Tag Archives: food

Let the People Praise Thee

Let the People Praise Thee

Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.  Psalm 67:3

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful day each year.  Lots of food. Fun family gatherings. Football games and more eating.  Christmas shopping commences. There are so many things going on that perhaps most people have forgotten what the original intention of Thanksgiving Day was.

Governor Bradford of Massachusetts made the very first Thanksgiving Proclamation in the “New World” of America. He said:

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

Later on George Washington made a similar declaration in the new, United States.  Long before Bradford or Washington, the Psalmist wrote that we should praise the Lord.  More than just one day of the year, we are to give praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.  God is always good!  So, before being filled with food, fun, fellowship, and football, be sure to express appreciation and thanksgiving to God.  It is all because of Him that we have anything good to celebrate anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fellow Servants in the Church

Fellow Servants in the Church

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  Acts 6:4

There is much to do in ministry.  Preach, teach, pray, plan, promote, organize, visit, encourage, make phone calls, send texts and emails, administrate, design, print, clean, build, repair, record radio, post messages and devotionals, read, understand current religious trends, cast vision, staff meetings, deacon meetings, special church training sessions, counseling sessions, develop materials, conduct weddings and funerals, and generally be available to encourage the saints while evangelizing the lost.  etc. etc. etc.

Depending on what ministries your local church hosts, there could be many more responsibilities that are connected to the Senior Pastor position in your church.  Even the assistant pastors have much responsibilities in their oversight.  Like Arron supported Moses and lifted his hands, assistant pastors also make a big difference. Ultimately the pastor will give an account of each ministry decision and direction and he may have his hand in nearly every aspect of ministry to a degree because of that accountability.  Speaking of the relationship of the church to its pastor, Hebrews 13:17 states: Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

The pastor is watching for the souls of his people, the sheep in his local pasture field.  His ministry in prayer and in the Word are his primary responsibilities. It could be called “leading and feeding.”  Like a good shepherd does for his sheep.  No matter what needs arise in your life, your pastor will try to assist, help and encourage.  But, he cannot be everywhere at once.  Only God can do that!  The pastor cannot meet every need, but he may be able to point you in the right direction.

The congregation is likened to a flock of sheep who are called to know their shepherd and are directed to follow his leadership.  1 Thessalonians 5:12 teaches: And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.  Do you know your shepherd?  Do you know his likes, dislikes, and personal characteristics?  Do you know his family or personal needs, and have you asked his thoughts about certain matters?  The church is to know and follow the shepherd God gifted them with.

With so much to do and with such a responsibility for both the pastor for leading and feeding, and the church for knowing and following, you can see why the Lord gave additional helpers in ministry.  They are called deacons.

The term deacon is defined as “an attendant, or someone who runs errands.”   Those who are called to the ministry of pastoring are focused on two main components: Praying and Studying/delivering the Word of God itself.  Therefore, the Lord gave deacons, to help with the material matters of the church.  They run the errands and conduct much business, supporting the oversight of the pastor.  It is the deacons, whose spiritual calling and enabling is to serve the church by freeing the pastors to fulfill their calling.  With so much to do, prayer and study can be hindered.  With so much needing to be built, repaired, meals delivered, saints cared for in physical ways, fellowships, hospitality, assistance, and more help in other material things, the deacons also have much to do.

During pastor appreciation month, I am thankful, not only for the pastors and servants preaching the Word, but I am also thankful for the deacons, who support the pastor, by serving the church people and looking for ways to minister to their material and physical needs.  We are blessed to have fine deacons at WBC.  It is a pleasure to serve with them.

Even if you are not a deacon, you are called to serve others.  Every Christian should find and fulfill his calling of God to “serve one another.”  There are many “one another’s” in Scripture to apply to our relationships at church. Some people are actually “deacons in training” who may fill that role in the future!

So, pastors – thank you.

Deacons – thank you.

Fellow church members – thank you.

Working together with God, we can see the Lord accomplish amazing things in our lives, homes, and church.  We are “fellow servants” in the church.

