Sunday Bulletin Inserts
Browse by letter: W
When something needs doing I want to get cracking and get it done… Especially if it's distasteful. I hate waiting. I hate it when I've put in my order and it takes more than 10 minutes to get my coffee and biscuit. I hate it when I've asked God to do something and He just sits there. So often it seems that He is completely ignoring me. I want to say, "Hey! Up there! I'm here needing You to DO something and You aren't even paying attention to me. What's going on? You promised to answer all my prayers if I just pray according to Jesus. Do I need to remind you where that Scripture is?"
For some reason, God rarely responds well to my sarcasm. It looks like I'd remember that. At times, I have had to get really serious with Him and tell Him that I really do not want this problem that has been hanging on for more than two years to spoil the Faith I have in Him. And yet, year three is just around the corner and here we sit with very little done concerning a job for my daughter. It got to the point where I was embarrassed to even mention it during prayer request time. Then it hit me that God was dealing with my daughter not with me. This problem was between Him and her, not me. It isn't like He has let her starve, or lose her home, or live in a box under the Interstate. He is teaching her something while I sit stewing. Finally, I got it. I'm still praying and waiting, but the lesson isn't mine. I'm on the sidelines this time, but the wait is excruciating.
Sometimes, we can't help but wait on the Lord. Things just won't move until He moves them. Then there are other things that we already know what needs to be done, it's just doing it that we have to follow through with. Like in making decisions in our life.
The Bible (especially Paul's letters) is an excellent, moral guideline for making decisions about jobs, friends, churches, getting married, choices that we make in our lives that should be done from the Christian morals viewpoint.
I see waiting on the Lord for things that I don't have any control over and even though they affect me personally, I can't DO anything about. These things are totally in God's hand and we either trust Him or we worry and fret about them until we're sick. <<<this is a specific reminder to me to listen to what I say. Which I don't always do.
Some people say that waiting upon God is the most difficult discipline in Christian living.
'Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.' (
'But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.' (
But what kind of waiting are we talking about?
I understand the statement 'Wait upon the Lord' as several different things.
1. Wait before acting to be sure I know His will for my life decisions.
2. Wait before reacting to a situation. When someone 'pops' off at me, I am to wait. Calm down before speaking back. Too many times I have 'popped' back and regretted it. Too many times I have reacted to a situation before I knew all the facts or simply reacted because I jumped to a conclusion which turned out to be wrong.
3. Wait within a situation until it is time to act. Only God knows why He wanted me to stay in a marriage with an adulterer, liar and mischief-maker. Only God knows why this man was allowed to tear up 7 lives. Because of him my oldest daughter and her husband spent several hours at the police station and my youngest daughter was arrested. However, the word from God was 'Wait. Let Me handle this.' So I did. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was wait and forgive this man.
4. Wait upon the Lord and His timing for me to go home. I would rather be with Jesus than here. I have a yearning and longing to be there. However, I am waiting upon the Lord because He has a purpose for me here.
5. Wait upon the Lord and His timing for Jesus to come again. That will be a joyous and glorious day for Believers everywhere and The Day of despair and horror for unbelievers.
Wait… and wait… and wait… Oh, how those words make my head ache! What is so crucial that God needs me to wait?
What is actually happening when we wait upon the LORD? About 15 years ago I received such a marvelous poem entitled
Mary told the "waiters" at the wedding to "do whatever He tells you to do." Without this direction, they may have just stood around fretting, wringing their hands, and even might have been yelled at by the host. Mary directed them to wait upon Jesus and to heed what He said.
The Waiters needed to be attentive. Mary instructed them to pay close attention and to obey Jesus. Well, that is the classic Sunday School directive, and shouldn't be surprising, however so many of us flatly do not obey what we know God to be instructing us to do because it just isn't the answer we want to hear!
The Waiters had to be patient. We don't know if Jesus turned right away to instruct them or if they, indeed, had to wait. Jesus said, "My hour has not yet come." He may have communed with the Father, asking Him permission or taking His instruction from the Father before giving direction.
The Waiters needed to be dedicated and focused on solving the problem. They had to set everything else aside to follow Jesus' instructions. It is so very easy to get side-tracked or even derailed when so much in our life demands our attention. Everything from family, to work, to church, to ministry things, to traffic, to assignments, all of it can clamor so loudly that it drowns out the still small voice.
The Waiters had to be discrete. They didn't stand around gossiping about running out of wine. They didn't spread the news to all and sundry that the host had no more wine. They listened, and quietly obeyed. Is that a bit novel? Is that too wild a notion? Am I getting sarcastic? No one except Jesus, His mom and the waiters knew what the problem was, and no one knew where this Best Wine had come from.
