March 30, 2020

How's your anchor?

The temperature was unseasonably warm. On the open seas, you noticed the weather more than usual. And you did not want to hear "unseasonably warm" in regard to the weather especially in the North Atlantic. Low winds and high humidity and higher than normal water temperature were the ingredients for bad weather, really bad weather!

The first mate remaindered Captain Thomas, "Cap, winds calm. We ain't moving. You thinkin what I'm thinkin?"

"Probably", the Captain responded.

"Think, we can run it, sir?"

"Expect not. We're too heavy after loading in Boston. These ships not really built for speed."

"What ya gonna to, Cap?" the experienced first mate knew what he would do. "But", he wondered, "does this young inexperienced captain know what to do?" 

Then to the grizzled old sailor's surprise, the young buttoned up Captain turned to him and said, "What do you think we should do, Mate? You've been here before."

"Were it up to me, Sir, I'd steer toward the bay off the starboard. We need to get close enough for the anchor to grab hold, but not too close."

"Don't want to run aground, right?"

"Yes Sir"

"Well, get the boys going and let's run for cover."

"Yes Sir", the mate replied as he rushed out to bellowed his orders to the crew.

The ship made it to the bay and got their anchor in place before the storm hit. The winds tossed  the ship around. Waves washed over the deck sweeping everything not tied down into the angry sea. Black surrounded the tiny ship as brilliant lightning zipped through the darkness. Mother nature seem angry this evening!

But the anchor held through the night!

March 25, 2020

Weeds and Thorns

Are you a gardener? I am not, I will readily admit. One season, in a fit of enthusiasm, I purchased some tomato seeds and planted them in small containers. They were put in sunny spot and were watered regularly. I told everyone to be ready for my Big Boy tomatoes. As they grew, I eagerly staked them and watched over them like a mother hen. One day, I checked on my baby tomatoes and discovered some other plants were taking over my tomatoes crop. I spent the rest of the summer until harvest time, on my knees grumbling as I pulling weeds. I pulled a mess of weeds and two days later more showed up. My persistence payed off that fall with some juicy bright red tomatoes. And Yes, I will plant them again. Even with the hard work those tomatoes cost me, they were worth it! Your own tomatoes taste juicier than those grown for the grocery store and they are better for you. Truth be told, it is a lot more fun bragging about your own tomatoes than those bought at Kroger! 

Isn’t that a bit like growing the seeds God plants in our lives? We receive the Word with enthusiasm and eagerly anticipated the harvest. But somewhere along the way, the weeds and thorns begin to grow in our lives and become a threat to the growth of the Word. You just can't stand by and expect your faith to grow. It becomes obvious, looking at your faith is not the same as growing your faith. In fact, if you don't go something there is a real risk your faith may not grow at all!

The weeds of life bring a harsh reality to growing your faith. Those weeds spring up in to the most unexpected places. Your are attending a gathering when across the room you spot the one person you dislike the most. The one who hurt you. The one who caused the most pain you have ever experienced. There they are laughing and joking as if they are throwing the hurt right back at you. They are so smug. You feel the pain and hurt as if it happened only yesterday. Your face turns red, your nostrils flare, your fist clinch. Just as you are about to charge forward with every intention of showing them  what you think about them, you are stopped by a still small voice, a quite intruder muttering the words you least want to hear, "Love your neighbor as yourself", "Love your enemies", "Love, love, love".

September 17, 2019

Love Lifted Me

I've listened to sermons in big churches and in small churches for a good number of years. I've heard some of the best preachers Christianity has to offer. I've even preached a few sermons myself. But you know something - I do not remember any of them! I could not quote any of those sermons even those I preached. This lack of memory is a not a result of my advancing age, as my wife suggests, or my diminished mental capacity or my inattention during the sermons. I suspect I have a lot company.

However, there are some things I remember quite well. There are good Christian beliefs which come easily to mind, often seemingly "out of the blue". The brain is minding it's own business when out of the blue, something pertaining to God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit interrupts.

The other day I was walking my dog Lilly when this popped into my frontal lobe.
     Love lifted me, when nothing else could help, Love lifted me.
     I was sinking deep in sin, far from the distant shore,
     Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
     But the Master of the sea lifted me, heard my despairing cry
     From the waters lifted me. Now safe am I
     Love lifted me, Love lifted me.

 That isn't from a sermon I heard. It isn't from scripture I read and studied. It's from a hymn, a hymn written in the early, early 1900's, It was copyrighted in 1912, but was written and sung years before. The scriptural basis for the hymn is Matthew 14:22-32. I am positive there have been numerous sermons on this passage, but I only remember "Love lifted me". What better reminder of God's love for those of us who are deep in our sin? If you could only remember one thing about God's love, why not this old hymn?

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