Thanksgiving Prayer 2015

Thank You God for all the blessings in my life
Bestowed from Heaven above;
You’ve given me such a wonderful wife,
Who fills my heart with love.

And thank you for blessing my children,
With loving spouses of their own,
Continue to lead them and guide them,
Bless their marriage and their home.

And thank you Lord for precious memories
Of those who in faith have already passed Your way,
And thank you for Your sweet promise,
That I shall see them again some day.

I have so many things to be thankful for,
But my list would never be done,
If I did not stop to thank You Lord,
For the amazing gift of Your Son.

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Are the Syrian Refugees My Neighbor

As I was walking down the hall the other day I passed two other people walking the other direction who were apparently discussing current events.  One asked the other, “What do you think of the Syrian refugee situation?”  I got out of earshot before I heard the reply.  But the question made me wonder how I would have responded to their question.  If someone asked me what I think I hope I would say, “It doesn’t matter what I think.”  You see, too often my initial thoughts are based on my raw emotions and what I want.  I can easily fall into the trap of making decisions, responding to questions and writing posts about how I feel, what I want and what I think.  When something is as important as the issue at hand, I find that it is not quite so important what I think but rather what the Lord thinks.

As a Christians we are not called to live how we feel, how we want, or how we think.  Now let me say that we are also not called to check our brains at the door (Come now let us reason together says the Lord…Isaiah 1:18).  But we are called to submit our will to the Lord and to prayerfully seek His guidance in all things.  Christ tells us in Luke 9:23

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

 So far, “seeking the Lord’s guidance in all things” seems to be missing in the majority of the responses I have seen in regard to the Syrian refugee crisis.  I have heard people say, “We need to help people here!”  And that is true.  We do need to help people here.  There are many things that we can and must do better as a nation and as individuals.  Yet in this response, I do not see how the need to help people here precludes us from seeking the Lord’s guidance as to how we can help others.

Also, in that response, it seems I hear people saying, “We should help OUR neighbor.”  This brings to mind the man in Luke 10:29 who “wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Christ then told the parable of a Jewish man who was injured on the road.  He was passed by and left to die by a priest and a Levite who did not want to get involved.  They had other good things to do I am sure.  Ultimately the man was rescued by a Samaritan.  Samaritans were hated by the Jews.  The Samaritan was not concerned about who his neighbor was or the fact that this man was from an ethnic group that hated him.  The Samaritan saw someone who needed help and he helped him.  The Samaritan was concerned about doing the right thing.  “Who is my neighbor?” the man had asked.  The man who helped the one with a need proved to be a neighbor said Christ.

I hope that each of us will prayerfully and thoughtfully consider the issue.    I hope each of us will consider what the Lord will have us to do and not what we want to do.   Until next time, stay strong in the faith.


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The Sacrifice of Praise

My chaplaincy program is going well.  This week I have put in some hours visiting patients at the hospital.  I had some really good conversations with several of them and some really great conversations with a few others.  I had an opportunity to pray for and pray with several people.  I even had more than one patient pray for me.  Yes, I had some good conversations and I met some people with marvelous attitudes and great faith.  Despite an illness, disease or surgery due to some type of malady or accident, they could not wait to tell me how they were trusting in the Lord.  There were some I met who complained about various things and they had valid reasons, I’m sure.  But not these people; they were eager to share about their faith despite their circumstances.  It was encouraging.  It reminded me of Hebrews 13:15 which says

Heb 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

In this letter the author reminds the church that Christ is our High Priest, He has interceded on our behalf, cleansed us and provided us access not just to the Kingdom of heaven but to the very throne of grace where we may obtain mercy and find grace in our time of need.  Because of Him and THROUGH Him we are able to offer the sacrifice of praise.

Sometimes it is a sacrifice to praise.  You have to lay aside that valid reason you have to complain about aches and pains or a struggle you are going through.  You have to forego “your right” to grumble about the problem and choose to speak graciously about the problem solver.  We offer up thanks unto Him because we know that whatever we are going through, our High Priest is with us.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He who provides hope for the hereafter will provide help in the here and now.  He is worthy to be praised.  We can choose to bring the sacrifice of praise…may we do so continually.

Psalm 109:30 With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the LORD; and in the midst of many I will praise Him.

Posted in chaplaincy training program, Christianity, enduring mistreatment, God is worthy, Hebrews 13:15, influencing others, inspirational, Psalm 109:30, religion, sacrifice, the sacrifice of praise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning A Lot in My Chaplaincy Training

My chaplaincy training is going well. I have been blessed with a great instructor and I am working with some wonderful chaplains and fellow students.  The program is very enjoyable and educational.  During our classroom activities this week, we explored our upbringing and personal histories.  The exercise is meant to help us understand why we tend to relate to others in certain ways and why we react to stressful situations the way we do.  The ultimate goal is to help us become better care givers and equip us to become better ministers.

