Thoughts on A Thursday2020-08-18T13:58:33-04:00

Pastor Ken’s Thoughts on a Thursday

Dragon Slayers

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, September 14th 2023…Dragon Slayers

This past week my wife Lynn and I slayed a dragon. Let me explain. Most of you know that I love to ride motorcycles. I have been riding them for about 45 years now and I hope my years of riding will continue to accumulate until I leave this old world behind at a ripe old age. I love riding motorcycles. In fact, the only driving experience better than riding a motorcycle is riding a motorcycle in the mountains. Just a few weeks before we married, I took Lynn on her first motorcycle ride in the mountains near Roanoke, Virginia. That first ride for her was the ride to end all rides…at least it might have been. We drove up a winding mountain road with sheer drop-off cliffs on one side and bare rock faces that rose directly upward on the other. We may or may not have come close to running off of the side of the road that highlighted the drop off view. We rode that day in the high mountains of the famed Blue Ridge Parkway, were she came to understands that though it may have been plenty warm when you left, you might need a jacket just 20 minutes later up in the higher elevations. We got caught in a scattered thunderstorm and spent some time wringing out our clothes under an overpass, and we concluded the ride back to my aunt and uncle’s house drying out on a busy interstate at highway speeds. I honestly thought that she would never ride again after that first outing, but she has been happily accompanying me on some great motorcycle rides for the past 23 years. She is far tougher than her beautiful looks and sweet demeanor elude to.

This sweet girl joined me yet again last week to spend multiple days riding in the southwestern Virginia mountains. Last Tuesday we decided to cross a particular road off from my bucket list of mountain rides. Route 16 is a winding two-lane road that runs kind of north and south from Wilkesboro, N.C. to Sophia, W.V. The 32 mile section between Marion and Tazewell, Virginia is known as “The Back of The Dragon”. On that short stretch of road, a driver will turn in excess of 400 times, rise and fall a total of 3,500 feet in elevation all while climbing and descending three successive mountains. Those crests make up the three mythological humps of the back of the dragon. Many of the 438 curves leave no time for the motorcycle to return to its upright position before requiring the riders to lean deeply into the next one. There are times when the length of road visible ahead may be significantly less than 100 feet. It is an awesome ride, but definitely not for the novice, or the faint-of-heart. We managed to cover the distance in just over an hour which is not anywhere near a record, but respectable none-the-less.

There is nothing strait about that road. At times, the ability to traverse it while “Keeping the rubber down and the shiny side up” is nothing less than instinctual. When riding it you really do rely on what is hopefully years of experience to guide each move. If you ride it from south to north as we did, as you near the end of the journey you round the easiest and gentlest of the curves on the entire route as they bring you 180 degrees twice through an enjoyable “S” curve called Kudzu Corner, named for all of the trees and shrubs entangled and overtaken by the Kudzu vines. It is truly majestic. As we rode through those easiest of all of the turns, I was able to ride without the formerly required incredible levels of concentration. In the midst of my mental rest as we exited Kudzu Curve, a well-known scripture came to mind. Proverbs 3:5-6 in the New American Standard Bible says; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

I had just finished driving 32 miles where nothing about my path had been strait. As a result, in that moment I was well aware of the high stress level I had been under for the duration. My hands were numb and tingling, and my knuckles unnaturally white from gripping the handlebars so tightly. My shoulder muscles were twisted tighter than rope from holding the motorcycle down in the turns and then pulling the handlebars up, only to force them downward immediately in the opposite direction. Don’t get me wrong…it was fun, but in that moment what I felt knowing I had completed the ride safe and sound and had not caused any injury to my sweet, sweet bride was nothing short of total relief.

Our lives can be like old Virginia route 16 sometimes. Some days it seems like life throws one curve after another at us, and it’s hard to know if you are coming or going, rising or falling, as you try to navigate with seemingly no time to anticipate what is ahead. While motorcyclists can and do rely on instinct much of the time in curvy road situations, it can get them in trouble on occasion. In life’s twists and turns if we rely on our own understanding an error causing difficulty beyond easy recovery is likely to be just around the corner.

