Sunday, June 24, 2018

Why didn't somebody do something?

Recently, I was asked to give a Pro-Life talk for the adult Sunday School class at the church I grew up in. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about a subject that is of much interest to me. I wanted to share a few things with some additional thoughts and hope it is inspiring and helpful. Everything has to start with God. Always. No other place to start. Why does life matter?
In Gen. 1:26-27 we find that God created man in His own image. In Gen. 2:7 we find that God breathed into man His own breath. In Gen. 1:28 we find God telling Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. Life matters because God is the Author of Life. Life matters because we are made in His image for His glory. When a life is taken in this manner, we have deprived an eternal soul of the opportunity to glorify God. Psalms 86:12b "..I will glorify Your name forever."
In Deuteronomy 30:15-19 we find Moses exhorting the children of Israel as they prepared to finally enter the Promised Land saying "..I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I commend you today...then you shall live and multiply and the Lord your God will bless you in the land..." There can certainly be an application for us today. If we choose life, if we choose God's ways, if we do what He has commanded, we can know joy and blessing.
Abortion has been such a scourge on our beloved nation. 60 million and counting have been taken from the womb. It seems that judgement has fallen upon us for this. But, there is forgiveness! Freedom from this guilt is possible in Christ and all who have been involved in this decision can find grace and peace.
When Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a young girl, her parents, Mike and Janet Huckabee took her to the Holocaust museum in D.C. Mike wondered if she understood what she had seen. She had seen photos of untold horror. Children in the ghetto left to the streets, getting food that was tossed to them, lying over the grates to find some heat, and much more. Sarah could not believe that this could happen. All doubts were removed as to whether or not she understood when he saw what she wrote in the guest book that day. Sarah wrote "Why didn't somebody do something?" That is the question. Have we said anything? Have we done anything to promote a culture of life? Have we given to a mother in need who has chosen life? Have we supported a crisis pregnancy center? Have we told anyone why life matters? Have we decided, personally, that it DOES matter?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Sharmen's Hymn Rant, Pt. 1

There's very little lights are positioned just right to point toward the stage.  All around the large "sanctuary" it's dark.  All eyes forward.  Several people are on the platform area.  Two or three of them have pained looks on their faces as they strum, pick and play various types of guitars.  One of the guitars is a screaming electric, reminiscent of Eddie van Halen.  Another individual is encased in a plexiglass "cage" as he plays the trap set.  The trap set is so loud that the "cage" is necessary so that something is heard besides the driving beat of the drums.  Several other people are in front of the "band"  singing to the top of their lungs. Sometimes their eyes are closed as in a trance or moment of deep concentration.   Most of those doing the singing and playing are dressed in tight jeans, casual clothes and perhaps even a tshirt or two.  Some of the songs they are singing are vague, almost like love songs.  Others seem more religious.  So, where is this event taking place?  A local bar? A club scene? No, this is the local "worship center."  This is the new face of "worship." 
It's a "come as you are," "anything goes" sort of atmosphere. 

Long gone is the piano, the organ and the choir.  Long gone are the people dressed in their best, ready to worship the Holy God of heaven who is so holy that no human can even look upon Him.  (One has to wonder if the God of heaven is even in the hearts and minds of these people at all.)  Long gone is the hush of reverence.  Now it's loud, raucous and hip.  People are encouraged to bring their Starbucks cups into the sanctuary, and jive with the music.  After all, they want to leave Sunday "worship" feeling GOOD.

But, there is the matter of the older folks.  Yes, those pesky grey heads.  Always fussing about something.   But, scripture teaches us to revere them.  To show them great respect.  To listen to their wisdom.   Some of them find the new ways of doing things to be difficult to swallow.  Too often it appears that The "new and improved" methods are more important than senior citizens and those who may have built the church literally with their own hands or with their money and great commitment to the congregation. They grew up singing hymns and gospel songs of the past.  They remember the days of the hymnal, the organ, the piano and the choir.   These songs speak to them! I find it very very sad when these people are marginalized and no longer matter. Many of the men especially, are veterans. They put their lives on the line for freedom during the Korean War, the Vietnam war, etc for our freedom and that of others. They worked hard to provide for their families, perhaps in work places that were not very enjoyable and now in their old age, would so like to come to church on Sunday and be comforted with hymns from their earlier life. Does that mean all new music is banned? Certainly not. All music was new once. But, honestly tell me. Is it really right to throw all or most of it out? Is it really okay with you to make older folks feel uncomfortable every single Sunday so that the younger folks can be hip? Is it okay to tell a senior citizen in so many words that the younger folks are more important? Really, does it? 

