re called to absolutely rave about God for at least two reasons. First, we should praise Him for what He does. We see this in the first part of verse 2: “Praise Him for His acts of power.” This is the theme of many of the psalms. The phrase “acts of power” implies that God is a Champion Who has won the victory. His greatest acts of power aren’t displayed in Creation…but in our lives as we enjoy the benefits of His grace, His forgiveness, and His salvation. Maybe you’ve seen God restore a relationship, or give you victory over sin, or renew your health or answer a specific prayer request. Maybe you’re praising Him today for what He’s done in your life…and you should! When we praise God for who He is, we are recognizing His surpassing greatness.
Verses 3, 4 and 5- Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise Him with the harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing, praise Him with the strings and pipe. Praise Him with the clash of cymbals, praise Him with resounding cymbals.
If Verses 1-2 tells us WHY we should praise God, then Verses 3-5 tell us HOW! Many of us might be more than a little…unsettled…to worship the way the Israelites did. Their music was loud and boisterous. (But then again, some of us would LOVE it!) The Israelites used 3 types of musical instruments- ¬ wind, string, and percussion-¬ and all three are used in the pinnacle of praise that is Psalm 150.
Verse 6 pulls everything together- Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
Not just the priests and the Levites. Not just the congregation. Not just the people in the vicinity of the temple, but all living creatures are to join together in this ultimate choir. God gives each of us breath and Psalm 150 calls us to use that breath to breathe His praise. This song begins and ends with the command to praise the Lord. We’re to praise Him everywhere, with every means possible because of His mighty acts, and because of who He is. And, we’re to praise Him with a wide variety of instrumentation and with triumphant expressions of worship. God wants to live a life of spontaneous praise.
The Hebrew word “hallelu” is in every verse of Psalm 150. We usually translate “hallelu” to mean “praise”. And while that’s a perfectly good translation, what might be more accurate is the phrase “you are the best”! The Hebrew derivative word “hallelujah” is still used today. And that word breaks down like this: “halel” means “praise”, “u” means…well…“you” and “jah” means “the Lord”. So hallelujah means, “You, praise the Lord!”
Psalm 150 says that we should shout with joy to God. We should sing to Him and make music to Him. It even tells us which instruments we should use- trumpet, harp, lyre, timbrel (or tambourine), strings, pipe and cymbals. That pretty well covers it…doesn’t it?!
Finding one of her students making faces at others on the playground, Ms. Smith stopped to gently reprove the child. Smiling sweetly, the Sunday School teacher said, “Bobby, when I was a child, I was told that if I made ugly faces, it would freeze and I would stay like that.” Bobby looked at her and replied, “Well, Ms. Smith, you can’t say you weren’t warned.”
There are three things we should ask of God is we want to be more fully in His presence, if we want to more loudly shout “hallelujah”. We should ask Him to:
1.) teach me Your ways. Abraham Lincoln said, “I have discovered that people are as happy as they choose to be.” We have a choice as to how we react to life. And knowing God’s ways helps us to react in a more positive way to what life brings. It’s only when we know God’s ways that we can truly follow Him.
2.) let me truly know You. There is a direct connection between knowing God’s WAYS and knowing GOD. I’s only when we know God personally that we can really be called His people.
3.) let me live in Your favor – Once we know God’s ways and know God personally, then His favor can settle over our lives. It’s impossible to have God’s favor in your life if you don’t first know God. Three things- and when we DO these three things, they open our lives to His presence.
The English language is FULL of time-worn, overused clichés, isn’t it? Think about what you hear out of the mouths of athletes and coaches when they are interviewed. When they win, they say things like, “We came to play”, “We brought our A-game”, “We played our hearts out” and “We gave 110% out there”. But the interviews from the losing locker room don’t sound quite like that, “We beat ourselves”, “We didn’t get the job done and they did”, “We made a lot of mental mistakes” and “They wanted it more than we did”. Clichés- overused metaphors that don’t really mean anything and don’t actually help anybody. Society in general thrives on them as well, “Time will tell”, “No news is good news”, “Live and let live” and “What goes around comes around”.
Us Christians also love to overuse clichés. Religious jargon often comes out of our mouths without much thought behind it. You know, expressions like, “fellowship,” “love the sinner, hate the sin” and “God must have needed another angel” are often bandied about. Even phrases like, “I’m praying for you” and “Praise the Lord” can lose their impact because of constant overuse and rote repetition.
And here, at the end of the Book of Psalms, we see that EACH of the last 5 Psalms begin with one of those phrases- “Praise the Lord”. And that notion gets stronger and stronger as we walk through Psalm 146, 147, 148…until we come to the last one- Psalm 150. For this Psalm, the phrase “Praise the Lord” was definitely not a cliché but an overwhelming expression of unbridled joy! In six short verses, he uses the phrase 13 times. Every sentence starts off with “Hallelujah/Praise the Lord”. AND every sentence is very short- it’s almost as if the writer can’t wait to get to the next opportunity to say, “Praise the Lord” again!
We can’t simply reduce our God to the songs that we sing, the words that we speak or the prayers that we offer. Praise and worship to God goes WAY beyond music, words or prayers. If we do all of those things, but we do them without actually praising and worshipping God in a personal and intimate way, if we’re NOT meeting God where we are, if we’re NOT giving Him all that we are, then the music, the words, the prayers…what good are they?
The reason for the music, the words and the prayers is to draw us further into the glorious presence of our Creator and Sustainer. Praise and worship should be done with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. We should bow down before the throne of God to fully express our honor, our praise and our thankfulness to Him through our music, through our words, through our prayers and through our actions.
     1Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
The truth is that, when we see about how expressive and free worship often was in the Old Testament, it makes some of us more than a little uncomfortable. Many of us think of Christianity as a reserved religion. Many of us see Jesus as being serious and proper at all times.
But with the wide variety of instruments mentioned, Psalm 150 gives us the freedom to worship God in different ways. There’s not just one way to worship. There’s not just one musical style that’s acceptable to God. Maybe to you and me…but not to God. All of our senses should be engaged when we praise God. Corporate worship isn’t supposed to be passive- something that we just watch or listen to. We should be are to be fully tied up in active worship, lifting our praise to God by engaging our head AND our heart.
We should praise God with a strong faith. We should praise Him with love and joy. We should praise Him with the full confidence of Jesus Chris. We should praise Him with a belief that triumphs over evil. We should praise Him with great respect for all He does. We should praise Him by living with a lively hope and a great expectation that His kingdom will be OUR kingdom!
Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
Tomorrow- The Rain Delay