 

 

 

 

I am Weak, But God is Strong

I Am Weak, But God is Strong

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  2 Corinthians 12:10

Blood was everywhere. More than I had ever seen. Ever. We changed the bed sheets dozens of times in just a few hours in the Emergency Room.  After calling for me to help her while at the house, we immediately drove to the hospital on a Saturday.  Natalie received good care and the prayers of many people were answered and the bleeding stopped sometime one Monday after several examinations, and medical procedures. Thankfully, Natalie is now back home, though she is not yet “back to normal.”  Even with the blood counts looking good, her stamina, energy, and endurance are nil at this point.  Walking to the kitchen in our beautiful but modest home takes a lot of effort. A lot.  She has left the house only 2 times in the last 3 weeks, and that was with my assistance (to walk from and to car) to see the doctor.  Tears? Yes. Crying? Yes. Pain? Yes. Sorrow? Disappointment? Yes. Unimaginable? Yes. Life-changing? Yes. Praying? Yes.

I was certainly blessed to not leave her bedside for about 5 days.  It is an honor to care for your spouse, even when they cannot care for themselves.  Our church family has been so kind with food, care, and understanding when I could not be in other places.  Thank you! We have a caring church.

After several years of pain, headaches, tiredness and more, and after many different types of doctors and medicine, we discovered earlier this year that she has a plethora of medical issues that have accumulated over time.  We are treating, not only the symptoms, but also the source of the constant pain and tiredness.  And then suddenly the ER episode mentioned above.

I am sharing all this (not for pity or an emotional response but) for a present-day description of the verse Paul wrote: “When I am weak, then am I strong.”  It is in our weakness that we see the incredible power and might of God.  It is in those moments of physical and emotional desperation that we see God in more close and intimate ways.  It is when we cannot move, walk, talk, or when we are in constant pain that we can ether get bitter at God, or get better associated with God.  “Don’t take your abilities for granted,” Natalie put on Facebook one day – “they could be gone in a moment.”

If us humans never had problems, why would we need the Lord?  If you and I  could handle life on our own, what good is it that we say we have faith? In trials and difficulties, we can be like Job.  He kept looking to the promises of God.  He knew “My redeemer liveth.” We could be like Paul, who continued to serve the Lord in spite of his physical limitations.   Paul was not happy for the pain and suffering, but for the lessons learned and the close proximity of the Lord in those moments of physical need.

With every ability or inability – we can find ways to serve God. For our friends experiencing inability to move, stand, walk, put your own cloths on, wash yourself, or even feed yourself – be encouraged, you can still pray.  You can still read the Bible, have it read to you, or recite scriptures you have memorized.  God still has a plan for your life and a perfect will for the rest of your family.

When you are at your weakest – you can see God at His strongest! In your weakness you can become stronger – in the Lord.  I am not strong in myself anymore. I am strong in God. He is my strength.

Are you in a similar situation? Hang in there.  Keep looking to Jesus.  Find comfort in the Word.  In the more intense moments at the ER and later the hospital room, the Holy Spirit brought to Natalie’s mind Scriptures.  In particular, she was quoting Psalm 18.  Look it up sometime.  There are many other things we learned from the Lord at the hospital and at home and are continuing to learn day by day.  Natalie is still not able to get out of the house, attend church, or do even 2/10th of all the things was doing before.  What if her energy remains low?  What if her weakness remains amplified like this?  We accept God’s will if this is the “new normal.”   God will give us the grace to accept this condition and even thrive in the midst of this.  The verse right before “When I am weak” is 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Let the “power of Christ” rest upon you – in your weakness.  We appreciate your prayers.

 

 

 

 

The Direction of the Mind

The Direction of the Mind

Remember the old cartoons on Saturday mornings and some character saying “Which way did he go? Which way did he go?”  Was that Bugs Bunny?  You may remember.

“Which way will you go?” is the question for today.  There are definite paths our minds can go.  The direction your mind is leading you is of incredible importance.

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?   25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:23-25

There are two paths at the intersection of life that each person faces every day.  One path is going the direction God maps out in the Bible.  The other path is heading in the direction the world/flesh draws up – away from the direction of God.

The Apostle Paul was not exempt from this decision making battle between his natural man (The Flesh) and the Spiritual Mind that was given him when he became a Christian and received the new nature (Spiritual Mind) from the Lord.  The spiritual side of Paul was constantly in a war with the carnal or fleshly side of Paul.  We have the same sin nature and the same spiritual nature he had.

