Sunday, October 30, 2005
Genesis 8:1 - “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.”
This last week was a very difficult one. One that by the end of the week, I was saying “That’s it! I’m over, I’m out, I’m done, I’ finished…I can’t take it anymore. Finito!” I wanted to step aside…and let another run the next leg of the race.
The only problem was…no one else was volunteering to do so. Surely not through will power…but momentum, I kept plugging away.
While not quite as downcast…my mood was not going to win any power of positive thinking award today. But my one saving grace was that I had my Bible Study Fellowship lesson to complete.
This week we are studying about Noah…Genesis 6 – 8. The passage that stood out to me most was Genesis 8:1 “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.”
This week I felt like the waters had overwhelmed me…and I had been forgotten by God. I cried out...but there was only quite…no reply and no relief forthcoming.
But thank goodness for the Word of God...to remind me about who He is. Our God, who is ever faithful and unchanging. In John 1:1…we learn that Jesus was the Word, and was with God the Father in the beginning, and was God. Our triune God…Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
That same God, who remembered Noah, has remembered me.
Think about what a scary and uncertain time this was for Noah and his family. They alone, along with the animals on the ark, remained. For the first time ever it had rained…and the waters of the deep poured forth and the earth was covered with water. All people, but eight whom God had saved, were killed in the flood. The Bible tells us in Genesis 6:8 that Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
God has had mercy upon me, and through his grace saved me. He will not forsake me, nor forget me, nor leave me helpless. Hebrews 13:5 reminds us that God will never leave us, nor forsake us.
Now if go by my feelings…I wouldn’t grasp that, know and trust that God cares for me…even when circumstances seem quite overwhelming.
But when I place my trust in God, and in His Word…I can rest assured that he has not forsaken me. Instead like, Noah, He remembered me. He is at work and soon the waters will be receding.
When God remembered Noah (actually, He had never forgotten him)…he started a work and the waters would soon recede. But it took…150 days before that was evident.
Like Noah…the waters that have swamped me will recede. Whether perceptible at the moment…or veiled…my God is at work. He has a plan and purpose that He is working out.
Do I still have moments of doubt? You bet ya! But one thing I’ve found helpful in those dark and discouraging times…is to give thanks to God. Thank him for that which he has provided. Give thanks for who He is.
Through thanksgiving and praise…I am able to remind myself that God exists and God cares…He is there and has provided. In those times…that’s when it pays to know the Word of God. Before you are in those difficult times…not after.
So I thank you Jesus for remembering me. I thank you that you have sent a wind…and the waters that have swamped me will soon recede.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
It was filled to the brim in dealing with people that leave you muttering to yourself, as you walk away...or hang up the phone...saying one of the following:
"Gee wiz, these folks must have done some heavy duty drugs in the 60's."
Or, "They must have dropped some serious acid...cause something ain't quite working right in their gray matter."
Or how about, "You can't be that stupid naturally, it has to be supplemented."
Giving them the benefit of the doubt with, "I think their mom must have dropped them on their head when they were a baby...that kind of thinking just has to be caused by something."
The other thing that was apparent after this day...or should I more accurately say this week...is that the indelible imprint of a lawyer's hands all over it. Mucking things up, as usual.
Now I've always had a fondness for lawyer jokes. Lawyers are so universally held in low esteem and poorly regarded...and it's usually well deserved and even well earned.
So in my efforts to mend from this wretched day...thought I'd throw out a few lawyer jokes...to bring a smile to my lips and perhaps even an ironic chuckle. So here are a few of my favorite lawyer jokes:
What do you say about a 1,000 dead lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
It's a good start.
What's the difference between a dead rattle snake in the middle of the road and a dead lawyer in the middle of the road?
There are skid marks in front of the snake.
What's the difference between a carp and a lawyer?
One's a scum sucking, low life bottom dweller and the other is a fish.
Now I invite you to participate...help me feel better. Or even release some your own stress over the ridiculous, nonsense that you encounter every day. Things that are made worse because of lawyers. So...if you have good lawyer joke...now keep it clean...click on the comments link below and share your favorite lawyer joke.
Thank you ever so. You are too kind!
One of the things that give daily thanks for is Bible Study Fellowship. I'm thankful to be in this study that helps me to do what I don't do on my own...and that is to diligently study the Word of God. This year...we are studying the book of Genesis.
I was in this study six or seven years ago...and even though it's a repeat for me...it's wonderful. I'm in a different place in my life now and hopefully I can say with accuracy that I have grown in my Bible knowledge...and more importantly, the application of God's Word in my personal life.
This year...we have a new Teaching Leader in our class, Terri. She is terrific. She's got an excitement for the Word of God, challenges you and helps you to apply it so you will continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge, and walk in a manner that is pleasing to God. Terri diligently studies and prepares for her lecture each week...and willingly shares the nuggets she's discovered during her journey.
One of things I'm mindful of this year especially...is how transforming the Word of God is. When I look at people whom I most admire...I see how much God's Word helped transform their lives. It's wonderful to see...and makes me hunger and thirst for God's Word and for Him to do a similar work in my own life.