This gives us a magnificent broad spectrum in how we must act when we are Waiting upon the LORD.
I was in a snit about something so I was praying about it all, laying it before God so He could take care of it. God talked to me about making someone comfortable. What does that mean exactly?
Mennuchah...men*oo*kaw-- is what I found when I looked up comfortable. That's only found in two places in the Bible. Comfortable in only TWO places? It means provide peaceful place to rest. Or as in 2Sam. 'comfortable words' peaceful and true and trusted.
How can we Wait if we are not at peace? We are not in a true state of waiting on God if we are worrying and fretting about something or someone.
Here's the tie-in. When we provide comfortable words and/or days. We literally are following
I wrote from the depths of my heart about :42" target=" blank">. Her personal legal fees amounted to more than $500,000 and the state racked up more than $2 million because of frivolous ethics accusations which according to Alaska law had to be answered in court. Without fact-checking, the media spread the gossip. So many people took the attitude "where there's smoke," when in actual fact it was foggy thinking and sloppy journalism.
All of this leads me to a huge question, so let's set the foregoing aside and look at the question, WHY does God allow that to happen to such good and godly people? And another question, WHY does God not allow some Christians to defend themselves in situations such as this?
I know the answer to the first part…
God allows bad things to happen to good people for so many reasons: To bring Him glory in how Christians handle the bad things; To help others once the storm has passed; To strengthen His child and bring the child so close to Him we can hear the beat of His heart; and – here is what hit me – to give opportunity to rise to a higher level in our eternal preparedness. In other words, so we can graduate to secondary education and eventually earn a Doctorate in life experiences and Faith through how we react to everything God allows to happen to us.
If we do not weather storms, then those we minister to do not give a lot of credence to what we say. For example: A divorced woman would smile and nod at the attempts of the pastor's wife to console even though the woman hasn't a real clue what the divorcee is feeling or experiencing because she's never been through a divorce, yet the divorcee would feel like the offering was merely platitude rather than real hope. Been there, know it. When a believer has walked through the valley and came through the storm, the very fact that the person is sharing what God did in the midst of the storm brings the one ministered to great hope the same will happen to him. Hope is huge and necessary for mental health during tribulations.
Just as Job proved God's point to Satan, so too we are used even today to prove God's point to Satan, and we may never know it until we get to Heaven. How we handle life's experiences can either bring God glory, or bring Him shame. LORD, please help me to bring you glory!
The first thing any Christian does when something bad happens is call out to the LORD. We ask for prayer from our siblings in Christ, we bow the knee and head and humble ourselves to the One who can fix any situation. We snuggle close and climb up in His lap and we are carried in His strong arms. This is how we learn the rhythm of God's heartbeat.
But, the last reason is probably the most important reason. Our life is a progress of sanctification. This is how we become more Holy and become more Christ-like. There is no way we can do this with just head knowledge from books. We can learn principles, but we never know how those principles work if we do not practice them. Without practicing the principles, then we won't become adept at using them, just as we cannot learn the Bible without reading it. Practice leads to perfection and to the next level. Each level of a video game becomes harder and faster. To progress, the player must become adept or expert at a level and then he moves to the next higher level. That only comes with playing the game consistently. The player can become an expert more quickly if he studies the playbook. So, too, do Christians understand more, are more resilient, and have happier attitudes when we study the Bible which assists the Holy Spirit in His job of sanctifying the Body.
Bad things are not only common to man, but necessary to man so that our souls are stretched which enables us to hold more and experience more of our LORD. Amen.
As to the second question, WHY didn't God allow a solid defense? The answer I've discovered is astounding.
God's purpose is for us to allow Him free reign over our hearts. When we do this, we bend the knee to His every decision and His every desire for us. When we get in the way, when we keep picking up the broken pieces to glue them together, we keep botching the repair. We can't do it without cracks or missing miniscule pieces. On the other hand, God repairs without scars. With that same power, God also allows mankind much leeway to repent or to hang himself.
When hearts are hardened, no matter how big the mountain of proof is, the hard heart will not recognize truth for Truth. Make no mistake, when God defends you, who can thwart the plans of God or undo His work?
Paul says in . We are not finished works just yet, and we all battle temptation daily because Satan knows we are vulnerable to it. It is true that we are no longer 'according to the flesh' or 'in the flesh' as . We are now children of God, born of His Spirit, and able by His Spirit to please God and obey. Yet even though we now have the capacity to please God, we still have the fallibility to sin as well because an element of the flesh clings on in our earthly bodies (.
