Not That Wild

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Planting Seeds

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)

The letter arrived in December. “My name is [John Doe] and in 1991 you were the Judge handling my case…The purpose of this letter is simply to say, thank you…Recently I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has done in my life, and the people He placed in my life during that period of time to assist me with the help I so desperately needed.”

One of the affirming parts of my job is the feedback I receive from people who have struggled through a difficult season in their life. They want to let me know that I had a positive influence in moving past their hard times. We all love stories with happy endings, particularly when you may have had a part in that story, so I appreciate those letters but also recognize that I was only one small part of that continuum that Paul recognized in the quote at the top.

God repeatedly in his Word reminds us of the importance of planting seeds. You will find numerous references to agricultural metaphors used to describe life in relation to God. We read about sowing, cultivating, growing, harvesting and other analogies to our lives through the seed and plant concept. Here are a couple quick takes, “fresh from the farm”, for your consideration.

We cannot know, for sure, the outcome of the seeds we plant. The parable of the sower illustrates the point. However, the fact that some seeds do not take root does not mean planting a seed is ever a waste of time or effort. God honors our effort, but it is up to the seed and God to decide whether growth will occur.

It is rare that only one seed will need to be sown. Parables and metaphors only go so far in helping us see the heavenly point. We know with actual seeds we will only reap one plant per seed. On the other hand, when we talk about the growth of people, many seeds are needed for growth and, in particular, for one’s growth in Jesus.

God works through us to bring change and growth to others. Do you approach each day  and each person with the intention and goal of planting some kind of seed, however small it may be? If you do, then rest assured that God will work, as he sees fit, with that seed.

Plant some seeds today. Let God give the growth.

(read the full letter here)

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Second Chances

It was sentencing day in county court for the defendant, a young man charged with Reckless Driving, DUI, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, and Resisting Officer without Violence. The facts were not good, as the charges implied. The defendant’s attorney presented six or seven witnesses. The folks who spoke on the young man’s behalf told me that he was a good kid, hard worker and would be an asset to our community. One of the witnesses, an older gentleman, pointed out the tendency for young people to make immature decisions, but he believed this was a young man who would learn from his mistake. “Everyone deserves a second chance,” he said.

The prosecutor recommended a jail sentence. She summarized the facts; portraying mayhem on our roadways at two o’clock in the afternoon.

As I prepared to pass sentence, I reviewed the defendant’s prior record. It turned out that he had been previously arrested on six different occasions. I wondered if those who had spoken on his behalf even realized the history. Surely our community would think poorly of our justice system if seven-time offenders were not punished accordingly. In a perfectly just system, that type of offender would bear some significant consequences. I reminded the defendant of what one of his witnesses had pointed out, “Mr. Doe said that everyone deserves a second chance, but this, in fact, would be your seventh chance.” Of course, being a half-way literate Christian resulted in an immediate thought to pop up. And, you all know exactly what it was.

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’

‘I tell you, not as many as seven,’ Jesus said to him, ‘but seventy times seven.'”  (Matt. 18:21-22)

An extended discussion of the role of governments instituted by God, or the role of a Christian in such governments, is for another time. What I want to leave with you, today, is to contemplate the fact that we are all defendants looking for a seventh chance (and most likely the seventh chance this week). By what right do we deserve a second chance, much less a seventh chance? There is no law or constitutional provision that I am aware of that provides that right. A just system surely demands punishment that is appropriate for the wrongful conduct.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11–14) (emphasis added)

There is no right, nor do we deserve, to avoid our just desserts. Be thankful, therefore, to be a follower of Jesus, who has redeemed us from a certain punishment, and given us a purpose for our lives. As judges often insert at the end of their written orders, I similarly end this little post — PLEASE GOVERN YOURSELVES ACCORDINGLY.

Fun

Take a break from all the bad news. Enjoy.

This is really cool what can be done to read ancient documents.

“Honey, how many lights DID you put up?!?”

