Κύριε ἐλέησον

Kyrie Elison…Lord Have Mercy…

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner

My desperate call to the Lord my God. I find this call on my heart more and more. Through trials and tribulations I know the the Lord will never leave me. It is still difficult…almost impossible most days…to make it one more day. Can’t really explain why…you would think I could handle it all. However there is no way that I can. It takes divine intervention to get through the day sometimes. I swear my guardian angel has its hands full. Mistake after mistake…through anger and frustration…from east to west…Christ is with me. Admittedly I don’t hear sometimes… probably because I am not listening.

As frustration grows to the point of an embolism I reach in my work bag and find my red prayer book and the Theotokos…a reminder to breath and pray. Oh how I need that reminder. I always need prayer in my life…unfortunately I don’t spent the time I should in prayer. Definitely a habit that must change.

In Memoriam

This day is always especially difficult one for me. Amid the daily grind of work and home there is a pain…a missing piece… that is apparent. It is always there… there is never a time… nor will there ever be… that something… someone… is missing… that my family is missing a member. Today is the day when, in 2008, we lost a member of our family that we never knew.

Amid the celebration of a wedding… a joyous union… of our friends a child we never knew was leaving us. My beloved was pregnant and we did not know yet. The pregnancy was ectopic and there was no saving our little one. It took days before we knew the truth as to what was happening to my Beloved. I almost lost her as well… if not for a wonderful, caring OB with a steady hand in surgery this tragedy could have been worse.

That was 2008… 4 years and 2 perfectly healthy children later there is still a missing piece there. One that can never be filled.

 

Oh little one how I long to know you,
Oh little one how I long to hold you,
One day I will,
In heaven above,
Till then I know you are held and loved,
By Christ and those that have gone before,
I will be there one day to hold you and play,
Till then I will love those dear ones I have here,
And long for the day when we meet.

 

What is success

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.
— David Orr

I am now 30, have been for a few months, and I suppose we all look back on our previous 30 years and reflect. I remember a prayer that my father prayed over me as I was growing up. I don’t remember it all but I do remember it asking that I would be “happy, healthy, and wealthy” and a “Millionaire by age 30”. My father was a man that worked hard and chased after his money. He made alot over the years but at a great personal sacrifice to his health and family.

I am 30 and am no millionaire…I barely scrape by month to month. I don’t drive a Lamborghini or a Porsche…I drive a 11 year old van with almost 200,000 miles on it. I don’t live in a huge elaborate mansion with brand new everything…I live in a RENTED house that is falling apart around me. I may not be wealthy in the money arena but I am in family. I have a wonderful wife and 6 beautiful children; who drive me bonkers some days but I love those kiddos just the same. I wouldn’t trade a one of them foe a Million or a Trillion dollars.

In retrospect on my last 30 years I wouldn’t change anything. Every moment, every decision (good and bad) has brought me to where I am today. I thank God for His grace and mercy in my life. Without it there would be nothing left of me. I will continue in this race as best as I can until God sees fit to call me home. I have made mistakes (as we all have) and will continue to do so but I pray that God will encompass me with His holy angels, that guided and guarded by them, I may attain to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of His unapproachable glory till the ends of my age.

 

Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul and my body. Do thou thyself bless me, have mercy upon me, and grant me life eternal. Amen

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Rugged Individualism

We hear, especially as Americans, phrases like “self made man” and “Positive thinking brings positive outcomes” a lot. These phrases and many others shows the American drive to be reliant on no one….not even God…for what they need. This my way is right and everyone else is wrong attitude has fostered hate, anger, malice, and the attitude that the bad things in life are not my fault and someone else caused it. Our politicians campaign not on their stance but how the other guy is wrong…always tearing down and never building up. Choosing instead to be a negative force rather than a positive one.

Many Christians also do this to believers and non believers alike. If you are a believer chances are at least once in you life someone has said you were wrong because you didn’t believe what they did. The Baptist fight with the Presbyterian’s and the Church’s of Christ fight with the Reformed Church and so on. Arguments break out over if baptismo (Greek for baptism) meant immersion or simply washing and rather wine was really wine or simply grape juice. We won’t even go into the fight against the Catholics (interestingly enough the starting point for all their accusers religions… but that is for another post); and Lord forbid you are an atheist you will never hear the end of how you are evil and going to Hell.

The truth of the matter is not one denomination has the monopoly on the truth. We waste out time arguing the simplest and most mondaine aspects of our faith that we miss the big picture…much like the Pharisees did. This time would be better spent winning others for God… not by bashing the over the head with their fate as an unbeliever but by showing them the love of God through compassionate giving of ourselves and our possessions. You will win an unbeliever over to God by showing them the caring and compassion that Jesus has for all. They will see the genuine change in our lives and want what we have. Instead we are arguing, griping, complaining, and scarring the unbeliever away.

Not only are the unbelievers running away but even those that are believers. Our young children grow up listening to stories about Gods love and how he saved us. They hear how we are to show his love to others; and of course in our conceited mindset we tell them about how we are doing it best when we are actually being a horrible example (I am guilty of all of this too). These children grow up and realize what jerks we have become and they know that that is not the way to live.  They then often confuse our disobedience to the word as obedience (because we have told them since they are little that we obeyed the word) and come to the conclusion that to be a Christian means to complain, argue and be a general jerk. So they leave the Church and God and are easily lured into the evils of this world.