In order to win this regular battle against our flesh and humanity, we must understand the nature of the fight. There is a sense in which the flesh has been conquered in that those who are in Christ have by faith 'crucified the flesh with its passions and desires' (. This means that just as we have been set free from sin, death, and eternal condemnation in hell, we, too, have the ability and authority in and through Christ to be set free from any bondage to the flesh. We are no longer slaves to sin (, and therefore it is possible to reckon the flesh as dead since it has been crucified with Christ. It is not that we no longer have flesh or are not vulnerable to even the worst of sins, but it is that we are able to choose by faith to live as if the flesh will have no control or influence over our behavior and decisions (. Therefore, believing that we can resist sin and the lusts of the flesh is a major step in living in obedience. This is why Paul continues in . It is in this freedom that we are to walk by the enabling of the Spirit as we reckon the flesh to be powerless over us. If we think we are helpless victims to the forces and pulls of our flesh, we will be prone to living defeated, helpless, and hopeless lives.
So as we go throughout our day to day lives, let us take Paul's advice in . When we are not able, He is able. When we lack faith, He is faithful. When we are weak, He is strong. May God give us grace to trust in Him, that His ways are the best ways for us and that He will be there by His Spirit to enable us to follow His lead.
Do you ever just want to roll around in it?
That self-pity, discontent, anger and indignation?
It's been one of those weeks! Your children are the worst-behaved on the block (or in Sunday school), your husband discovered termites in the family room and you can't find the library books that were due two days ago!
Though not earth-shattering, these irritations on top of all the everyday stresses and imagined failures just make you want to yell and whine a little, "It's not fair! Why don't my kids listen to me? Why won't my husband (fill in the blank)? Why can't I have at least one good hair day each week?
My grandfather was a pig farmer (in addition to corn and beans). When I was very young, I remember thinking it was fun to "help" him feed the pigs. I also remember wanting to hold and pet the cute, pink, clean baby pigs. Did I mention they were clean? Usually still in the farrowing house stall with their mama. And clean!
I had no desire to be near the large hogs who rolled around in the odorous mud. In fact, I'm sure I turned up my nose at them.
That's probably what people want to do to me when I wallow. Although it feels good for the moment, as the cool mud does to the pigs, it quickly loses its appeal and gives off a stench that is offensive to everyone in close proximity.
When I wallow, I know I'm denying God the change to comfort and teach me, to help me grow spiritually. Sometimes I even pull others down to roll around in the mud with me. Kind of a group wallow.
God gives us the alternative to "wallowing" in
So my prayer when I feel like wallowing will be, "Lord, when the rains fall, help me to stay out of the mud!"
We all know one - those people who come into a room on a breeze and hug everyone within reach. They have smiles and kind words for everyone and mean it, they cry at the drop of a hat and are drawn like a magnet to loners and outcasts.
There is a woman in my church named Carolyn who is one of these warm, fuzzy people. You know you won't get past her without getting a hug! Some people, like my ten-year-old son and my brother-in-law, will go out of their way to avoid that hug. I embrace it! (No pun intended.) When Carolyn walks into a room and I know I'm going to get a smile and a hug my spirits lift and I feel welcomed, like I'm in a familiar place.
I believe Jesus was a warm, fuzzy person when he was on earth. Those who met him felt his love and compassion. Little children were drawn to him. Loners and outcasts were welcomed with open arms. We are blessed because we can still experience his warm, fuzzy manner of love. In giving ourselves to Christ, we receive back all the love he has to give - more than we can comprehend and certainly more than we deserve.
After a bad day or on a very cold night I sometimes turn to various things for that warm fuzzy feeling - chocolate, flannel pajamas, hot herbal tea, a good book - but often these mere things don't provide the comfort I seek. That's when I sense open arms waiting for me and love and compassion crowding the room. All I have to do is dive into His Word or say a short prayer and warm, fuzzy peace will engulf me.
"When Jesus landed as saw a large crowd he had compassion on them and healed their sick." -
This week thank a warm, fuzzy person in your life and give them a hug. Thank God for his son, sent in warm, fuzzy human form, who taught us what true love is through his compassion and his self-sacrifice.
For as long as I can remember I have been a sports fan. My father before me was a sports fan. Being raised in the state of Ohio, my teams were, of course, the Ohio State University sports teams, the Cincinnati Redlegs, the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Royals. You may be wondering about the Redlegs and the Royals.
The Royals were the old National Basketball Association team located in Cincinnati. They moved westward and became the Kansas City Royals (about the time that the baseball team of the same name began) and then on to the west coast to become the Sacramento Kings. The Redlegs started out as the Cincinnati Red Stockings, then becames the Redlegs and now just go by, you guessed it, the Reds.
