A Life and Death in Christ

In my line of work there are days in which I am called to the bedside of one who is leaving this earth.  I work as a volunteer chaplain at Mercy Jefferson and from time to time I am asked to minister to families of a loved one who is in the dying stages.  For those of us who have been at the beside of a family member as they have passed away we know that it is not easy to witness.

   Death is a part of life and it is something we cannot avoid. Someone once said there are two things that none of us can avoid–death and taxes.  Before we leave this life saying goodbye to a loved one is something we all will have to do.  My hope is that when that happens we can have the reassurance that that person had Christ in their lives and they have the glorious opportunity to spend eternity with Him. 

 It is one thing for us to die with Christ but at the same time I hope we all can live with Christ as well. There is no other life like it, for in Him we find our salvation, we find our strength, we find our joy. If you have someone in your life who does not know Christ, share with them the Gospel but most of all allow yourself to be a living witness to Him.

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Caring for the Elderly

The first time I ever went into a nursing home I believe I was twelve years old. After visiting with loved ones in Ames Iowa my family and I chose to make a trip down to a little town named Adair where a great aunt resided.  She was in her eighties and was no longer able to care for herself.   We all know people in our lives who are at that age where independent living is no longer a possibility.  This reality is no doubt a frustration for those who find themselves in such a state but yet many realize that it is the best thing for them.

A Sunday School class here at FCC Hematite was discussing what the church’s responsibility was in caring for widows and orphans and the conversation was based upon 1 Timothy 5, specifically 1 Timothy 5:8. It reads: “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than the unbeliever.”

The conversation that I was fortunate enough to sit in on make me think, “Is the church as  whole doing enough to care for the elderly?”. I tend to wonder. My own denomination owns care facilities where those who need such assistance are provided for and cared for. Yet are we as Christians individually taking the time to reach out to those in our own church families who live in nursing homes? So many are forgotten or ignored and that is unfortunate. God asks us to care for those who unable to care for themselves any more. Lets not forget them. Praise the Lord!

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Go To The Nearest House of Worship

Summer is coming and will soon be here within a month officially.  The school year is coming to end and summer school will be upon us soon, at least it will be in my family.  My wife and I are planning our vacation around summer school this year. Many of are us are doing just that–planning our vacations.

What I am about to offer you might sound  like a broken record because you will always here me say it around this time of year as summer nears. I know when we are home we do our best to attend worship as often as we can. In the same respect attending church while we are on vacation is not as complicated as it might sound. Some of us might be going to the beach, others might be going to the mountains or perhaps we might stay in Missouri and go to a state park. I’m all for that. No matter where we find ourselves on a Sunday morning let’s take an hour to worship God.

Because communion is so very important to us as Disciples of Christ I do encourage folks to find a Disciples church wherever you might be and attend. If not then at least go worship at a church  where you might be comfortable, no matter the tradition. This is what God wants of us and I guarantee you if you don’t you will find throughout the following week that you missed doing something on Sunday which is attending church. We need that  boost that comes from worshipping with fellow believers and chances are wherever you go will be their welcome guest.

 

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Shining the Light of Christ

During the Lenten season as we move closer and closer to Easter, a Scripture from the Bible usually is called to be preached from in the Revised Common Lectionary. It is one that challenges Christian to shine the light of Christ upon all men. It’s tough for any one of us to do good all of the time. I know that I don’t. I’ve been known to make some pretty poor choices, especially when it comes to treating the people around me with love and care.

Shining the light of Christ means showing goodness, being righteous and honest in all of your relationships, personal and professional. I admit thought that sometimes that is awfully hard to do because we live in a dark dark world filled with violence and hatred.  This tough world though, if you think about it, is controlled and managed by human beings who aren’t always willing to show love.

 

All the more reason, in the midst of this dark world, for Christians to shine their light and be beacons to those around us.  We are called to be separate from the rest of the world. We are called to be different. Not to be judgmental, not to be spiteful or jealous or unforgiving but in fact the complete opposite. The light of Christ is love, it’s understanding, it’s lack of spite and jealousy, it’s forgiveness. Really it’s very simple if you think about it. I pray that we all are able to shine Christ’s light and let no one around us snuff it out.

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What is Your Most Prized Possession?

If you asked the average person the aforementioned question, what would they tell you? It might be an expensive car, it might be a diamond ring, it would be anything that you hold of great value. When you ask a Christian that question, what would their reply be? I would hope their answer would be, “My Bible”.

Nothing in my mind is more important to a believer, for many reasons, than their Holy Bible. It is a guidepost, a beacon to a better way of life. They are sixty-six books that describe, in different ways and in different contexts what it means to be in relationship with God and how to live according to God’s plan for our lives. We all have our favorite scriptures. The list is long for me and I hope it is for you too.

