Friday, February 3, 2006

The Shadow of Punxatauney Phil... and other Prophecies
Ah, yes... though we draw ever closer to the advent of spring, Punxatauney Phil, yesterday prophesied another several weeks of winter. On the other hand, here in southeastern Ohio, we've yet to really see any wintry weather this season. It's a good thing I'm not much of a skier!

My general attitude towards rodents is not all that favorably disposed, but I have to admit that America's favorite groundhog IS an interesting critter. His dubious moonlighting as a fortune-teller aside, this rodent of distinction is a much more pleasant alternative to his smaller, more widely known cousins, not to mention that he is a "myth-in-motion" - an American icon that even placed him several years ago in a movie role opposite Hollywood mega-funny guy, Bill Murray.

I think I like Phil. I certainly like him more than I like other rodents. Rats and mice make nice pets, or so I've heard... but I can't help but fear that they're always thinking about how to escape and take my secret stash of cookies hostage. Come to think of it, the people who've told me that they make good pets are the same people who also have pet pythons and boa constrictors living in large tanks in their homes. Hmm.

Guinea pigs are like giant-sized cotton balls... with about as much personality. When I was a boy, I tried to train my pet guinea pig, Emmie, to walk with me on a leash. What she ended up doing on the leash was what she was always doing in her cage: just sitting there. "C'mon, Emmie! Let's run! C'mon, girl!... Emmie? Up! Up!... Heel! Up! C'mon, Emmie!... Oka-a-ay, Emmie... sit! Sit, Emmie! Sit! Good girl! Have a carrot!"

Some are convinced that hamsters make great pets, but sheesh! All the hamsters I've ever known were like little piranha fish just waiting for some human hand to haplessly enter their cages! If you’re not personally acquainted with rodent teeth, let me advise you to keep your hand carefully out of range. By the way, hamsters don’t like people sneaking up on them either. Of course, maybe its easy to understand why they're so neurotically lethal given that I’ve also seen the little darlings gang up and finish off their own the moment their owners’ backs were turned. Yuck!

No, Punxatauney Phil may indeed be a R.O.U.S. (Rodent Of Unusual Size), but I haven’t yet seen Him try to chomp off his handler’s fingers or, even worse, go for his throat. Good Phil, good boy. Have a carrot.
posted @ 10:38 PM EST [more..]

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

A difficult season... and a call to return to God.
In the literal wake of Hurricane Katrina, the people in the southern United States are reeling from an unbelievably awesome tragedy. The scale of what has happened is tremendous, recalling the tsunami of December 2004, the multiple hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004, and the terrorist attacks on 9/11 in 2001.

The number of those who've died still cannot be estimated yet as all anyone can say about it is that corpses lie in the streets and float in the receding waters.

As was said in last week's Hunger For More column, it is time right now to rally love and support IN TANGIBLE WAYS for those who are suffering. This should be a point about which God's people, Christians, gather in force to mobilize resources to meet the needs of those who are homeless, foodless, friendless and clueless about where to turn now. (Click here for ways YOU can help.)

This is a season of reaching out with the love of Christ, that people whose physical crises are being addressed will also allow God to address their spiritual crisis - that of their need for salvation.

But there is yet another crisis which we must also face... and face immediately: that of the complacency of the Church in the face of human evil and the imminent judgment of God. There are, mercifully, some shining examples of God's people giving tirelessly and selflessly to others. There are also many horrific examples of the opposite taking place: men and women who clearly do not know Christ who are murdering, stealing, raping and oppressing others.

It is interesting to me how clearly unexpected such a development was. But should it really surprise us? Did we really think that people apart from God would or even could behave any differently? Immersed as New Orleans is in sexual immorality, drugs, gambling, and Voodoo (a very dark and slavish animistic religion), there are a significant number of people very much under the control of evil and oppressive powers who can only demonstrate their allegiance to those dark forces when the restraining influences of law and order are removed.

And what must we conclude about God's perspective on the matter? As painful as it is to acknowledge it, we must observe the "judgment factor." Biblically speaking, does God or does He not judge sin? He does. Has He or has He not decreed judgment upon entire cities and nations for their sin? He has.

It would be a terrible mistake to assume that all those who are suffering so deeply are especially deserving of that judgment. Nevertheless, we are a foolish people indeed if we think that we can arbitrarily "thumb our noses" at God for all these years with impunity.