The Reds were my first passion as baseball was my first game. I have lived and died with the Reds. I remember their demise at the hand of the hated Yankees back in the early 60s when I thought they were the best team in baseball. With the likes of Bob Purkey, Joey Jay, Gordy Coleman, Ted Kluszewski and a young Frank Robinson, I thought they were just the best. Then came Johnny Edwards and Sammy Ellis and Jim O'Toole and Pete Rose and Johnny Bench and Deron Johnson and Gary Nolan. I loved them all.
Today I am supporting a team that seems to stay up late at night to think of ways to lose games. They blew another one last night as Aaron Harang pitched three hit, one run ball through the eighth inning only to be replaced with a 5-1 lead and watch as the Reds gave up four runs in the ninth and then lost the game in the thirteenth inning. It's frustrating because the outcome is never what I think it will be. Enter God.
I am sometimes frustrated with God because I don't always know what He's doing. Hallelujah to the fact that He does know. Many times my second guesses of the managers and coaches of my sports teams have been proven right. With God, I'm always wrong and He's right. And I like it that way. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways."
Tonight my beloved Ohio State University Buckeyes will play in San Antonio, Texas for the right to call themselves the Alamo Bowl Champions. A few days from now the University of Southern California Trojans will play the Oklahoma University Sooners in a bowl game for the right to call themselves National Champions. I guess I miss the Buckeyes' 2002 season when they were the Champions.
I remember when I would pull for the Buckeyes to be able to play in the granddaddy of all bowl games, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. That used to be where the champions of the PAC 12 and the Big Ten squared off against each other before the Bowl Championship Series changed everything. There were several times that the Buckeyes went out there with National Championship hopes.
One such trip was January 1,1969. They had just finished their season having beaten teams they weren't supposed to beat and now they were heading out west to play against the Heisman Trophy winner Orenthal James Simpson. He was better known as O. J. Simpson won the award while finishing his career at the University of Southern California. They were heavily favored to win the game.
By the end of the second half the Buckeyes had taken over the game to the point that Simpson was a non-issue. Those who watched saw a cautious O. J. carrying the ball in the second half. Ohio State won the game and the National Championship. That was the last time they had been champs until 2002. Hope we don't have to wait another thirty-four years for a championship. Right now I have my memories.
That's what frustrating. All I have is memories and no way to affect the outcome. People sit back and play remember when with the church. Sad thing is, they weren't the reason the church grew before and they have no intent of being the reason the church will grow in the future. But they remember and talk about it and wish for it to return.
Churches grow and become soul-winning churches by intent as they follow Jesus' directive. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Rhythm. It's that funny word made up of six consonants that determines the flow of music. Without rhythm one person might be able to sing a song, but add a couple more people and you would probably have a song more like alley cats yowling from the back fence. Rhythm is what makes a melody come to life and harmony come together. It is the very essence of music for it is that which primitive man could determine just by tapping a foot or slapping his side.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Professional athletes will tell there is a rhythm to athletic endeavors as well. Baseball players get into a rhythm hitting a baseball. Quarterbacks get into a rhythm throwing the football. Basketball players get into a rhythm with their shooting stroke. Golfers, bowlers, tennis players, gymnasts; you name the sport and there is a rhythm to it. Work has a rhythm also. In fact, pretty much every facet of life has a rhythm that affects not just the way things happen, but sometimes if they even happen at all.
When life's rhythm is affected life's production is altered. In other words, mess up your rhythm of life and you lose a lot of the enjoyment and your personal effectiveness. Personally, this week has been a rhythm killer. With all that has been going on this week it seems like nothing is meshing the way it normally does. The regular flow of my world, my rhythm, is just a bit off beat. When that happens I have to adjust not just the way I do things but also some of what I do.
That rhythm is what keeps me from accomplishing the extras that I have in my life, like this column. The extraneous matters of my life become time drainers and, you guessed it, rhythm killers. I have found that when my rhythm starts to skip a beat and then just get really erratic, the thing for me to do is take a step back and ask why. Why am I not feeling the rhythm of my life the way I normally should. The answer lies in something very simple. It lies in my focus on the Christ of Calvary.
"He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living."
Ask any champion weightlifter if he or she would like to carry that extra three hundred to four hundred pounds around with them on a daily, 24/7 basis. Of course, the answer would be an emphatic "NO!". It is fine and dandy to lift three hundred pounds over the head, hold for ten seconds (or more) and then let drop with a bang and clank of the weights rattling together. But does anyone want to strap that extra poundage on their back and carry it around? Bathe with it? Sleep with it? Play with it? How ridiculous! But we Christians do it all the time.