This scripture says that trusting in the Lord is far better than relying on our instincts. The Lord knows what is ahead for us, not only just around the bend, but into the perpetuity of eternity. Jesus said He is the beginning and the end. (Revelation 22:13) It would be incorrect of us though, to interpret that to mean that Jesus was at the beginning and will be at the end, that would mean that Jesus is encompassed by time. Jesus is greater than time…Jesus created time…Jesus is the beginning and is the end because Jesus encompasses even time. With such an omniscient Lord, we can trust Him to guide us forward far more than we can trust ourselves to know what lies ahead where we cannot yet see. If we will learn to do this, we learn what it means to walk by faith and not by sight as referenced by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:7.

What does it mean exactly to heed the instruction found in Provers 5:6? In all your ways acknowledge Him… It means we have to recognize who He is; Lord of lords, King of kings, Master, Friend, sweet, sweet Savior. It means we have to be cognizant of what He is; Loving, Merciful, Gracious, Holy, altogether Righteous, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Unchangeable, Ever-present God. It means we have to; interact with Him, follow Him, love Him, respect Him, and give Him the credit and glory He rightly deserves. The conclusion of that verse says that if you will do all of that in regards to Christ, He will make your paths strait. Does that mean that there won’t be any more unexpected twists and turns? Does that mean you will always know what is coming before you get to it? Not at all! Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble”. (John 16:33) There will always be the need to look out for falling rock around the bend, just like the ones I had to swerve to avoid on our motorcycle ride last week. But if we Acknowledge Him and allow Him to make our paths strait, it does mean that we can trust Him to lead us directly to and through His planned path for our life. That reminds me of another passage found in Isaiah 46:10; Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My plan will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.

The bible says that God has a plan for each of our lives, one that includes our very best. He wants to see us develop fully into the person He was thinking about when He so fearfully and wonderfully created each of us in our mother’s womb. But He won’t ever force His plan onto your life. You have to be willing to Acknowledge that He is God, He is Lord of your life and then just as He promised He will direct your paths strait into all that He has for you!

So now, Acknowledge Him for who and what He is to you and let Him make your paths strait and…Go Be Awesome!

Happy Anniversary – August 17th, 2023

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, August 17th 2023…Happy Anniversary

On Saturday, my wife Lynn and I will celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary. As our associate pastor says, “That’s not a world record, but these days, it is a pretty good average.” I seem to have an especially good memory for details of days gone by. I am able to remember events with a good deal of clarity far back into my early childhood. The details of our wedding day just 23 years ago are incredibly vivid for me. I won’t bore you with all of them, but I could go on for hours recalling the events of that incredibly special day. There are far too many to convey in this format, but allow me to share just a few.

It was an incredibly beautiful day to have an outdoors wedding. The sky was bluer than it usually is. The leaves on the trees in the park where we were wed were greener than I had ever seen them before or have ever seen them since. The grass was softer than usual, and the sun though as bright as ever, was not too hot as it often is in August. Though it had not rained the air was crisp and had that amazing smell that is usually reserved for just after a summer afternoon shower. Lynn was stunning as she walked down the makeshift isle between the rows of white folding chairs. Her hair was beautiful, her face radiant, and her smile…it was as sweet as usual and seemingly permanent. I had chosen the perfect girl to ask to be my bride and together we had chosen to marry on the best day of the year.

Those are but a small handful of the memories I have from that day. Though I enjoy occasionally perusing the many pictures people took at our wedding, I don’t need them to remind me of a single detail of the day. Those memoirs are forever stored in the archives of my mind, ready to be recalled for a joyful review at a moment’s notice. Why do I have such extraordinary recollection of the events of that day over others? Obviously it is because of its extreme importance in comparison to of any of the other days in my life. That is the day that God joined Lynn and I and made us one. That is the day that the woman of my dreams became my bride. That is the day that has forever changed every day since then for the better.

So what, you might ask is the scriptural connection for this personal story? I could connect it to any number of passages that are about marriage as it pertains to how a husband and wife are to correctly interact with one another. If you want that kind of biblical encouragement, I would urge you to listen to my Monday Marriage Message podcasts. There I cover that subject in great detail. Instead I want to connect this story from my life to a different scripture.