Saturday, August 30- The Electric Bill

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Do you remember when you DIDN’T care about the electric bill? You know, back when you would leave the door open and your dad would say, “Shut the door! Do you think we’re trying to heat/air condition all outdoors?!” Or he would say, “Turn off the light! Do you think we own stock in the electric company?!” My dad cared a LOT about the electric bill! Me? Back then? Not so much! But then, of course, you start actually PAYING the electric bill and suddenly…you care whether or not the door is open and the lights are on!

I recently got my latest electric bill. (Perhaps “latest” isn’t the best choice of words when describing a bill! Maybe I should say “most recent”!) It wasn’t too bad, considering that it was for the last of July and the bulk of August. (Although it has NOT been the hottest summer ever…thank goodness!) We don’t keep our summer thermostat set at “arctic winter” (which I would like VERY much!), but we DO keep it fairly comfortable. None of us are big fans of the heat!

Where I live, there are two bills that impact the “heating and cooling” budget. There is, of course, the electric bill which covers (obviously) the regular electric use and includes the air conditioner. Then there is a bill from the city that covers the natural gas usage. The church parsonage (the house in which we live) has a gas stove, a gas water heater and a gas furnace. Everything else is electric. That means that, in the summer, the electric bill is high and the gas bill is low, while in the winter…vice versa.

The truth is that the electric and gas bills are a lot like life- somewhat consistent yet in the end…unpredictable. I know, roughly, what I will have to pay every month. But the exact amounts are always a surprise. And life is just like that. We navigate each day, having some idea of what will happen. And yet, every day brings surprises that we didn’t see coming and couldn’t even imagine.

How do we deal with the unpredictability of everyday life? How do we make it through the constant changes that we regularly face without just going all goofy? We turn to God. We place our lives squarely in His hands. We trust that He has our back, regardless of what comes up. With God standing with us, who could possibly stand against us?

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Tomorrow- Better Than a Hallelujah!

It’s Once Again “10 Gallons of Paint in a 5-Gallon Bucket” Time!

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I have written more than once about being busy at church. And if you remember those posts, or if you have spent much time around me in general, then you know the phrase that goes along with being REALLY busy at church- trying to put 10 gallons of paint in a 5-gallon bucket! I will admit right up front that the expression is rather old-school and just a bit…backwoods. But you know what? Despite my “upper crust air” (insert your joke here!), I was raised in a somewhat backwoods environment! SO…the expression simply shouldn’t be any big surprise!

