How do you remember?

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What do you remember from your childhood?  For me, I remember all the GREAT times our family had at picnics.  Often, on July 4th, the McCarty clan would gather for an old fashioned hot dog and hamburger picnic.  Of course the obligatory potato salad and jello were there as well.  And, my grandmother made a cake named the “nameless cake.”  Yes, that was its name.  Apparently she saw the recipe in a magazine and there was a contest to name the recipe.  But, grandma never saw the result! So, for all those years the McCartys just called it the nameless cake.  But, nameless or not, it was delicious.  Among the frivolity were games, laughter and family.  What  wonderful memories I have of those picnics.

Another day on the calendar that brought family together was called “Decoration Day.”  Now, this picnic was normally held at my grandparents farm in Western Pennsylvania.  This gathering found the Shoemakers coming together for a picnic.  Let me tell you, farmers can cook!  We would have everything from fried chicken to burgers.  On the farm, however, it wasn’t just fun and games.  Those cows still needed to be fed and milked twice a day.  One other occurrence would always happen that wasn’t the most pleasant; traveling to the cemetery to decorate the graves.  Many of the family would travel to various cemeteries to remember our relatives who had passed on.  Some of the Shoemaker clan had passed away in the 1800’s and their gravestones were hard to read.  Yet, it was a lesson in history needed to be passed on to the younger generation.

In those days, however, I didn’t really understand why in Pennsylvania we called it “Decoration Day” and it seemed in Ohio we called it “Memorial Day.”  Well, over the years I found out why.  During and after the Civil War many were seeking ways to memorialize those who died in battle.  They would travel to the cemeteries to literally decorate the graves. Thus, it became known as Decoration day.  By 1887 the name was changing to Memorial Day.  It would not be until 1967 that the name was officially changed and by 1968 Congress declared the last Monday of May as the official day for Memorial Day.

I can, also, remember the parades and marching bands on that day.  I can remember the patriotism that was sparked on that day.  It was a time to focus more on those who had died for our freedoms than on the picnics and festivities.

On Sunday we will celebrate Memorial day.  Wait, you say, that was on Monday!  I know when our country celebrates Memorial Day.  Each and every year, and only once a year, we soberly remember those who have died for freedom.  But, we, every month, have a memorial day of our own.  On the first Sunday of each and every month we set aside a portion of our service to remember the One who died for our spiritual freedom.  No, we don’t usually have a picnic.  But, we have a “meal” none-the-less.  When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we are remembering HIs death, burial and resurrection.  It is Jesus who said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”  You see, it really is our Memorial Day.

So, no matter what we call it, let us look back to the Cross of Christ to remember His sacrifice for our sins.  Then, let us look forward to His return again to catch us away.  How thankful I am for those who fought and died for my freedoms in America.  But, I’ll be eternally thankful for my Saviour Who died in my place and gave me life.  

 

Come Sunday ready to celebrate Memorial Day with us.

 

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Families: A Foundation to Society

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Mothers, fathers, children; where would we be without them?  All of us reading this have a father and a mother.  No one, except Jesus Christ, enters the world without benefit of a mom and a dad.  Some of our moms or dads may not have been a good role model, but we could not be alive today without them.  The Bible says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord.”  Children are precious gifts to many married couples from our Heavenly Father.  Yet, He chooses some couples to not have children. His wisdom is always best, even in these situations.  But, to most of us, we have been blessed with children.

Today, some couples are getting married with the express desire to go through all of married life without children.  Some do it for medical reasons.  However, some simply decide that they do not want the responsibility of raising a child.  They might blame the condition of the world or economic issues.  But, they are robbing themselves of one of the greatest blessings God has given to married couples.  Even in the difficult times, children are a blessing.

Sunday we will move forward in our study of the Book of Ephesians to chapter six verses one to four.  In this section the Apostle Paul tells us how Spirit-filled children, parents and fathers will look and act like.  He will lay down a number of principles for each one to demonstrate in their lives to show the world the grace of God in action.  He will impress upon us how to imitate the relationship between the Son of God and His Father.