WE need to STOP the arguing and finger pointing. STOP complaining about how another denomination or peoples act. And START showing the LOVE of Christ to our families and the World. As long as we argue and complain, fight, cuss, and carry on SATAN is WINNING. The EVIL ONE is DISTRACTING us from doing Gods work and we are working AGAINST God and ASSISTING the DEVIL. From Protestant to Luthern; from Episcopal to Baptist; from Catholic to Mennonite we all believe the same core thing: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16. Why, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter if we have wine or grape juice; immerse or sprinkle; pray sitting or pray knelled at the alter; or any other millions of arguments. We need to come TOGETHER and be the UNIVERSAL church that we were intended to be. To do so we could win great victories for Christ and send Satan running away.

Hands and Feet

We, as followers of Christ, are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus and shine His light into the world (Matthew 5:16). I have often been on the giving end of this over the years but recently I was humbled and shown what it is like to receive.

Recently my wife had to be hospitalized due to breathing complications. This unfortunate event caused things in our family to become upturned. With no vacation days at work and needing the money I was forced to go to work to support my family. This left the daunting task of making sure my 5 children were taken care of. We had wonderful help from my parents who took them for a while and then my in-laws watched them over the Thanksgiving holiday.

When the holiday weekend was over my wife was still in the hospital and the need was still there. This is when my father-in-law stepped up to the plate and blessed us greatly. When my mother-in-law went back home due to prior obligations he decided to stay behind and help. He has been a wonderful help with the kids and ensuring that the house is kept clean and we have clean dishes to eat from. What a blessing.

Also during this time a friend posted on a local message board of the need for meals during this time. What happened next was simply amazing. People began bringing meals, even with this busy Christmas season, and kept bring meals. We have received so many meals that we have enough dinners to last us another couple weeks and they keep on coming. This has been a huge burden lifted off our shoulders.

What is so amazing is that most of these people bring the meals we have never even met before. They are just fellow believers that are shining Christ’s light into the world. I have been completely amazed at the giving of these people and the provisions that the Lord has provided us.

Lord, thank you for your provisions. Thank you for this season and your Son who saved us from our sins so that we may dwell with you. Thank you for this wonderful group of believers who are following your will. I ask that you bless them and show them how they are a blessing to all. Thank you for your many provisions and blessings O God.

Amen

Of Debt and Finances

In the interest of full disclosure and honesty I want to begin this post by saying that finances and debt is an area where I struggle and am not completely faithful in the Lords teaching. I however feel like this needs to be addressed.

Most of us have the same issues with debt and finances and we need someone to look up to as an example and who would be better to fill this role than the church but sadly the Church in most part has adopted the worlds Post Modern ideals on debt and money.

In the past few years I have attended 2 separate churches that are indicative of the modern American Church. Both have a large congregation and with that blessing have specific needs that used to be unique but is becoming more prevalent. One of the churches is non-denominational and the other is Baptist and is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. Both of these churches needed to expand their facilities and that cost money to happen. In both cases the church leaders decided to have the building built now with a loan and pay later; worring about the payments later. This caused them to incur Millions of dollars in debt (approx. $6 Million with one and $3 Million with the other) that needed to be paid back. That (using a mortgage calculator) puts monthly payments around $20,000 to $38,000 for 30 years.

In both cases as soon as the building was built a capital campaign was launched to pay off the debt. Sermons turned to honoring God and following His will and being good stewards of what we have. Let me be clear in saying that what was said in these sermons is true and we do need to follow Gods will and be good stewards and part of this is tithing and managing our money in a God honoring way. The issue I have seen both of these times is the failure of the church to follow their own sermons related to money.

The church needs to model how to be wise with money and how to be good stewards. In both cases the churches hired a commercial building company and commercial contractors to come in and design, build, and furnish the facility. While this in its self is not a bad thing they both could have been better stewards of the congregation that has been given and asked for those experienced with building to pick up and volunteer in some areas so that there would be less cost. They could have asked if anyone could donate materials or supplies to assist in keeping costs down. These are just a few ways that the churches could have shown stewardship to the congregation.

Another issue is the act of getting into the debt its self. The Bible does not say that it is a sin to borrow or have debt but it does advise against it. Proverbs 22: 7 states The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender (NKJV).How true this is; by the church borrowing this money they have made themselves a slave to the loan holder. This has the potential for serious consequences. What happens if the loan defaults then the church building is taken away then what or when money gets tight to we take away from our orphaned and widow funds. This is a dangerous slope to walk on for a church. Instead they could have stated the need to the congregation and asked fo donations of money, time, or resources… again going back to stewardship. Instead they decided to follow the Post Modern American worldly ideals of instant gratification and got a loan.

Now that the building has ceased and the congregation is seated in their new location giving dropped off at both places. This inevidebly is due in part to the economy but now there is a struggle to pay this debt and capital campaigns are launched and sermons that, intentionall or not, allude to if you don’t give to the building then you are not following Gods laws when the fact is we are called to give 10% of our income but that is for the orphans, widows, down trodden, homeless, and other needy persons not to fullfil a debt. This debt causes the church to spendd tithes on debt and not those that need it. One of these churches has only 1% of its budget to missions and assistance…..1%….. if we are called as individuals to give 10% don’t you think the church shoud give at least that! The fact is they can’t because they are $6 Million dollars in debt and are enslaved to it just as the Bible warns.

I am not saying that these buildings are not needed, I am not saying that debt is a sin, what I am saying is that the church and all Christians need to be careful with debt and need to look for ways to be better stewards of their existing resources. If we do this we will be looked upon in a positive light by society and will be an amazing witness to those who are unbelievers. The more we are faithful with the small things the more we will be faithful in the big. In this modern day America where the average household carries some $8000 in credit card debt (Source) the Church needs to set the right example not follow the world.