Tag Archives: Jesus

Thought of the Day–12/1/17

NATIVITY

Thought of the Day—As we transition from the season of thanks to the season of giving, we need to continue to be in an attitude of thanksgiving.  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

Thought of the Day–11/12/17

Confession

Thought of the Day—Do you want to know a secret?  There are no secrets with God; He knows everything we’ve done and said anyway…it’s just a matter of being real with Him and confessing what He already knows.  Don’t you think our human relationships would go a little smoother if we were more open and honest with others?  I’m not talking about brute force honesty but speaking out truth in love…

Thought of the Day–11/7/17

Hand to hold

Thought of the Day—It may take a village to raise a child, but that doesn’t give anyone the permission to abandon their children in the village square.  We need to once again cherish and treat our children as they really are; a precious gift from God, an eternal soul entrusted to our care, the next generation in a pint sized form.  They are not someone else’s responsibility, your best friend in training or constant irritant…they are a reminder from God to us that we too, still need to find the wonderment in the everyday, what it means to once again enjoy the essence of innocence in trusting others, to possess a colored blind heart… Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

The God of Second Chances

Have you ever had the opportunity for a second chance in life?  The old saying goes, “you never have a second chance to give a good first impression”; but we are also taught to go that extra mile and give others an opportunity to prove themselves.  Many times in a young child’s life, perception IS reality; and part of that perception involves a type of judgment.  Isn’t it interesting how we judge people at times?  Instantly, perhaps harshly, and without merit, we analyze someone’s physical attributes, mannerisms, and verbal signatures; after which we mentally determine whether we want another encounter with the subject of observation.  I guess we grandkids were no different in that respect…for we all agreed that our grandpa was mean!

Grandpa Phillips was an intimidating looking old man with skeletal like facial features and a shock of snow white hair on top of that skeleton head.  Earlier in life, perhaps at a low point, our grandpa attempted to take his own life.  Some would call it a twist of fate and others, a brush of an angel’s wing, but our grandpa missed his mark and blew his left arm off instead.  That absence of an arm in an empty sleeve, tucked into his trousers completed the total ”evil scarecrow” appearance.

Grandma and Grandpa Phillips lived in a small hamlet called Doanville, just outside of our hometown of Nelsonville in Ohio.  Driving up to their house, I always got butterflies in my stomach and a sense of dread enveloped me.  Their small, white house was nestled behind two gigantic pines, standing tall and majestic like two forest green soldiers standing at attention.  The walkway led beyond the gate and between the two towering trees.  The wind, whistling through the massive evergreens, gave an even more ominous feeling as we approached the dark, dank abode.

Grandpa Phillips was the “watcher” of their front porch when family came to visit.  He seemed to delight in brandishing his belt or razor strap, threatening the visiting little yard apes from climbing the expansive banisters, which made the temptation to mount the white, wooden steed just a little more appealing.

Mom would tell us from time to time that grandpa wasn’t always like that.  She had fond memories of her dad reading her bedtime stories at night.  The only stories I could envision were grotesque fairy tales where wart laden witches devoured innocent little children, lost in the wood…

However, somewhere along the line in grandpa’s life, something had definitely changed.  I didn’t know the details, only that grandpa had accepted Jesus into his life.  He asked my dad if he could pick up grandma and him for church sometimes at the Church of the Nazarene on Adams St.  They both sat toward the front of the sanctuary and I remember a bright smile on grandpa’s face during the service.  My perception of grandpa certainly changed as he himself was changing from week to week.  John Edward Phillips had been given a second chance at life after his botched attempt at taking his own and now, his entire life had eternally changed as he fully embraced his new life in Christ.  I remember going Christmas caroling with our church in 1970 at their house.  Both of my grandparent’s faces were just beaming as they listened to our less than perfect voices belting out carol after carol.  Grandpa passed away on the same day we celebrate Christ’s birth each year, December 25th of 1970.