2005 is going to go down in my personal history as a year of great challenges and great losses. Among which are deaths of people important in my life. Three of them were Christian men strong in their faith. Not only in the day to day battle and how they lived their lives...but demonstrated more dramatically as they faced sickness and death.
When I think of it...I really haven't lost these precious men...I'll be catching up with them in heaven. I have absolutely confidence I know where they are...and that I will one day see them again. Not based on my own righteousness...but that given to me through faith in Jesus Christ my Lord. At that time...those things that make human relationships a challenge down here...will no longer be an issue...as we will have been transformed and given a new sinless nature.
My confidence in their salvation and my own...is made stronger when I hear wonderful stories like the one that Terri shared about Evangelist DL Moody's last words on his death bed:
Thursday, December 21, 1899, after cutting short a Kansas City crusade and returning home in ill health, D. L. Moody told his family, "I'm not discouraged. I want to live as long as I am useful, but when my work is done I want to be up and off." The next day Moody awakened after a restless night. In careful, measured words he said, "Earth recedes, Heaven opens before me!" His son, Will, concluded his father was dreaming. "No, this is no dream, Will. It is beautiful. It is like a trance. If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go."
When you read those words from DL Moody can you likewise say that, "If this is death, it is sweet."? Make sure you know with confidence, "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." - Colossians 2:5.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Missing you something fierce today,
Someone stood in the pulpit,
But your shadow remains.
It's been thirty-five days,
Since you went to your great reward,
Forty-two since we heard the Word God,
Preached boldly from your lips.
How long will it be,
Until I stop counting the days?
How long will it be,
Until I sing praise once again, with my eyes open?
I hunger and thirst,
For expository preaching,
Long for sermons that challenge me,
Hold me accountable, my feet to the fire.
My dear Pastor,
My heart feels pierced.
Tears fill my eyes, and even overflow,
As I behold another, standing in your place.
How long will it be,
Until I no longer hold up the pattern.
Expecting the next man called,
To measure up to your legacy?
I look to the Lord,
Searching the Word of God,
My hurting heart cries out,
Receives comfort from my precious Savior.
Missing you something fierce today,
But grateful to God,
For having loved you so well.
Still feeling the passing of my beloved Pastor, Chuck Obremski something fierce. Keenly aware of his absence...somedays more intensely than others. All the while turning to God...and being comforted in my grief.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
I don’t usually watch too much TV. If it’s on…it’s usually just background noise while I’m working around my home. For example…while blogging or getting ready for work in the morning I have the television on. More often than not…it’s on Fox News. Not just because I love politics and want to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world…but also the pickins are slim on good, quality television programming these days.
When I do get brave and put on a television show…unless it’s one I know from passed experience…that can be trusted, I keep my remote right handy. It’s close at hand, just in case I need to avert my eyes from the latest offensive material Hollywood is trying to pass off as entertainment or drama these days.
Now were talking some pretty sick stuff. Shows that you would swear came from the diaries of the BTK killer or Ted Bundy. Scenes of people doing wretched and awful things to one another in bloody and gory detail…brought to you, up close and personal in your home. And those images…don’t go away when you turn off the TV or change the channel. They are seared in you mind…for you to recall any time.
Case in point is Law & Order Criminal Intent. Last Sunday evening…and rerun again tonight the episode entitled “Unchained” came on. It starts out with a couple of guys standing on a boat or a dock. They are proceeding terrorize a man before they brutally kill him by tying him to an anchor and dropping it into the river. Of course he’s bound and can not free himself…all the while the chain is running out and will soon take him overboard to his death. And he’s not going quietly.
Like I said earlier…I can’t keep the remote close enough. Because I was in the middle of doing other things while the TV is on…I couldn’t get to the remote quick enough to not have the above image assault me.
Even just a few years ago…I really liked Law & Order…and some of the spin offs, Criminal Intent and SVU. I’ve always loved mysteries…so CSI was another program that drew me in, at first. But in what seems like a short period of time…these shows have become nothing more than offensive. In a very real way…it’s the spiritual equivalent of pollution…soul pollution.
I like a good drama or comedy…but what’s coming out now and passing as acceptable entertainment is nothing short of sick. Because the production quality of the programs and the acting is so good…it’s distracts you from the fact that the story is very poorly written, and often chock full of liberal, leftist propaganda. Every once and while the program may be well written…and reflective of a very sick and troubled mind.
Webster’s has a fitting description: a : mentally or emotionally unsound or disordered : MORBID
When I see these programs…what comes to mind is the passage in Romans 1:28-32:
“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
When you read that description…doesn’t it accurately capture what our society is like today? It captures everything from real life and the people we know and interact with, to the television shows and movies we watch…to the books and magazines we read…and it even winds it’s way into music.
So what’s a person to do? One who still likes some TV or movies? Well with cable…they actually have a few channels out there that have some quality programming, as long as you can brave the indecent and offensive commercials. One good development is all the good old TV shows or movies are coming out on DVD now. So at least we have some good alternatives.
Of course…one of my favorite options is radio…talk radio…with the likes of Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, Larry Elder and Sean Hannity. So there are a few good choices, for those seeking good entertainment or information.