All of the exercises and assignments to this point have served to remind me how greatly the Lord has blessed me throughout my life. He has helped me to overcome some difficult obstacles and has protected me and guided me in some wonderful ways during my journey.  He has prepared me for this chaplaincy program in a myriad of ways.  Much of my training over the years has been a great foundation for some of the rules and regulations we are to follow, how we are to interact with patients and staff, and even the way we are required to log our visits with the patients.  When I look back over the years, I can see how well the Lord has not only provided for me and protected me but also how He has led me, guided me and shaped me.  He has prepared me for where I am this very day.  Oh my goodness, God has been good to me.  When I consider these things I am reminded of the prayer of blessing at the end of the book of Hebrews.

Heb 13:20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

I know that am not “complete” yet.  I know I still have some learning and growing to do.  But I also know that the God of peace who raised Christ from the dead is at work within me!  He will help me; He will keep continue to work in me and through me.  He has led me and guided over the years, I do not expect that He will stop now.  He has too much invested in me.  He gave His Son for me.  To Him be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.

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Healing and Growing a Little at a Time

For my devotional reading today, I read Mark 8:22-26.  It details for us Jesus healing a blind man.  This particular healing by Christ is differs from others mentioned in the gospels.  This one is progressive in nature rather than instantaneous.  Christ initially applies spit to the man’s eyes and lays hands on him and asks the man if he can see.  The man reports that he sees men, “…like trees, walking around.”  Christ then lays His hands on the man again and the man’s sight is restored and the man begins to see things clearly.

As one reads this passage, the question naturally arises, why did this healing take place in a progressive way?  We know from the other healings recorded in the gospels that it certainly was not because our Lord did not have the capability to heal this man instantly.  It was not because our Lord was too weak that day.  So what was going on?  I believe it unfolded as it did because the Lord wants us to learn some things about how He operates.

First, we need to know there is no specific formula He works by.  Yes, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.  His nature never changes; His character never changes; He is always Holy, always righteous always full of compassion, but He is not required to do things in the very same manner each and every time.  Just because He has healed some blind people instantaneously without the involvement of spittle does not mean He is obligated to observe the same practice and pace every time.

Secondly, not only does the Lord have full liberty to do things His way but He also does them in His time.  With this man, Jesus took the time to walk him out of town before even beginning to address his needs.  Perhaps the walk out of town and the gradual steps to this healing allowed this man to grow in faith.  Perhaps the walk took him further away from naysayer and negative people who would have squelched the man’s faith in the Lord’s willingness and ability to work in his life.  Perhaps this man’s belief and hope began to become stronger as his sight was being restored.  Maybe our Lord was giving him the opportunity to marvel in wonder at the way God was walking with him and continuing to work steadily with him as his sight was being restored.  Maybe our Lord was allowing him to develop a testimony that would strengthen him later in life when other seasons of waiting for a blessing would be necessary.

Finally, I think that the Lord gave us this unfolding, progressive healing so that we can be comforted and encouraged.  We can be comforted and encouraged because that is the way God typically works in our lives.  We are generally relieved of our spiritual blindness little by little.  Our healing, our growth, and our maturity typically takes place in a progressive manner.  I love reading about the way the Lord walked with this man and worked with this man because it comforts me and tells me that my Lord will finish what He starts in my life.   The bible says Philippians 1:6

Phil 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

I am confident of this very thing; I serve a God who won’t let me down.  I know that if you place your faith and trust in Him, He won’t let you down either.  I hope you have a blessed week.

Posted in Christianity, Church, faith, God, Healing, Mark 8:22, ministry work, patience, Philippians 1:6, spiritual growth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Kind of Work Do You Do?

This week I started my Chaplaincy Training program. The program will include 100 hours of classroom instruction and 300 hours of clinical service in a local hospital. On Monday I met with my instructor and the other students in my group and we discussed the material that we will cover during the next 6 months. I am going to be learning some very valuable information and developing some excellent skills which will help me in the upcoming years as I minister to others. I am so excited! I was talking to someone about it today and they mentioned what a blessing it must be to have the opportunity to be a minister and work for the Lord. They are right, it is a blessing to be involved in ministry. I hope and pray that I never take it lightly and never take it for granted. But as we talked I was reminded that you don’t have to be in ministry to be working for the Lord. Paul says in Colossians 3:23 – 24
[Col 3:23-24 NASB] 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
All of us have the opportunity to bring God glory, serve Him and minister to others no matter what occupation we hold or what task we undertake. Whatever work the Lord has blessed us with, whatever task is set before us, we should do it as if we are working for the Lord. I pray that you will have a good week and that you will be safe. I pray that you will know the Lord’s blessing. I pray that you will see yourself as an instrument in His good and glorious Hands. Until next time, stay strong in the faith.
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Advice and Consultation

Proverbs 15:22 Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.

I love the wisdom and instruction we find in God’s word. I was reminded of this verse from Proverbs a couple of times this week. One instance was a few days ago when my daughter came by and described to her mom a learning opportunity that has recently presented itself with our grandaughter Haley who is about to turn four. My wife and daughter sat down at the table, talked it through and came up with a good, sound, loving strategy that is already making a difference.

Facing a tough decision or a challenge you haven’t encountered before? Seek out the advice and counsel of someone you know and trust. Talk it through and let the Lord lead you and guide you. God’s word tells us it is a path to success.

Posted in Christianity, Church, God, God Speaks Through His Word, grandchildren, Proverbs 15:22, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment