Monthly Archives: July 2007

God’s Workman

Lord God, you have placed me in your church. You know how unsuitable I am. Were it not for your guidance I would long since have brought everything to destruction. I wish to give my heart and mouth to your service. I desire to teach your people, and long to be taught your work. Use me as your workman, dear Lord. Do not forsake me; for if I am alone I shall bring all to nought. Amen.

Dayton Mix (2007) & Martin Luther (early 1500’s, as quoted in the April 6th entry of The One Year Book of Personal Prayer, Tyndale, 1991)
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End of the Beginning…

On Thursday evening, June 7th, my daughter Michele graduated from the DuBois Area High School.

There were 300 or so in her graduating class, so of course she didn’t know all her classmates, but in the four years she attended DuBois (since our arrival in DuBois in 2003) she had worked hard to establish some friendships and to meet the requirements to succeed in school.

Michele has a mild learning disability, inherited from both of her biological parents. She’s a smart girl, it’s just that she simply has to really want it in order to succeed. She has to work harder than the so-called ‘normal’ kids in order to learn what comes so easy to others.

Three Peas in a Pod: RoseAnn, Lyndsay, & Michele
The thing is… my Michele, despite her disability, did it! She knew what she wanted (a high school diploma) and she kept working and trying and even asking for help when she needed it from Mom, Dad, friends, or teachers. I can’t tell you how much pride I felt when they called her name and awarded her that diploma. Like so many others, I was one of those camera happy daddies running around taking pictures… from various spots in the gym… because I was so proud of her! (I won’t post ALL of them, but if anyone wants to see them all I’d be happy to show you!!!!!)

At one point we got into a conversation about why do they call graduation “commencement?” After all, commencement means to start something, not end something, right?

And of course, we talked about her years in elementary school, middle school, and high school were just the beginning of her learning years… not the end of her learning. Graduation night was simply the beginning (or commencing) of her role as an adult learner responsible for her own lessons and her own mistakes.

Already, some opportunities in life are closed to her. She didn’t join gymnastics while in school (at any age), so being an Olympic gymnist is out. It’s just not going to happen. She didn’t go out for the football team, so the NFL is out of the question. It’s too late to change those choices… those outcomes have already been determined for the rest of her life because of the choices she did, and did not, make while a student in school.

I share all of this, not just to brag about my fantastic kid (although I’m enjoying that part!), but because it’s made me think some.

As pastors, we often get to preside over funerals, which could be compared to a ‘commencement’ of a new chapter in a person’s eternal life. Just like graduation is more than an ending, but rather a much bigger beginning, so also is death (and the ceremony that follows) more of a new beginning than just an ending of a life.

And in the same way that a person’s choices in high school affect the outcomes and opportunities available to them after graduation… so also a person’s choices in this life affect the outcomes and opportunities available to them after death. We are all heading for Hell unless we choose to make a change in direction while here in this life. IF while we are here, we yield control of our lives to Jesus Christ, and allow Him to direct us and lead us, then, according to the Bible, our faith in Christ will be the ‘ticket’ into Heaven.

We don’t know a lot of the details about Heaven or Hell. Even the Bible doesn’t tell us much. The biggies are that Hell is being separated and alone… from everyone else and separated and alone from God. Eternity in isolation… just remembering our regrets and our ‘could have’ moments. And the Bible says that it’s more painful and tormenting than being burned non-stop in sulfur.

The Bible also tells us about Heaven a little bit. A place where we are with God and embraced by the hosts of heaven and all those who have died before us who had chosen Jesus as the one they would follow, rather than just do things their own way while living this life. Heaven is described as joy and peace and a sense of God’s Presence… and never being alone again.

We read that Heaven was God’s plan for everyone… and Hell was His invention to keep the devil and those who rebelled against God away from Him… Not just as a punishment, but because they each had personally chosen to break fellowship with God and go their own way… so there was no place in Heaven where they could be away from Him…

If I read the Bible right, then it teaches that God never meant for anyone to go to Hell… but for those who rebel against God and choose to do things their own way, He allows us the free-will to walk away from Him… even though that means they walk away from Heaven as well.

The problem is, we ALL have rebelled against God. We ALL have walked away and done our own thing. There is no room in Heaven for ANY of us… without some help.

Just like my daughter had a disability that meant that she needed to ask for help in order to be successful in school, so also each of us needs to ask for help in order to change the direction of our eternal life… we need help if we’re going to change and stop being rebels against God.

Knowing that, Jesus made all the arrangements we would need… We simply ask Him for help! He has taken care of everything… all we have to do is believe in Him and ask Him to help us… to ‘save’ us.

In school, Michele learned that she couldn’t do it on her own and she asked for help… and won the prize of a high school diploma. In life, I hope that each one reading these words realizes they too need help if they are going to change from being rebels against God to being friends of God… and all we need to do is ask Jesus for help… and we change the outcome of our life after death in that moment.

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Update & Address Change

Since my last post, I’ve been to Annual Conference… and I have many thoughts and opinions that I’m STILL not ready to publicly post… let’s just say that I was made to think during the conference… and God continues to speak! My daughter Michele has graduated from high school and my daughter Sarah is doing a leadership development program… somewhere between a boot camp and a military school setting. Josh continues to run and play… and has begun to explore more (including starting to climb out of his bedroom window after a toy one night after evening church). Gay continues to work as a counselor and I’m back to work… and doing pretty much a full day every day. And our church has publicly welcomed and celebrated the Rev. Leo C. Cramer on the 50th anniversary of his ordination as an elder in the Methodist connection… AND recognized him as “Pastor Emeritus.” I have LOADS of posts running through my head about most of these events… but I’m still in “catch up” mode after being on sick leave for two months… so I want to share an inspirational email I received from a friend. Particularly appropriate at this time of moves and transitions in the Methodist clergy realm…

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I wanted to let everyone know that I have moved, and to give you my new address. I have moved from Beggars’ Alley located on Poverty Lane at the corner of Bleak and Busted Circle. As of today, I have a brand new home.

My new address is: Living Well Drive in the Abundance Subdivision, located at the corner of Blessings Street and Thankful Peak.

You get there by taking the Praising Him Interstate, which runs North, South, East and West. No Longer will I allow myself to travel on Begging Peter to pay off Paul Route, because it’s located at a dead-end intersection called: I Don’t Have, that crosses Borrowers’ Junction.

I no longer hang out at Failures’ Place near Excuses Avenue, next to Procrastination Mall. I’ve moved on to an upscale community called Higher Heights with unlimited potential and opportunities for me to Succeed–look at me!!

Please know that each day that HE awakens me, I am thankful to be a product of my new environment. All of my clothes are MASTER TAILOR-MADE. I am dressed in life’s finest.

Let me introduce you to all of my new neighbors: CONCEIVE IT, BELIEVE IT, ACT ON IT, HAVE FAITH, BE PERSISTENT, AND ALWAYS BE PREPARED TO ACHIEVE.

Life is good because: GOD IS GOOD!!!!! HAVE YOU MOVED TOO??? If not I pray that you will be moving soon!! HAVE A BLESSED DAY!

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