Monday, December 26, 2016

the Living Years

The Living Years                                            12-26-16

Romans 13:8 (ESV) 8  Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  
A short observation this week. I sat in my living room turned insane asylum yesterday morning about 7:00A.M. I had been suddenly awakened by my wife informing me that it was time. You know.Time to let loose the two Tasmanian devils who were bound in the bedroom salivating to see what Santa had brought them. I nodded sleepily,rose and trod down the hallway to the mound of presents and what not,waiting for Chloe and Maddie Grace.Dogs were roaming around. Cat was shut up in the bedroom,pacing back and forth,wailing while waiting it's turn. And so it began.It would be a process that would be repeated over and again. Tearing into the wrapped presents, the "oh wow,look at this!!" Then the opened present would be summarily tossed aside and the next unopened surprise would be torn into.On and on and on until the wrapping paper was piled up waist high.Finally,the carnage was over and it was time to cook breakfast,eat,and pile up to the next stop for an instant replay.

Sure enough at the next stop(Bill and Sharon's) we had an instant replay with one exception. There were three more T.D's waiting to rip into their Grandma and Grandpa's presents. So there it was. People eating,kids playing,general chaos all around.After eating myself into a modified sugar coma, I sat quietly in a corner on the floor and dozed in and out most of the afternoon.Can anybody say gluttony?And herein lieth the lesson.

During one of my conscious moments,watching friends and family eat, while trying to avoid the attack of the power rangers,after being asked every ten minutes if the Ipod needed to be charged.....I thought about the folks that weren't there.Some were in different places,celebrating with others. Then my mind retrieved memories of those close to me that would never celebrate Christmas again on this earth.While I considered this,the song "The Living Years" crossed my mind.I couldn't remember who had written that song so I hummed what I could remember.Not long thereafter,I was interrupted for the umpteenth time(the urge to kill lol) and the moment evaporated.It was gone.

But this thought stuck with me.

Love em while they're here. They,or you and I may not be around the next time the opportunity to tell them that you love them comes along. Ya feelin'me here?
What does the Book say?

Ecclesiastes 9:4 (ESV) 4  But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

There's going to be a day should Jesus tarry, when you might not be able to tell that difficult child that you love them. A day is approaching when that friend or inlaw or outlaw who gets on your last nerve might not be here. Or it may be you or me that departs!! Don't wait until they are placing flowers on your's or my grave to tell those that matter how much  you love them. Tell them while there's still time.Tell them in the living years.

Psalm 36:7 (ESV) 7  How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

God Bless


Monday, December 19, 2016

Technical Difficulties

Technical Difficulties                                      12-12-16  

2 Corinthians 2:11 (ESV) 11  so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. 

I went to church yesterday to watch the children's Christmas Presentation.While sitting in the pew I checked my watch and noticed that the published start time had come and gone.A couple minutes later I checked again,then sat back and chilled,knowing the program would start soon enough. Just then the Pastor, who also was the director of the program, ascended the platform and informed the waiting crowd that due to technical difficulties the program's start would experience a short delay.When I heard those words "technical difficulties" my ears perked up and my mind strolled back to another day.And herein lieth the lesson.

I have heard my friend Pastor Doug mouth those very same words on any number of occasions during the many productions and music programs he has headed up. It seems as if technical difficulties often rise up when we are attempting to do something for the glory of God doesn't it? While sitting there musing on those words,another phrase I had heard many times before also surfaced."What did you expect?" Let me try and explain.Take a hypothetical.

O.K. you've been working on this play. You garnered a list of characters. You secured commitments from the children and the parents. Then you started pulling all the necessary folks needed for behind the scenes. You began to coordinate practice times with the stage hands,helpers and of course tech support folk.Then you decided that instead of purchasing a production,you will write the script in house.That in itself requiring many hours of blood,sweat and tears to accomplish.Then a day or two after Thanksgiving rehearsals begin. Over the next two or three weeks you try to get everyone there on time(a miracle of God if you pull it off) You try to be very sensitive to the people who are volunteering,knowing  that this is also a VERY BUSY AND TIRING time of year for them.You usually end up with rehearsals that are partial because of various obstacles. Kids get sick. Parents get caught at work. etc.,etc..,

Probably after a particularly trying day,you have an evening rehearsal where no one has yet learned their part.The prop guy couldn't make it. The lead character is out sick. And to top it off,the play,in front of the whole church and the many visitors that will come out is only DAYS away. After everyone leaves and you sit there exhausted from your efforts,you look up to heaven and wonder if you can pull it off.

And the voice enters your spirit."What did you expect?"

The more effort you expend, it seems the more adversity you encounter.It seems everything that can go wrong does.And still the day of the performance looms ever closer. You seriously begin to wander if it is going to happen. The enemy will put all sorts of disaster scenarios in your mind. You can see characters wondering around the stage CLUELESS as to what they are to do next. Lines forgotten,songs absolutely butchered,props falling down, you gettin' my drift? BUT,THE SHOW MUST GO ON. You look to heaven once again and there it is once more:

"What did you expect?" 