At the end of the day t=you know that the Bible is in fact your most prized possession because it is something that you could not live without. Do you take everywhere you go? Do you have a specific translation that you prefer to read? Some like the NIV, some care for the King James or perhaps even The Message. No matter what, it is what you value the most above everything you own.

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Only God Knows

If someone were to ask what the hardest job is in the while I will tell them I have it. It’s not being a pastor. Ok sure there is stress and challenges involved in being a congregational pastor  but that’s not what I’m talking about. I have another 24/7 job that’s even harder, that requires making good choices but also on a daily basis I must not have any regrets no matter what I do or say—that job is being a parent. It’s tough but I wouldn’t trade anything for it in the world nor I think would my wife.

To say the least there are days in which I would love for my children, ages three and six to be out of the house and in college, all grown up. I wish it more often then I should. I wish I could speed up time. But then God reminds me He is in the one in charge of time and not me. I wish I could tell the future and know what sort of men my boys are going to be. Again….only God knows that. All my wife and I can do is our best in raising our children with God’s help along the way. I don’t know what 2014 is going to look like but as long as we have God in the mix everything will be ok no matter what may come our way. Praise the Lord!!!

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Santa’s Address

As the parent of a six year old I am often struck with the things that Nicholas comes up with in conversation. I shouldn’t be surprised because this is part of the growing up process. As we are approaching Christmas both of our children are caught up in the season like we all are because the season is everywhere. One thing my children have been able to do multiple times is see Santa. They even saw him get take off a roof in Lawrence Kansas by way of a firetruck ladder. Needless to say both kids loved it. 

Nicholas recently asked Dawna and I what Santa’s address was. I told him 1 North Pole. I don’t know if he believed me or not. While Santa is an icon to the Christmas season we have impressed upon him why we celebrate Christmas and this is because of Jesus’ birth. Let us not forget that.

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What Would Jesus Do?

I am a huge believer that life is all about choices and I base that logic upon my own experiences. Throughout my own life I have made decisions that have had a positive impact on my life and brought rewards. Other decisions though I have paid for along the way, many of which I regret.

No where in the Bible that I know of does it mention anything about the idea of ‘choices’ but what I do believe is that God gives us free will and with free will we have the ability to honor and bring glory to God or to dishonor Him completely. When we CHOOSE to be kind and loving to our neighbors and to our families do you suppose this behavior lifts up God. Of course it is. As Christians when we choose to be hateful towards others how could such behavior honor God?

We have the power to shape our lives. How we shape them is entirely up to us.  When we give our lives over to Jesus I think making good choices becomes so much more important because you are then living your life for Christ. Yet the reassurance we have as Christians is that when we make decisions that tend to cause regret we are forgiven by God. Our sins were forgiven by way of  the sacrifice Jesus made for us upon the Cross at Calvary. That is our reassurance.

Praise be to God for all the blessings that we receive from Him and the strength and wisdom He gives us in the life moments when we must choose between right and wrong. The majority of the time we know what to do. The question we can ask ourself is simple: “What Would Jesus Do?”   Amen.

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Church History

How well do all of us know our church history? I am not referring to the history of our local church family, although that something in which we all should be familiar with I think. No, I am talking about the church as a whole.

Growing up through our educational system we start in grade school  learning the constitution in the first grade ( or second perhaps) as we become familiar with American History.  We learn about our forefathers, such as Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson. Granted at the point in our education the subject is called social studies. Not only do we learn American History but World History as well. History is so important to the learning process that it continues into college.  If our interests develop in our education we may very well choose to focus a little more deeply on specific topics.

My question is how well do Christians know their church history? The average Christian does not have to go to seminary to learn the background of how we came to be who we are and where we are now in the life of the church. Find a book from the library or bookstore and just read and learn. It’s fascinating not to mention edifying. I highly encourage it.

Back to First Christian Church of Hematite Homepage

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The Power Of Forgiveness

There are approximately fifty parables in the Gospels, covering topics from being kind to good stewardship to saving those who are lost. One of my favorites is the Parable of the Unmerciful servant in Matthew 18: 21-35. It’s a topic that I think affects us all because everyone of us is challenged to extend forgiveness to our neighbor when the need arises.

One day Peter came to Jesus and asked Him, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?   When Peter asks this he puts a specific number on how many times he should forgive. I would imagine he was hoping that Jesus would agree on this limitation. But Jesus did not. With emphasis Jesus says, “I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. The number is limitless.

One day when a king wanted to settle accounts with his servants, one particular man was unable to settle a debt of ten thousand talents. The man pleaded for mercy and out of kindness the king did so. But when this very servant who had just been forgiven this large debt was not willing to extend compassion for a  fellow servant who owed him a hundred  denarii ( far less then ten thousand) he had him thrown him jail. When the king heard of this he was indignant and had the first servant turned over to the jailers to be tortured.

God cannot forgive us for our sins if we do not do the same for our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s not easy but being Christian is not easy either. The reward for doing so is beyond limitation.

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