Praying Hyde

I recently read a story from the life of John Hyde (1865-1912), a missionary to India in the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 1900s. Hyde was somewhat famous because of his effective and powerful praying. In fact, history has nicknamed him as ‘Praying Hyde.’

Hyde once shared how one of the most amazing and profound lessons the Lord ever taught him about prayer actually occurred when he was praying for one of India’s native pastors who was both experiencing problems and was known to help create a few problems as well.

Hyde said he started praying something like this: “O God, Thou knowest this brother, how …”

Apparently, his next intended word was “cold,” with a description to follow about the problems of this man. However as he went to say “cold,” he felt a check in his spirit and just couldn’t go on. He reported that it was like a voice whispering sharply to him. “He that touches him touches the apple of my eye.” A great horror swept over Hyde, and he felt he had been guilty before God of “accusing the brethren.”

Falling to his knees, Hyde confessed his own sin, and he remembered the words of Paul, that we should think on things that are lovely and good. “Father,” cried Hyde, “show me what things are lovely and are of good report in my brother’s life.”

Like a flash, Hyde remembered the many sacrifices this pastor had made for the Lord, how he had given up all for Christ, how he had suffered deeply for Christ. He thought of the many years of difficult labor this man invested in the kingdom and the wisdom with which he had resolved congregational conflict. Hyde remembered the man’s devotion to his wife and family, and how he had provided a model to the church of godly husbanding.

John Hyde spent his prayer time that day praising the Lord for this brother’s faithfulness.

Shortly afterward, Hyde journeyed into the plains to see this pastor, and he learned that the man had just received a great spiritual uplift, as if a personal revival had refreshed his heart like a springtime breeze.

It turns out that while Hyde had been praising, God had been blessing.

(FROM: Morgan, Robert J. Preacher’s Sourcebook of Creative Sermon Illustrations (Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville, 2007), 166.)

This great missionary known as “Praying Hyde” learned that the positive prayers of praise and blessing others are far more effective than griping and complaining in your prayers. And since God looks at us all together as part of the same team, you know… the Body of Christ… when you or I are complaining or badmouthing another Christian, we are hurting our own team… we are bringing curses upon ourselves. It’s like our arm punching ourselves in the face! No good can come from that kind of behavior! That’s NOT how we are to behave as the Body of Christ!

We read in the book of James:

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

–James 3:9-10 (NIV)

How many of us need to be on our knees repenting of such sinful behavior of speaking against our fellow Christians instead of praying for them? And THEN we need to be praying for their good, for their blessings, for their spiritual strength, for their finances and ministries and their families!

 

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Still True To Plumb?

Eleven years ago in 2008, in my Reynoldsville Church, we started the year with a slogan for the year… “Get It Straight in 2008.” During that year, we reviewed the different committees and ministry teams, as well as the way we did Sunday School, our monthly pancake breakfasts, our Vacation Bible school, the Men’s Ministry, the United Methodist Women, our library, our Missions Outreach Team, our youth group, we looked at how we did with our three worship services… and even the pastor’s weekly Bible Study classes. 

Some of the questions we were asking ourselves were like these: For those things and events and activities we already were doing, actually helping to bring people closer to Jesus and closer to each other? Did our teams and classes and committees, and even our Church Council meetings, faith based… did we pray, did we have devotions, did we thoroughly soak ourselves and all those administrative and ministry things in prayer? Or did we just have meetings like a business or Garden Club?

But then, of course, we had to eventually look back and ask ourselves: “How did we do?”

We ended up changing the way we did some of the things, our groups and committees started making sure there was a time of devotions and prayer at EVERY event… so that even going to a meeting could bring you closer to Jesus and closer to Jesus’s followers. We created two new Mission Outreaches and an annual short term mission trip to Guatemala. And A LOT of our things were doing really well and didn’t need much tweeking at all.

But in the midst of it all, I stumbled into the book of Amos at one point and got caught in Amos chapter 7, verses 7-8, where there is a prophetic vision where God Himself sets up a plumb line.

Now, for a non-construction kind of person like me, I haven’t seen a lot of plumb lines in my life. I am told that a plumb line is essentially a heavy pointed weight on the end of a string. I understand that a builder can ‘line up’ a vertical wall and make sure that his wall is exactly up and down straight by hanging a plumb line from the top and letting gravity pull the weight… and thus one can compare the building with the standard of what ought to be.