Of course, one may ask "If this is judgment, then why now? Why at the end of August in 2005?" Not such a good question for it obscures the REAL question is which is why has He not begun to bring judgment sooner?

“The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on His foes and maintains His wrath against His enemies” (Nahum 1:2 NIV).

And what can we expect for our land if we continue to pursue the idols of selfishness, pride, luxury, oppression, and immorality?

“‘Days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will punish her idols, and throughout her land the wounded will groan’” (Jeremiah 51:52 NIV).

“Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty” (Joel 1:15 NIV).

But lest we think that the Big Easy was especially singled out and that all the rest of America is above judgment, be careful!

Jesus addressed a similar misconception during His earthly ministry when some people believed that judgment had befallen some Galileans who had been targeted.

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:2-5 NIV).

So how must we respond? My prayer is that we will hearken to Jesus’ warning and repent.

“‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing – grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD our God. Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep… Let them say, ‘Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, “Where is their God?”’ Then the LORD will… take pity for His people” (Joel 2:12-18 NIV).

Though we are wise to fear God’s great wrath with a holy reverence and awe, we have His assurances that His mercy and goodness are available to us if we’ll just choose to receive them. This is especially true and relevant for those who place their hope in the Lord Jesus for their eternal salvation.

“…Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved…” (Joel 2:32 NIV).

Isn’t it good to know that “the LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7 NIV).
posted @ 11:23 PM EST [link]

Friday, April 15, 2005

Led by Heaven's Dove
"...Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths..." (Isaiah 2:3).

The way of God is subtle,
.....Yet it always is sublime.
It guides the course of history,
.....And endures the march of time.

His ways are always higher
.....Than are the ways of man;
Our dreams and our ambitions
.....Are like castles made of sand.

If only we would trust His love,
.....And give Him all our cares,
His Holy Spirit could wash us clean
.....Of all sin’s polluted airs.

If only we’d surrender pride
.....And learn to trust His love
We then could walk in Heaven’s peace,
.....While led by Heaven’s Dove.

So now I’ll walk along with Him:
.....He knows the path to tread;
May I lay aside each encumbrance,
.....And all sin and self now shed.

I no longer doubt His wisdom;
.....Nor doubt His love for me.
He knows what He is doing
.....And will lead me faithfully.

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it'" (Isaiah 30:21).
posted @ 11:14 PM EST [link]

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

What kind of church are we?
The Kingdom of God is built by God Himself as His people yield themselves to His lordship, trust in His providence, and obey His promptings.

As I observe God building His kingdom through Pathway, it occurs to me that God’s intent for His church is that it be a church for “anybody”.

I don’t want to make the mistake of saying that we are a church for a certain kind of people, a certain age bracket, or that we are strictly “contemporary” or “traditional”.

Instead of setting all sorts of limitations upon ourselves by trying to restrict where we reach, we are a church that will allow God to define who and what we are.

Do we have a “contemporary” worship? Yep. But we so enjoy God’s blessings through old time hymns that sometimes we feel like being “traditional”.

Are we a “kids’ church”? Or are we a place that senior citizens come and are blessed as they worship with us? Well, we don’t believe it has to be an “either-or” situation. We’re not an “age-specific” congregation. Kids come. Seniors come. Couples come. Singles come.

The fact of the matter is… we’re an “anybody” church because “anybody” can come and be part. Anybody can join us on this path that we’re on. Anybody can come and worship with us.

As far as what kind of church we are… we’re a church that loves God and lets Him “add to our number daily those who are being saved” (Acts 2:47b).
posted @ 12:22 PM EST [link]

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Pathway's Third Annual Fall Fest!
Tonite was Pathway's Third Annual Fall Fest (look for pictures soon in the 2004 Picture Gallery).

As our church family worked and served together for the sake of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the young people that the Lord saw fit to include, I was touched by the mighty hand of God in bringing together so many wonderful adults who were ready and willing to serve Him through this event.

Help in leading games, handing out handwipes, serving snacks, assisting children in stapling their "stuffed fish" crafts together, and either helping in setting up or in cleaning up, we were blessed with a wonderful crew of people who wanted very much for boys and girls to hear of Jesus' love and give them a chance to be truly challenged with it.

