Category: Pastor Paul’s Pen

To Each Their Own

Talking with a friend today. She said she’d just taken a few days off . “What did you do?”, I Said. “Well, I washed my drapes, cleaned my windows, and …” she said as my mind drifted off. I guess I would have done something different , but to each their own . One person’s work is another person’s leisure . Isn’t that the truth?

Each of us is so different from the other. A unique design with unique interests, desires, dreams, likes and dislikes , etc… So different at times we look at each other and wonder, “What?”

Is it any wonder, then, that coming to faith and then the living out of that faith would be unique to each of us? For example, my wife Sue, came to truly experience the love of the Savior as she sat in her car in the parking lot of a mega-church, pondering the Good Friday message she had heard. One moment she was unbelieving, the next she was believing; That dramatic. On the other hand, my experience of faith is not that dramatic; I simply cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t know Jesus as my Savior, Lord and Friend. But it is the same Holy Spirit, working creatively to bring each of us to faith in a variety of ways.

So, too, it is with the living out of the faith. Some Christ-followers living out the faith are like flashing neon signs; and that’s cool because neon signs are “way cool”. For other believers, the faith is lived out more like a patch-work quilt; and that’s great because at times there are times when snuggling up in quilt is just exactly what is needed.

So try to remember this stuff as you bear witness to Jesus. You have a unique testimony of God’s work in your life; and God will use it in a unique way.

Pastor Paul

Taking Responsibility

Have you had enough rain yet? Yeah! Me too!!! It’s making me a little cranky. How ’bout you? Looking for someone or something to blame? Yeah! Me too! Let’s blame Doug and the praise band! Why ?, you say. Why not? I believe that sometime in the last 3 months they have sung the praise song, Let It Rain… chorus (in part) “Let it rain, let it pour from heaven…”

Furthermore, they led us to join them in singing these words; who knows what effect this massive singing may have had.

OK, I’m being silly. After all… I’m the one who OK’d the song. I am to blame. Right?

Stop the silliness!

I am not responsible for the excessive rains and I’m fairly confident Doug isn’t either (but I’ll let him represent himself, Ha!)—Seriously…some things are completely out of our control.

It’s just superstition to think that wearing our favorite jersey will change the outcome of a sporting event or that putting the heavy coat away will keep the snow from falling.

Here’s where I’m going with this. The practical problem with superstition exampled above is that it takes the focus of our lives and thinking away from what it is that does fall under our purview of responsibility and control.

Please read above-“some things… are completely out of our control.” Not All Things! So we must take control of and responsibility for those things under our purview.

For example:
If Planned Parenthood (as they have admitted) knew of the wicked AND illegal activities of the abortion doctor in Philadelphia, they had a responsibility to report it.
Anyone who recognized the pictures released of the Boston Marathon suspects had a responsibility to call in.
We cannot change the weather or stop the rain from falling. Throwing salt over your shoulder will not save your kids (or anyone else), but introducing them to Jesus can.

I can’t stop the rain, or make it start. I can only talk to God about that. But I can do my job, love my wife, give to those in need, and so on.

Praying for dry weather tomorrow,
Pastor Paul

Just In Time

Not all time is the same. For instance, the time Sue and I spent in Florida went past drastically faster than normal time. It’s true!

It flew by and I can hardly believe it’s over. On the other hand, when I’m exercising for an hour, that hour rolls by and is roughly the equivalent of 4-6 hours, depending on the “difficulty factor” of the exercise.

One more piece of evidence: Saturday night’s 8 hours of sleep is roughly equivalent to 4 hours on other nights of the week and 2 hours of my favorite TV programs.

OK, time is time. I get it. But sometimes time does “seem” to go by more slowly or quickly than it does at other times. Does that sentence even make sense?

We may have to turn to the language of the New Testament, Greek, to get a handle on this.

The Greek language has two words for time-Chronos and Kairos.

Chronos is time measured by seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, millennia, etc… Your watch is technically a “chronometer”.

Kairos is time measured by circumstances and surrounding, external factors. This is time like “It’s wintertime in Chicago… it’s cold as ____________.” Or, “It’s time to wash my car… it’s covered with salt.”