Amos sees God use a plumb line and then, prophetically, God declares that the lives of the Israelites are not measuring up to the standard God has set.

This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?”
“A plumb line,” I replied.
Then said the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer…”
 (Amos 7:7-8, NIV)

As Christians, we believe the Bible can act like a plumb line for our lives as followers of Jesus. By reading the Bible we can learn of God’s ways & God’s standards. Then, with the power of God to help us, we can repent of the ways in which we haven’t lined up & we can adjust our behaviors & our attitudes to match his Biblical standard.

So, how about if we ask ourselves that same line of questioning? Are there areas in our lives that we need to “get straight” and make sure we line up with God’s Plumb Line. How about us as a congregation? How about us as individual Christians? Start by inviting God’s Holy Spirit to help you see what doesn’t quite line up with God’s “plumb line…”

AND, today there is one more application… You see, I need your help… I already know what God has spoken to me that I need to get straight in my life… How about you? Is there an area in life where you struggle and would like to understand God’s ‘plumb line’ for that area? Perhaps a particular teaching or Scripture that you are still not quite sure about?

Let me know… As I work on sermon planning and a possible Bible study, I need to know what would be most helpful to you in your Christian walk.

Then, together, even though it’s not 2008, we can have a ready plumb line so that we CAN keep it straight in 2008!

adapted from an original post in September 1, 2008.

https://mixedministries.wordpress.com/2008/09/01/true-to-plumb/

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Rest and Relax

The Lord is My Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

  –Psalm 23 (KJV)

Like many others, I love the Twenty-third Psalm. I read those words about “green pastures” and “still waters” and am reminded of the free spirited fun I had spending summers at my grandparents’ farm up a dirt road hollow in Potter County. Depending on the day, I’d go off on an adventure with our neighbor, or my cousins, or even my little brother, and we’d explore the pasture, the upper meadow, or the forest, staking out our claim to territory and finding great “undiscovered” camping sites.

But some of my best memories were the times I was alone, just me and God, out for a walk. Inevitably, I’d end up stopping and sitting alongside the banks of this one little stream that cut through the pasture behind the barn. I would just sit there and watch the water bubble along on its way down the stream… knowing that, eventually, that water would end up as part of the Gulf of Mexico via the Oswayo, Allegheny, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers. It was peaceful. In the quietness of those moments, I found myself close to God and able to talk with Him and hear Him talk with me.

Summertime is here again, only now I’m more than 45 years older. And I don’t have a schedule of playing, followed by hiking and exploring. Not even sitting down by a stream. I’m adult now… I have a lot to do. I have expectations to meet for my job and my family. I don’t have the time to do that “kid” stuff… Or do I? The problem is just this: In losing the “play” time, most of us lose the quiet time… and lose the time to spend quietly with our God, as well.

The Bible is filled with times where God commands His people to rest and times that they were commanded to play!

The command to take time off and rest goes back to the Ten Commandments, requiring that one day out of every seven be spent doing no work… just resting. And if you violated that command even to go out and try to pick up extra food (the manna lying on the ground), God would see to it that that food went bad before you got to eat it. He knew that He made the human body needing rest. Even now, without proper rest and time off, our bodies still become more susceptible to disease and injury… as well as stress and burn-out.

The command to celebrate was extra-time off every so often where the people had a festival, special meals, special worship services, being together with extended family and friends that you wouldn’t get to see all the time. It renewed the mind and rejuvenated the spirit. You had something to look forward to once again, no matter how tough the year might have been.

This summer, let’s schedule in some time to rest and to play… the way God meant for us to do. Time off to relax and connect with God again and also time deliberately spent reconnecting with the people He’s put in our lives… our families… at home and at church.

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The Bell

I was looking for something in my computer files a little bit ago and found a file from June 2007 simply titled “The Bell.” I opened it and found such encouragement, I just had to share it. Please be aware, I did NOT write this and have no idea who was the original author (or perhaps compiler would be a better term). Feel free to share!
The Bell
“I KNOW WHO I AM”
I am God’s child (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I  am  a  personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven.  I am significant (Phil.3:20)
I am free from any charge against me ( Rom. 8:31-34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor.5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom.8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God  (2 Cor.1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God’s temple (1 Cor. 3: 16).  I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).  I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1).  I am God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil. 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven (Col. 1:14).  I have been adopted as God’s child (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God
Amen

 

Ot

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The Problem with the Pews

A potentially dangerous situation has developed in the church sanctuary. The pews, which are as old as the church building, have begun to dry out.