If you are, or have been married, then perhaps like me, you remember many of the details from your wedding day. It is easy to remember the facts surrounding the day you were joined with the person you were so in love with. Even if the relationship has changed somewhat over the years, the connection you felt on your wedding day likely keeps the memories sharp in your mind. Did you know that God can’t keep His eyes off of you and feels the same way about the day you allowed Him to come live in you through His Holy Spirit?

In Psalm 139:1-18 it says this about the fact that God loves us so much that He can’t keep His eyes off of us. O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up [each day], you are still with me

Not only are you the apple of His eye, God loves you so much that He was willing to do whatever it took to restore a wonderful relationship with you. Romans 5:8 tells us, But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. While praying the night before His crucifixion according to John chapter 17, Jesus prayed that He would have the strength to go through the terrible day ahead. Jesus also prayed that His disciples would be emboldened to continue to share the good news of the gospel after He went back to heaven following His resurrection. Finally, He prayed that you and I would hear the message and accept the truth about Him so that we could be with Him in heaven for eternity. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:2 that because of the joy set before Him (the ability to share heaven with us forever) Jesus endured the shame of the cross.

Christ’s love for us shouldn’t ever be in question, He did everything He could do to prove His love for us. In light of all He did, what more could we…or would we ask Him to do? In the Gospel of Luke, it is recorded that Jesus told a well-known parable about a lost sheep. He said that even if a shepherd had 100 sheep, if one got lost, The Good Shepherd would go in search of the lost sheep and bring it back with great joy when he found it. Then it is recorded in Luke 15:4 that as Jesus finished telling that story, He said “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away”! We are the apple of God’s eye, He can’t keep His eyes off of us. He loves us too much for mere words, and when even one person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, they throw an amazing party in heaven.

It’s true that God loves us that much! He created us and knows every detail about our lives…we are that special to Him. Is He that special to us? Do we think about Him all the time? Do we remember everything about the day we realized just how much we needed and wanted Him to be right beside us for the rest of our lives? Is the day we came to Jesus emblazoned on our memories as deeply as the other not-so-important events we remember so well?

If you aren’t as excited about it as you once were, this isn’t designed to bring you shame, allow it to help change you and stir your heart to once again experience the awe of loving Jesus and reveling in His unforgettable love for you. The book of Revelation has the answer to finding that your memories of the day you accepted Jesus’ love for you have dimmed with time. Return to your first love. In other words, fall head-over-heels in love with Jesus again, and have the happiest of anniversaries! His love for you is the greatest you will ever know.

So now, falling completely in love with Jesus all over again, because He first loved you…Go be awesome!

So now, …Go be Awesome!

Longing for The Good Old Days

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, July 27th 2023…Longing for The Good Old Days

It is so easy to long for yesterday’s gone by. Sometimes we can wish we had time back so we could remedy some of the mistakes and missteps we have made along the way. It would be nice to be capable of going back in time and avoid the hurts we have caused …or the things that caused us to be hurt. Other times it might be a desire to have back something that time has taken away. I know that I wish I could have some of the strength again that is seemingly reserved for youth. I know that my wife would sometimes love to have our kids back home as children. Though we enjoy watching them be awesome adults, and we wouldn’t trade anything for our grandchildren, occasionally I know she wishes our kids were young again and that she had the opportunity to do the things for them that fulfilled her so as a mom. There are lots of reasons most, if not all of us like to think about what we would do…if we could have just a few yesterday’s back again.

There is another thing that sometimes calls wistfully to us from the past…a simpler time. The very neighborhood my wife and I currently live in regularly calls me back to days gone by. The homes were all built in the 1940’s and even with additions and remodels they still have that vintage Americana look. The streets have not been widened, and a sidewalk still connects each home…like yarn knitting the neighborhood together. The streetlights are the same ones that lit the path for those who took evening strolls along those very sidewalks back in 1945. I have had the thought many times as I stepped out my front door, that if it weren’t for the late model cars in the driveways, one would think they had stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting displayed on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

