Saturday, November 18, 2017

I love Your house, O Lord!

The psalmist writes, "I love the house where You live, O Lord, the place where Your glory dwells." (Psalm 26:8)

Join us at God's house this weekend for worship.  Saturday at 5 pm & Sunday at 8 and 11 am. My sermon has a pretty nondescript title, "Our Giving God." Hopefully, the message will be more exciting than the title. 

See you at LICL!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Look at how God's Word helped Joni Eareckson Tada

Hello blog friends!

Yesterday's post about the fictional Father Tim from the Mitford series of books generated a lot of action here on my blog.  The reminder that God's Word comforts, directs and helps us in all kinds of situations is needed - especially for us who suffer from depression or discouragement or grief.

Today, I urge you to check out annvoscamp.com.  Ann Voskamp is a popular Christian writer and she is all over social media.  Her blog makes for interesting reading and the photography she includes is an added plus.

On her blog today is a guest article written by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Joni's story is quite familiar to many.  As a teenager she suffered a broken neck in a diving accident, was paralyzed from the neck down, and has spent 50 years of her life in a wheel chair.  That's has not stopped Joni from sharing her story of how she has relied on God's grace to see her through all these years.  Joni says that even people in wheelchairs can "walk with Jesus."

Joni lives with debilitating pain and she tells of one particular day when she was suffering so badly that going to the Joni and Friends office was the last thing she wanted to do.  Then she began remembering God's promises.  She used those promises, actually quoting the Scriptures, as her prayer to God.  Then something happened.

Her attitude changed.  The Scripture enabled her to focus on God and not on the pain.  As she notes, the pain did not leave her.  But the temptation to become hopelessly depressed did.  Just like Father Tim, knowing and using God's Word lifted her spirits and restored her hope.

The article is entitled, "How to Feel Comfort Through the Really Hard Days."  It will be worth your time to check it out.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Turn to the Psalms

All of us have people in our lives that have influenced us or made a lasting impression in some way. Because of their faith in us or the love they've shown to us, we consider such people to be heroes. We look up to them.  We admire the example they set for us. We want to be like them.

One of my heroes is Father Tim. I've never met him in person. In fact, he doesn't exist - except in the pages of the Mitford series of books by author Jan Karon.

Father Tim is the pastor of the Lord's Chapel in the fictional town of Mitford, North Carolina. Each of the Mitford books follows the life of the humble and devoted pastor as he cares for the people of his little community. I appreciate the fact that Father Tim knows what people need the most - the Word of God. And he uses the Psalms very effectively in his ministry.

For example, as Father Tim sought to minister to a young man who had been abandoned by his mother, the pastor prayed Psalm 32:8b: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."

When searching for encouragement, Father Tim remembered Psalm 68:19: "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens."

To the individual near death, the first verse of Psalm 27 was Father Tim's prayer: "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?"

I read on another blog this morning that people suffering from depression can find real comfort from reading the Psalms.  A favorite devotional book of my, "The Divine Hours," consists mostly of reading and praying the Psalms.  I have been surprised at how often a Psalm reading for the day gives voice to my feeling and struggles. It feels good to pray the words that others have offered to God.

But praying the Psalms is worthwhile for every child of God.  So I pray that you, like Father Tim, will find verses and chapters in the Psalms that give you comfort in troubled times and peace when your heart is troubled.

God bless your day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What pride does

Pride confuses one's identity with God's and makes us think of ourselves as larger than we really are.

Hannah Anderson, as quoted in "Free of Me," page 139

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Give away your life!

Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back - given back with bonus and blessing.  Giving, not getting is the way.

Luke 6:38 from the Message translation

Having a depressed person in the family is like...

I have written on a few occasions about my battle with depression.  This is an illness that I've been able to manage pretty well for the past 20 years or so.  In early 2016 I had a change of medications that made me feel really great. I dropped the other medication that I'd been taking for five previous years - I felt that I didn't needed it anymore.  But the great feeling faded pretty fast.  By September of last year the black cloud descended on me in a way I had never experienced before. 

Since then, life has been like a roller coaster ride, with lots of ups and downs.  There are days when I feel pretty good, like my normal self.  I'm positive, optimistic and have lots of energy.  But sure to follow are the days when it's a victory just to get out of bed.  I go down to church and try to look like all is well - I hate to worry some of the members of church who are concerned about my condition.  But everything seems like it takes a massive effort and I get home at the end of the day exhausted and feeling guilty, that I've let so many people down who need my ministry but didn't get it because I couldn't do it.  And that's the way it's been for the past 13 months.

I recorded this quote from the golf analyst and interviewer, David Feherty, who also suffers greatly from depression: Having a depressed person in the family is like having a death in the family. At least the dead person has the decency to not be around anymore.

So, having a depressed person in the family creates a special burden.  My dear, sweet wife wants to help so badly.  She hates to see me hurting.  And there are those at church who know how tough life is for me and they will do anything to support me.  I know there are people praying that the dark cloud will lift. That's a blessing.

If you have a depressed person in your family or know of something who is suffering, you can do a few things for them.  Be patient and know that they want to feel better and normal.  Be supportive and understanding and cut them a little extra slack when they forget to do something or fail to show enthusiasm for something that is important to you.  Be prayerful and continue to lift up that person before the Lord's throne of grace in prayer.  In my case, I know that God loves me, considers me His child in baptism, and will see me through this present situation.  And for the person suffering from depression, that's the best news of all.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The devil did not win!

How come we so often act as if the devil were still celebrating? How come we so often live as if it were still Good Friday & Easter had never come? We can't blame the devil for getting off the canvas after Easter's knock out blow.  We should expect the master chameleon, as he sweats to hold the world captive in chaos and uncertainty, to camouflage defeat as victory.

As Luther Taught the Word of Truth, page 56