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Catching up!

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I can hardly believe that it’s been nearly a whole month since my last blog! This certainly wasn’t planned, so I thought I would share with you what has me so preoccupied these days.

If you will remember, several weeks ago I accepted the position of Associate Pastor of our church. Since then, my responsibilities have grown exponentially leaving me little free time to attend to this blog.

At our church we have Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, and a Wednesday mid-week service, all of which I have some responsibility for.

I minister at every Wednesday service, which of course requires study time as well as prayer time. I also teach the adult Sunday School class every other Sunday. Again, more study and prep time.

For all of our services I am also part of the worship team, playing guitar while my wife Debbie plays the keyboard. Even our daughter has joined in the festivities as a children’s Sunday School teacher.

One of my most time consuming responsibilities is editing the video of our services. This is something I have never done before so it has been quite the learning experience for me. Especially since I’m learning completely on my own!

Learning a new software program is challenging enough, but trying to edit a video on a woefully underpowered laptop is the essence of frustration. My computer is so old and underpowered that it actually overheats and shuts down in the middle of what I’m doing!

If you know anything about this type of work, you know that to edit 4K video requires a beast of a computer, which neither our church or myself has. We are currently looking into a new PC that can handle this type of task, but because we are a small church money is tight. We simply don’t have the $2000 (low end!) to purchase what we need. So we continue to pray that God will make a way for us.

I roughly calculated that using my old PC to edit video is taking about 15-20 hours. For ONE video! As someone who is always looking for the most efficient method of getting a task completed, this activity has been “somewhat trying” on me.

One of my other responsibilities is that of managing our church website. It is a work in progress, with yours truly learning on the fly once again. We are locked into the current site hosting plan for the next year, but after that we will reevaluate things and see if we might move it to WordPress or some other platform that gives us more control over our content. For now, it does the job. If you’d care to check it out, head on over to cognocatee.org. Please remember, it still has a ways to go but it is far beyond what it was when I started.

One other thing I’m heading up now is our daily devotional outreach ministry. This is where we send out an encouraging scripture text each day, and include any urgent prayer requests along with it. So, I have had to learn a couple of new communication systems pretty quickly, which is actually very interesting to me.

Ironically, of the many things I am now doing in ministry I doubt I could have gotten up to speed so quickly had I not had the career I had at Honda. Being immersed in various forms of technology there enabled me to bring much of that same aptitude to my ministry work. It almost makes me think this was God’s plan all along. What do you think?

So there you have it.  I know I left something out, but I cannot remember what it is. At any rate, I think you get the picture. This is my new “retired life”, and I love it!

Of course, like every church ours struggles with the whole Covid-19 issue. Reorganizing the sanctuary to ensure safe distance was no easy task, and it severely limits the number of worshipers we can have.

Nonetheless, I am thrilled to be waist deep in ministry during this season of my life. I am blessed beyond measure to have a wife who is not only supportive of what I’m doing, but is right there with me when she can be. She remains my biggest supporter and I am thankful the Lord uses her gifts and talents as well.

With that I will say “thank you” to you who have prayed for me and encouraged me faithfully to press onward. I am always amazed at how faithful God is when we put our hand to the plow.

I promise I will try not to stay away so long before posting again. Believe me, I have a million words stored away for this blog but I am lacking the time to express them for now. As in all things, God knows and understands best doesn’t He?

I pray the Lord blesses you and encourages you daily. In these trying times we need the Lord like never before, and it is a great comfort to know that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. Psalm 46:1

Ron

In spite of the insanity, God still has a plan

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For the past several weeks I have been preoccupied with a certain thought and I’m wondering if it’s just me, or if there are others who are wrestling with these very same thoughts.

Watching the riots and violent demonstrations unfold, it seems to me as though this nation is teetering on the brink of insanity. How else could you describe the systematic dismantling of a society in favor of anarchy?

Does anyone else feel this way, or am I all alone on this island of misfits?

Consider the following if you will:

  • Municipalities are discussing the defunding of their police departments. Yes, some prefer the words “reallocate resources”, but the meaning is the same. [1]
  • The city of Seattle WA. is under siege as violent protesters have taken over city hall. [2]
  • Christopher Columbus statues are being taken down across America.  [3]
  • NASCAR has ordered that no more Confederate flags may be flown at it racetracks. [4]

As I said, we are teetering on the edge of insanity as a nation. OK, maybe the NASCAR thing isn’t such a big deal in the big picture of things, but you get my point.