Why is it that we sometimes wish we could live in a simpler time? Why do we call them the Good Old Days? Life was slower for sure. The internet now offers us all the news any time of day and is capable of producing about 15,060,000,000 results in 0.53 seconds, and yes, that is an accurate figure, I just did a search for Today’s news headlines and those were Google’s stats on the results found. Back in the day, we had to wait until 7pm for one the 3 available television networks to tell us what took place during the day or wait for the early morning edition of the newspaper to be delivered to our front step. With those three T.V. networks being the only choices, families waited all week to see what would happen next in their favorite television series. If the episode ended with a cliff hanger (and they almost always did) it would be yet another week before you could rest easy knowing all had turned out well. Binge watching an entire season of a show was not even a thing and would have seemed preposterous. People were courteous (for the most part) at least to the extent that we didn’t watch everyone suspiciously trying to catch them doing something wrong like we do today. Yes, life was simpler back in the good old days and we often long for the Leave It to Beaver world that no longer exists.

Many would say that the advancements in technology have not been a good thing. A bank robber used to have to plan out his caper considering all kinds of contingencies, not the least of which might earn him a ride to the jailhouse or the coroner’s refrigerator if he was not-so-lucky. Today a person’s life savings can be wiped out in mere seconds from around the globe by a hacker with a computer. As a pastor and a counselor, I am all too aware of the electronic hiding places that social media offers to those who are tempted to use it that way. Our cell phones were meant to make connecting with other people easier, instead they serve to isolate us from the world around us as we retreat into the blue glow. Furthermore, the fast paced nature of our lives have caused many of us to look as though we were taught how to operate a car but never learned how to drive. We simply to find it too difficult to calmly share the road with others instead we are incredibly impatient thinking only of what we have to do and where we have to go.

I think all of that is actually a blessing…as crazy as that sounds, let me share why that is my view. If I feel as though I have something physically going on that isn’t right and I go to see the doctor, I don’t want him to walk into the examining room, quickly look at me from the door way and proclaim that I look healthy enough to him. If he were to do that and then dash from the room in haste to see the next patient, I would complain that he had not examined me thoroughly enough to know if there was anything to be concerned about. I might have to endure bloodwork or some uncomfortable tests, but if there is something seriously wrong going on in my body I want to know, so we can do something about it. In that situation I would not interested in being comfortable…I would be interested in being well. After all it might be a matter of life and death. At the time I was diagnosed with cancer a few years back, I didn’t even know I was sick. It was only with the results of a routine thorough physical that the indicators of the disease were discovered. Examination is often a good thing.

When life is too comfortable, we may not even notice that something has gone seriously awry. If the life we live too closely resembles a Leave It to Beaver world, we might not see the symptoms of sin-sickness that God is desperately trying to make us aware of. There were highly selfish people back in the good old days too, but the culture didn’t always permit them to show it as readily as it does today. When someone was “cut off” while driving in the 1950’s it wasn’t considered acceptable to honk the horn incessantly while cursing the offender and throwing obscene hand gestures in their direction. Today, that is not only accepted…it’s expected. It has become the anomaly to make a misstep while driving and NOT get cursed for doing it. And that is just one example, (though I chose it because of its prevalence). As a people and a society we illustrate just how selfish we are in a myriad of ways on any given day. I think that the “advancements and progression” that encourage our selfishness to rise to the top, are actually good for us. The more they make our sin-sick hearts evident, the easier it is for us to see something is seriously, seriously wrong.

In James 3:7-17 we are cautioned against allowing selfishness and pride to be the motivations behind our words and actions. In The Remedy, a paraphrase I enjoy reading, the author, Dr. Tim Jennings puts this way. Humans have tamed all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea, 8but no one can make their words harmless. The mouth speaks venomous words, expressing the chaos and evil within the heart. 9One moment we praise God our Father, and the very next moment we curse the very men and women created in his image. 10Think about it: Out of the same mouth come both praises and curses. My brothers and sisters, this is wrong, and it must stop. 11Does a spring bring forth fresh water one moment and sewage the next? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a sewer produce fresh water. 13Who of you is wise enough to understand God’s methods and principles? Then show it by living in harmony with God’s design for life–a life of love in action, giving in humility to bless and uplift others.14But to cherish self-centered, arrogant, mean-spirited, jealous motives in the heart misrepresents God and defames the truth.15Such principles do not originate in God, nor do they come from heaven, but are profane and destructive, and originate in Satan.16For selfishness, envy, and all violations of God’s law of love break his design for life and cause chaos, disease, suffering, and everything evil. 17Real wisdom originates in heaven and is always pure, healing, restorative, kind, compassionate, selfless, merciful, peaceful, transformational, unbiased, and sincere.