Do you know when the first Mother’s Day was celebrated in America?  1908.  Do you know hen the first Father’s Day was celebrated in America?  1910.  Now, do you know when the first Children’s Day was celebrated in America?  1925? NO!  1950? NO!  Actually, the first Children’s Day was celebrated over 40 years before the first Mother’s Day; 1867!  Before Ann Jarvis began to petition for a day to remember mothers, churches were setting aside a day to remember children.  Without children a society dies.  Without obedient children a society falls apart.  Children are truly the future of any community of people.

Strong Christian families are needed today.  Mothers are needed who love and serve the Lord and are Spirit-filled in living for Him.  Fathers are needed who love and serve the Lord and are Spirit-filled in living for Him.  And, children are needed who love and serve the Lord and are Spirit-filled in living for Him.  The Apostle Paul will give instruction on how this can happen.

Sunday I will share 10 reasons we often raise “angry” children.  Do you wonder why more and more children are going up mad at the world around them?  I will list what I believe to be 10 causes for this phenomenon.  This list is not inspired not exhaustive.  Still, it will give us food for thought as to what we can do set our children on a course to love and serve the Lord.

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What’s that you say?

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What do dads and sons, Queen Esther, apologetics and Eschatology have in common?  Nothing, you say!  WRONG!  🙂

These four subjects are the topics for our Summer 2014 Sunday School shake-up.  Four teachers will be teaching these subjects for ages 6th grade and up.  Ken Renfro will teach a class on Bible dads and sons.  It will be an interesting study to see how dads and sons related to one another.  For this class we will limit the class to men and boys.  Dianne Madison will embark upon a study of the life of Queen Esther.  This class is limited to women and girls.  She will be finding some stimulating principles from Queen Esther’s life.  Pastor Jon will instruct his class on the art of defending our faith.  This class is open to all.  He will teach thought provoking ideas on how to “give an answer for the hope that lies within us.”  Pastor McCarty will give a class on the subject of eschatology.  This class will also be open to all.  I will seek to answer many of the questions people have concerning the future.

Our younger students will be divided into two classes by ages.  These classes will give the opportunity for the whole family to participate in the Sunday School hour.

Learning is a life-long adventure.  No one would ever be able to exhaust all there is to know on any subject.  And so it is with our study of the Bible.  No mater how many years we have been saved or come to church we can always learn more.  We would love to see each and every family at FBCCLG choose a class and participate in it.  Could anyone really know all there is to know about dads and sons, or Queen Esther, or apologetics or eschatology?  I doubt it.

On Sunday, sign up for the class of your choice.  If any are full, simply choose another one.  All classes will be captivating, engaging, inviting, tantalizing, and stimulating.

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Husbands – It’s your turn now!

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Over 20 years I found this book and it saved my life!  If you desire to read it after reading this article it is available on Amazon for as little as one penny plus shipping!  It’s a great read!

Let’s face it, perfection is never attainable in any part of life.  No perfect wife, no perfect house, no perfect job and certainly no perfect husband exists.  Perfection in this life is just a myth and fairytale.  No matter how perfect husbands appear to be on TV and in the movies, no such person can be found.  So, when I read this book hope was stirred for a normal life.

Sunday we will examine the passage in Ephesians 5:22-33 to see what it says to husbands.  We’ve taken time to see what it says to wives.  Now, we must be sure to closely note what it says to husbands.  One thing that is perfectly clear is that husbands are to love their wives.  What does this love look like?  How should it be expressed?  These and other questions will be answered.

Between now and Sunday a good exercise for each of us as husbands is to ask ourselves what our shortcomings are.  Honestly look into the mirror of your soul to see what your wife sees.  That kind of honesty will result in stringer marriages and better relationships between husbands and wives.  Then, acknowledge these shortcomings and begin to go to work on them.

Maybe this Father’s Day we will receive this:

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Good Friday – For Who?

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How many of us while growing up looked forward to Friday?  I know I did.  I would complete each Friday by saying, “Thank goodness it’s Friday!”  I was so glad another week of school was over.  The weekend was beckoning me and I was ready for FUN.  Mondays were just not as joyful.  Fridays; sometimes they were really good for me.