Granted, we have many areas in this country that are in dire need of attention. Racism, bigotry, hatred, and rage are but a few of them. These issues are brought about by man trying to elevate himself above his fellow men, which is what men do when they no longer submit to the moral authority that God has ordained.

These issues however cannot be solved with another brick through a window. A better place to start would be with a conversation with the Lord.

Along with the inequalities and injustices now making headlines worldwide, I’d personally like to see the same amount of “focus” being placed on child hunger, child sex abuse, and affordable health care.

And while we’re at it let’s not forget the systematic murder of 60 million babies in the womb. Which, by the way, makes Hitler look like a Sunday School teacher. But I digress…

Now, lest you have started to wonder if I’ve lost it, consider this if you will.

No matter what is going on around us, God is still commanding the sun to rise in the East every morning, and every evening just like clockwork I get to watch the spectacle of the setting sun in the Western sky.

He is still in control. Man may tear down and destroy in his feeble attempts to rewrite history, but God’s plan for man cannot be altered. What is this plan of his?

God’s plan is for man to be saved. Plain and simple, God wants to save you and me from an eternity separated from Himself. Despite man’s best efforts to destroy himself and the community he lives in, God Almighty has given us his only Son Jesus Christ as full payment for our personal salvation.

Even while this nation is ablaze with hatred and violence, Jesus is still fulfilling God’s plan of salvation because God, not man, not any “movement”, but God alone is still on the throne.

Our ideologies, apart from God’s plan, are just that…ideas. 

God, however, has a plan for your life, and as part of that grand plan he has created you to soar above the ideologies of mankind. You were not created to rob, kill, and destroy. Those are the works of the devil, not God’s grandest creation. You were created in the image of God to excel!

God has a plan for you that includes you and your loved ones spending eternity with Him. Yes, the heathen may rage. Nothing about that will take God by surprise. Trust me, He’s seen it all before!

Take heart, for despite the insanity enveloping our nation, God still has a plan, and that plan my friends includes the saving of your soul. You belong to Him, and don’t ever let the devil tell you otherwise.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

 

[1] For a look at what happens to communities that defund their police force, look no further than Camden NJ. While some call it a model for police reform, the facts speak differently.

 [2] Demonstrators have since set up occupancy in a six-block section of downtown and renamed it “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ).

[3] It seems Christopher Columbus, he of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria fame treated indigenous peoples he encountered rather poorly. Who knew?

[4] What is odd about this decision is that NASCAR has its roots deep in the South, where there are a great many people still flying the Stars and Bars. One wonders if NASCAR will not boycott Coca-Cola next. After all, its founder was Lt. Colonel John Pemberton, he of the Confederate Army’s 12th Calvary.

 

What about those other 6 days?

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As all of you who are Christians are aware, going to church is an integral part of our relationship with the Lord. As a matter of fact, going to church is so important that entire teams of people spend all week just in preparation for your arrival on Sunday.

Just think about all of the planning that goes into the Sunday service. There are hours and hours of prayer and study before the pastor can deliver what he believes God has given him for that particular service (I sincerely pray this is the case).

There are songs to rehearse, small group or Sunday School lessons to study, announcements to finalize, janitorial work to complete so that you have a clean building to worship in, children’s church to get ready for, and a hundred other essential tasks that must be completed before you ever step foot in the church.

If all of this seems like an enormous task, believe me it is. The average church member has no clue as to what has to happen before they find their seat on Sunday morning. It is an incredible effort that requires everyone to give it their best.

Looking at it from this perspective, it would seem that Sunday’s get the bulk of our attention whether you are an attendee, staff person, or the pastor.

All of this and more was part of a discussion the Princess and I had earlier this week. As we talked about all of the emphasis that is placed upon Sunday, my wife suddenly asked me “what about the other 6 days of the week”?

She explained that while we Christians have pretty much taken care of Sundays, what are we doing to nourish our souls the other 6 days of the week? I thought that was an amazing question to ask, and here’s why.

If we’re not careful, going to church can evolve into nothing more than a habit. We go to church because that’s what we’ve always done. Or, as someone I once worked with explained when asked why He went to church: “it’s the right thing to do”.

