Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Grass and flowers. Reminders and reassurance.

This year our church has been celebrating our 150th anniversary. Over the past several months we have taken time to reflect and remember what God has done among us for a century and a half. Each of our three previous celebrations has been a time of looking back. It has been informative, enlightening and inspirational to see how God has been at work among our church family. God has shown His faithfulness through times of war, disaster and tragedy as well as in times of joy, victory and celebration. God indeed is the God who never changes. Psalm 102:27 says of God, “But you remain the same, and your years will never end;” Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever;” Psalm 119:89 says, “Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens;” and 1 Peter 1:24-25 tells us, “the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”
With our next celebration service on October 9, we look forward. My hope and prayer is that our look back will propel us forward. The reminder of God’s faithfulness in our past becomes our reassurance of God’s faithfulness for our future. Every generation struggles with change, especially, it seems, in the church. Big changes have been made over the past 150 years, in our own lifetime, and even in the past few years, months or even weeks. What can we count on in the next 50 years of our church’s life? Change. What can you count on in your own life? Change. But we can also count on the fact that we are created by and serve a God who does not change. We can count on the fact that His Word is eternal and stands firm forever.
A lot of things change. Through 150 years of church history in Marshfield, Missouri there has been a lot of “grass and flowers” which Peter wrote about, but what has been consistent, and what will take us through the next 50 years or until Jesus’ return is the unchanging Word of God. It’s a good reminder – and great reassurance!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Every verse was highlighted

Wow. One way to get your blog readership up is to report on a near tragedy in your life, or your child's life. We are so very grateful to each one of you who have prayed for our son and have been an encouragement to us as a family. It's been a week since I gave the last update. Kyle continues to heal remarkably well. Today he had a check-up and got a good report from the doc. Sunday he was back playing in the High Street worship band, except this time he was on guitar and vocals instead of drums. Funny...before he got shot, he didn't know how to play guitar. Now that's a miracle! Just kidding.
Today I read Psalm 27. God never ceases to amaze me by providing just the exact word I need. Today I needed Psalm 27. Here are some of the phrases that spoke to me the most today: "the Lord is the stronghold of my life" (verse 1); "that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord (verse 4); "he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle" (verse 5); your face, Lord, will I seek" (verse 8); "I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (verse 13); "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord" (verse 14).
Okay, that was pretty much the whole Psalm. It reminds me of a line from Roseann Barr's TV show (that great theologian and singer of the national anthem) when she said, "Remember when my cousin sent us that Bible in the mail...and every verse was highlighted?" Well that was what Psalm 27 felt like today. Every verse was highlighted! Sometimes life kind of wears you out and you just need a quiet place...and a nap! I am so grateful for the living Word of God that speaks so clearly when I listen and gives me strength when I am tired and weak.
Here is the Bible Gateway link to Psalm 27. Click. Read. Be blessed!
Psalm 27

'via Blog this'

Monday, September 5, 2011

Update on our son

Three days ago our son was injured in an accidental shooting. If you don't already know that story, see my previous post. But today our entire family met at Steak N Shake for half-price shakes during happy hour! I'm still amazed. Kyle is only in the beginning of his recovery, but we still marvel at God's grace and goodness. We are so thankful for the prayers and loving words from so many of you. God truly blessed and protected Kyle and continues to do so. He is to be on "light duty" for at least a couple of weeks, then go back to the doc for a check up. He seems to have minimal pain and is able to slowly do just about anything he feels like doing, like go out for a shake, especially if Dad is buying!
Next to our biological family, the people in our church family are the closest people we have in our lives. We truly love our church family. I am called to be a pastor, a shepherd of a flock of God's people. Through this latest "adventure" I realize in a fresh way that, while I may be one of the shepherds, all of our people are the ministers. We have been ministered to beautifully by our spiritual family. This has been a picture of the Body of Christ in action. And because of how my family and I have been ministered to, I feel energized and refreshed to minister. God put us on earth in a physical family, and through faith in Christ, God puts us in a spiritual family. We need each other. Romans 12:5 says, "In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others" (NIV). I am so very thankful for the faith family we belong to called Marshfield First Baptist.
Wherever you are as you read these words, my prayer for you is that you know what it means to be a part of God's family by putting your faith in Jesus, God's son, and that you connect with a church family who ministers to you and through whom you can minister. We try to bring it all down to three words for our church family: worship, grow, serve. After the weekend's events I am worshiping our Lord with fresh love and gratefulness; I think I am growing - I know there's more growth needed; and out of all of this I have a new desire to serve, to give back because God has given so much to me.
Thank you for ministering to us and for continuing to pray for Kyle's complete recovery.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bullets and other destructive forces

So, our son calls his mom yesterday and begins the conversation with, "I'm o.k. but there's been an accident..." There's so much I could say about that opening line, but, long story short, he had been accidentally shot - the classic accidental discharge while someone was disassembling a weapon - and he was on his way to the hospital. After a couple of hours of scans, xrays and exams the doc tells us about God's miracle. I don't know that the doctor gave God any credit, but nonetheless he was telling us about the miracle that God had just done for our son. We will spare the details, but a .40 caliber bullet passed through his body and exited. Not through an arm or leg, but through his body. The injuries are bad enough as they are and he will be healing for a few weeks, but the bottom line is nothing major was damaged. The doc said one inch in any direction and we would have a very different story. Instead, no surgery required and exactly 23 hours after being admitted to the ER with a gunshot wound, our son is in his own home sleeping on his own bed tonight. Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe that we have a God who, in a fraction of a second, directs the path of a bullet? Do you believe that God is in control, even when bad stuff happens? I do.

This doesn't mean that God is only present with us when there is a "good outcome." He is God. Read the book of Job. God is God even when He allows a bullet or any other destructive force to interrupt our lives. It may take the form of a death, a divorce, a betrayal, a cancer diagnosis, a car accident, a tornado, a job loss, a hurtful word, an innocent mistake and the list goes on. The "good outcome" for the child of God is ultimately God's glory, not our comfort. Jesus said, "In this world you will have troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world." Don't get me wrong. I'm all for good outcomes. I am absolutely grateful and humbled by the one we just got! But I am reminded of words I read earlier this week from Oswald Chambers:
"Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed."
More than twenty years ago a godly evangelist from Louisiana held our infant son in his hands and prayed that God would be glorified through this boy's life. Before this past 24 hours, Kyle's life was already bringing glory to God, but this event just tells me that there is more to come - for Kyle, for me, for you.