Oh, it isn't the black iron circular shape thingy with a hole in the middle, but it is black and it is definitely heavier than iron. It weighs down the mind like an anchor dragging the bottom of the sea when the alternative could be an open sail full of the salty, brisk breeze carrying the ship on a sure course. What is "it", exactly? We will identify those stones you carry around with you when Jesus' clear message of the cross was "No stones. Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."
Now, we have the command, how do we do it?
These Christians are content to wander around in the wilderness…never entering the Promised Land of milk and honey. They are content with living the life of hardship, with just their needs being met and content with the miracle of that instead of accepting God's promises of blessings. It is a question of maturity and immaturity, a question of babes in Christ and soldiers in Christ.
We Christians carry the stones around all the time because we don't recognize them as stones. We do not trust God enough to let Him carry them, or crush them. Christians carry them about because they don't know how to put them down. These Christians do not know how to look past the stones to the joy and freedom beyond the stones.
What are these stones?
premeditated murder , any secret sin that lays in the heart festering the soul? Any one or more of these things is the same and carries the same sentence as murder because once you've broken one part of the law, you've broken all of it.
The Law identified sin, gave it a name and exposed it to the light. Because of this, there were many sins that were identified that deserved stoning. Because He loved us, He died for us paying the price for each sin. Each one of those stones were cracked and laid to waste because of the all consuming power of the Lord God Almighty who raised His Son from the dead, removing forever the sting of death which is sin. If even one of those things listed above were punishable by death, then the least is also punishable by stoning.
Most people can look at this list and say "I haven't done any of these things!" In fact a young rich man said this right to Jesus' face. The problem, as James' points out is that whoever stumbles in one point of the law is guilty of breaking all of it.
God has many blessings prepared for us, but we have to show Him we are mature enough to have the blessings. We must show Him that we can turn the talent into five talents and not just bury it until He returns.
Admittedly, Paul tells us our enemy is not flesh and blood but the dark principalities and the wicked spiritual hosts. Our enemy is not each other, but Satan. But, sometimes our worst enemy is our weighty thinking. We pick up the sack of burdens every morning before we get out of bed and lots of times, we get in bed with that sack of burdens. If we could but recognized who the real enemy is then we could present a united front and the stones would land on the shields of faith instead of being tossed about within God's army, or within our own hearts.
I have said this before, and I'll probably go to my grave saying it, "The message of the Cross is no stones."
We have been given over 1000 commands from Jesus and the Apostles to live by as Christians. It is impossible to live them within our own strength and in fact that was God's whole point. Breaking one makes us guilty of breaking all. Since all fall short of the glory of God and since no man is sinless—who can cast the stones? Only the Sacrificed Lamb is worthy to take the scroll. Only Jesus is worthy to cast stones…but He will never do that to those who step out in faith and trust Him, honor Him and follow His commands.
If we keep the glass clean, if we continually wash ourselves in His Word, and if we confess our sins, aligning ourselves with God, asking Him to guard our thoughts and deeds, then God's all powerful light will shine brightly.
Over the years there have been many men and women who have perpetrated hoaxes for their seeming benefit. Most of them have been found out. The reason I say most of them is because those that haven't been found out yet are not yet known to be perpetraters of hoaxes. Get the picture? One I would like to share with you is Wilhelm Voight.
Voigt was sent to prison in 1891 in Germany for robbery and released in 1906. As a result of his imprisonment he had lost his identity card and passport and was penniless. But he had his wits. He remembered how he used to mimic the Prussian soldiers of his bootmaking days and decided to buy a secondhand army suit and pretend to be a Prussian captain. He dressed up in his outfit and went to a local army barracks and found a corporal and five privates and started barking orders. Five more men were enlisted to aid the little army in their quest.
Their quest? To take the town of Kopenick. Which they did. They arrested the mayor, took over all communications and siezed the town coffers. Voigt helped himself to 4,000 marks from the treasury and them quietly slipped away. Nine days later he was captured and arrested. The story made international headlines and became a source of embarrassment for the nation.
There is a story about another man who people claim has perpetrated a hoax. There is a small problem. The very people who accuse this man of a hoax also call him a good man. But how can a man who perpetrates a hoax be called good? Especially when the hoax has caused the needless loss of thousands upon thousands of lives over the years of those who have believed this man's hoax.
The man is Jesus. The hoax is His claim to be the Son of God. The world wants Him to be a good man of great principles of peace and love. But good men don't lie. Men who bring peace don't cause death for those who receive it. A man who loves doesn't deceive. "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice."
the Second Week after Epiphany