There are many examples of God giving second chances in the bible.  Jonah’s disobedience to God resulted in Jonah being swallowed by a huge fish where he literally spent three days and nights in the stench of his own poor decision.  But God gave him an out, being thrown up by the fish so he could be submissive to God and preach to the people of Nineveh, giving them a chance to turn from their evil ways.  God agreed with Abraham to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah from total destruction if only ten righteous men could be found in the cities.  Saul, the great persecutor of the Christians in the New Testament was literally stopped in his tracks by God using a bright light that temporarily blinded him and got his attention to the point of conversion.  Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul, the great evangelist.

We’ve all been given second chances in life, regardless of circumstance.  I guess we could say we’ve been given many chances in our lifetime!   They may not have been as dramatic as a near fatal accident and it could have been something as simple as the act of forgiving someone or perhaps the restoration of trust.  Regardless of the situation in life, God does not give up on us.  He went as far as sending His son to the cross for our sins, so we could indeed be reconciled back to Him and not have to face eternal separation from God.  Talk about going the extra mile!  That’s the ultimate love in action, pure and simple…

I have always heard that somewhere buried along the fence line of the Greenlawn cemetery, lays my grandpa’s left arm.  But I am very confident that his soul is rejoicing right this moment as he worships our God of second chances.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

The Grateful Dead

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When I was growing up, our family would sometimes take a Sunday drive in the afternoon, either to visit relatives or just for fun.  The two older siblings would share the back seat and I, being the youngest, would sit on the floor board on either side of “the hump”.  While driving around, we would pass several familiar sites including cemeteries.  Invariably, one of us would smugly state, “people are just dying to get in there!” followed by an instant head turn from mom, a disapproving glare followed by a chiding comment of how we shouldn’t disrespect the dead.  All the while, we siblings would respond with satisfied smiles and quiet giggles.

As I look back, that comment seemed so funny at the time but certainly less so as I get older.  For in youth, a day seems like an eternity but as the stark reality of midlife adulthood creeps in, you begin to experience the sting of death as you lose loved ones and soon acknowledge that your own life is but a mere vapor in the wind.   Sounds pretty morbid, huh?  Well, it depends on your perspective.

You see, there are many differing views about death and if there is “life on the other side”.  Some believe there is simply nothing after death, the light switch is merely set to the “off” position and you become a buffet for all sorts of creepy crawlers.  If that was the case, I guess I would have an epitaph that reads, “I was serious about life but now I’m just a fungi”…Others believe that you are reincarnated as another creature or human depending on how good or bad you were in your previous life.  I guess if you came back as a dung beetle, you could easily figure out why…Still others believe they will be rewarded in paradise by what they did on earth; their reward being measured by the number of virgins they receive in paradise based on how much they pleased their God.  I wonder if their hell was also based on something similar but they quickly ran out of virgins and would have to support all of them for eternity…

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to make light of death as much as bring a different perspective to light.  Death is part of life; “From ashes to ashes, dust to dust; we came from the earth and to return we must”.  We mourn those we have lost because we miss them terribly; there is a huge gaping hole left in our heart that only God can heal.  But for the followers of Christ, there is a hope that extends beyond the grave.  John 3:16 (NIV) states, “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 14:2-3 (NIV) reflects, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?   And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  If I truly trust God’s word in its’ entirety, then there really is a concrete hope that we can hold on to, not only that we will see our loved ones again that trusted in Jesus, but we will live eternally with Christ!

And so we hold on to that very hope and truth as we go about our day to day lives; knowing that it is not about when or how we die but actually how we live and Who we live for in this life that makes an eternal difference in the next.  That’s why it is so vitally important that we know the One who created us, who loves us more than we could ever imagine; being a living testimony of Christ in us until the day comes when we take our last breath.  I will then be in peace and at peace, one of the grateful dead.  For having lived and being loved in life, I must then await my final judgment but knowing I have an advocate with my Father.

My only hesitancy in death is leaving my loved ones in pain and grief.  For as I know from pain filled experience, there is a peace to know your loved one is with the Lord but we humans have to deal with the emotional fall out of their passing and the huge void left in their place.  But be comforted in the fact that we can be united once again.  I Thessalonians 4:16-17 reads, For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.   After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”  When Christ returns, I can’t wait to be caught up with everyone else for that great reunion.  I bet I won’t even have that fear of heights anymore.  I’ll just be eternally grateful for the grace given to a wretch like me.