You see the devil has designs on your efforts to preach the Gospel. Look at this.

Matthew 13:24-29 (ESV) 24  He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,
25  but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
26  So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.
27  And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’
28  He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’
29  But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.

You see, the enemy will sow weeds in your good seed. It may come in the form of people who are negative and critical. It may be opposition in the form of sickness, lack of commitment,unforeseen circumstances....whatever. Here you are trying to put this huge production together with all of the accompanying problems and all you're hearing is:

"What did you expect?"

If you are not careful it can become overwhelming and discouraging.

So, you weather all the storms associated with producing and directing this thing and the BIG DAY finally arrives. Unbelievably,the dress rehearsal on the eve of the play went surprisingly well. For the most part people knew their lines,costumes were ready, props in place...for the first time in weeks there was a small light at the end of the tunnel.  Your confidence is bolstered and the crowd the next day begins to file in. "A good crowd," you think to yourself.You take one final look around and pronounce quietly to yourself,"we're ready." As you prepare to raise the curtain,all of a sudden you see someone out of the corner of your eye rushing towards you. "What? WHAT!? We're having TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES.

Fighting back the tears,in absolute panic mode you look heavenward and yeah there it is.

"What did you expect?.

So you wearily make the announcement that there will be a short delay. You walk off the stage and wait. At the complete mercy of the "tech geeks." But, you know something and here is the good part. Eventually,the technical difficulties are resolved and the show goes on. You sit there in amazement as the cast and crew pull off an amazing program. I mean they NAIL IT! You're sitting back in utter amazement and you realize that it was God.IT WAS GOD! Only God could have pulled it off. And so He did.

2 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) 14  But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

It is then that you realize that God had it all the time. He had your back and all you can do is say "Thank you."

Maybe I have exaggerated in my story telling......maybe not. But, one thing I will tell you is that the devil will not leave you alone in your efforts to do something for the Lord. Don't give up,God's not worried,He's got it and there is a reward.

As I watched yesterday in real time,the production came off without a hitch as far as I can tell. But,it was what happened at the end. From afar I watched a nine year old child on her own, without prompt, walk down to the altar and kneel to ask God about something that was happening in her life. She asked for one of the pastors to come and pray for her. As I looked around there were other folks who had been touched by the Holy Ghost kneeling and praying to God. I looked back at the child and then closed my eyes and looked heavenward. I thanked God for touching that child that is so dear to me. I saw the fruit of all the folks who labored behind the scenes unbeknownst to me or most of the other folks that were there. Because of their efforts, the Lord had moved.Afterward I heard a voice in my heart say"What did you expect?."

Brothers and sisters,your labor for the Lord is not forgotten.

Psalm 118:14 (ESV) 14  The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

Have a very Merry Christmas.

God Bless





Friday, December 9, 2016

Its In Jesus

Its In Jesus                                                     12-09-16

Romans 7:24-25 (ESV) 24  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!......

 Take a listen to this old Gospel favorite.

I tried to find a recording of our church in Georgia doing this song because they did it better than the New Jersey Mass Choir.Alas,it was not to be. This is a great rendition though. I have sit in many,many services and this song would be sung and the Holy Ghost would FALL! You of those down home Holy Ghost meetins' I'm telling you.. God was in the house!! Great,Great song.

I was talking with a co worker at lunch this week past. We have become friends of a sort;and as he recounted to me his story,(recently released from 8 years in prison) what was going on in his life, and his struggles,the above verse came to mind."... Who will deliver me from this body of death?..." And herein lieth the lesson.

You know scholars argue,debate whether this 7th chapter of Romans was written to Christians or not. I've read many arguments supporting both sides of the debate. I have my opinion on the subject.And as my stepfather Stewart used to say "That opinion and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee at the Pilot." You feelin'me here?

That being said,we all struggle with different issues don't we? You know,different strokes for different folks. Physical struggles with the many types of addiction and abuse.Mental and emotional struggles that rob us of our strength and joy. Doubts,fears,evil imaginations that rise up against us,and exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.What was it Job said?

Job 5:7 (ESV) 7  but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.

 As the saying goes,"the struggle is real." If we are not careful we can become overwhelmed. When we have failed yet again in the battle with that familiar sin.Or we have behaved in a hurtful way towards someone for no reason,and we sit guilt ridden and sorrowful, we can lose hope.Like a dog returning to it's vomit.

Maybe you haven't been there but I certainly have. I can relate to Paul's statement in Romans. WHO WILL DELIVER ME FROM THIS BODY OF DEATH!!

Brothers and sisters the world will offer all sorts and kinds of solutions. Self help books,courses,seminars. AA, Alanon, (both of which do great works)on and on and on. All of these different avenues do provide help.Problem is they are temporal. They are band aids that provide relief but do not cure. They address the outward symptoms but fail to get to the heart of the matter. The reason being that the problem is not exterior,but inward,a matter of the heart.The giants inevitably return don't they? What are we to do?