James said that as Christ followers we have to make sure that our words and actions look like those of the one we are supposed to be imitating. He points out that the things we say and do will illustrate if our selfishness and other violations of God’s law of love are truly being worked out of our lives or not. Our actions will help us to know if we are well or if there is still a lot of transformation that must take place. It is important that we examine ourselves regularly to see if we are acting in accordance with the faith in Jesus that we profess to have. James went on to write that if our faith doesn’t produce action that looks like Jesus then that kind of faith is essentially useless.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:5  Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Essentially Paul was agreeing with James, If Jesus Christ lives in us, what comes out of us should look like Him. Jesus is the ultimate expression of selflessness, and we are asked to reflect that kind of selflessness to the those we come in contact with every day.

So now, Allowing the selflessness of Christ dwelling in you to be openly illustrated by the way you speak to, and act toward the world around you…Go be Awesome!

Interpersonal Relationship Skills 101

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, July 20th, 2023…Interpersonal Relationship Skills 101

I noticed a video in my YouTube feed not long ago where the tagline was “What if you were the last person on earth?” The idea was supposed to address what one would find if they woke up one morning and realized they were the last person living on the planet. That got me thinking, what would it be like if I was tasked with being the last person to turn off the lights and lock the door?

As a happy, well-adjusted, bonified introvert, the first thought that I had was how peaceful it might be to experience complete isolation…for a while. How long would it take for the peace to morph into a longing for personal contact with others? Depends on who you are I guess. I think I might enjoy it for several days, maybe even a week or two. I know some people who would begin to experience anxiousness brought on by the lack of someone to talk to within a matter of minutes…if it took that long. The fact of the matter is that none of us really know how we would react in a situation like that because no one has a true frame of reference to compare it to. Many of us have some life experience that included solitude that we would draw on to decide how we might react in that scenario, but in each and every one of those experiences…eventually, contact with others was restored.

The fact of the matter is that none of us regardless of our personal situations can avoid having to figure out how to navigate interpersonal relationships. Even Tom Hanks had to figure out his relationship with Wilson. How successful we are in that endeavor depends on a number of variables not least, our motivation behind maintaining our various relationships. More often than not, we categorize our relationships by the value they bring to us and invest more of ourselves into the ones of higher importance and less into those that we deem to be more expendable. For example, we might put more effort into our relationship with an employer if we really enjoy and want to keep our job, and less effort into our relationship with a former college roommate we rarely see if ever. Immediate family members may get more of our interpersonal relationship efforts that a second cousin we haven’t seen in a decade. While this may be natural for us and we may not often even give it a second thought, our motivation or lack of, illustrates that in the natural we value some people more than others. Scriptures such as we find in the book of James, warn us against doing this. There we read that if we see one person as having higher value than another, we are in the wrong because we are commanded to love our neighbor as our self…all of our neighbors…equally. James points out that breaking any of God’s laws is as bad as breaking all of them. So what to do? We need to improve our interpersonal relationship skills by changing our motivation for maintaining our relationships.

Sometimes it isn’t a matter of how close we feel someone is to us, there are times when our interpersonal relationship skills are driven by how we feel about that person at the time. In other words, we pour into the personal relationships that encourage and uplift us and we pull back from those that we find hurtful in some way. No surprise there, right? If I get burnt touching the stove…who can blame me for wanting to steer clear of the stove when I’m in the kitchen? The problem with that reasoning is that the bible says we are to love those who hurt us and pray for those who are against us. The book of Romans teaches we should repay evil with good. Jesus Himself taught us that we must be forgiving if we are to experience the forgiveness of our Heavenly Father…and we all want His forgiveness. Right? So what are we to do when those who may be close to us are treating us in hurtful ways? We need to improve our interpersonal relationship skills by changing our motivation for maintaining our relationships.