Now if I was really wise…I’d turn it off all together and dive into the Word of God…and engage in and develop relationships with loved ones and friends. The question is…am I wise? Not always…but there is hope…and the Holy Spirit working away on special project, namely me.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Robert…first let me state that I concur with you that we may never know if we could have gotten a true conservative through…because President Bush didn’t try. I was so angry it took me almost two weeks before I could compose a pointed but civil, respectful response. Even now…when I hear the various commentators addressing the Harriet Mier’s nomination…I start to get annoyed all over again.
President Bush nominating Miss Miers was wrong on so many levels. I can hardly believe the Bush’s advisers thought it was a good idea and gave their blessing. Their lack of enthusiasm was evident in Vice President Cheney’s tepid nod of approval to Miss Miers.
Frankly I’m puzzled…and I don’t have a full understanding or comprehend the logic behind the President’s choice of Mier’s…even with Hugh’s support of her as he delves into this nominee.
We don’t know if Miss Mier’s will actually make conservative decisions as a judge just because her personal views are that of a religious conservative. That guarantees us nothing.
We had a chance to get a nominee who had a proven track record of judicial decisions and logic that would reveal their judicial philosophy. Based on their history…we could have had a more certain outcome.
No one knows how Miss Mier’s will vote…not President Bush…and not even Miss Miers. We have had prior “conservative” judicial nominees…conservative in their personal views, get on the court and suddenly sprout liberal wings.
And I’m not even sure I want a judge’s personal view to influence their rulings. Now of course when they are of the same bent as me…I feel a little more comfortable with that thought. But not when they come from a very liberal or as they now call it “progressive” viewpoint.
I want judges who will set their personal views aside. Realize that we have a separation of powers…and judges are not legislators. And as such…stick with the powers granted them in the Constitution. Of course I do realize that even that idea…is somewhat based on a personal view and interpretation of the Constitution.
I want a Supreme Court that seeks to limit the Federal government’s intrusion into the lives of its citizens. One that doesn’t see the government as the babysitter state. That up holds parental rights and the rights of individual to exercise their freedom of religion…or even lack thereof. I want a Court that upholds the rights of an individual and their freedom until it threatens to intrude on the rights of another and oversteps their boundaries. I want a court that will rein in the legislative and executive branch…when they start to overstep their bounds.
The Bush administration has engaged in a couple of tactics that have been very unwise and even down right absurd. They are pandering to the religious right trying to assuage their concern of the Mier’s nomination by telling them…she’s a religious conservative too…so it’s okay. First let me state unequivocally I am a religious conservative. But playing that game is wrong. Wrong because if the situation was reversed…and it’s was some liberal administration giving similar assurances to the ACLU…the conservatives would be screaming bloody murder.
Another response that came from the Bush administration was patently ridiculous. That was when Laura Bush accused Miss Mier’s detractors of being sexist. Give me a break…I want the right person for the job. Man, woman…it matters not…what matters is, if it’s the right person for the job. To try and pass off this criticism as sexist is to deflect and not have to give a reasonable response to concerns about the choice of Miss Miers.
The thing of it is…we should have taken the shot to get the right person in...not backed down. Sometimes even when you loose…it’s still the right decision. President Bush greatly miscalculated on this appointment.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Almost two weeks ago...as conservatives waited with baited breath...President Bush announced his nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Both conservatives and liberals alike uttered a collective, "uhhhh".
In conservative circles...it didn't take long for that "uhhhh" to change to "you've got to be kidding me". With some very strong candidates such as Janice Rogers Brown, Pricilla Owen, Edith Jones and Michael Luttig as contenders I joined the throngs in crying "foul".
After all, this moment is why I had so passionately wanted President Bush re-elected. It was our chance to get a strong constitutional conservative with a proven track record on the Supreme Court. Not that I wanted a fight with the Dems...but by golly...I was ready to draw the line in the sand and say "no farther".
Especially after the earlier performance from "gang of 14", specifically seven of those members, sidestepping a showdown over the filibuster rule. Now we had the chance to go back and do what they lacked the courage to do.
When the Dems stop the advice and consent process with a filibuster...we would then have the chance to go nuclear. Bring an end, once and for all, to this obnoxious, extreme tactic that halts the legislative process rather than presenting a well reason argument. Yeah...I wanted that.
But more than wanting a fight...I wanted a constitutional conservative taking the bench. One whose judicial rulings bear witness to the philosophy that judges don't make law, but interpret the law. A person who does not let their personal beliefs about sensitive subjects influence their rulings. But instead compares or holds up a case against the laws and the constitution...and makes their decision based against a fixed standard. One that doesn't read rights into the Constitution that are not specifically addressed therein.
That's what I wanted. Did we get that with the nomination of Harriet Miers? I don't know?
President Bush seems to think so. So I'm left struggling and conflicted. President George Bush has a track record of making some great appointments. You can't ask for better than Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld...and even the more liberal Colin Powell. Just recently...he made an excellent choice with John Roberts.