Sadly, many of us stopped going to worship a long time ago. Now, we just go to church. When that happens we are no longer engaged. We become part of the furniture, cold and lifeless. Just think, if that’s how we are on Sundays, how we are the other 6 days of the week!

In your own personal walk with the Lord, have you ever given much thought to how you keep yourself encouraged in the Lord? Specifically, do you place an emphasis on setting aside time for prayer and reading your Bible on days other than Sundays?

I believe this is a vitally important part of our Christian walk. I have learned through first hand, personal experience that if the only time we reflect upon the Lord is on Sundays we are not growing as we should be. We become stagnant and weak.  This is NOT the abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10!

Here’s the thing beloved. We must understand that the enemy of our souls does not take a vacation Monday through Saturday. He does not show up to try to wreck our lives just on Sundays. The Bible says that he is like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us. This is his full time job.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV

Please be in prayerful thought about this topic. A ‘one day a week religion’ just doesn’t cut it. We need more of a relationship with our Savior than that. We must stay engaged through the Spirit, pressing onward in the power of the Lord.

The Apostle Paul spoke of a closeness with the Lord that is attainable for each of us. I can’t think of a better thing to do on those other 6 days of the week!

speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:19,20  NKJV

Be blessed on this Lord’s day!

Ron

What do you see?

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There.

In the pew.

Sitting over there.

What do you see?

Dressed for success?

Clothed in hand-me-downs two sizes too small?

A crisp, new outfit?

A rumpled,wrinkled shirt?

Who do you see?

The preacher’s daughter?

A woman branded with a scarlet letter?

Perfectly dressed boys and girls driven to church in a shiny new Cadillac?

Ramshackle kids from the other side of the tracks who arrived in an old school bus transformed into a makeshift Sunday School taxi?

What do you hear?

A heavenly choir?

A wannabe rock band?

Too loud?

Too soft?

Just right?

Whispers of “what is he doing here”?

The muffled cries of the broken and abused?

Yes, here in God’s house, the one place where at the foot of the Cross the ground is level for all….

What do you see?

Who do you hear?

Maybe the better question is do we see and hear the same things that Jesus does?

 

 

From a child’s perspective

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I recently had an enlightening conversation with a friend of mine, and as we were talking he told me about something interesting that occurred in his church’s Sunday school class.

Being one of the teachers of 1st thru 5th grade students, he frequently tells me about some of the things the kids say and do, and I must concur that “Kids Say the Darndest Things”.

On this particular Sunday morning, it seems the lesson was on “Worry”. The gist of the lesson was that each child was given a piece of paper with 15 words listed on it. All of the words involved things you might worry about as a child.

The kids were instructed to circle the five things they would be most worried about from the list that included:

  • the death of a friend or loved one
  • forgetting your homework
  • getting lost
  • fear of the dark
  • being hungry

As each student turned in their paper the teacher tallied the scores, and the results were somewhat surprising. The #1 selection was the death of a friend or loved one. This is understandable, considering the trauma of such an event.

What was very surprising however was that the 2nd most popular selection was being hungry. Especially intriguing is the fact that none of the kids in his class know what being hungry feels like!

How sad is it that little kids who have never missed a meal worry so much about going hungry? What exactly does this say about our society? What does this say about our priorities as a nation? Better yet…

What Would Jesus Do?

Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them; and the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven” belongs to such as these. And after He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there.…   Matthew 19:13-15

Children are precious in the eyes of the Lord. Is it because our adult eyes no longer acknowledge the Lord that we are blind to this fact?

As a nation, we have rejected God and His plan for right living. In its place we have chosen instead to be inundated with 24/7 images of adultery, drugs, murder, prostitution, greed, abuse, divorce, and every conceivable type of debauchery imaginable.

And our children are growing up in these same homes, listening, wondering, and worrying if one day they too will feel the pangs of hunger, if they haven’t already.

If I’m being honest here, I sometimes wonder about the seeds we adults have planted in the minds of our children. The horrible things that we have exposed them to must surely be an affront to God.

Little kids are smart, much smarter than we like to give them credit for, and they instinctively know when things aren’t right. Given the opportunity, how long do you think it would take our children to prioritize the hunger problem in America?

It’s a crying shame that we as adults don’t have the same heart as they do.

Ron