One particular Friday in human history has been called “Good Friday.”  If we didn’t know better we might conclude some really exciting event happened on that Friday.  We might decide it is so called because a happy event happened.  I doubt many of us, if any of us, would call the day a loved one died as a good day.  It is, rather, a day of sorrow, mourning and pain.  Good?  I don’t think so.

Can anyone imagine calling “good” a day on which they were beaten, rejected, and died?  Our enemies might call that day “good.”  But, if we had a chance I doubt that is what we would call it.  Yet, the day on which Jesus Christ died for lost sinners, paying the penalty of death and separation from HIs Father, we call it good.  So, for whom is this day good?

To be exchanged for a murdering, thieving, rebel isn’t good.  To die for his crimes wouldn’t be good.  To be spit upon by a crowd of hecklers wouldn’t be good.  To see your friends deny they know you wouldn’t be good.  To have one you considered a close friend betray you to killers wouldn’t be good.  To be nailed to a wooden cross to die a slow excruciating death would not be good.  So, why do we call it good?

It was good because Jesus willingly followed His Father’s will.  It is good because He obeyed His Father in the face of death.  It is good because His Father had already declared that Jesus was “His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased.”  It was good because even though the perpetrators didn’t know it, they were part of God’s plan.  It was good because so many prophecies from the Old Testament were fulfilled that Friday.  It was good because this one Lamb would provide redemption for so many.  It might not have been so good for Jesus, but it was GREAT for us.

Today you need to stop to reflect upon the events of that day.  You and I need to contemplate how horrible it must have been, how painful and how humiliating it must have been.  Take time to consider the Gospel chapters that tell the story.  Meditate upon Hebrews 12:1-3.  Think about what the writer means when he says, “..endured…despising…shame…hostility…”  Go back to reread the passages that relate Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Ask yourself, where would I be if I was part of the story?  Would you do better than they did?  Would run and hide or stand up?  Would any of us be Judas?  Do we secretly posses a heart of stone?  What would come out of our mouth?  What?

But, as the now famous saying goes, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’.”

Good Friday?  Not so much for Jesus, but so much for us.  Don’t finish today without taking some time to give thanks to your Saviour for providing you with redemption.

 

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Which Easter will it be?

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OR

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Which Easter story will you celebrate?  It seems the world has gone so much for the easter bunny, chocolate and eggs that the entire story of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection has been lost.  Speak to people today about what Easter is all about and most will not even know about Jesus’ resurrection.  Like Santa Claus, the easter bunny has come front and center.  Historically the concept of an easter bunny came from immigrants from Germany.  We are told German Lutherans brought this tradition with them.  Why they began to use the image of a bunny for easter is unclear.  But, it has certainly become the dominate theme in our culture today.

Though we might add coloring eggs, hiding eggs, or eating chocolate to our Easter celebration, it must never replace the real message of Christ’s resurrection.  How important is the resurrection of Jesus?  In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul lists three reasons the resurrection is indispensable to our faith.  In 15:12-13 Paul says if there is no resurrection then even Jesus did not rise from the dead.  That would mean He is still in the tomb, dead like all other human religious leaders.  Second, in 15:14 and 17 Paul says if Christ is not alive our faith is futile, vain, empty, and useless!  Who wants to own something that is useless?  No one.  Thirdly, in 15:15 Paul says if Jesus is not alive then his witnesses are false witnesses.  That is, if we preach He is alive and He isn’t, then we are just liars.  Like telling people the easter bunny is real, when we know it isn’t, if we tell people Jesus is alive and He isn’t, we are just telling fables.  It becomes yet just another false hope.

But, HE IS ALIVE!  He did come forth from the tomb.  He was triumphant over death, hell and Satan.  That first of all Easter Sunday mornings the disciples came to the tomb sad and despondent to finish the task of burial.  But, their gloom turned to great joy.  They saw and heard the message, He is not here, He’s ALIVE.  No longer would death hold Him.

In the Book Romans Paul says this, “…declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead…” (Rom. 1:4)  God assured us that His Son was His Son by bringing Him out from among the dead ones.  He is ALIVE.  Praise His name.

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Spring has sprung!