But in the recent past...President Bush has also had some missteps too. Front and center is his slow response and initial poor handling of Hurricane Katrina. Boarder control...he gets a "D"...and that's grading on the curve. He's been solid behind tax cuts...but our government is spending money like an uncontrolled drunken sailor. I also need to mention the administration's lack of ability to clearly communicate why taking the battle to the terrorists, on their territory in Iraq, is actually a good thing.
So President Bush...you have some what of a mixed report card. Yet you say "trust me".
I've got to tell you...Hugh Hewitt has been a huge irritation following the Mier's nomination. Even while saying she wasn't his first, second or even third choice...he was standing behind this nomination. He's continued to highlight reasons why we can trust the President with this nomination and in fact Harriet Miers is a good choice. Every time I've listened to Hugh in the last week an a half...I bristled.
But today...I did hear something that made me pause. He commented that perhaps President Bush is calculating that he doesn't have the political capital and support even from his own party to push through a more controversial nominee. Case in point...our good old "gang of 14". Also something to consider is Congressman Tom Delay's legal entanglements...taking away some key support in the House.
So a controversial, conservative nominee would be an uphill battle...one that President Bush may feel we can not win. In part because of some weak willed and wafflely Senators and Congressmen. I do believe that some of the fight has gone out of our dear President. I wish it hadn't...but here we are left with Harriet Miers.
President Bush...you've asked us to trust you. Like realistic, strong and visionary President Ronald Reagan...I say, "Trust, but verify.”
What does that mean to me? That means...I'll restrain undue criticism for now...and see how Miss Miers does during the upcoming hearings. I'll wait and see...I'll give her a chance.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
In the last few weeks...really going back to early September...there has been a plethora of news stories that have captured my attention. They've made my blood boil...and I'm just trying to sort through all my thoughts to put a coherent piece together. Of recent note are the Harriet Miers nomination for the Supreme Court, the intentional and purposeful twisting and misrepresentation of Bill Bennett's comments and critics of the federal government's slow response to Katrina victims being attributed to racism.
The more I tried to sort through the events, my observations and opinions...I find it more difficult and even a bit depressing. I feel as if I'm living in an upside down world...where anything resembling truth or common sense was thrown out the window. I do plan to put my fingers to the keyboard and write on these issues...but want to take the time so I will have clarity of thought...and a balanced perspective.
But I feel compelled to comment today about Dr. James Dobson with regards to the Harriet Miers nomination. Like the verse noted above...we as Christians are admonished to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. My dear Dr. Dobson...I have no doubt that you are innocent as a dove with good intentions. But by golly you surely did not exercise wisdom by inserting your comments about Harriet Miers into the debate and disclosing the fact that you had been speaking with White House officials...namely Karl Rove.
Dr. Dobson...you have been dealing with the media for so long now. And all too frequently you are the subject of criticism by folks in the main stream media whom do not share our values. With that prior personal experience why in the world did you hint at the fact that you had inside information or assurances from "White House Sources"? I don't get it.
First of all Karl Rove...what do you think you are doing? Haven't you give enough testimony recently that calls into question you possibly leaking confidential information to outside sources? Yet here you go again Karl. Not a really bright move.
Dr. Dobson...you've compounded it...by speaking out like you did. Initially hinting that you had information that lead you to believe that the Miers nomination would be a good thing. Then today...you went into more detail. Golly...what were you thinking. In the first place I call into question you getting that information from Karl Rove...if nothing else it wasn't prudent. Secondly...you should have taken the information...and encouraged your listeners to be calm, let Miss Miers go through the hearing process before making up their mind. That would have been a balanced response...but not betrayed the fact that maybe you were given info you shouldn't have been told.
In the interest of full disclosure I must say...I disagree with the Miers nomination. I'm breaking ranks with many of my fellow conservatives. Hugh Hewitt has been trying to bring out the merit and benefits of the Harriet Miers nomination. Despite some arguments...some of which I can even agree with to some degree...I still feel that this an extremely poor and unwise choice by President Bush. But I'll get into more about that another time.
I feel like I'm in he middle of a bunch of lemmings (made up of fellow conservatives and fellow Christians) that are jumping off the proverbial cliff only to meet their demise.
Folks...a little common sense goes a long way. And right now you are about as far away from it as you can get. Please...I beg of you please be quite...and stop running head long down a road that may be very destructive.
Now would be a really good time...to exercise some wisdom and discernment. Give it a try...fellow conservatives need you...and so do the libs...but they're just not smart enough to realize it. Bottom line...knock it off!
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
"Let them eat Angel's dust!"
Now we all have been around some of those obnoxious sports fans! Those times where you want to take the guy aside and say, "Hey buckaroo...there is more to life than your sports team."
Not too many people would accuse me of being an obnoxious sports fan. Obnoxious yes...sports fan...probably not top of the list.
With that being said I'm asking for a pass on this misapplication of scripture and Bible Study.
I'm back in Bible Study Fellowship...and this year we are studying Genesis. This last week we studied about the fall of Adam and Eve...and the curses that were pronounced as a result of their sin.
One of the curses was given to the serpent...because he tempted Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God cursed the serpent saying that he would crawl on his belly and eat dust all the days of his life.