Those are two depressing examples; how about a positive example, Pastor Paul? OK-when you meet someone you want to spend your life with, at some point it’s time to say, “I love you”. What is that point in time?”, the young person asks. You’ll know.

So here we are in the season of Lent. Didn’t we just finish Christmas? Well, yes. But now it’s time to prepare for Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. Lent is exactly the right time for serious reflection on our sin, our relationship with God, our prayer life, our commitment to the Kingdom, and such. The time is right to address these matters as we consider how Jesus addressed the miserable condition of humanity.

I don’t know whether the time will “stand still” or “fly by”. We’ll see.

But I do know we shall use the time wisely here at Grace.

Join us on Wednesday evenings for some time together.

Pastor Paul

Dog Doo

My next door neighbor bought a new TV, which is an understatement by a long shot. It’s a flat screen, taking up about an acre, covering one wall of his family room. It has back lighting, surround sound and “Pandora” (don’t expect me to explain it, but basically it means any music you ever wanted can be played), the only thing lacking is four theater recliners, which will arrive in a week or so. To say its impressive would be like saying Lake Michigan is a “good sized pond”.

I’m not jealous; in fact I’m grateful that he got the stuff. Not only can I enjoy it when I visit, but it compelled me to organize my basement and finally hook up the audio equipment that is collecting dust down there. So, Monday, after the busy-ness of the GraceGifts banquet was over, I launched into the “basement project”. Work out equipment in one area, drum set in another. Everything was coming together including speakers holding the shelf that will eventually display all my sports stuff, including my Jay Cutler poster, my college football picture, Michael Jordan poster… basically all your “rare and priceless items”.

It takes a long while to arrange all that priceless stuff, and with all five dogs assisting me, a bit longer. Since the audio equipment, wasn’t cooperating (not my fault), I finally gave up a little after 2AM on Tuesday morning.

Later Tuesday AM Sue shared that not only had the dogs assisted with the set up of the basement project, but one of them (perhaps two working in tandem) had left a “prize” for me back in the area where I store the Christmas decorations. I dutifully went down to the “man cave”, with the disinfectant wipes in hand, to deal with the doggie doo doo. I was not happy. There was no thankfulness in my heart; I was not singing, speaking, whispering or thinking, “Praise God for this opportunity to clean up dog doo!”

I was less spiritually stable by 8PM, when I finally called my neighbor to ask (beg) for assistance getting my audio equipment to work (or make any sound at all). It was either make the call or throw an amplifier through the window. By 9PM I had amplified music and by 10PM was settled in to watch TV with Sue and the dogs in the TV room. Sometime before midnight, Sue nudged (poked) me out of my “restful TV monitoring” to ask where the disinfectant wipes might be. Having utilized them for doo-doo duty, I trudged to the basement to fetch them.

Stepping into 3 inches of water on the basement floor, I quickly realized the sump pump had failed and my “man cave” was now a “man pool”. Praise God! I admit that wasn’t my first thought, but it is now.

Consider this: If my neighbor hadn’t gotten new stuff, that prompted me to begin my “basement project”, that involved assistance from the dogs, that led to the “prize” left by them, that led to the disinfectant wipes taken to the basement and left there, and if there hadn’t been a further request and quest for the disinfectant wipes… I would not have stepped into the three inches of water; which would have been 6 or more by morning when I would (might) have gone down to work out.

As it went… the back up sump pump (still in the box on the basement floor) hooked up easily. Praise God! The water was pumped out by 2AM. Praise God! No audio or video equipment was damaged. Praise God! Every thing was rescued and cleaned up by the time I went to bed at 2AM on Thursday morning. Praise God!