Thanks to all who worked hard to increase the impact of the Fall Fest.

Thanks to Emily H. for preparing a wonderful story and lesson from the Bible!

Thanks to Kathie W. for walking the children through such a cool craft (and thanks to Kent W. for apparently helping Kathie in cutting out all those fishie templates!).

Thanks to Mary B. for all those incredible snacks (little works of art: it's a shame they had to be eaten)!

Thanks to Cathy C. for your surprise Mime presentation: truly funny!

Thanks to Chuck C. for bringing "your good friend", Isadore, to share with us as we talked about fishing in general (salmon ARE great reminders that to do what's best for us and our kids we have to SWIM UPSTREAM!)!

Thanks to Michelle B. and Diane E. for all the thoughtful ways you helped out!

Thanks especially to Diane M. who, though she could not be there tonite ('cuz the doctor says so), worked so hard for the last several weeks to make the Fall Fest such a smashing success! Organizing, preparing materials, planning, loading gift bags, helping me to get a bead on how the nite might run best, etc., etc., etc. Thanks, Diane!

And thank you, Lord, for giving us an opportunity to share with children and their parents about how much You love us and desire for us to enter into an incredible life of walking with You for eternity! May Your hand both water and tend the seeds that You sowed tonite. And may we be tools in Your hand in the cultivation of a harvest of souls into the gift of salvation You give us through Jesus Christ!
posted @ 11:33 PM EST [link]

Saturday, October 9, 2004

Good news HAS to be shared!
Good news has to be shared!

In Romans, chapter 1:15, the Apostle Paul says, "So, for my part, I am eager to preach the Gospel to you...."

When I think of the awe-inspiring encounter that Paul (once named "Saul") had with the resurrected Lord Jesus, I see plainly what God has done in my own life and in the life of anyone who turns to Him in faith.

In that encounter, Paul grasped at last the revelation that all his self-righteousness was merely a shovel in his hand in digging his own grave (see Acts 9:1-22). He was not free from sin as he had supposed. He wasn't defending God's honor after all. He wasn't purifying his religion of blasphemy.

He was a murderer, plain and simple. Worse yet, he was persecuting Jesus Himself Who suffers with His children when they suffer for Him.

Yet... in spite of all the vengeance and judgement that Paul (Saul) deserved, the living Lord of Mercy turned his life around and brought him back from the brink of destruction. He made him clean. He made him new. He gave him a new name.

Any wonder then that Paul in Romans 1:15 can't wait to get the good news to a people who had not yet really heard this message of hope! God forgives sin! God cleanses! God makes new!

"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..." (Romans 1:16 NAS).

So then... if God has brought the power of salvation to your life, how can you hold it in? Who do you know that has not yet heard for him or herself that Jesus makes all things new? (see Revelations 21:5).

Why not invite the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the desperate and dire need for Jesus Christ's forgiveness that those with whom you live, work and play have?

May He indeed open all our eyes to the needs of eternity that those about us have. Heaven has plenty of room and Hell is full enough.

God's Gift to You
Here's Hope!
A Message of Hope for Kids!
A Special Message for Teens!

posted @ 11:25 PM EST [link]

Monday, October 4, 2004

The next mile for Pathway...
Pathway Community Church is now entering its third "Covenant" year... (her members having just celebrated the second anniversary of covenanting together to be "one body" under Christ).

A couple of weeks ago, my dear wife, Diane, was spending some early morning time in prayer. "What day is it?" she suddenly called from the next room. "Friday," I replied. "No, I mean what's the date?" she called back. "September 24th," I answered.

Then I heard the quiet sound of soft weeping and looked around the corner to where she was reading the Bible and praying. Diane then read aloud from Haggai chapter 2... "Consider from this day on, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month.... From this day on I will bless you" (from Haggai 2:18 & 19).

She looked up at me. "God is starting something new in Pathway," she said.

What is the "something new" that God is doing? Frankly, I don't know. But as the Lord delights in unveiling His wonderful surprises of grace and revelation of His presence, I know that it will be wonderful!

The call for us? To watch and see! To wait then yield! To listen for His invitations to join Him as He leads us and willfully, joyfully follow!
posted @ 10:03 PM EST [link]

 


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