Sorry, young ‘uns, you will just have to indulge us older folks a laugh at your expense.

For the fisherman.

January 5

We have rung in the new year. Let’s get started…

Prayers. **Linda Pearson’s mother passed away early this morning. Linda was with her, and also has other family present. Linda wants you to know that she appreciates the prayers and notes she has received while she has been attending to her mom (please note that the Pearson’s new address is 8775 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL, 32966). **David White, brother-in-law of Carolyn Boling, is still in the hospital.  He has had a difficult battle with cancer and appreciates the support and encouragement he has received from our church family since his arrival in Vero. **Good news from Liz Raikes, as she is back home after a few days in the hospital. **Louise Belfonte is still in the hospital recovering from her recent surgery. Continue to pray for healing and strength.

Annual Meeting/Elder Forum. Sunday at 5pm. This is our annual meeting to satisfy the corporate requirements of the State of Florida. Mainly, though, it will be a chance to discuss church things, which we try to do twice a year. Our theme for the year is “Community”, and we will talk about it at the meeting. We will value your input. Most importantly, there will be cake! Happy birthday to you January babies.

Little Fish. Tomorrow is the monthly Home Depot expedition. The bus will be leaving the building at 9:30am and lunch is included. The fish will swim back to the building by 1pm.

Lunch Bunch. The Lunch Bunch will have their monthly get together at the mall on Monday, January 8th. Join them!

Sunday morning class. We will be having a special class for all adults starting on January 21st. Adults will meet in the auditorium and we will sit with our Care Groups. There will be six sessions, which will take us to the end of February. The title is Loving Your Church. We encourage everyone, including those who don’t normally participate in classes, to attend. A “make-up” class will be held on each following Wednesday night for those who could not attend on Sunday morning.

Teens and Parents. Winterfest is on the horizon. Hotel reservations are being made, so make sure you are on the list for the trip to Gatlinburg. The dates are February 16-18, with departure from Vero on the evening of the 15th, and return late on the 18th. Stay tuned for upcoming information on another fundraising opportunity to help fund the trip.

Go, therefore. The new year brings us another opportunity to reach out to those around the world. It is time to start thinking about the missions we support, and how you can financially impact that outreach. We support the work of Louis Swakkiam (blue dress shirt) in India. They have just finished immersing several new followers in the water behind them.

India group photo

See you Sunday!

 

Making change

I am swiftly approaching retirement. My doctor says I need to lose weight. My kids keep marrying, moving away, and adding entrants to the NCAA basketball tournament pool (8 worked well; ten, not so much; 16 would get us back on track). The world just won’t sit still. How do you handle change?

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types – the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruin.”  G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, 1924.

As the new year approaches, we might want to think about why we, as a community, make it such a big deal. It is just one day following another, as from the beginning of time. But, as noted above, some of us tend to look forward to changes, while a lot us resist. Thus, celebrating the new year gives us a chance to think about change. So, resolutions are made; some follow through; all of us see the difficulty in making change.

Chesterton makes a great point. However, we should realize that, although we may think we are either a Conservative or a Progressive, we are really both. We will make a difference in our lives, and others, when we aim for changes that avoid ruin and promote good, and resist changes to things that are already good, and tried and True.

What do you need to change? What do you need to keep?

For our church family, we want to start this new year with a look at the importance of the local church. Classes and sermons will focus us to think about changes we need to make in our individual attitude toward church. We will also see the good in God’s plan for a local family of His. Our goal is to be a better bride (church) of Christ. This might call for us to make change. Join us!

Friday Hi-links

Every once in a while I want to link some interesting articles I have recently read. I will indicate whether it is a short read or a long read. All of them, I think, will give you something to think about. I enjoyed them and hope you will, too.

So…this is my first Friday Hi-links:

“Critics are God’s instruments. I don’t like to be criticized. You don’t like to be criticized. Nobody likes to be criticized. But,” A short read.