So… I say, “Praise God! for dog doo doo!” Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

Gotta go-Dogs need to be let out.
Pastor Paul

Feeding Lions

I’m staring at this one foot tall, ceramic Lion sitting on my kitchen counter. It’s sitting on the kitchen counter because it was sitting on the basement floor, but I had to move it on account of my resolution to get into shape and actually DO the exercises I was supposed to do for rehab after my hip surgery a year ago. That’s right, a whole year has passed by. Time flies, right ? !
So there it sits the ceramic Lion, which we obtained as a prize or give-away from a local bank (rhymes with “Paris”) where we have our church accounts. It’s supposed to spur, encourage, motivate, inspire, remind (embarrass, guilt, shame, scare…) a person to save money on a regular basis; It’s a “Lion Bank” instead of a “Piggy Bank”. Good marketing; Good idea, right ? !

Well, now there’s the point. We have to plan for the future, but we are not guaranteed the future. It’s irresponsible to live “only for the moment”. Yet, people who are constantly looking to the future are often “not present” in the “here and now”. The Present and the Future are in tension; And that says nothing about the Past! Yes, the ceramic Lion reminds of the short-comings of my saving (and planning) plans of the Past with which I must deal in the Present. It’s a bit of a quandary, but as long as I’m staring at the Lion, let’s consider it…

First and foremost- God is Lord over all: the Past, the Present, and the Future.

For the Past… no excuses, only Pardons. The Past is over; the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross covers over all the short-comings… including the failure to “feed the pig” (or in this case the Lion). No need for the heavy burden of guilt. It doesn’t help life much, anyway.
For the Future… He’s already seen it. He knows what it holds and what the needs will be. (By the way… HE knew all the “Mayan calendar stuff” was just talk and that 2013 would arrive as scheduled). And… as the saying goes “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” That’s comfort for the Present.

So the Present… Live securely- knowing God is in control. Live freely- knowing sins forgiven; the past has been dealt with. Live responsibly- knowing that the God who knows the future can direct you how to plan for it; consult Him for direction.

That’s all for now. I need to run up the stairs (exercise for the hip); I’m taking the Lion upstairs to feed him; Tomorrow is likely to come and I’m going to need a few extra bucks.

Peace & Blessing to all you Lion-feeders,
Pastor Paul

Technology Update

On Christmas day, I sat chatting with my 2 sons and my wife about cell phones, i-pads, laptops, texting, and e-mailing and … well all that stuff. As you might have already guessed (at least, those who know me), my contribution to the conversation was “My phone has a calculator right inside it!” Yep! It’s true.

My contribution was met with snickers and looks of disbelief and pity.

Things have changed. I remember when my brother, Bob got his Texas Instrument hand-held calculator. He could punch the key pad and obtain answers magically, especially compared with the slide ruler (if you don’t know what a slide ruler is, you can Google it or go to a local museum). Not only was it quick, it was expensive; a few hundred bucks back then-I don’t even know what that would be in today’s money. Now, folks can just calculate on their phones. Things change.

I’ve been somewhat resistant to some of these changes. Sometimes for good reasons and sometimes less than good.

Some of the good reasons-

  • It seems that technology advances can get in the way of personal relationships. The impersonal nature of relating is a high price to pay.
  • I’ve seen people sitting next to each other, text-arguing, rather than having a legitimate, real-life conversation.
  • Many e-mail communications have been misinterpreted and misunderstood, resulting in unnecessary pain and confusion.

Some lame reasons for resistance-

  • I’m too lazy to learn new stuff.
  • I’m too cheap to buy new stuff.
  • I’m too busy to learn or buy new stuff.

Technology continues to move forward, so use Godly principles in evaluating use, and joyfully use the Tech Advances to Advance the Kingdom of God.

For Instance:

  • I can learn more on the Internet to prep for sermons than I can in all the books in my library.
  • In the future the praise band could use screens instead of music stands and paper music.
  • We can share sermon podcast around the globe (no, I’m not even sure what podcasting is)
  • You wouldn’t be reading the Grace E-news! Praise God!

So, I’m signing up for a class to learn how to use my (Android) phone. I-Phone is a possibility, (though I’m afraid it may require psychotherapy for me). By the end of 2013, I will have mastered my KINDLE FIRE ! Watch out!

Gotta’ Go! Need to Email this PPP to Sue so you’ll get it today! No more Pony Express for this guy!

Praising God! (through technology!),
Pastor Paul

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