And then we learned about what dust symbolizes in scripture. Dust is symbolic of "little worth", "death" and "frustration".
So taking on the new role of the "obnoxious sports fan"...I think it only appropriate that I utter a loud cheer for my Angel's. "White Sox...may you eat Angel's dust!"
White Sox...may your dreams of victory be of little worth, filled with frustration and die in the face of the Angel's victory.
I'll take four games straight please! Go Angel's, go Angel's, go Angel's!
Dan Q...Jeff...this post is for you!
(Photo by AP Photographer Jeff Roberson)
Monday, October 10, 2005
When we walk with the Lord
in the light of his word,
what a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will,
he abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear,
not a sorrow we share,
but our toil he doth richly repay;
not a grief or a loss,
not a frown or a cross,
but is blest if we trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
But we never can prove
the delights of his love
until all on the altar we lay;
for the favor he shows,
for the joy he bestows,
are for them who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet
we will sit at his feet,
or we'll walk by his side in the way;
what he says we will do,
where he sends we will go;
never fear, only trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Text: John H. Sammis, 1846-1919
Music: Daniel B. Towner, 1850-1919
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Facing Transition and Change
Chuck always liked to joke about life and death. Death is our greatest transition...one that Chuck looked forward to. We too can either look forward to death or fear it.
What does the Bible say about death? It is appointed unto man to die once, and and then comes judgment. All have sinned. We are born into a sin filled world and we are sinners. Each one of us has a choice to make about the gospel message. What will we do with the gospel message? Where will we spend eternity?
Kindred Community Church...has always been committed to preaching the gospel message. Chuck's death will not change that commitment. God is in control and he is sovereign.
Change upsets our little apple cart. Transition and uncertainty are kind of like jogging partners. "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." - Robert Burns. Instead we need to approach it like James did, "If the Lord wills, then...". We are all creatures of habit. Ruts become like second nature. But in reality, we live in a state of flux, transition and change. We may not realize it until it effects our lives.
Ecclesiastes 3 - A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Transition can bring stress and anxiety into our lives. We all get into those ruts...those areas of comfort. God brings us change and transition to help us realize that we need him and help us to turn to him.
We have two perspectives on change. Sometimes we like it...when we feel like we are in control. Sometimes we don't like it...when we are not in control. Change seems to come in waves in our life. We face change in all areas of our lives. It's important that as we face change that we turn to God's word.
Deuteronomy 34:1-10 - The Death of Moses - Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it."
And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.
Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the LORD had commanded Moses. Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.
Because Moses had not followed God's instructions...and hit the rock twice instead of speaking to it, to call forth water...he was disqualified from entering into the promised land. (Note...the rock symbolized Jesus. Moses had been instructed to hit the rock once and then speak to bring forth water. This symbolized that we can go to God and speak to him. Instead...Moses hit the rock twice.)
Moses was a man picked by God. He was chosen by God. In Numbers 12:3 we learn that Moses was the most humble man ever. He understood that God was in control and in charge. Moses was the only leader Israel had ever know. The Jews had been in captivity for 400 years in Egypt as slaves. Moses was to move them from a state, an attitude of slavery to freedom. They left Egypt and were then faced with a wall of water.
Moses life was consumed with caring for the Israelis...millions of people. He was respected deeply, dearly loved ...a great man of God. With all his heart and soul he always stood in the gap between God and the Jews. But Moses was the leader for only one leg of the race. After that then came Joshua...later David and then the Judges.
When Moses died...the Jews mourned him...they wept and remembered him for 30 days. All great leaders will die. It surprises us...but not God. When a man of God fades...nothing of God fades away. God is never caught off guard or surprised. He always knows what will take place.
God always has a Joshua read to step into place. Joshua 1:1-9 - The LORD Commands Joshua: After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates all the Hittite country to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua was picked by God. God picks the leaders and places them in leadership and authority. God already knows the next man who will lead our congregation. "After the death of Moses", God waited until after Moses had died and was mourned. The people had to come to grips with the fact that Moses was dead. There was a new leg of the race to be run. God gave Joshua guidelines. Love the Word of God...and love the people. A man who will stand in the gap.
We are to meditate on the Word of God day and night. God will be with you...right by your side, day and night. Vs 5..."As I was with Moses, so too will I be with you.". Moses had been a peacemaker and stood between God and man. Now God needed a warrior to go to battle as they entered the promised land. Joshua was the next person to lead the next leg of the race.
Men many years before had prayed that God would use Kindred to take the gospel message to the world in a greater way. God stated working in a reluctant leader who acquiesced. God placed us as the Elk's lodge to give us time to grow and transition. There we became a church body. The potential that God has give us a group believers is incredible. Just as with Moses and the Jews...God took Chuck.
We all need time to grieve. We need time to reflect on past well well as the task at hand. The Jews took time to remember what God had done through this great man Moses. So too we need time to remember our own great leader. The next man who takes this pulpit will be a great man of God.