One of the scriptures I find so helpful when I need to tune up my interpersonal relationship skills is found in Colossians 3:12-24. I find that to be helpful to remedy either my errant tendency to value people differently or my propensity to pull away from those who are not treating me as I think I should be treated. Verses 12-15 help me remember what God desires to see in me as I interact with those around me. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Verses 16&17 illustrate for me what it will look like if I allow Him to flow through me in my personal relationships with others. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Verses 18-25 give me the most help though. These assist me in having the right motivation as I interact with other people every day. They help me to correctly view everyone I come into contact with as having equal value as well as resist the tendency to interact positively only when I feel I have been treated well. In order to remind myself that there is one interpersonal relationship skill that its paramount to all others I like to recall these verses in a particular way. The first five of the verses in this section identify individual people in differing roles. The sixth verse tells us how to deal with each of them in a way that will always, always, be successful on our part. That is why I call it the most important interpersonal relationship skill of all. To make sure we keep in mind its importance to each of the relationships mentioned I like to add the sixth verse (vs. 23) after each of the five preceding it (vs. 18-22).

Vs 18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. (Now vs.23) Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Vs 19 Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. (Now vs.23) Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Vs 20 Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. (Now vs.23) Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Vs 21 Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. (Now vs.23) Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Finally, vs 22 Slaves [or employees], obey your earthly masters [or employers] in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. (one more time vs.23) Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

When we relate with everyone as though we were doing so at Christ’s request, we will do so differently than we often do now. If we look at each new opportunity to interact with someone as a chance to do it for Jesus because He is asking us to, we will likely treat that person with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, just as the verses we looked at a moment ago suggested we should. We will be much more likely to make allowances for each other’s faults and be forgiving of one another. Working willingly at whatever we do, as though we were working for the Lord rather than for people, is the ultimate interpersonal relationship skill, because it leaves no room for miscalculating the value a person should have in our lives. If they are important to Christ (and they are), then they need to be important to us as well.

With that, we will conclude with verse 24. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. We don’t simply interact with others as if we were doing it for the Lord. Verse 24 points out we are doing it for the Lord. He is our Master, we are His servants. If we get that relationship right, odds are we will get the rest of them more right than we ever have in before.

So now, interacting with those around you in the same way you would if Jesus asked you to personally, because Jesus is asking you to personally, hone up on your best interpersonal relationship skill and…Go be Awesome!

Vacuuming The Pool

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, June 29th  2023…Vacuuming The Pool

A few days ago I was up earlier than normal and having noticed the day before that the pool needing vacuuming, I decided to do it during the coolest part of the day. Though I don’t enjoy that particular task when the sun is high in the sky and quite hot, I do find it relaxing early in the morning or later in the evening. When my boys and I erected the pool some years ago, in our haste, we didn’t get the bottom of the liner stretched as tightly as we should have. As a result there are now quite a few small folded creases in the pool bottom that cannot be corrected at this point because of the weight of the water keeping them from shifting. As I said these are numerous but small so they don’t really cause any problems…Except that the dirt carried into the pool on the feet of our veritable tribe of grandchildren seems to invariably find its way into those folds and crevasses. Before long, the dirt in those folds begin to look like so many dark lines on the bottom of the pool notifying me that it needs the attention of the vacuum.

As I was standing there slowly moving the vacuum head back and forth paying close attention to the dark lines of the folds in the liner I began to think about how the task I was engaged in was analogous to the cleaning God does in our lives. I am far from omniscient, but I know the dirt exists even though much of it may be hiding from my sight. It is my pool, I look into it daily, and I am well aware of its contents. Jeremiah 23:24 talks about our inability to hide ourselves or our actions from God. In the New King James Version, it says, Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the Lord; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord. There is nothing that takes place in our lives that escapes the oversight of God. As the supreme, all-powerful, Creator He must necessarily be and is greater than all that He has created. God is so immense and all-encompassing that there is nothing He has fashioned that is devoid of His presence. We can look at this in either of two ways. We can choose to see Him as an intrusive authoritarian who is always watching us trying to catch us doing some wrong. Or, we can find Him to be our Heavenly Father whose love for us is so immense and intense that He desires to walk so closely to us that nothing that impacts us, escapes Him.