While we were training on the bus yesterday another trainee,a friend of the man in my story,asked him to sing a song. Right there on the bus while we were driving! There were seven or eight of us sitting in back and I didn't know what he would do. After a few seconds another one chimed in and requested a song. All these trainees are young and full of life.It is refreshing to listen to them joking and playing around all the time.I am the old bah humbug grandpa of the bunch. Anyway,to my surprise, this young man began to belt a chorus of "His eye is on the Sparrow"right there on the bus!!And man o man what a voice! Come to find out he had been in the prison choir and trust me... he could sing a blue streak.

At any rate, what I wanted to tell you is this guy found the answer. Or rather the answer found him. Its in Jesus.Your answer,my answer,ITS IN JESUS! Jesus found this young man in a prison cell and delivered him from a life of sin and debauchery. He still has issues. His past still tries to pull him back in. But,as he says what am I going do?There's only one way.That's it in a nutshell.

Only one savior. Only one deliverer. Only one healer.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

I have found a love that pardons
I have found some stripes that heal
I have found strength for my weakness
I have found grace to cover all my sins
It’s in Jesus
Only Jesus
It’s in Jesus
He’s the One
Rock of salvation
A strong foundation
It’s in Jesus
He is the One
Rock of salvation
A firm foundation
It’s in Jesus
He is the One
He is the One


Psalm 146:7-8 (ESV) 7  who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8  the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

God Bless


Friday, December 2, 2016

In Season and Out                                              12-2-16

2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV) 2  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

Sometimes you just don't feel very spiritual do you? Yeah, I know. I feel that way today. I have not adjusted to my new job with it's new schedule. It's all good but I haven't found the routine just yet. It's going to be very difficult to post this blog on Friday going forward; as my new schedule doesn't look like it is going to allow it. More than likely,beginning next week the blog will be posted on Monday night.
For a time at least. At any rate a short thought this week.

Ever NOT feel like a reading your Bible? Ever NOT feel like praying and spending time with God? Ever NOT feel like you're a Christian? Yeah I hear ya. Me too. More often than I like to admit.Many times we wake up and the LAST thing we won't to do is spend time in the Word,or prepare the Sunday School lesson,or write a blog....or whatever!!  We would rather do ANYTHING than "something spiritual."And herein lieth the lesson. 

Ever heard of Tiger Woods? If you are one of the few who have not,Tiger Woods was one of,if not the greatest golfer who ever lived. I have literally seen him put on golfing clinics in the most pressure packed circumstances.With millions of people watching and millions of dollars on the line,it seemed that he could pull unbelievable shots out of nowhere,time after time after time.I used to marvel at the talent I was watching on the television screen.It was all so easy. TOO easy I thought. I used to say to myself how that it must be nice to have been so talented. To make the game look so easy. Until I heard the assessment of a golf announcer. This announcer was someone who was in the know. He had been a very successful golfer in his day and was also a close friend of Tiger. He saw him on a daily basis during the golfing season.During a golf match one day I heard this announcer explain what made Tiger so great.

Tiger's greatness,he said was due not to his ability to hit the golf ball 320 yards on a consistent basis. His greatness was not because of his uncanny touch and finesse around and on the greens. It was not even due to his almost other worldly focus and concentration. None of these marvelous talents and abilities were the real reason for his greatness. What you ask was it then? The announcer said these words. "The reason that Tiger Woods was the greatest golfer of this and maybe of all generations was that he was a grinder".....a what? A grinder. What, Ronnie pray tell,is a grinder?  

A grinder in golf is someone who keeps going on when things aren't going right. It is someone who keeps playing when the shots aren't falling. It is someone who somehow,someway guts it out to the finish. Whether he feels good or not. Whether he feels like playing golf or not. Whether his drives were straight down the middle or over in the second cut. Whether the putts fell or rolled off the green. Tiger Woods kept on playing. He kept on grinding and finding a way to post a score. And because of that he kept himself in contention until his game came around. He was,in this announcer's educated opinion, the greatest GRINDER to ever play the game.Not the greatest scorer.Not the greatest shotmaker.Maybe not even the greatest talent. The greatest grinder.That was his secret.

This is in essence what the Apostle Paul is telling Timothy and by rote all of us isn't it?   Timothy,....Ronnie, there are going to be days that you wake up and God is going to be the last thing on your mind. There are going to be seasons that you don't "feel" like anything is going right. There will be times when you will wonder if God has forgotten you. And it is precisely these times that you're gonna have to gut it out.You're going to have to find a way.You're going to have to GRIND. But remember this. If you keep walking,keep grinding you'll find your game again. God will see to it. Amen?Amen!

Psalm 71:14 (ESV) 14  But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.

God Bless