May 24

The holy kiss does not have a lot of information or scholarship behind it.  And I wish I could be definitive about it’s meaning.  But I think the message behind this command is that we need to show camaraderie among believers.  We need to let everyone who comes into our fellowship to have a warm and welcoming greeting.  That no one should feel unwelcomed or shunned.  This is based on many of the previous one another commands that we have already looked at and is an extension the love we have received from our heavenly Father.  We are all a part of his family and so a friendly kiss or hug or handshake or pat on the back, or high five or other greetings should reflect this.  It is not just another handshake or hello.  It is a warm, loving embrace whether literal or implied.  So allow your greetings to display how much you care for each other.

May 17

  I want to use this week’s post to let you know of some exciting things that have been happening behind the scene here at Groveland Missionary Church.  Here at this church we support several missionaries that are ministering in many foreign countries.  Well one of the missionaries we support monthly sent out an appeal at the beginning of the year for prayer and support for a new program for the youth he is working with over in Greece.  He wants to start a Bible quizzing program.  If you do not know what Bible quizzing is, a group of people (youth) are given a section of scripture to study and memorize for a month or so, then they gather together and are asked questions about the passages they studied in a game show type event.  The first one to stand up to answer the question correctly gets points for their team.  The team that gets the most questions correctly with the fewest wrong, win the quiz meet.  Well in order to figure out who stands up first, you need some specialized equipment.  This missionary was looking for help not only getting the equipment but also with other aspects of quizzing.
  I was on a quiz team for one summer and I knew that GMC also at one time had a quiz team.  As I looked around the church here, I found two sets of the specialized equipment that this church was no longer using.  The first set included two special benches and a quiz machine that you plugged into the wall and into the benches to use for quizzing.  The benches were big and heavy (very well built).  But it would have been a fortune to send that overseas and it would probably have to have been shipped- taking a long time to get there.
  But than I came across a small box not much bigger than a portable record player.  Inside was a quiz machine.  It had the control panel that would light up when the quizzers would stand up.   But even better it was designed to use little pressure pads that you could place on any chair or bench was available.  There was no need to ship specialized benches.  And to top it all off, it was not run by an outlet in the wall.  I was battery powered! (with common ordinary 9 volt batteries like those in smoke alarms)  No need for power conversion plugs for foreign electric outlets or anything.  This small, lightweight, all in one, battery powered box had everything needed to hold a quiz meet any time and any where with minimum set up and no outside power source.
  I was so excited that this missionary who we have help support for many years would not only be able to spread the gospel by quizzing, but that we could be the ones to help start him off with the very equipment that he would need.  We were not using it and if we did decide to start a quiz team again, we would still have the first set of equipment for ourselves.  After getting approval from the elders, we became his answer to his prayer.  With just a little postage (considering it was going almost half way around the world), we were able to fly it to him.  He just received it in the mail this week and is excited to use it to strengthen young people in the word of God.
  I hope that this encourages you and I am sure this quizzing equipment encouraged Nathan this last week.

May 10

I hope every mother had a good Mother’s day.  And even if you did not have a great mother or she may have passed away, I hope you have someone in your life who demonstrates God’s love to you in a motherly way.

May 3

May the 3rd be with you.  Does not have quite the ring to it as tomorrow’s greeting will be, but what can I say.  And speaking of May, we have a lot on the calendar.  We have Parent’s Night Out this Friday and Mother’s day next Sunday.  The following Sunday (May 16th) we are going to have a carry-in dinner.  That week, I will be traveling to Regional conference in Fort Wayne, the women have a sewing day, and our first Summer Movie Night on that Friday (May 21st).  And finally the church is hosting another Blood drive the last full week of this month.  In between all of these church events, I have other pastoral meetings and visitations that I try to include in my calendar (some are new this month after more than a year off).  Plus my family calendar is also filling up with end of the year events and concerts at my kid’s school and beginning of summer.  Hard to keep track of it all
I am glad that we are starting to get over this pandemic and are able to do more activities in and around the church.  I missed the fellowship over this last year.  And while I am an introvert and love alone time, it was too much even for me.  So I hope that you will be able to join us for some of these events.

April 26

Just a couple of quick things before I get into my main devotional.
  Yes it is my birthday today (26th).  I am turning 48.  Thank you for all your good wishes.
  Yesterday, I talked about the mask that some people wear.  I was talking metaphorically not the literal masks that people are wearing to prevent the spread of the Covid virus.  Hopefully the context of trying to hide or lie about who you appear to be on the outside in contrast to who you really are on the inside made that understood.  Sorry if there was any confusion.
  I did not focus on the command to pray for each other as much as the first command in that verse from James 5:16.  Prayer is a much broader topic that I could to a whole series on (and I have).  Here it is used in the context of prayers of healing and confession so I just included it in the prayer of confession.
  However, in my sermon preparation, I did come across a story from Our Daily Bread (from June 2, 2005) that I want to reprint here for us to think about this week.