“In the face of great evil, we must pray.” A short read.

“Here came the home-wrecking editors from the very magazine you now hold in your hands, asking me to take part in an experiment that would jeopardize the whole thing. They sent me a quote that’s popular among personal development authors and speakers: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I was told to study it as it applies to my life, and describe to you the process of getting rid of people who weren’t helping me achieve my goals or happiness. The idea was to improve myself.” A long read.

Christmas stories at the Tolkien house. A short read.

“If you don’t practice your faith, in what sense can it be said to exist?.” A short read.

Merry Christmas!

Memories

The Christmas season seems to be the time of year for good memories. The kind of memories that warm you up and often bring some tears to your eyes. Of course, the purpose of the holiday is to contemplate the arrival of Jesus incarnate, to celebrate that past event, and to wonder, in awe, about its significance. Ladell’s topic in last week’s class concerned the “family” metaphors we see in scripture; the takeaway being the confirmation of the importance of the family in God’s plan. No surprise, then, that the Christmas story and our Christmas stories are often based on family memories.

My favorite memory occurred many years ago. We lived in Washington, D.C., and I was around 8 or 9 years old. Papa and Mom Sunny lived in  West Virginia and planned to spend Christmas with us. It was the time before cell phones, etc., and a huge snow fell on Christmas Eve, the day they would arrive by train at Union Station. Of course, we couldn’t get off our street, most roads were impassable, and we had no way of knowing the status of their trip. As it grew dark, my sister, brother and I sat looking out our front window, hoping against hope that they would make it to our home that night.

It is difficult, now, to describe the feeling as we thought we saw two figures in the distant, swirling snow. Excitement built; the two were coming into focus. We could see Papa carrying two suitcases, with Sunny on his arm, as they carefully stepped down our street.  I know we yelled for Mom and Dad, rushed to put on our galoshes and coats, and piled out the front door to big hugs and a great celebration.

This week my Mom and I sat with my brother in his hospital room following surgery (that’s why this entry is a day late, and, probably, a dollar short). I thought about this post I was putting together, so I asked them their favorite Christmas memory. My mom thought for a minute, or two, and said, “You may not remember this, you two were very young, but one Christmas in Washington there was a major snow storm…” As you would guess, no one could remember what material gifts were given that year, only the gift of Papa and Mom Sunny appearing magically, to our young minds, through the blowing snow.

With everything else in our world that revolves around this time of year, let us not forget that miraculous arrival of Jesus and the gifts that flow to us from his life, his death and his resurrection. What a memory it is for the family of God.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30–33)

And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:18–19)

What is your favorite Christmas memory? What have you treasured in your heart? If you wish, share it in the comments, and spread some cheer.

Enjoy the season, and Merry Christmas to all, and to all, have a great day!

 

Yahweh

I was eating breakfast at the Roadside Restaurant a couple days ago. When I was checking out, I heard someone calling my name, “Hey, Joe.” The older (meaning my age) man was someone I knew as a friend, who had moved from Vero almost 30 years ago. He was back in town for a visit, and we spent a few minutes catching up. Among other things, he wanted to know if I was still a judge, if my dad was still living, the kids, etc. As I went to check out I, again, heard from another table, “Good morning, Judge.” This greeting came from a lawyer in town who infrequently appears in my courtroom. I returned the greeting without much more conversation.

So, why did I have one gentleman calling me “Joe” and another calling me “Judge” that morning? The lawyer knew me by my position in the legal profession. He was being appropriately professional and formal to someone who is in a role that calls for appropriate respect from someone in that lawyer’s position. In the courtroom, I have been called “Your Honor”, “Your Excellency”, “Lord”, and “Judge”, but not “Joe”.