Lewis Sperry Chafer was clearly right when he stated, “Nothing could be more misdirected than a self-directed life.”

There are two possible responses when confronted with the choice of “Which way to go?”  There is no middle ground in between these two paths.  Some believe they can strike out on their own and make their own path back to the Lord, but the terrain is tough and not navigable. It is better to get on God’s path, or when prompted by the Lord, jump back on his path.

Path One:  A Reacting Mind.  This “Reacting Mind” reacts to the desires of the flesh.  Its primary power comes from the engine of lust.  The body can lust for good things such as air, food, water, and even sex.  When moderation or the boundaries are broken for these blessings, it becomes sin.  For example, sex within the boundary of marriage is wholesome, fulfilling, and terrific!  Sex outside of the protection marriage becomes enslaving, and may even cause feelings of guilt and depression.

The Reacting Mind does what it feels like it wants to do.  It is captive to the flesh of the person and to the influences of the world around him.  Have you even been in a car when the driver “jerks the wheel” in attempt to not miss an off ramp off the highway?  That fast reaction is caused by not anticipating, or looking far enough ahead.  The reacting mind is many times impulsive too.

Path Two: The Ruled Mind.  The Ruled Mind responds to the leading of the Spirit of God.  It is not controlled by lust, but by love.  This mind is submissive to the Word of God.  While the Ruled Mind knows it is in a fast paced battle, it is active and fore-thinking to avoid sin, watch out for an arrogant spirit, and to steer clear of pride each day.

The Ruled Mind is determined to live out the Word of God each day in all its decisions and determinations.  This mind is thinking of “how to please Jesus” instead of “how to please self.”  Instead of reacting in tough situations, it is ruled by the patient Spirit of God and calmly makes the right decision.

Ask the Lord to help you have a mind ruled by the Spirit of God and the Word of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Like Your Dog

Don’t Be Like Your Dog

“A little lad of six was invited out to lunch in a neighbor’s home. As soon as all were seated at the table the food was served. The little boy was puzzled, and, with a child’s frankness, asked, “Don’t you say a prayer before you eat?” The host was uncomfortable, and mumbled, “No, we don’t take time for that.” The lad thought silently for a while, and said, “You’re just like my dog! You start right in.””

Don’t be like your dog on Thanksgiving.  Remember to give thanks to the Lord.

One of my favorite things to do each holiday season is to watch Charlie Brown and his talented dog, Snoopy.  One of the best yearly reminders of God’s blessing to early America can be seen in Charles Schultz’ rendition of the Pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower, meeting Chief Massasoit and Squanto and sitting down to dinner and giving thanks to God for surviving the brutal and deadly winters they were unprepared for.  With little food, a majority of the settlers buried, and with great uncertainty facing the future, they stopped everything to praise and thank the Lord.

It has been said that being truly “thankful” involves “giving.”  After all, the word Thanksgiving is a compound word; and both “Thanks” and Giving” are words rich with meaning.  Grateful people are happy people.  Have you ever seen a complaining, grumbling person?  Sure.  Are they happy?  No.  We are most happy when we have thankful attitudes, grateful words, and gracious actions.  If you are consistently giving praise and thanks to the Lord, you will be less likely to be critical, self absorbed, and feeling negative about life.

We need to be like the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  The early Christians living in the city of Thessalonica were challenged and encouraged to give thanks in everything in life.  Every life stage.  Every circumstance.  Every weather event.  Every electoral cycle.  Every season of life.  Every start to the week.  In.  Everything.  Give.  Thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thank-you for reading these devotionals.  I am grateful for each reader and pray that these postings will be a help to you.

 

 

 

 

 

(Snoopy rendition by Charles Schulz, from internet search)

A Godly Mothers Care

A Godly Mothers Care

Thank the Lord for every mother who has fulfilled her God-ordained role to nurture, cherish, and guide her children.  Mothers have the greatest influence on the next generation and an underestimated impact on society as a whole.  One person accurately said: “The hand who rocks the cradle rules the world.”  Mothers have such an important part in the direction and development of the world because of their commitment and sacrifices they make for their children.