  Prayer is a conversation with God, not a formula. Yet sometimes we might need to use a “method” to freshen up our prayer time. We can pray the Psalms or other Scriptures (such as The Lord’s Prayer), or use the ACTS method (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). I recently came across this “Five-Finger Prayer” to use as a guide when praying for others:

  • When you fold your hands, the thumb is nearest you. So begin by praying for those closest to you—your loved ones (Philippians 1:3-5).
  • The index finger is the pointer. Pray for those who teach—Bible teachers and preachers, and those who teach children (1 Thessalonians 5:25).
  • The next finger is the tallest. It reminds you to pray for those in authority over you—national and local leaders, and your supervisor at work (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
  • The fourth finger is usually the weakest. Pray for those who are in trouble or who are suffering (James 5:13-16).
  • Then comes your little finger. It reminds you of your smallness in relation to God’s greatness. Ask Him to supply your needs (Philippians 4:6,19).

Whatever method you use, just talk with your Father. He wants to hear what’s on your heart.

April 19

When we have unity and harmony in the church, we are demonstrating who God is in our lives.  When we agree together, we are showing the world that God is more powerful than anything in this world.  Because all the world knows is self.  It does not look out for or respect the opinions of others.  Jesus was the kind of person (as seen in Philippians) who laid himself aside and died so we might have an example of humility to follow.  So let’s try to understand and respect those around us (especially those in the church) so that we too can agree with one another in love.

April 12

I am writing this later on in the week because of a couple of things here at the church that have taken my time and attention.  But I wanted to get back to what I talked about on Sunday about teaching one another.  We sometimes think that we have to be called to be a teacher in order to teach or that we need a special education or training to teach.  But that is not what the Bible says.  There is a difference between teaching as a teacher and teaching as a believer.  The teaching talked about in the passages we looked at Sunday (Rom 15:14 and Col 3:16) might be better translated sharing of ourselves in order to teach and admonish and to rebuke others.  Bringing something back to their minds, something they already know but may have forgotten in the moment.  And we all can do that without special training or extra knowledge.  So teach them what you have learned.  You never know, they may help teach you something down the road that you need to learn in return.

April 5

Well I hope you all had a wonderful Easter.  Here at Groveland Missionary Church we had a great Easter egg hunt on Saturday with many boys and girls from the area searching high and low for candy and prizes.  And our worship service yesterday was also great.  I just love the hymns about the cross and the resurrection.  We do serve a mighty Savior who is alive forever more and who we will see one day face to face.  I hope that Jesus’ resurrection and the celebration we were able to have this year will fill your soul with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  While I did not include this in my sermon the wonderful verse from Romans 8:11, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”  We have life in these moral bodies because of the resurrection of Christ.  So let’s us go live for him!

March 29

   The sermon I preached on Sunday was not only fun to deliver, but also fun to prepare.  I wanted to be as accurate to the Bible as I could without reading it word for word.  All four of the gospels tell the story and while they are slightly different from each other (due to who the author was and his perspective) they all tell the same story.  But I always like to think about what it would be like to live back then and see the events for myself.  Many times I wish I could actually go to Israel and see the sights of myself.  I know like many times pictures do not do justice to seeing the city of Jerusalem from the mount of olives for myself.  I was going to try to include a visual to my sermon but I could not find a good picture or image that had Jerusalem with the temple instead of the ones with the Dome of the Rock from the present day.  So I had to use my imagination along with a lot of research to figure out what to include in my sermon and to give you a vision of what my character may have seen or heard clear back then.
  One event that I struggled whether to include or not was the scene in the temple with Jesus overturning the tables.  While Matthew and Luke’s story seem to suggest that it happened on Sunday, Mark’s gospel clearly states it happened the next day (along with the cursing of the fig tree which I alluded to in my sermon).  Matthew and Luke seem to condense the stories into one to keep their stories moving along (Most people think that the book of Mark was written first and the other two borrowed from his stories when they wrote their own versions). I left it out of the final draft because I felt that my sermon was long enough and also because the idea of peace tied many of my thoughts together.  Plus I seldom get to have a cliffhanger in my sermons.  But Palm Sunday’s story is just that.  It is a wait until the story is finished the next week to have a wonderful climax to the story.  So until next Sunday, may God bless.

March 21

    Well we are officially into spring in our neck of the woods as the sun makes it’s move north of the equator and warming up the northern hemisphere.  And with spring comes new life as the trees start to bud and the flowers that had lay dormant over the winter months start popping out of the ground.  It is also a good time open our windows to let the warm, fresh breezes blow through our cars and houses.  We hear the birds start gathering in the trees, chirping and communicating with each other.  The grass gets greener as the gentle rain showers water it.  And the world seems to come to life again.
    But what about your spiritual life.  Sometimes it has turned cold as the winter weather.  It too needs more Son moving closer to you.  Maybe some of the deadened areas of your life need to start to bud again and pop up from the soil.  Maybe it is time to feel a new breeze of life on your heart warming you and freshening your attitudes.  Maybe you need to stop and hear the small voices speaking to you over the noise that have dampened your hearing.  Maybe it is time to let a gentle rain produce a greener heart.  Maybe it is time to let the Lord bring new life from your sin-sick heart. 
    Make this spring one of new beginnings not just around you but in you as well.