Will he be like David...who was unimpressive looking...but had a heart for God? Remember...we are not to consider the outside of a man...but his heart. We need to face the transition process as God leads the way. But keep in mind there are pitfalls. One pitfall is to act too quickly. Right now we are vulnerable. But we need to be careful that we don't pick the wrong person. We need to know that we will never find another man just like Chuck...and we shouldn't be looking for that either. Chuck was unique...when we look for someone like him...that will only set him up for comparison.
Moses and Joshua were entirely different. Joshua was equipped for the next leg of the race.
What do we need to do? We need to stay the course. Don't change and don't step back. Nothing has changed...God is still in control. He is still on the thrown. We need to ask ourselves do we really believe that God is absolutely sovereign? God will not abandon us.
We need to follow God's word. Meditate on God's word. Communicate with God...be in prayer. We need to be obedient. Be strong. Don't be discouraged. God says, "Trust me, I know what I'm doing."
If we do what God asks he tells us, "You will be successful in many eyes and I will be with you where ever you go."
Stay the Course!
Saturday, October 08, 2005
When you start learning about what actually went on at the Superdome compared to what was portrayed in the media...you must ask why and how it got so blown out of proportion.
First and foremost...let me unequivocally state that the suffering and slow response to get the aid the the victims of Katrina...was heartrending and deeply troubling. No excuses on that...and I do want to get to the bottom line and find out why things went wrong.
But in looking at what actually happened compared to the news stories...you have to wonder why we were so willing to believe such horrific stories. The article below is excellent... and hits on a number of issues.
Some of the questions that come to my mind are as follows: Did we find it more easy to believe that New Orleans was out of control because a large portion of the people were black? Did we want to give people a pass on alleged horrific behavior because they were poor?
How much of what the media showed on TV and reported or commented about in print was driven by a deep seated hatred of President George Bush and the Republican administration? How much was because they wanted to make the administration look bad? I think it's very revealing the fact there aren't too many reports correcting the facts about what actually happened in New Orleans.
One of the sad consequences from the media's hyped reports is that those reports probably further delayed getting aid to the people in desperate need...the people that the media purportedly wanted to help.
The lack of coordination, communication and execution by Governor Kathleen Blanco, Mayor Ray Nagin and the federal government brought much needless suffering upon the citizens of New Orleans.
There was lot that went wrong in New Orleans following the aftermath of Katrina. But thank you Lord...it wasn't anything near what was being reported. Please read the article below to find out what actually happened in New Orleans.
Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy
Rumors supplanted accurate information and media magnified the problem. Rapes, violence and estimates of the dead were wrong. By Susannah Rosenblatt and James Rainey, Times Staff Writers
BATON ROUGE, La. — Maj. Ed Bush recalled how he stood in the bed of a pickup truck in the days after Hurricane Katrina, struggling to help the crowd outside the Louisiana Superdome separate fact from fiction. Armed only with a megaphone and scant information, he might have been shouting into, well, a hurricane. The National Guard spokesman's accounts about rescue efforts, water supplies and first aid all but disappeared amid the roar of a 24-hour rumor mill at New Orleans' main evacuation shelter. Then a frenzied media recycled and amplified many of the unverified reports.
"It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," Bush said Monday of the Superdome. His assessment is one of several in recent days to conclude that newspapers and television exaggerated criminal behavior in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, particularly at the overcrowded Superdome and Convention Center.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified "rapes," and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of "scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials."
Indeed, Mayor C. Ray Nagin told a national television audience on "Oprah" three weeks ago of people "in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."
Journalists and officials who have reviewed the Katrina disaster blamed the inaccurate reporting in large measure on the breakdown of telephone service, which prevented dissemination of accurate reports to those most in need of the information. Race may have also played a factor.
The wild rumors filled the vacuum and seemed to gain credence with each retelling — that an infant's body had been found in a trash can, that sharks from Lake Pontchartrain were swimming through the business district, that hundreds of bodies had been stacked in the Superdome basement.
"It doesn't take anything to start a rumor around here," Louisiana National Guard 2nd Lt. Lance Cagnolatti said at the height of the Superdome relief effort. "There's 20,000 people in here. Think when you were in high school. You whisper something in someone's ear. By the end of the day, everyone in school knows the rumor — and the rumor isn't the same thing it was when you started it."
Follow-up reporting has discredited reports of a 7-year-old being raped and murdered at the Superdome, roving bands of armed gang members attacking the helpless, and dozens of bodies being shoved into a freezer at the Convention Center. Hyperbolic reporting spread through much of the media.
Fox News, a day before the major evacuation of the Superdome began, issued an "alert" as talk show host Alan Colmes reiterated reports of "robberies, rapes, carjackings, riots and murder. Violent gangs are roaming the streets at night, hidden by the cover of darkness."
The Los Angeles Times adopted a breathless tone the next day in its lead news story, reporting that National Guard troops "took positions on rooftops, scanning for snipers and armed mobs as seething crowds of refugees milled below, desperate to flee. Gunfire crackled in the distance."
The New York Times repeated some of the reports of violence and unrest, but the newspaper usually was more careful to note that the information could not be verified.