This time of year- “after Labor Day” (I know- we are not there yet…but BOY are we close!) and “back to school”- is often a very busy time in the life of a church. (Quite frankly, if it’s NOT a very busy time…you might not be trying hard enough!) The “regular” rhythm of the church starts back up after a summer that was somewhere between a little slower and doornail…as in “dead as a…”! (I personally don’t have a gear for churches that intentionally take the summer off. My philosophy is this- God doesn’t take a vacation from me, so why should I take one from Him?)

Fall is always a busy time in churches I serve, but this Fall might be the busiest one I have experienced in 18 years of ministry. Let’s see, we have:

  • A brand new Sunday evening service- The Point- starting on the 7th of September. This 6PM weekly service will feature a new sermon NOT preached on Sunday morning, along with weekly Communion and congregation interaction.
  • A brand new Children’s Ministry- FUEL- starting on Wednesday, September 3. Geared for kids Pre-school – 6th Grade, this 6PM weekly event will challenge kids to deepen their faith AND have a great time doing it!
  • A new Wednesday evening Bible Study- How Do You Walk the Walk You Talk?
  • A new Tuesday morning/Tuesday afternoon Bible Study- The Four Loves.
  • The re-start of our Wednesday evening meals.
  • An even greater presence by our powerful Caring Hearts ministries.
  • A brand-new Senior High Sunday School class.
  • A brand new Senior High Youth Group.

And the list goes on! The church I currently serve is a busy church. And “busy just for the sake of busy” is simply the wrong direction. Chasing your tail and burning yourself out doesn’t get anybody anywhere. BUT…“busy for the sake of better connecting people to Jesus Christ” is a GREAT reason to be busy!

So there are a WHOLE bunch of folks at the church I currently serve who are currently rolling up their sleeves, bracing themselves and preparing for the onslaught! Will everything we do this fall be an overwhelming success? Probably not. Some things sound good on paper and simply don’t pan out. Some things take longer than you thought to catch on. And some things exceed your expectations. But one thing I guarantee- more people will get better connected to Jesus Christ this fall because of what we are doing! And it simply doesn’t get much better than that! Now, time to get that 5-gallon bucket out…and start pouring!

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Tomorrow- The Electric Bill

Thursday, August 28- How Do YOU Sleep?

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How do you sleep at night? I tend to sleep…on my side, flipping periodically from side to side throughout the night! Seriously, do you have trouble sleeping at night? I don’t mean because you have sleep apnea or because you have restless leg syndrome or because of any number of other medically-related reasons. I mean because you worry.

Ah…I’ve hit on something, haven’t I? Who among us hasn’t lost sleep because we were worrying about something? I mean, we live in a stressful world, don’t we? There are worries galore. You can’t swing a cat without hitting something to worry about. (And NO, I haven’t tried! So there is no need to call the ASPCA on me!) And with all the stress and all the strife, how could we NOT worry? How could we POSSIBLY get ANY decent sleep with all the worrying we’re doing?

But do you remember what the Bible says about this subject? It says MANY things, but perhaps the BEST thing is found in Matthew 6:25-34. Jesus is teaching and He says, “I tell you, do not worry. Don’t worry about your life and what you will eat or drink. And don’t worry about your body and what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than eating? Aren’t there more important things for the body than clothes? Look at the birds of the air. They don’t plant or gather crops. They don’t put away crops in storerooms. But your Father who is in heaven feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Can you add even one hour to your life by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the wild flowers grow. They don’t work or make clothing. But here is what I tell you. Not even Solomon in all of his glory was dressed like one of those flowers. If that is how God dresses the wild grass, won’t he dress you even better? After all, the grass is here only today. Tomorrow it is thrown into the fire. Your faith is so small! So don’t worry. Don’t say, ‘What will we eat?’ Or, ‘What will we drink?’ Or, ‘What will we wear?’ People who are ungodly run after all of those things. Your Father who is in heaven knows that you need them. But put God’s kingdom first. Do what he wants you to do. Then all of those things will also be given to you. So don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I know it’s a bit long as Scripture references go, but BOY is it packed with good advice! There is more to life than food and clothing. The birds are fed so won’t we be fed? The wildflowers are clothed in glory, so won’t we too be clothed in glory? But maybe the best thing out of this passage PACKED with “best things” is found at about the end of the first third of the passage. “Can you add even one hour to your life by worrying?” Now you can argue that NOT worrying is tough- I’ll give you that one. But you simply CAN’T argue with the wisdom that says we don’t add one hour to our lives…ONE HOUR…by worrying. You simply can’t argue that one! Of course we can’t add time by worrying. In fact, I would argue that, in the long run, we LOSE time by worrying. The stress does bad things to our health. It can absolutely shorten our lives.