Recently, I received a text message from an individual that was just down right sad. This person said to me, "My church threw away all the song books. Where is a church that sings Easter songs that I have learned since I was young?" If that doesn't pull at your heart strings, please examine your heart, just saying. I received another message from this same individual on another day, "Are you playing music anywhere Sunday morning? My _____and I want to go where there is traditional music on this Sunday." WOW. I know this person to be a stellar Christian. This person would have been the rock solid, pillar of any church they would have attended through the years, contributing to the congregation in many ways.  How sad it is that on Easter weekend, they would even NEED to try and find a church where they could hear some traditional Easter music. I beg of you. Do not forget the "old" songs. Many newer ones can never compare in content and singability. Even if you don't find anything beautiful or meaningful in such glorious songs as "He Arose", or "He Lives" or "Because He Lives," doesn't mean that others don't. Sometimes particular songs from one's youth have certain meaning and have helped carry them through difficult trials in life. Sometimes, they just want to come into church and sing these precious hymns with others. Please think about them, too.

Perhaps more churches could do what Nall Ave. Baptist is doing. Most Sundays, they have two services. The 8:15 service is mostly hymns and gospel songs taken out of their hymnal. Folks can either view the words on the screen or use a hymnal. I have been playing piano at this church service since last summer. So many people have come up to me and thanked me for playing. They love their hymns!!! I wish I had written down all the positive remarks. They are treasures in my heart. The second services is mostly contemporary with a band. At least at this church, you have a clear choice. It's really not that hard. It's called respect. It's called love.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Jeremiah--the Prophet tasked with a difficult job---

I've been enjoying my study of the book of Jeremiah even though it has a dark tone about it.  Jeremiah, who has been called the weeping prophet, was given a job few would ever desire.  Over and over, God called him to speak judgments and warnings to the wayward people of Israel.  In Chapter 1, Jeremiah laments his youth, "Behold I cannot speak, for I am a youth."  God counters him by saying, "Do not say, I am a not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you..."  God would tell him what to say.  Jeremiah was to trust God and speak truth.  
In Chapter 2, Jeremiah is given sermon material which includes chastising the people for committing two evils, "They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns,-broken cisterns that can hold no water."  Imagine that sermon on Sunday morning.  Not exactly "seeker friendly."  
It gets Chapter 5, the Babylonian Captivity is referenced with these words..."Just as you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve aliens in a land that is not yours..."  They would be taken from their homes and forced to serve a ruler not their own.  There again, not very "seeker friendly."  But, true.  
In the midst of the all the dark pronouncements, however, the one, true God, who made heaven and earth, repeatedly offered hope.  Forgiveness.  Pardon.  In Chapter 9, He reminds the people to not glory in their riches, wisdom or might, but instead to glory in these things..."that he understands and know Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth, for in these I delight..." 
In Chapter 17, God commends the man who trusts and hopes in the Him.  "For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes, but its leaf shall be green...
And finally, Chapter 24, verse 7.  A very hopeful passage..."Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart."

And so it is with God, the Creator.  Yes, He speaks truth and judgment, but He is ever merciful.  What a gracious Father He is!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Burning Heart...

Jeremiah, the Prophet said in the book which bears his name, "I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name."  But His word was in my heart like a burning fire..."  Jeremiah was weary of the unpopular ministry he had been called to.  He was mocked.  It was his lot to speak of the judgement of God.  He wanted to check out of that assignment and be free from the reactions of his friends and neighbors.  After all, who likes a Jeremiah?  Pretty much, no one.  No one wants to be the one with the bad news all the time.  
But, in spite of the dark emotions he felt, his heart burned with the truth.  He foreshadowed Peter and John in Acts 4:20, who when forbidden to speak of Jesus said, " We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard." (NLT).  Their hearts also burned with the Truth.  The Truth that comes only from God.  

Several weeks ago, I found myself in a very liberal church which was having quite the Christmas concert.   Much expense, many hours of planing and practice, and scores of folks comprised this program.  It was spectacular.  A massive church, glorious stained, glass windows and lots of attendees.  There was only one thing missing.  That true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The truth that Jesus came into this world to save us.  To pay for the sins we had done and could never pay for in ourselves.  To makes us sons and daughters of God.  To reconcile us to Him forever.  

After leaving this church and driving my friend and I home, my heart burned.  It burned with the Truth.  The Truth of the Gospel of Christ.  I had to speak.  Thankfully, my friend was willing to listen.  

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is glorious!  In John 1:14, 16-17 we have the Gospel encapsulated.  "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth...and of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.  For the law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."   

Yes, meeting Christ, the Truth, will cause a burning heart from time to time.  How can we not speak of Him?  He who came to rid us of our fears?  My greatest fear is dying and being apart from Him forever.  But, He has taken the need for that fear away.  Oh, to place ALL of my trust in Him, alone.  Give up all pretense of saving myself.  For He, the Truth, has done it all.  He has triumphed over death, hell, sin and the grave.  He offers me eternal life with Him forever, and His precious presence here through all of life.  Let my heart burn.  Let it burn with the Truth, my Saviour, Jesus Christ.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

Family History Trip March 2017 (3)