The tabloid Ottawa Sun reported unverified accounts of "a man seeking help gunned down by a National Guard soldier" and "a young man run down and then shot by a New Orleans police officer."
London's Evening Standard invoked the future-world fantasy film "Mad Max" to describe the scene and threw in a "Lord of the Flies" allusion for good measure. Televised images and photographs affirmed the widespread devastation in one of America's most celebrated cities.
"I don't think you can overstate how big of a disaster New Orleans is," said Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a Florida school for professional journalists. "But you can imprecisely state the nature of the disaster. … Then you draw attention away from the real story, the magnitude of the destruction, and you kind of undermine the media's credibility."
Times-Picayune Editor Jim Amoss cited telephone breakdowns as a primary cause of reporting errors, but said the fact that most evacuees were poor African Americans also played a part. "If the dome and Convention Center had harbored large numbers of middle class white people," Amoss said, "it would not have been a fertile ground for this kind of rumor-mongering."
Some of the hesitation that journalists might have had about using the more sordid reports from the evacuation centers probably fell away when New Orleans' top officials seemed to confirm the accounts. Nagin and Police Chief Eddie Compass appeared on "Oprah" a few days after trouble at the Superdome had peaked. Compass told of "the little babies getting raped" at the Superdome. And Nagin made his claim about hooligans raping and killing.
State officials this week said their counts of the dead at the city's two largest evacuation points fell far short of early rumors and news reports. Ten bodies were recovered from the Superdome and four from the Convention Center, said Bob Johannessen, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. (National Guard officials put the body count at the Superdome at six, saying the other four bodies came from the area around the stadium.)
Of the 841 recorded hurricane-related deaths in Louisiana, four are identified as gunshot victims, Johannessen said. One victim was found in the Superdome but was believed to have been brought there, and one was found at the Convention Center, he added.
Relief workers said that while the media hyped criminal activity, plenty of real suffering did occur at the Katrina relief centers. "The hurricane had just passed, you had massive trauma to the city," said Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard. "No air conditioning, no sewage … it was not a nice place to be. All those people just in there, they were frustrated, they were hot. Out of all that chaos, all of these rumors start flying."
Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron, who headed security at the Superdome, said that for every complaint, "49 other people said, 'Thank you, God bless you.' " The media inaccuracies had consequences in the disaster zone. Bush, of the National Guard, said that reports of corpses at the Superdome filtered back to the facility via AM radio, undermining his struggle to keep morale up and maintain order. "We had to convince people this was still the best place to be," Bush said. "What I saw in the Superdome was just tremendous amounts of people helping people." But, Bush said, those stories received scant attention in newspapers or on television.
Times staff writer Scott Gold contributed to this report.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Following the death of my most beloved Pastor, Chuck Obremski...I feel like the wind went out of my sails. Obviously a very sad time for the Obremski family, his friends...and for the many people who loved and treasured this man, whom God bless us with.
I've been in the grip of a profound sadness...yet experiencing a peace that overrides it. A peace that truly comes from God.
This has been one heck of a hard year...with many losses. In addition to Chuck's illness and death...with all the highs and lows...I've also lost others this year. First and foremost my friend Hugo comes to mind. This dear man...was essentially give a death sentence by way of a lung disease. He too was on a health roller coaster. When the promising news of approval for a lung transplant came, Hugo's health took a sharp decline...and he died within a few short weeks.
While deeply saddened by Hugo's death...the comfort of knowing that he was a believer in Jesus Christ, had been redeemed from his sins...and that I will one day see him again in heaven, can not be overstated.
Not too long after that news came word that a friend from my past, Neil Parker had died...following a heroic battle with cancer. Just the thought that this man was gone from this world...and knowing that I wouldn't be talking to him again or seeing him this side of heaven caused me much grief. But like Hugo...I took great joy in the fact that I will be greeted by Neil one day in heaven...since he too is a Christian and saved from his sins.
A couple of other losses bring me much sadness...at a more personal level...the losses of two of my kitties, Kate and Daisy. Earlier in the year...I made the difficult decision to give Kate away. Kate had been my mom's kitty...and I had taken her in to my home when my mom moved into an assisted living facility. In many ways Kate was so different from my other kitties...very personable and friendly. But there was constant conflict between Kate and my other kitties. It resulted in behavior problems...that I couldn't tolerate any longer. I had my other kitties for over 14 years...so I made the tough decision to give her away.
For weeks I felts sick to my stomach at the thought of Kate...and in a lot of ways regretted the decision...but the peace in my home for Daisy, Nathan and Moss helped me to know it was an okay decision.
This last September...I had to have my kitty Daisy put to sleep. She got sick with no notice and within two days I had to take her to the vet. As it turned out...she had a tumor and was at the end of her life. I was with her when they gave her the shot. When had I adopted Daisy from the pound, she was pregnant unbeknownst to me. I ended up keeping two of her boy kitties, Nathan and Moss. She gave me one of the best gifts of my life...and I miss her greatly.
So as you can see...from the above personal events this year has been tough. There are other things...on a different more intimate level which have been challenging and have tested my faith. In some instances...I've kept my focus and remained steadfast and at other times I've despaired of even life. But even in those times that the hurt has been great...and seemingly overwhelming...it doesn't hold a candle to those times of similar despair when I was not a Christian.