So what’s the answer? The answer is…trust. Trust that God is in control. Trust that He’s “got this”. Trust that, although the odds of Him doing exactly what YOU want in exactly the time frame YOU want are slim and none, He IS going to do something…and it will be SO much better than what you planned. You’ve heard the term “let go and let God”? It may sound a bit trite and hackneyed, but I am here today to tell you that if you can do that- if you can just let go of the worry and the strife- you will sleep SO much better! AND…the “awake time” will be pretty awesome, too!

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Tomorrow- It Is Once Again “10 Gallons of Paint in a 5-Gallon Bucket” Time!

Wednesday, August 27- The Spear of Destiny

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John 19:30-37 After Jesus drank, He said, “It is finished.” Then He bowed His head and died. It was Preparation Day. The next day would be a special Sabbath. The Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath. So they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus. Then they broke the legs of the other man. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead. So they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers stuck his spear into Jesus ‘side. Right away, blood and water flowed out. The man who saw it has given witness. And his witness is true. He knows that he tells the truth. He gives witness so that you also can believe. These things happened in order that Scripture would come true. It says, “Not one of his bones will be broken.” (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20) 37 Scripture also says, “They will look to the one they have pierced.” (Zechariah 12:10)

Admittedly, this is an odd Scripture passage to lift up at the end of August. During Holy Week- perhaps. But right before Labor Day? Not so much! But I recently caught part of a show on the History Channel (Actually, H2- because the History Channel doesn’t actually show history any more. They are too busy showing episodes of people in Las Vegas buying and selling…stuff…in a pawn shop!) that mentioned The Spear of Destiny. And that got me thinking about this Scripture passage.

First, some background. This event ONLY appears in the Gospel of John- it is in NONE of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew Mark and Luke). Also, there is a specific reason the soldiers broke then legs of those being crucified. There was traditionally a little step that the victim could push up against with their feet, relieving some of the pressure being put on their ribcage and lungs. This allowed them to breathe. But as they grew more tired, they would slump farther and farther, extending the ribcage and lessening their ability to breathe. They would then push back up, take the pressure off and breathe more easily. That sequence would be repeated until they simply could no longer push up. Then…they would suffocate.

But as Jesus and the others were dying, the Sabbath was coming and they didn’t want…bodies…hanging around. So they broke the legs, making it impossible for the victims to push up and rapidly hastening their deaths. But when they got to Jesus, He was already dead, so there was no need. But to make sure, a soldier jabbed Him in the side. Blood and other bodily fluids ran out and they were satisfied that He was, in fact, dead. So no bones were broken and Old Testament Scripture was fulfilled.

There are all sorts of legends about “The Spear of Destiny”. It is said that the army who carried the spear would rule the world. Many people throughout history have searched mightily for the spear. Adolph Hitler was obsessed with finding religious artifacts that he believed would help him usher in the 1,000-year reign of his precious Third Reich. There are many spears around the world- the Vatican Lance, the Echmiadzin Lance, the Vienna Lance and the Krakow Lance to name a few- that folks claim are THE spear. And I suppose that one of them COULD be THE spear. But the truth of the matter is this- there is really NO way to definitively prove whether ANY of them are THE spear. And I, for one, am OK with that!

Now I am not here to argue over the historical significance of The Spear. If we could somehow prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that SOME spear was, in fact, THE spear, it would be pretty cool. It would have massive historical significance. (I am a huge fan of both history and archeology!) But it wouldn’t change…a thing.

The Spear. The Ark. The Grail. They are all very special relics from the history of Christianity. But I simply don’t believe that ANY of them have any special powers in and of themselves. Do I believe that the Ark helped the Hebrews carry the day at Jericho? Yep…with a HEALTHY dose of God’s help. Ultimately, the power is NOT in the inanimate object- it is in GOD…squarely and assuredly. And that fact is what I hang my hat on!

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Tomorrow- How Do You Sleep?

Tuesday, August 26- Business Cards

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A few days ago, I wrote about the new Sunday evening service- The Point- that we kick off in about 10 days. In anticipation of that kick-off, and another new ministry kick-off that’s happening a week from tomorrow, we did a new and fun thing at church this past Sunday!

