I've heard a lot of "soul talk" throughout my life from the time I was a young boy to now.
I know it's there, even though I can't see it. I believe that it will live on after I die. So, it's important. How important?
Franklin Graham, an evangelist and the son of Billy Graham, during a service in Warsaw, Poland, added this to the discussion about souls:
Sunday’s message at the Festival of Hope in Warsaw came from Mark 8:34-38, a familiar yet compelling Scripture that asks, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”
Franklin Graham repeated the question throughout the night, and it hit home for many listening.
“You could have all the iPhones in the world … control all of the armies of the earth. You could put all the euros and stack them in this arena,” he said. “Your soul is still more valuable.”
A young woman in the country of Georgia was asked about the biggest need of youth in her country. Check her answer:
It’s not a trick question. But still Elza Satseradze paused for a second before answering.
When it comes to the youth of Tiblisi—and all of the Republic of Georgia for that matter—what is the biggest need?
“Jesus Christ,” Satseradze, 22, said. “Many people here are living in darkness.”
How would American youth answer that question? Do they understand who Jesus Christ is and the role he plays in this world?
Over the course of my life, I have struggled with being intentional in reading the Bible. I know that it's God's word to people and that he uses it to speak to them. I need to watch this sermon again from our church Sunday where visiting pastor Marvin Williams talks about the role of the Bible and how God uses it to speak to us.
I wonder how the people of Jerusalem reacted to that earthquake. Did it really shake the buildings in Jerusalem? Was there much damage from all the moving of the earth? Did the people in the area connect it with the death of Jesus? Did they get it?
What does that earthquake mean for us?
Is it a reminder for life today that there is a God and he's in control of everything?
I think my wife and I are going to go to a Good Friday service this year to recognize the death of Jesus on the cross more than 2,000 years ago. It's an important occasion and it's one that's too easily left by the side of the calendar.
If my grandkids and I were sitting in the coffeeshop eating scones and drinking espresso and they asked me about how I celebrated Good Friday as a young boy, I'd have to tell them about the services at the Empire Theater in Bay City which were sponsored by local Lutheran Churches.
The services were held around noon time and were at one of the nicest places in our small city on the side of the Saginaw River. Hundreds would attend. One of the local pastors would give a sermon where the Good Friday story would be told. There must have been choir music, but I don't remember it.
When it was over, I remember walking out of the theater onto Washington Street and everything would be quiet on the busiest street in town. Stores had shutdown as part of the observance.
Here a picture of the Empire from the Cinema Treasures site.
We celebrate Easter this coming weekend. For me personally, it's easy to let the relevance of the occasion slide by without tbinking about why we take time out for this special day.
If I was sitting around the dinner table with my three grandchildren and if they asked how I celebrated Easter as a child, I'd go back to an archive of memories. Growing up in Bay City, right at the door way to northern Michigan, my first memories of the season were at Immanuel Lutheran Church on the eastside of the Saginaw River.
The organ music was grand and the church was decorated with lillies and other elements that emphasized light. There were always lots of people, many of whom sat on chairs set up in the aisles. And when they sang the Easter hymns, you could actually hear the people singing louder than the organ played.
As a young child, I almost expected that Jesus was waiting off on the side ready to make an entrance. For an hour or so, the hope inside the church was thick and bright.
I wonder what Easter is like at Immanuel these days.
I don't remember hearing this song when I was a kid, but I think Sandi Patty captures the essence of Easter Sunday. It's a special day that these days seems to have been co-opted by the Easter Bunny.
I can see that the sun's coming up outside our living room window as I listen to this video from Francis Chan. He talks about the Apostle Paul and the passion he showed for other people in what he wrote, especially Romans 9. He talks about the unceasing anguish he has for the salvation of others.
This is grist for my thoughts as we prepare for our trip outside "the compound."
Have you ever heard a sermon about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper? I've heard many. The actual occasion is found in John 13. I remember going to a Promise Keepers event with my son and seeing many of the leaders wash each other's feet.
It's too easy to that incident literally. At church Sunday, Bob King, a preaching pastor at Ada Bible Church, spoke about it from a larger context.
He did talk about serving others as a way of duplicating reflecting what Jesus did for me. He first talked about allowing Jesus to clean our hearts from the sin that permeates it.
I invite you to watch the sermon by clicking on the video above this post. I'm going to listen to it again.
There are certain things keeping super-wife and me from being really contented. I see one of them everytime I look out our living room window this morning and see the deep Michigan gray and when I think of round two of the polar vortex coming tonight which will bring single-digit temps.
Sometime during the day today one of us will talk about how nice it would be to live in Florida where on the coldest day a light jacket would be sufficient. And if your local utility has a power outage, your main concern is about humidity. Life would be so much more comfortable, we like to think.
Those kinds of thoughts that seem to permeate lots of life areas are the topic of a series of sermons at our church by Jeff Manion, our pastor. Today is lesson one and there will be homework and projects.
There's a textbook--Satisfied, Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption. He wrote it in a way that's incredibly relevant to everyday life.
I'm not sure what challenges this next year will bring, but I'm sure there will be some. I know that I need to stay focused. For me, it's a constant effort to keep my needle on true north. I don't want to forget where my strength and my purpose come from.