This loss of moisture, and the subsequent loss of weight, has led to the distinct possibility that they might float free. This presents the possibility that during worship, a free-floating pew could damage a member or guest. Further, it is believed that even if a member or a guest were able successfully to dodge an oncoming free-floating pew, the evasive action would certainly disrupt the spiritual tranquility of the worshiping dodger.

The problem was brought before a committee in the latter part of last year. The committee first considered using steel cables to anchor the pews to bedrock, which is 247 feet beneath the church. After receiving the cost estimate of $145,912.77 and extensive consultations with engineers, this idea was abandoned. The committee, after deliberating, deciding that adding weight to the pews would be a better solution to the problem. The committee considered using brass scrap or lead ingots but they proved to be too expensive. Pig iron was found to be cheaper, but it, like brass and lead, had a certain lifeless quality.

The committee searched for a medium density object which was both sparkling and vibrant. After sifting through all of the possibilities, the committee has opted to use warm bodies to weigh down the pews, and the committee is asking the membership to provide the necessary weight. This can be done by coming to church and, if possible, by bringing a medium density object (in the form of a friend or neighbor) with you.

 

HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY!

 

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The Atheists’ Holiday?

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

— Psalm 14:1/Psalm 53:1

 

There’s a funny story that circulates around the internet about an atheist who is in court claiming discrimination since there are holidays for religious observances, but none for those who aren’t believers. The judge is reported to say that atheists in fact DO have a holiday: April Fool’s Day! The judge’s rationale is this verse from the Psalms.

It’s a cute story, even though I doubt it’s true.

As usual, April starts with this holiday celebrating foolishness and fun. But this year we also have Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday. Holidays for non-believers AND believers alike!

But this idea of the fool has captured my attention. Nobody (that I know of) likes being called a fool. And yet, to the extent that we are still unbelievers… ones who doubt God… then, according to the Bible, we ARE fools.

Most of us involved with this church family would claim to be a believer in God… in fact, we regularly use the Apostles’ Creed to declare, and reaffirm, our beliefs. “I believe in God the Father… in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord… in the Holy Spirit…” We believe.

But if we are really honest with ourselves, there are many moments when we’re not sure WHAT to believe. There are so many different opinions on what it means to be a Christian, what you’re allowed to do or say, even what you can wear if you’re going to be a member of this group of Christians or that other group down the street. Many people look at the very same Bible we read and get an entirely different meaning than we do. What are we to do?

Ultimately I find myself in those moments remembering the father of a sick child asking Jesus for help and for healing. Jesus asked him “Do you believe?” And that father replied “I do believe… Help my unbelief.”

Isn’t that our situation so often? We DO believe… yet there are so many areas where our faith needs to keep growing and our believing needs help. We, like that father of the sick child, can honestly say: ‘I believe… Help my unbelief.’

It is only the foolish ones that categorically decree that there is nothing in which to believe. And they are known as fools.

Let’s respond to God and his offer of help and healing through Jesus with those words: “I do believe… Help my unbelief!”

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This was my pastor’s column in my church’s newsletter.

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Happy PI Day

Today, at least in the United States, is affectionately called PI Day! In U.S. notation the month, represented by a number, is noted first, followed by the calendar day of the month, thus today, March 14th, is 3.14, which any of us geeks will tell you is the beginning numbers of the mathematical PI!

I won’t bore you with all the details, but PI is a number that you get when calculating with circles… AND as you divide it out you soon discover it is a never ending number. To understand it better, check with your favorite mathematician or watch the movie “The Life of Pi.”

I’ve collected a few PI jokes through the past few years and then found some in a news article from Newsweek online at https://www.newsweek.com/pi-day-2019-jokes-celebration-1361317.

Here are the jokes from their article…

Why should you never talk to pi? Because he’ll just go on forever.

What was Sir Isaac Newton’s favorite dessert? Apple pi.

The mathematician says, “Pi r squared.” The baker replies, “No, pies are round. Cakes are square.”

What do you get when you take green cheese and divide its circumference by its diameter? Moon pi.

How many pastry chefs does it take to make a pie? 3.14.

The worst thing about getting hit in the face with pi is that it never ends.

What is 1.57? Half a pi.

What do you get when you cut a jack o’lantern by its diameter? Pumpkin pi.

3.14 percent of sailors are PI-rates!

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