On the other hand, the old friend knows me as “Joe”. I want him to call me “Joe”, not “Judge”, because we have a personal relationship. We know each other on that level, and we are interested in each other’s personal life. We take the time to visit and catch up. It is good to have that kind of a relationship with someone. Alec Motyer, in his Psalms by the Day devotional makes this observation:

We who are of an older generation will remember the days when calling someone by their Christian name was a privilege granted, not to be presumed upon. It meant something to us when a senior friend said, “Please call me by my Christian name”; the relationship had ripened into a new intimacy and privilege.

In chapter 3 of Exodus, Moses meets God in the burning bush. After God explains the mission He has for Moses, Moses asks God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (emphasis added) God says to tell them I Am who I Am, which can also be translated as I will Be what I will Be. Then God follows up with this instruction:

God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. (emphasis added)

The Hebrew word elohim is indicated in our common translations as “God.” It means God in all the divine attributes that we would recognize as the sovereign ruler of our universe. Even the demons recognize this sovereign ruler, and shudder (James 2:19). If you are following the analogy in this post, I must point out that I do not mean to imply that lawyers are demons. At least, not all lawyers. However, we can see that God is a being that demands respect and solemn reverence when we approach him. At some point in time, though, that reverence manifested itself in believing that God is such a divine and awesome being that we should not call him by his name, but use another word for his name.

Thus, we see in the scripture above that the name that shall be his name forever is found  in our translations to be “The LORD”. The Hebrew is YAHWEH. God did not desire that we avoid the use of his name, but that we would be free to call him by his name; by who he is (YAHWEH) along with by what he is (God). Some people who have become good friends with me still call me “Judge”. They are invited to call me “Joe”. In the same way, I don’t think our God minds if we call him LORD, but He has invited us to call him YAHWEH. Again, Alec Motyer:

[The relationship between man and God became more personal] in Genesis 4:26 when people began to call their God by his personal name; so it was, even more, when the significance of that Name was revealed to Moses (Exodus 3:15)…He has granted us the privilege [to use his personal name], and we should learn…to live in the benefit of it.

Have a great weekend. We have an awesome God; his people get to call him by his (first) Name.

December 1

I heard on the radio that today is the first day to get a real Christmas tree, since the expected life span of a chopped down tree is about 4 weeks. Of course, that raises the question of when it was chopped down. We play it safe at the Wild home and wait a couple more weeks.

Speaking of trees, the Buggy Bunch pink tree will be in the foyer this Sunday, next Sunday and at the Christmas Party. Cards will be on the tree indicating a specific need. You can help with that need by taking the card and returning it to the Buggy Bunch with the needed funds enclosed. If you want to know more about the Buggy Bunch, talk to Sue Dean or Cori Lamm. They can be found on Sunday morning toward the back, on the sound room side.

The Christmas party will be at the Heritage Center downtown on December 10th, starting at 5pm. Teens are getting an early start with a scavenger hunt that ends at the Heritage. Make sure you have signed up for the party and have designated what you will bring, food-wise.  The sign-up sheet will be in the foyer on Sunday.

The day before the Christmas party, December 9th, between 8am and 10am, is the pancake fundraiser for the teen trip to Winterfest. Applebee’s is hosting the event, and tickets can be purchased from the teens or David Rogers. Tickets are $14, with $10 going to our teen program. The goal is to sell 100 tickets. Let’s help them reach their goal. Even if you cannot attend, purchase a few tickets and give them to a friend or neighbor.

Here is a good question: “When is the Christmas Eve Community Meal going to be held?” Guess what…on Christmas Eve! This is a little tricky since Christmas Eve is on Sunday, but it presents a great opportunity to not only get the word out about the meal, but to also invite everyone to worship with us before the meal. Stay tuned for further information about how you can help, both with set-up and with serving at the meal.

Odds and Ends:    **Remember to journal your gratitude. This little story reminded me of how grateful I am for teachers who have impacted my life. For you teachers out there, in whatever capacity, know that you make a difference.    **Tracy starts a sermon series for December:  “White Christmas.”  This week concerns the uniqueness of man.    **The Road to Emmaus class is moved to the Fireside Room (L103) for this Sunday.

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