This song from Australia's Hillsong Church seems to be right on the mark. I need to keep it on the top tier of my playlist. I know that my heart can get off-center. The words of this song can help me refind it.
As I get ready to celebrate 68 years of life next year, I have been doing an inventory of my past six decades plus and I have come to some conclusions. I see more clearly that I am a radically-flawed person and that I can't do anything about it.
This flawed nature has affected every part of my life. I knew this before, but I have been slow in understanding what this has meant for me and where I have put my priorities. With way more life behind me than ahead, I see this more clearly than ever.
What's the answer? I have been saved from myself and next year, I want God's help to reflect back to others the love I have been given.
The video below if from my church and its service yesterday. It's the whole service. Check the sermon which is a clear explanation of where my hope comes from. I just want to share it with others who looking. To get to the start of the service, move the slider beyond the first six minutes of slides.
I first heard Shauna Niequist's name in a sermon a few years ago where our pastor quoted from one of her books. I was intrigued, but didn't explore further who she was until a few weeks ago. I found her blog, a few of her presentations on YouTube and read excerpts from one of her books.
In this video where she shares during a chapel at her alma mater Westmont College, she talks frankly about her struggles and how God has and is working in her life. She has a story that kept my attention.
She emphasizes that everybody has a story about their walk with God and how He took their brokenness and made them whole. These stories need to be shared with others, she adds, to show how God changes people.
There's a lot of digest here. It would be too easy to say that at age 67, I've learned all I can learn. But I haven't. This video made me realize that learning is lifelong.
Super-wife and I heard this weekend's sermon at Ada Bible Church twice. It was part two of an explanation of why John The Baptist set an example for all of us to follow. Pastor Dan Wright described him as being truly great.
As we talked about the sermon last night when we first heard it live-streamed and then this morning when we worshipped at church. John hit a wall of opposition for his belief in Jesus. He was put in prison for pointing out to King Herod that it was wrong for him to get a lap dance from his step daughter. It resulted in him getting his head chopped off.
So, what can we learn from this story that will be helpful in the 21st century? A bunch, according to the sermon.
How does one internalize these truths so they are part of one's everyday life? It takes a firm resolve to stay focused in the right direction. Then it's time for a sermon on another topic and text. The learning is non-stop.
Have you ever heard God's voice talking to you?
How closely did you have to listen?
I'm listening for his voice as I get ready for another birthday. As a member of the first class of baby-boomers, I turn 67 years-old in a couple of weeks. As I move into this next chapter of my life, I want to make sure that I'm listening for his guidance on the rest of my life. Am I doing what he wants me to do?
As a retiree, it's easy to get distracted by a lot of interesting stuff, a lot that can be described as good. But, am I following Jesus and what he wants me to do?
My church--Ada Bible Church--emails everyday a short Bible study to extend personal thinking and talk about the previous Sunday's sermon. Today, it said:
Think of your life. Are you really interested in following Jesus? Have you held anything back from him? If you have, how well are you really following him?
Remember, following Jesus doesn't necessarily involve earthly riches or self-advancement--it may lead to suffering. We're called to place our whole lives at Christ's disposal.
My son Justin and I were sitting in our rented car parked at the Thomas Mack Center at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas eating lunch. On the way to the car, he bought a Third Day CD which we then listened to as we ate a sandwich with a view of the Luxor Hotel in front of us.
That's where I heard Mac Powell sing two songs that stuck with the recesses of my memory, "Cry out to Jesus" and "The Creed."
In an email that our church--Ada Bible Church-- sent out this morning as part of their Beyond the Weekend effort, pointed to the Cry Out to Jesus song. I clicked on the link.
I know that parts of daily life can quickly turn to mush and there seems to be no place to go. This morning's email said:
Our "cross" may involve the burden of rejection, temptation, loss, and possibly even death. Nevertheless, we can find inspiration and strength as we "fix our eyes on Jesus" (v. 2)--remembering his suffering, his faithfulness, and his promise to be with us.
I needed something to jumpstart my internal batteries this morning. There's lots to do and I need to be focused in the right direction. Chris Tomlin has a great song here about what I need to be reminded of all the time.
If you've read this blog or if you know super-wife and me, then you know that we had a challenging winter and spring. It was something that Gladys and I faced together along with a lot of friends who were praying for us as doctors were repairing my right eye.
The tone for all this and the true north for where our attitudes needed to be was contained in this song by Matt Redman. It's 10,000 Reasons and it says it all.
Despite the day, we were able to check off more and more of the 10,000 reasons to praise God.
My first exposure to the song was through a friend from Indonesia who had experienced a lot of the bumps and grinds of life. Her English is challenged, but she knows this song. She had her son write out the words on a sheet of paper which she keeps in her case for her glasses. She reads it everyday.
I'm not sure what the future holds but this song states it well. There are always more reasons to praise God.
When I open my computer, the first site I usually go to in the morning is Radio Bible Class and their Our Daily Bread devotional. I try to use it in the same way that one uses a flint to make a fire. There's a spark that grows into a fire.
Today's devotion raises the question of whether God is real or just a figment of our imagination, a pretend friend. Then the author of the devotion goes on to defend the reality of God.
The reality of God is something that I need to remind myself of everyday. It's easy to glide right on by this most important part of life.