It started with an ad I saw for business cards. The price was ridiculously low, and that started the wheels turning inside my fetid little mind! What if I had…a BUNCH…of business cards with information about “the new stuff” at church printed up and then gave them to the congregation to pass out? So…that’s exactly what I did!

I ordered NOT 500, NOT 1,000, NOT 1,500, NOT 2,000 but…2,500 business cards! Yes, that’s right- 2,500! On the front was nothing but the church logo- pretty simple! And on the back was the logos and “the sizzle” about the two new ministries. (They are, again, The Point- a new Sunday evening service that will look like…nothing we are currently doing! AND then there’s FUEL- a brand-new children’s ministry, aimed at those Pre-School through 6th Grade. )

I ordered them, got a GREAT deal on them and then…waited. And I did NOT have to wait long! I was watching the shipping information, hoping against hope that I would get them BEFORE last Sunday. (That would give me two Sundays to “push” them.) I got the email that said they had shipped AND they would be here on Saturday! Yeah! BUT…even though they SHIPPED through FedEx, along the way they had been transferred to the US Post Office for final delivery! (I do NOT understand how THAT works!)

The problem with that is that our church office is closed on Saturday so the mailman doesn’t even bring the church mail with him on his Saturday route. I REALLY wanted those cards…BAD! So I decided I would sit out on our deck, which is about 4 feet from the front sidewalk, and wait for the mailman. I could then find out from him how I could get those cards! So I got my iPad, opened the Kindle app, got my coffee and sat out on the deck.

Then an interesting thing happened. It got SO cloudy…and dark…that the dusk-to-dawn lights on our deck…came on! Then the rain started! I scurried inside to find my wife, who said, “Why don’t you call the Post Office and ask them?!” “Well…DUH…why didn’t I think of that?!” I called them, they said they had them right there and I could come and get them!

Saturday evening, my wife, my sister-in-law and I spent about 30 minutes counting 2,500 business cards out into piles of 1o and putting them in Ziploc snack bags. Then, Sunday morning, I made sure everybody who came in got a bag. During the sermon, I explained the cards and challenged them to give them away! I urged them to NOT give them to people who already went to another church- we’re NOT trying to steal other churches folks! I also asked them to NOT give them to other people at OUR church- they don’t need them! Instead, give them to people who might be looking for a church home. Give them to people who work on Sunday mornings. Give them to people who have kids. Give. Them. Away! Now, we wait and see how the experiment went!

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Tomorrow- The Spear of Destiny

Monday, August 25- Tomatoes

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It’s THAT time of the year. Not sure what “that time” is? Let me offer 3 words as a hint- toe, may, toe! Yep- it’s tomato time! I don’t know about where YOU live, but in Illinois August is a special time of the year because of the tomato. If the weather is right, July ain’t too bad, either! But this summer wasn’t very hot, so the crop didn’t really come in until fairly recently. But they are here now! Oh BOY are they here!

I have shared in this space before that, when I was a kid, we had a MAJOR garden. If there was a vegetable or fruit to be had, we either grew it or TRIED to grow it! And we always had a large tomato patch. I remember distinctly the very strong smell the tomato plants had as you carefully made your way through. The key was to “dig around” and find the ripe ones while not disturbing the ones that weren’t ready. We’d take a 5-gallon bucket out and it wasn’t all that unusual that it would be full when we came in!

One of my strongest tomato-related memories is of my dad. He had a MAJOR car accident when I was 8 years old that nearly killed him. One of the MANY injuries he suffered was that the entirety of his jaw, one ear around to the other, was completely shattered. Even though he had MANY surgeries (including a hip bone AND a rib both being grafted to the jaw!), he was never again able to eat “normally”. But before that wreck, one of the things he enjoyed the most was to take a salt shaker out into the garden and eat as MANY tomatoes as he could!

One of the MANY reasons I appreciate the congregation I currently serve is their generosity. And during tomato season, that has been SO obvious. We have not been without tomatoes for more than 12 hours for the past two weeks! We have eaten BLT’S for dinner about 4 or 5 times in the past few weeks. In fact, we got home from running errands the other day and there was a small stack of yellow tomatoes on our back porch with a note that said, “(Their name) likes U guys!” Doesn’t get much better than that!

Are you taking time to enjoy the simple things in life? In the midst of busyness and high-tech high-jinx, are you finding time to slow down and notice the simple beauty of God’s creation? Take a walk. Pick a flower. Pet a dog. Watch the clouds. Eat a tomato! Don’t miss God’s amazing grace! Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go fry bacon- BLT’s are in the immediate future!

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Tomorrow- The Business Card