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Fo us in California today is a great day because the rains have arrived.  We have experienced one of our driest winters in history.  While much of the country has been getting a lot of rain, snow, sleet, and ice, we have been really dry.  The “drought” word has been bandied about by many in our State.  But, today, we are getting a really nice rain.  And, the rest of the week is to be quite wet.  For us spring has sprung.

But, there is a more important sign that spring has sprung.  Today, all around the country, open day baseball games are being played.  This, my friend, is a telltale sign that we are leaving winter behind and are headed to Spring and on into Summer and Fall.  For some of us at least, this is the official opening of Spring.

Ernie Harwell, the longtime voice of the Detroit Tiger’s radio broadcast, would begin each Spring training season with this quote from the Song of Solomon.  “Fo lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.  The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12)  Though he just might have been taking this out of context, it sure works for setting the stage of a long baseball season.

Now, I know, many of you couldn’t care less about baseball in general or the SF Giants or even the Oakland A’s.  But, for me, I love this time of year.  For me, I’m looking forward to Madison Bumgarner throwing that first pitch.  I always seem to enter the new baseball season with a renewed hope and optimism.  I may have my heart broken by October.  But, I usually enjoy the ride.

Yet, baseball, flowers, or April showers aren’t really the most important events to Spring.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important day on our calendar.  Without HIs death, burial, and resurrection, His birth would have been useless.  Without His work on the cross, His work on the earth would shave been futile.  Yes, THIS is the reason we look forward to Spring every year.  THIS is the foundation of our celebration.  And, we will never be disappointed in this celebration.

Go ahead, if you are a baseball fan, cheer for your team.  Yell, scream, encourage, and talk about your team.  But, don’t forget the more important work of Christ on the cross.

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GO GIANTS

I want it NOW!

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Which do you choose?  Now or later?  If it is punishment, I suppose we choose later.  “Wait until your dad comes home.”  Now, in this case, waiting might be the worst part.  Or, you hope mom has forgotten by the time dad comes home.  Or, how about this one, “We’ll get that later.”  Yet, later never seems to come.  But, the “let me have it now” attitude, seems to have been perfected in our day and age.

 

I did a little historical research about getting things now.  I found that in 1936 instant Jell-o pudding was invented.  Depending on who I read somewhere between 1900 and 1922 instant oatmeal was invented.  Quaker Oats introduced an instant oatmeal in 1966, but had already been marketing a “quick oats” for over 40 years.  And, then there is our staple drink; coffee.  Many of us like to begin our day with a nicely brewed cup of java.  I guess people in the past weren’t much better about waiting than we are because it was 1890 that the first instant coffee was introduced.  It was in the 1940’s, however, that the onslaught of freeze-dried coffees hit the market.  One of the first was “Taster’s Choice” by Nescafe.  The ad campaigns marketed it to the fast paced society of the 50’s.  

Today we are simply inundated with more and more instant gratification choices.  Instead of calling someone and hear their voice we simply text.  Instead of using our writing skills with pen and pear, we just type an email.  Instead of printing pictures on paper, we keep them on our phones or computers.  You never know when you might want to look at the picture from three years ago stuck in the middle of that pile of 50-100 gig of photos! 

On Tuesday I suggested that we learn to slow down and smell the coffee.  I wonder how you have done so far this week.  Did you take any extra time to just sit quietly with the Lord.  Were you “still” to get to know God? (Ps. 46:10)  Did you take something off your schedule so you could spend time with your children, your spouse, your friends, or even your church?  Have you slowed down at all?

Time has a way of racing along.  Just yesterday I found some pictures that made my very sad.  My high school, Springfield High School in Akron Ohio, was torn down to make room for a newer, shiner one.  The pictures brought back a flood of memories.  Walking the halls, going to class, being part of sports, staging a sit-in…oh, so many memories.  But, after 43 years, I guess it’s ok for it to be demolished. In fact, I looked at when it was built and found that the newer section was built in 1950!  It was newer when I was there.  Yet, progress can be disappointing.