Perhaps an unusual reference to cite for Mother’s Day, but please note Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”

Why would a child be left to himself?  Perhaps “babysat” by Disney or a TV program?  Perhaps dropped off on the lap of other people for convenience reasons?  Perhaps not much discipline due to lack of involvement?  Two people can be in the same house or even the same room and not have interaction. It is a tragedy. This can potentially cause shame later in the life of a mother.

Reading this verse teaches me that time and attention are two motherly needs every small child has.  Every mother would do well to include her child in her life.

“From the ages of 1-4 a child will learn more than they will learn for the rest of their life.”  That is an amazing statement that I heard at an educator’s conference years ago.  Children under 4 learn several key factors for life including: coping skills, how to react or respond, obedience, consequences, discipline, value, purpose, peace, contentment, care, tone of voice, attitude, friendliness, appropriateness, emotional control, and how to share, care, and demonstrate true love.  Much more could be listed.  The point is – the disposition, deportment, and direction of a life is mostly aligned in the youngest years of the human life.

What mom does with those years are of utmost importance.

Here are several ways Godly mothers impact the most formidable years of a young life, from the perspective of talking to a person, once a child and now a grown adult.

Notice Mom’s Care:

  • Mom carried you in her body to delivery.
  • As an infant she nursed you, feeding you many times in the day and night.
  • Mom changed your diaper, changed your diaper, and changed it again.  Every day and night.
  • Mom cared for you, running you to the doctor, checking your temperature, and making sure that you had the finest food she could get.
  • At age 2 your crawling became a stand (against chairs and tables) and then the first few steps came.
  • Mom cheered you on as you began to run around the house.  Then came climbing.  Anything that could be touched became a joyful obstacle course for climbing.

It is funny that after cheering our toddlers on to stand, walk, and run, that as they get older, we say: “sit down!” or “stop running!”

  • She sang songs about Jesus and lullabies that encouraged sleep as she cuddled up with you.
  • She read books and Bible stories to you, praying all the time for you to love Jesus.
  • From ages 1- 4 she did everything with you like walking the mall, and shopping for clothes (because much of her clothes were not fitting right after you came along.)
  • When mom was sick, she took you with her to her doctor visits.
  • She showed you how to shop for food at the grocery store, rolling you up and down each aisle as people commented on how “cute” you were.
  • She told you about her “secret” plans to surprise daddy with a birthday gift or a party.
  • She included you in every car ride, carefully buckling you in and making sure you were safe and comfortable.
  • Mom took you to the park to run and play.
  • She bundled you up in the winter, and made sure you stayed cool in the hot summer.
  • She transported you to church where she learned about God, sang to the Lord, and grew in her Christian life and motherly calling.  You enjoyed the nursery and learned how to trust God’s people by your mom’s example.
  • As she cleaned, you learned about vacuuming, dusting,  and how “Everything has it’s place.”  She even let you let you fold the wash rags while she folded laundry to make you feel important.
  • When mom cooked, you were right there watching and learning about food preparation.  She even let you help “stir stuff up!”
  • From ages 1 to 4, mom was with you almost every moment of every day.  Or better said – you were with mom.

Before Kindergarten you were with mom nearly 24/7.  And it was good.  She had her moments of being tired and discouraged.  She joyfully gave up sleep, money, entertainment, and made other sacrifices to invest everything she could in seeing you grow, develop, and become a person who could find and fulfill the will of God in life.  She included you in every part of her life.  No mother who has invested that much time and effort into a child has regretted it.  While there were moments of struggle, she would do it again.  The time and attention shared was worth it.

The developmental years of ages 1-4 are the most critical to our emotional, relational, and spiritual development.

  • At age 4 or 5 she sent you off to Kindergarten. It was more hard for her, but your thirst to learn academics needed to be met.  You were ready for Kindergarten.  Mom had been reading to you, training you by living life with you, and all those hours and days with mom paid off as you already knew how to interact with people, respect authority, and carry yourself with a good disposition.
  • Each year mom was there.  She helped you adjust to relationship issues, grow up emotionally, physical, relationally, and spiritually. The pains of childhood were lessened because of mom.