When I busy myself cleaning the pool I do so because I know the danger of leaving it uncared for. Much of the dirt in the pool is of an organic kind. Grass clippings, leaf particles, and things of that nature that get into the pool become waterlogged and slowly sink to the bottom. With the constant moving water propelled by the pump and children swimming those seemingly trivial pieces of debris tuck themselves into those small folds I mentioned. Once there, algae spores can attach themselves and if not vacuumed out regularly the dirt will essentially begin to grow and multiply. If I neglect to insert myself into that process by daily inspecting the pool water, soon the water will lose its clarity and become cloudy. If this were to happen and I remained uninterested, it would soon turn green and be unsuitable for swimming in.

I don’t look at myself as a busy-body because I check on the condition of my pool daily. I don’t think of my interest in the pool as being motivated by the frustration of potentially dirty water. I invest my time in the condition of my pool because I want the water to be clean so that it can be enjoyed by my children and grandchildren.

God does not desire to be an intrusion in our lives, He wants His ever-present nature to be a blessing to us. I don’t think He hopes He will have to remove sin found in our lives, I believe He hopes that the righteousness of Christ living in us will keep us clean and seeking increased righteousness in our thoughts, words and actions. His plan is that as Christ increases in our lives our sinful nature decreases. God’s great love for us and our healthy spiritual condition motivates Him to continuously look into, and at the condition of, our hearts and minds.

Psalm 139 is all about God’s constant, loving oversight. The first six verses speak specifically to how close He pays attention to us…O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! God pays such close attention to our lives because He loves us so much.

When I notice the debris accumulating in my pool I have to get the vacuum out because I do not want the dirt to have an adverse effect on the clarity and health of the water. God also is willing to enter our lives and clean us when necessary so that the sin doesn’t find a foothold and multiply. The final verses of Psalm 139 speak to King David’s invitation for the cleansing work of God. Verses 23 and 24 say this, Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

When we invite the Holy Spirit’s conviction into our lives it is intended to be a positive experience. Don’t get me wrong, it is difficult at first, but the more you see the benefits of His redemptive work in your life the more grateful you become for His conviction. I don’t enjoy finding that sin has crept in, and what offends God should offend me, but the fact that sin is being pointed out so that it can be cleaned up should be cause for gratitude. Thankfully if God points our sin out, and we respond with repentance, He will clean us up. 1st John 1:9 says If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That is worth being happy about.

So now, inviting the Holy Spirit’s convicting and redemptive power into your life so that you can be cleansed of the impurities that make their way in, thank God for the close eye He keeps on you and…Go be Awesome!

Fresh Baked Bread

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, June 22nd, 2023…Fresh Baked Bread

When I was a teenager my mom spent one entire day, literally from right after breakfast until the evening mealtime, baking for the week ahead. With three boys as well as her and dad, our family went through about 8 loaves of bread a week along with various other baked goods. She would make homemade English muffins, cookies, cakes, rolls…whatever we needed along with the constant of 8 loaves of fresh bread. With seven days in a week, and the family consuming one loaf a day, the 8th had a special purpose. On baking day, the last items to take their turn in the oven always included that special 8th loaf. That loaf was a blessing. The delicious smell of the house on baking day was phenomenal! The entire house smelled of freshly baked bread and cookies and anything else on mom’s culinary to-do list. Experiencing that aroma without being able to sample its tasty goodness would have been akin to cruel and unusual punishment. Because of that, mom always baked the 8th loaf. We all knew that on that particular day of the week, whatever we had for dinner would be accompanied by a warm delicious loaf of fresh baked bread. Now it is my wife Lynn who on most weeks’ labors in our kitchen to produce homemade bread for the two of us. The old family tradition still stands. On baking day, we enjoy warm freshly baked bread with dinner…what a blessing indeed!

