I hope everyone is enjoying the last week of the year. I am looking forward to 2012 as a year of possibilities. Possibilities in improved health, better relationships, more fulfilling ministry and general happiness. I look forward to spending part of 2012 here with you on this blog. I appreciate all of you who continue to read what is posted here and to offer me feedback on this site's content.
Everyone be sure to be safe celebrating the new year and I will see you all in 2012!
David Phelps is well-known for singing with the Gaither Vocal Band. I heard him in a solo Christmas concert last year and he sang several numbers a cappella. Enjoy him and the Easters in this Christmas classic.
Two areas of my ministry have come together in a beautiful way in the last few days.
I am teaching a class on Sunday nights on the Christian family and have spent the last two weeks discussing the roles of Christian wives and mothers. I have found both studying for this class and the discussion it has generated to be enlightening and wonderfully beneficial.
In my personal, benevolent ministry, I have spent the last couple of days visiting widows in our community. I have taken a small Christmas gift and spent some time talking with these ladies. Ironically, most of these women attend the same place of worship here in town and it is not affiliated with the church of Christ that I grew up in. In talking with these ladies, they shared freely the concerns they had about getting older, losing friends to death, the state of our country and a variety of other situations that they are each facing. Some of these ladies have experienced the tragedy of losing children, troubled marriages, and, as widows, all have dealt with the grief of losing a husband.
What amazes me about these women is that they, in different degrees, have learned to lean on God through all these experiences. They each speak openly of daily Bible study and an involved prayer life. Since many of them are members of the same congregation, they have learned to help carry one another through their troubling times. One of these women had driven another to her cancer treatments on many occasions and others told of how they each had worked together to provide food and Christmas presents for several families in town. These women are grappling with the problems of personal lonliness, wayward children, and the process of constantly growing older day by day. My town will certainly miss these women when they are not longer a part of our community.
In seeing these precious women age with grace, I was brought back to the study I have been leading at Lebanon. These women, and many others like them, have truly embraced their position in their families, churches, and communities. Younger women (as well as men) would do well to imitate their examples. The generation of which they are a part is quickly passing away and the ability to learn from these great matriarchs will soon be gone. What the Bible teaches about the importance of learning from older generations cannot be over emphasized.
May each of us take advantage of the opportunity we have to learn from our elders before they are gone and let us use the knowledge they have shared to be better people now and in our process of aging.
I was reading a blog today of another writer who referenced a verse I was familiar with. It is one of my favorite verses in fact, and I immediately knew that she had given the wrong citation for the passage. I looked just to make sure and, sure enough, she had inverted the chapter and the verse. My immediate response was a kind of triumph that I had spotted this error on this famous author's page. As I thought about it, however, I was soon thinking about all the times I have misspoke, mistyped or misinformed people. While I did these things by accident, I am sure that some people noticed at the time and simply gave me grace knowing that my intentions were right and that if I had not been careless I would have said the correct thing.
We should never take joy in pointing out the mistakes of others. It is natural to want to prove that we are right and to take pride in correctness, but it is not the way of Christ. We should desire truth because it sets people free and not because it makes us look more wise or gives us more authority. Living in the right ways, if we are not careful, can produced an alienating pride. We should instead allow the truth of what we practice to produce humility and a godly worldview.
(I realize I have posted three items over the weekend...please don't be overwhelmed)
As strange as it may seem to some, I have a rating system for how my day goes. A lot of it is based on my internal mood and, of course, much of the rest is based on external circumstances. I plot my days on a scale of 1 to 5 stars with 1 being the worst of days and 5 being the greatest. Over time, I have scored several 1-star days, but most days are 2-star or 3-star days. I occasionally have a 4-star day and I have never recorded a 5-star day.
Charting my days in this way has helped me see patterns in my days and weeks and over the course of time. What I have come to see is that my 1-star days are usually spent in isolation while my better days are spent with others. Today, I recorded my first 4-star day in quite a while. I enjoyed getting up extra early this morning and looking over my class and sermon notes and being able to be confident of the material that I wanted to present today. I enjoyed my ride to church with mom and then the time spent in worship and study. Teaching Bible class is one of my favorite things to do and today both classes went well. I spent the afternoon with many members of my family, but also was able to relax and listen to some music and read more of the Bible. Despite the rain, the ride home was enjoyable and dinner was great. I was able to come home and help a friend with a project and write some cards to send off tomorrow. I am tired which means (usually) that I will sleep well.
Everyone has to decide how best to spend his or her own time. I have found that building both structure and down time into each day is important. Sundays are usually my best day of the week because I am doing something for others and feel useful. The more I discipline myself to get into a pattern of sleep, study, activity and socializing the better I feel. If I am occupied my internal strife is not at the forefront of my mind and I can temporarily escape the roller coaster of my moods.
Today, I had a 4-star day. Tomorrow is a new day with both joy and trouble of its own. It may turn out to be a 1-star day or it could even be my first 5-star day. I realize that the majority share of how it turns out depends on my approach, attitude and spirit. Your days are no different. It is quite often not what happens to us, but how we approach what happens to us that makes the most difference in our quality of life.
Wishing you many 4-star (or even 5-star) days to come...
I realize that the month of November was not an active one here on the blog. I am glad many of you are continue to read/watch the things I post here despite my recent infrequency.
We are beginning a study of the Sermon on the Mount on Sundays. I am studying more for this class than I have studied in a long time and I am being amazed by the simple yet wonderful depth of Jesus' teachings. We are using Matthew's account and I am looking forward to sharing my observations with our class. Commentaries abound and I am making use of several different perspectives on the text. While not embracing it totally personally, I have become a distant admirer of Reformed theology over the last year. I believe this has been reflected in my preaching more than my Bible class teaching thus far. The more I read and study about the nature of God and the personhood of Jesus the more I realize how little I know about those important subjects. Books have become my seminary and I am thankful to be able to grow in knowledge.
May God continue to bless you on your journey and I do hope to be writing more soon.