By the Way:  If your mother passed into eternity before you reached adulthood, thank the Lord for the time that you did have with her.  Be encouraged in the motherly figures that God placed in your life to influence you.  God had a plan, even if you do not yet understand.  This thought should motivate us to cherish each moment we have with our loved ones today.

We could list so much more, from teenage to college years and beyond.  You can take the idea and run with it for yourself.  The point is – a Godly mother shows consistent care for her children.  She invests time and attention. Especially in the most innocent and precious years of life.   A Godly mother’s care really is – her time and her attention.

So, Mom – thank you for not leaving me alone.  The time spent, the sacrifices made, and the loving care means the world to me.  A Godly mother does not leave her child on his own.  She takes care of those early years so the child will have a lifetime of success in loving Jesus.

 

 

 

 

Too Much of a Good Thing

Too Much of a Good Thing

Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.  Proverbs 25:16

Hundreds, perhaps thousands of books have been written about dieting.  Eat this.  Do not eat that.  Stick with Carbs.  Avoid carbs.  Go protein.  No meat.  No bread.  No sugar.  Less starch.  Natural this.  Natural that.

In an effort, not to give medical advice but Bible advice, please note the above verse.  Finding something sweet to eat is ok, but too much of a good thing can cause pain, hurt, and suffering later.  I love Snickers bars, but man cannot live by Snickers bars alone.  It is possible to get too much of a good thing!

The best principle for what and how we eat, what we possess, and how we behave is the word “moderation.”  Having too much of something, even something good, can actually affect the quality of living in a negative way.

Moderation is a term that is unfamiliar to American culture today.  We live in a day of excess.  Excess food. Excess weight.  Excess games.  Excess work.  Excessive riches.  Excessive expectations.  People act as if they deserve the best, they deserve it now, and not many are willing to pay the true price in the present.  That is why many people file bankruptcy and rack up tremendous amounts of credit card debt trying to live a “good life.”  Most are unfamiliar with moderation and a terrible example of this is the national average of debt for the Federal Government per US taxpayer.  It is and astonishing….. $154,161!  (Forbes.com)

Words related to the term “moderation” include:  restraint, self-control, temperance, and balance.  Do these words characterize your life?  How about your relationship?  Finances?  Or even eating candy bars?  Here are three ways “Moderation” can help you today:

  • Moderation Shows –Dependence upon God. When we are not so focused on amassing “stuff” we demonstrate and evident dependence on God.  When we are able to be balanced and not excessive we show that God is able to provide, meet needs, and solve the issues we face.  Having nice things is terrific, but it is not the goal for living the Christian life.  The goal is to be more like Jesus.
  • Moderation Proves – Contentment in the non-tangibles of life. As humans we tend to place value on rare items such as gold, silver, or precious stones.  Bling and glamour are attractive to the human nature.  A person living in moderation may have gold, silver, or precious stones, but does not find these items inherently valuable in themselves.  Value in God’s economy is rooted in faith, hope, and love.  Things that you cannot touch or even hold can actually have greater value than material things.  I like the old saying : “Some people love things and use people; but we really should use things to love people.”

Peace, joy, and hope are worth more than all the things money can buy.  Contentment, fulfillment, and faith cannot be bought but can be uncovered and enjoyed by the person living with a spirit of moderation.  Fighting, longing, and working to achieve excess can actually cause the intangibles to flee away.  Some people own so much stuff, their stuff actually owns them.  Ie.  Some cannot get away from the 2 boats, 5 cars, or 3 retreat cabins and have to spend their time maintaining their stuff.  Immoderate living can be controlling.

  • Moderation Provides – Satisfaction in Spiritual, Emotional, Relational, and Physical ways. The whole person (body, soul, spirit) benefits from the perspective of moderation.  A sigh of relief, a spirit at ease, and a mind at rest are possible – with contentment.

The solution to moderation is truly finding our very contentment, meaning, purpose, and value in Jesus.  It is Jesus – Who is the cause of true satisfaction in living.

How are you doing with moderation?  Do you see balance in your eating and exercise?  Do you see temperance in how you relate to other people?  Are you restrained in finances for earthly things?  Thank the Lord for “good things” while keeping in mind that it is possible to have too much of a good thing!