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“God Is in the Details”

 “Would this be any good?” asked Bilbo….  “I found it on the ground where the trolls had their fight.”  He held a largish key.  – The Hobbit, Chapter 2 After coming down from the mountains, the three trolls – William, Bert, and Tom – had pillaged villages near Rivendell.  They finally settled in the woods not far from the road, and from there they waylaid travelers.      The trolls chose this spot for a reason:  They can’t bear sunlight, which turns them into stone.  Staying awake all night – on the graveyard shift, so to speak – they hide during the day in a cave or hole.  Bur right here William, Bert, and Tom had discovered a cave with a stone door.  It was the perfect hidey-hole.      The cave, as it turned out, was an ancient treasure trove, complete with a key to unlock the door.  (Now, what are the odds of that?)  William, as leader, kept the key in his pocket.  But after catching Bilbo, he and Bert began fighting like dogs, rolling on the ground, kicking and pounding each other.  And the key tumbled out of his ... Read More »

“What Is Shaking In Your World?”

Max Lucado writes: “Possibly your future, your faith, your family, or finances?  It’s a shaky world out there.  Could you use some unshakable hope?” “If so, you are not alone.  Hope is hard to come by these days.  Many people believe this world is as good as it gets, and let’s face it, it’s not that good.  Though we’ve never been more educated, entertained, and connected, the suicide rate in America has increased 24 percent in 1999 – 24 percent.  How can this be?  One of the reasons must be this:  people are dying from lack of hope.  But what if we filtered our lives and our challenges through the promises of God?  God’s promises are pine trees in the Rocky Mountains of Scripture:  abundant, unbending, and perennial.” Our world is in need of hope.  I believe the world is longing to have hope in their lives.  The greatest source of hope is found in the Bible, where we find that true hope can be found in Jesus Christ alone.  When we think about hope, we need to look at the promises of the Bible.  Max Lucado does this in ... Read More »

The Time Given Us

Life can be fascinating, life can be scary, life can be short, life can be long.  But in life, I truly believe we are called to make a difference.  What difference do we make?  That is up to each one of us.  J.R.R. Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring writes: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  With this in mind, I would like to share two good stories (both true and connected). Story Number 1:  Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago.  Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic.  He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.”  He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason.  Eddie was very good!  In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept big Al out of jail for a long time.  To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well.  Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well.  For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences ... Read More »

“Forgiveness!”

One of the recent sermon series we had was “Forgiveness” by Adam Hamilton.  There was a lot of discussion about forgiveness and sharing how forgiving and being forgiven has made a difference in people’s lives.  Some of the questions asked are some Adam Hamilton also shared in his book. Is forgiving the same as condoning? No, forgiveness is not the same as condoning.  Forgiveness means letting go of the pain in our own lives and putting down the stones we have carried in our own hearts.  Yet we are also putting down the stones we might have thrown at those who wronged us.  Having said that, we can, and usually must, choose to let go of these stones, while still being clear that what happened was not okay.  We are choosing not to allow these wrongs to continue to affect us.  We are choosing not to give the wrongdoer any more power over us. Does forgiving dismiss the consequences?  Often forgiveness means setting aside the right to retribution, but sometimes there are consequences that cannot be avoided.  If someone lies to you or betrays a confidence, you may forgive that ... Read More »

“How the Apostles Died”

1. Matthew – Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, Killed by a sword wound. 2. Mark – Died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by Horses through the streets until he was dead. 3. Luke – Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous Preaching to the lost. 4. John – Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge Basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution In Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison Island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve As Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully 5. Peter – He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died. 6. James – The leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when ... Read More »

“There Are Angels Among Us!”