I remember that feeling all too well. I thank God and praise God that now even in the midst of pain and despair...I have a hope that will never die. Does that mean I don't have those moments that when I feel my boat is about to be swamped...and go down for the last time? No...of course I do. But the difference is...they are moments, not seasons or years of despair...and there is hope even in the midst.
So I write all this to give you fair warning...that while the wind has recently gone out of my sails...I can feel a breeze blowing. So watch out...I'll be doing some more writing than I have in the last couple of weeks.
In past few weeks...there have been a number of big stories that I have wanted to comment on...but my mind was focused elsewhere. But now...I'm going to dive back in. So...be forewarned...there are a number issues in the media that I'm going to tackle. Important issues that I want to better understand, if for nothing else than to know what I feel about them.
So thank you God...for carrying me through this time. It's been rather hard...and I still feel bruised and battered...but I'm still here. I still have many hopes, dreams and prayers that I want to see realized...but I'm going to keep going and pray that you will make a way God.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
The Influence of the Genuine Servant
Message by Chuck Obremski…Delivered by Jack Grogger
Notes from sermon on 10/2/05
Matthew: 5:13-16 - 13"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Biblical Depiction of our world:
Difficult - 2 Timothy 3:1-7 - 1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.
Depraved - 2 Timothy 3:8-9 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
Deceived - 2 Timothy 3:13 - 13while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2. A Biblical description of the genuine servant’s influence:
A. The Salt of the Earth (Matthew 5:13)
* Shaken, Sprinkled, not Poured
* Adds flavor, but it’s obscure
* Unlike any other seasoning
B. The Light of the Word (Matthew 5:14-16)
* Give Direction
* Attracts Attention
We live in a difficult time, a difficult world…and things are not getting any better. Today we live in difficult times, a terrible time…people who are depraved…and dead towards God. Men think we don’t need God. A depraved and deceived world. In such a world how can one person make a difference? Do you feel defeated? How can we as Christians make a difference? Are you looking at things from a horizontal perspective or a vertical perspective?
Jack then shared the story about the “Keeper of the Spring”:
The late Peter Marshall, an eloquent speaker and for several years the chaplain of the United States Senate, used to love to tell the story of "The keeper of the spring," a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps.
The old gentleman had been hired many years ago by a young town council to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water.
By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, the millwheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, in the view from restaurants was picturesque beyond description.
Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semi-annual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man's eye caught the salary figure being paid to the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of the purse, "Who is the old man? Why do we keep him on year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know the strange ranger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn't necessary any longer!" By a unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man's services.
For several weeks nothing changed. By early autumn the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A couple days later that water was much darker. Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was soon detected. The mill wheels moved more slowly, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left as did the tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.
Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they hired back the old keeper of the spring...and within a few weeks the veritable river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps once again.
The world may think they don’t need Christians…but they are wrong. Christians can be an indispensable influence for God.
We are to be the Salt of the Earth. The world that we live in is rotting. Just as salt can be used as a preservative for meat…so too can a Christian act as a preservative in the world. The world is kind of like a five star restaurant. It looks good from the front…but when you go behind the scenes…things are looking pretty disgusting. The world is perishing…but God have us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ so that we would not perish. Christians are to be the moral disinfectant in a world of changing values.
Salt - Preservative…slows down decay. Healing agent…a healing agent the world. Salt also creates thirst. Question is…do we live Christian lives that make other’s thirst? Do we make people desire more of God?
John 4:14 - 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
The world is thirsty…but have they found anything to quench their thirst?
Salt also melts snow and ice....cold, hard hearts. But when we have a bad attitude…we are good for nothing. We are not to be conformed to this world.
Romans 12:2 – 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Salt is to be shaken…and spread around. Christians are like a football team…to be effective and do any good we’ve got to get into the game…not stay in a huddle. Sundays are our day to gather in the huddle…but then we are to go out in to the world.
Hebrews 10:24 – 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Jack shared that while the family was with Chuck as he was dying…they were comforted to know that they will be together for eternity. Until then…we are to come together and spur one another on…encourage one another...then get out into the world. Jesus wants us to go out into the world.
Salt adds flavor but it is obscure. J. Vernon McGee cautioned Christians, “Salt has lost it’s flavor and the pepper it’s pep.” Salt contributes to the meal. It’s unlike any other seasoning.
Christians are to be a light in the world. Jesus compared us to himself…and we are to be like Jesus.
Light…exposes darkness and evil. Light is silent…faithful and consistent. We should be like a lighthouse to the world…nothing that shades a person.
Ask yourself…are you as a Christian attractive to people? A lighthouse gives direction. Are you like a little tiny bulb…or like a big bright shining bulb? “Light it up!”
Light attracts attention. It draws you in…kind of like the sunrise or sunset. Are people attracted to you? We are called to be the light of the world…and attract people. We are to stand as a light before the world and people. When the light is flipped on in a dark room…the bugs scatter. Does your light shine before men? Does it encourage men to come to know the glory of God?