Is there anything after death?

Posted: January 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

I listened to an interview on Public Broadcasting a few days ago with Maurice Sendak, the author of “Where the Wild Things Are”, and I wept. Not because the interview was bad, but because Mr. Sendak was so lonely and misinformed.

He talked about how lonely and hurting he was, because his long-time companion had died.  They had lived together for over 50 years.

He also said he had spent the last few weeks crying and depressed because a couple they had known for years had died only a few weeks apart.

“Since I don’t believe there is anything after life here on earth, I know I will never see them again”, he said.

Here is someone that has gained all this world has to offer:

Fame

Success

Riches

The adulation of his peers. He had won several literary awards. Been the guest of Presidents and Kings.

And yet, he sounded like the loneliest, most miserable, downhearted person I had ever heard.

He had no hope for the future.  He had no hope for himself or mankind in general.

His voice was as downcast as a mortal failure breathing its last gasp.

and I wept.

Why do we think we are the absolute final authority on EVERYTHING?

We seem to think a thing is true, simply because we BELIEVE it to be true.

No facts.

No proof.

No eye witness accounts.

Why don’t we believe the truth as it is revealed to us even in things we see every day; the flowers, trees, baby’s smiles, love we feel for and from others, the sun rising and setting every day?

So many things. Yet we continue to believe there is no God. No Savior. Nothing.

I wanted to tell Mr. Sendak that there IS hope. That there IS life after this one. That there IS a Savior who can relieve our pain of being alone.

But I could not. And the pain of feeling his pain persists. For I have been there.

Then I remembered:

1 Cor. 1:3-4, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

God will comfort Mr. Sendak, if he will allow it.

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My Finest Hour (NOT!!)

Posted: June 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


When I think of the late, great, Prime Minister of England, I think of his speech to the people of England during World War II.  On June 18, 1940, on a radio broadcast, he said: “…THIS was their finest hour”.

My wife has a morbid fear of snakes.  So much so, that last year she saw a snake near the fish pond we built in the back yard.  This is no ordinary pond; we worked for months digging the ground first with a roto-tiller, then pick and shovel: hard, back-breaking work.

Then we drove 40 miles, one way, to pick up rocks found at the side of the road.  Big rocks, flat rocks, round rocks, and some rocks that weighed over 150 lbs.  Again, hard, back-breaking work.

However, when she saw that snake – she forgot all the hard work, and decided we should just fill in the pond and grow grass there.  Forget all the time and effort we had put into building it. Did I mention: she is afraid of snakes?

Now, this week, my wonderful, sweet, and longsuffering wife, Pat, and I were in the back yard cleaning up the flower beds, and carrying off broken tree branches.  There had been a storm and it had broken several branches out of our Curly Willow tree.  So I dragged them down to the brush pile in the field behind our house.

Of course, one of the small branches decided he had gone far enough, and decided to stay in our yard.

After I came back, and we were surveying our yard, Pat assured me she saw a snake in the grass.  “Get the hoe and kill it”, she shouted.  As I had to go close to the snake to get to the hoe in the shed, I thought “that is not a snake”.  And said so.

“I said, Get the hoe and KILL IT”, she once again admonished me.  Remember she has an unusual fear of snakes.

So I went toward the “snake”, reached down, and flipped it toward her.

THIS was NOT my finest hour.  In fact, I could have done almost anything OTHER than that and lived.  But noooo, my evil twin won out.

Now, Pastor Pete had just preached a series of sermons about marriage and I had remembered him using Psalm 19:14 in his sermon, and how we should apply that truth to our relationship with our spouses.  I only wish I had listened to the Holy Spirit trying to tell me to put it into action.

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”

Wisdom comes from Knowledge – Knowledge comes from Experience – Experience comes from Mistakes… And I made a BIG one!

If I may change the wording of Ps. 19 a little: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable unto you – my love and my life.”

When I learn to Say and Do that which expresses my love for my wife:

THAT will be my finest hour!

Fear

Posted: April 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

FEAR!  Even the word strikes terror in our hearts.  What is fear?  Why do we fear it?  What can we do about it?  Is it okay for a Christian to fear?  Are these foolish questions?

Encarta Dictionary defines “fear” as: feeling of anxiety – frightening thought – worry.  Okay, now we know what it is.  Does that help?

Probably not.

The thing we seem to fear most is the unknown in our lives.  Of course if we knew the unknown, it wouldn’t be unknown.  The greatest unknown is the future.  I think if we knew the Future, we would not have as much fear in our lives, because if the thing we fear the most is what we don’t know, and we don’t know the future.  Or do we?

If we believe the Bible and we believe that there are thousands and thousands of predictions in the Bible that came true, and that the Bible tells what will happen in the end, then we know the future.

Is it really true that God has promised to take care of us?

Maybe, just maybe, we can rely on that promise.

What is your greatest fear?  Loss of job?  Wayward children?  Salvation of family/friends?  Failure in life?

I think John t. Baptist said it best: “I must decrease, He must Increase”.

So, how do we overcome our fear of…?

“What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?”

“WHAT IF I STUMBLE” by DC TALK.

Maybe, just maybe we can trust the promises of God, to take care of us…

 

Like Jeff Foxworthy’s line: “You might be a Redneck if:…”  I have listed some things that may trigger you to look at a Transitional Pastor.  These are some of the things to look at/for, and they do not mean you are in failure, or that the church is about to close.  They are just triggers to make you more aware of what is happening in your church.

Churches in transition reflect certain descriptive characteristics. The following is a list of those characteristics. Check the list to see if any of these characteristics describe your church. If so, your church is in transition and faces important decisions for future ministry and witness in your community.

Check the ones, which apply:

___ decline in the past five years

___ no local outreach

___ lack of vision

___ weak faith/”we can’t do it” attitude

___ sense of hopelessness, people are discouraged

___ unwillingness to change

___ incompatible with their community

___ “got to do something or we will die”

___ lack of leadership

___ church income declining

__ unable to pay the bills, including missions giving

___ unable to pay the mortgage

___ no plan for the future

___ no sense of teamship/individuals desire to do their own thing

___ unwillingness to face the reality of their situation

____ buildings deteriorating, need urgent repair

___ older membership desiring stability

___ no spiritual vitality or excitement to share their faith

___ unwillingness to ask for outside assistance

____ no desire to reach out beyond their church doors

This may be the first “taste” you have had of anything called a “A Transitional Pastor”. This is my way of explaining what that is all about: it is a very intentional way of helping the church family navigate between a former Pastor and a new Pastor.  His goal is to help the church mend any spiritual or relational issues that may exist in the church family and have come to the surface since the former Pastor has left.

He may assist the church family in organizing for ministry and church growth.  He may also help the current staff by training for ministry and preparing them for the arrival of a new Pastor.

He will need to help the church plan some special events to enhance fellowship and outreach.

He will need to help prepare the congregation to receive a new Pastor by educating the congregation on the ministry of the church and the role of the Pastor.

These are a few of the things you can expect.  There are more, and we will go farther in the next blog.