So, don’t let time just slip away.  Don’t waste your time on trivial pursuits that will amount to nothing. Invest in things that will reap eternal rewards.  Slow down to brew some real coffee, to make some real pudding and to cook some real oatmeal.  And, instead of just spending minutes with the Word and the Lord, invest an hour or so.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

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Racing through Life

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Who remembers Simon and Garfunkel? I do!  Does that make me really OLD?  I think so.  One of their more popular songs was known as “59th Street Bridge Song.”  It began with these words, “Slow down you move too fast, you’ve got to make the morning last….”  It was a call in the 60’s to slow down from the fast pace of life.  Maybe they were on to something.

If the 60’s represented a fast paced life, what can be said of our day?  We live in a time of just about instant everything.  From virtually instant communication through FB, Twitter, email and cell phones to the plethora of fast food restaurants and drive-up windows to ATM’s and instant cash to….  Well, you get the point.  Most people are running so much from one activity to another they never stop to “smell the roses.”  Even the prophet Nahum spoke of the invading enemy as having raging chariots. (Nah. 2:4)  I guess speed isn’t only a modern day  problem.

What do we miss in the fast lane?  We can find out if we simply pull over to the slow lane!  Or, better yet, get out to walk.  It’s amazing the things we miss when we are fixated on speed.  Teenagers want to speed through life to adulthood.  Children want to speed through childhood to being a teenager.  And, many want to just get moving faster through life.  Rarely do we hear to slow down.

I want to issue a call to slow down.  Remember when we were children our parents and teachers said this to us, “Stop, look and listen.” They didn’t want us to rush across the road and endanger our lives because we weren’t looking.  A few years ago I was on my way to a Giants game and I must have been too interested in getting there quickly.  Crossing the Embarcadero I failed to stop, look and listen and almost paid for it with my life.  I ran out in front of oncoming traffic, narrowly missing being struck.  Believe me, if I had been run over, the driver would not have been at fault!  But, the Lord was gracious and got me across the street without a scratch.  But, if I had only slowed down, none of that would have happened.

What are we missing by just rushing headlong into the fray?  We need to take time to meditate and reflect.  Find a quiet spot where you can be alone without interruptions.  That means, turn off your phone, get away from your computer, and listen to the birds.  Think about life and the Lord.  Don’t become distracted as Martha was.  She was way too stressed out and pent up!  She needed to slow down to see what was more important.  Jesus told her that her sister, Mary, had chosen the better part.

This week, why not practice a little slowing down?  Get alone with the Lord.  Watch your children or grandchildren more than the TV.  Listen to the Lord more than music.  Pay attention to others more than your favorite sports team.  Slow down.  Stop, look, and listen.

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Role, Purpose or Function?

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What is our purpose?  What is our role? What is our function?  Is this simply three ways to ask the same question?  Is our purpose the same as our role which is the same as our function? Is it related to how the words are used in a particular context?  Let’s see.

When we speak of a role our minds will often interpret this as in the role an actor plays.  The part, or role, he or she plays is not their real life or their real job or their real family.  They are given a part to play and they say woods given to them to say.  People who play the role of a smart person may or may not be as smart as they appear.  An actor or actress play the part, let’s say, of a doctor may perform that role extremely Well.  But, I for one, will not call upon them when I need surgery! 🙂

Purpose has become an overly used word in our day.  It seems everyone from Rick Warren to Dr. Phil uses this word!  Of course a legitimate use of it is fine.  But any word or thought that is overused loses its significance.  What our most important purpose on earth do is to glorify God.

But, I want to think about function.  How we function is part of doing what God has called us to do.  Each of us functions in many different capacities.  For instance, each of us functions as a producer. That is, we function as a worker.  Some of us function as a parent.  Everyone has a parent, but not all of us will be parents.  Another function some of us will take on is that of a partner.  Not as a partner in a company, but functioning as a partner in marriage.  Every husband and wife have certain functions that are more related them them than to the other. In the coming weeks we will be looking into these functions in relationship of the biblical family.

Though I will use these three words somewhat interchangeably, I want to try to focus on the thought of function.  I don’t want us to just be “playing a role.”  I don’t want us to just know what our purpose is to be.  Rather, I want us to function in way God has called us to function.  If husbands and wives, moms, dad, and children would do this, Christian homes would better reflect Jesus Christ.

So, how’s your function quotient.  In mathematics the term function is used of inputs and outputs.  A home will only put out what is being put into it.  Let’s commit to functioning well.

 

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