I posted this story on Facebook and folks commented that I should continue to share this story, so I thought I would begin with the Newsletter. Just a reminder that there are angels and God’s messengers everywhere and God sends help, sometimes in unique packages. We recently were traveling back to Wisconsin from North Carolina, needing to get back and probably pushing it more than we should have through heavy rain and winds. We had gotten as far as Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and our van starts making some noises when we touch the brakes. I commented that the heavy rain was probably causing it but it got worse, much worse. It was making noise even without touching the brakes. I pulled into a gas station, lifted the hood, laid on the ground looking underneath and saw nothing. Looked at the front driver side tire and somehow cut my hand bad. I told Lori I was going into the gas station to see where there was a garage. The clerk said he couldn’t help me because he had just moved to the area two days ago. I came out and there were ... Read More »

“The Story of Two Lumberjacks!”

The story is told of two lumberjacks – an older and a younger – both known for their expertise and speed.  Both were fearless lumberjacks and could clear big trees swiftly out of a forest. One the younger man challenged the older to a contest to see who could cut down the most trees in a day. The next day the contest began and both men went with their axes and went to work.  The younger man, with his vim, vigor and vitality, began in earnest chopping down one tree after another without stopping.  One tree after the other fell, both men using their skill with an axe to cut down many trees.  About mid-day, the younger man noticed that the older lumberjack chopped trees for about an hour and then took a fifteen-minute break.  He laughed that the older man could not keep up with him, needing that break to rest. At the end of the day when the felled trees were counted, the older lumberjack had chopped down one-third more trees than the younger lumberjack.  Puzzled, the younger lumberjack asked the older, “How could you, taking a break ... Read More »

“Grateful for Fleas!”

“In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Max Lucado in his book and study, Anxious for Nothing, shares the following reflection: Really? In every situation pray with thanksgiving?  Even when that punk takes your parking spot? Even when there is no more creamer in the fridge, your toddler is screaming bloody murder, and all you want is a cup of coffee? Even when she says, “I have cancer,” or he leaves after decades of marriage? Surely not! Surely the original Greek translation of this verse means “in most situations pray with thanksgiving.” In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells a remarkable story about gratitude.  During World War II, she and her sister Betsie lived in three different concentration camps.  The entire ten Boom family had been arrested for providing a safe haven to Jews and Nazi rebels.  It’s estimated they saved eight hundred lives before being caught and sent away. Corrie describes how the barracks of the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany was infested with flees.  The sisters were forced to sleep on wooden platforms with straw on ... Read More »

“C.A.L.M.”

    It was a gorgeous North Carolina morning, an awesome morning for turkey hunting.  It was a little cool as I walked into the woods, about an hour before sunrise.  I walked a short way and hit the owl call but nothing.  Walked a little farther, called and again, nothing.  Walked on, called, and heard a gobble in the distance.  Walked a little further, called and a gobble again.   There was a large oak tree off to my right side and headed for it, sat down with my back leaning against the tree.  I pulled out a slate call and a box call and did a few yelps on the slate and the gobbling got closer.  The tom was coming my way and I started getting anxious. How big was it? How long a beard?  Awesome spurs?  Another hearty gobble and it was getting close, maybe a hundred yards but coming from behind. Should I move?  Would it see me?  The adrenalin was pumping!  I hit the box call: “gobble, gobble, gobble” the tom said back to me.  It was close…      Then I heard a disheartening sound.  A hen ... Read More »

“May the Lord of the Force Be With You!”

With the release of Star Wars VIII:  The Last Jedi in December, it brought back to mind the Star Wars saga and the storyline behind the movies:  light vs. darkness and the Force.  What is the Force?  Dick Staub in Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters writes:  One of Star Wars’ great contributions is the reinforcement of the centuries-old teaching that something spiritual is at work in the universe.  Star Wars creator George Lucas named this phenomenon “the Force.” The Jedi seeks to master the use of the Force, to be suffused with and fueled by this potent energy that “surrounds us and penetrates us… and binds the galaxy together,” according to Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Yoda expands on this, describing the Force as a strong ally and source of power for the Jedi, but warning Luke Skywalker that this power exists in a delicate balance.  Under pressure or in dire circumstances, strong emotions can surge: “Anger… fear… aggression.  The dark side of the Force are they. The light-versus-dark dualism of Jedi lore parallels teachings found in the Bible.  As early as the first century A.D. the Apostle John talked ... Read More »

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