This is the bread we ask for when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”. It is the sustenance for our physical bodies. We need all kinds of various nutrients for our continued health, but I understand that if the flour were ground from whole grains a very basic diet of bread and water would likely sustain life for a very long time…perhaps indefinitely. Certainly we know that the Israelite people survived for the better part of 40 years in the wilderness eating only manna, the bread that fell each day from heaven. The fact that the bible tells us that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof (Psalm 24:1-2) is reason enough to look to God for our daily provision. We absolutely should do as Jesus taught His disciples to do and pray each day that God will supply our needs out of His great love and the abundance of His incredible wealth.

Jesus had some other things to say about bread though, that were equally, if not more important. The first comes from the gospel of Matthew. There in chapter 4 we read of Jesus during His own wilderness experience He was led into by the Holy Spirit. (vs. 1) Jesus chose to use His time there fasting and spending it close to God the Father. After 40 days of fasting the bible tells us that Jesus was very hungry, and that is when the devil came to tempt Him. Satan suggested that since Jesus was the Son of God, He should turn the stones into bread. This is interesting to me on several levels. First, Satan came to tempt Jesus when He knew would be most vulnerable. Second, Satan knew that it was Jesus who had created the stones, and was therefore tempting Him with His own creative license. What I mean by that is that I think the devil was saying, “Look, you are the one who made the stone, so if you are hungry, is it not within your authority to re-purpose your creation of a stone and now turn it into a loaf of bread?” Jesus however, quoting scripture, pointed out in His answer that to do so at the whim of Satan, would be to submit to Satan’s authority, and that was exactly what Satan desired. He wanted Jesus to worship him. Jesus knew He was in the wilderness at the behest of God’s Holy Spirit, and should only ever submit to the authority of God. He answered and said, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. (Vs. 4) This was a reference to Deuteronomy 8:1-3. There Moses reminded the people of Israel that they had received the commandments of the Lord directly from God and it was those very commandments that would be their strength and sustenance, not simply bread. Moses pointed out that this is why God had provided manna during their wilderness experience. He gave them a bread that was unlike any they had ever known or anyone had ever seen before. God did this so that they could identify that it was He and He alone who was providing for them. In light of His provision, God hoped they would understand that it really is only from every word that comes out of God’s mouth, whether a word of instruction, or a word of provision, that we exist. Acts 17:28 says For in Him we live, and move, and have our being…

In the Gospel of John chapter 6 we read of another time Jesus spoke about the bread from heaven. At the beginning of that chapter we find the account of Jesus feeding the 5000, where He fed 5000 men along with additional women and children. That passage goes on to record that Jesus began that occasion with just 5 barley loaves and 2 small fish and yet…He divided it up to feed what many estimate to be a crowd of 12,000-15,000 people! The next day those same people found Him and His disciples again and Jesus knowing that they were only looking for Him so He would possibly feed them again, He said this to them.  “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:32-35) Just a moment later He told them again, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.  Yes, I am the bread of life!  Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” (John 6:47-51)

God is our supplier…end of story. From His great abundance God gives us everything including the bread on our tables, and we should be very grateful for it. Jesus taught us to ask for His provision each day. In the wilderness, God provided for His people even when they were walking out the consequences of their own sin. Every day He spoke into existence the manna that would fall from the sky and came to be known to them as the bread of Heaven. However, physical bread will only get you so far. Each day you need more or eventually you will die. And so, God sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to carry the consequences of all of our sin. In doing that He was providing for us the spiritual provision we needed to live with Him for eternity. Because of that Jesus could in fact say that He was the true bread of Heaven. If we will take Him into our lives and accept that His death pays the price for our sin, we can “Eat of Him” and never die.

I love it when I arrive at home after a day at work and can smell from the driveway that it has been baking day. I know from the wonderful aroma that I am going to get to enjoy warm, fresh baked bread with my dinner. I am absolutely grateful for my wife’s labor of love on those special days, and the blessing I am about to receive. However, even warm, freshly baked bread doesn’t begin to compare to the blessing of having received the Bread of Heaven, Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, my Lord and Sweet, Sweet Savior, into my life!

So now, Thanking God daily for His provision for your greatest need, freedom from your sin through the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus …Go be Awesome!

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