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

Pastor Ken’s Thoughts on a Thursday

Dumbing it down

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…dumbing it down 

I have decided that I want to identify as weightless. I have been working hard trying to be fit and eat only what I should in reasonable portions to be at, and maintain a weight that my doctors feel will be advantageous to me living a long and healthy life. I like the thought of the long and healthy life part, but the discipline it takes to accomplish it…that part I don’t like so much. Who are they to tell me what is good for me? I should get to choose right? I mean who made them the standard bearers of health and fitness…they are only doctors…you would think they think they know what’s best for me. Besides that, I think being weightless will be fun, there are other advantages too…my shoes won’t wear out as fast, I can levitate above the ground instead of walking, which has got to be easier on my joints…there are any number of reasons identifying as weightless is a great idea. Maybe I should petition my congressman to write legislation guaranteeing my right to so self-identify…yeah…that’s what I should do. 

Sound crazy? That’s because it is! But it seems to be the leading national brand of craziness that is sweeping the land right now. I know, I know I’m not supposed to use words like “crazy” because they are offensive…except that it seems lately like the more offensive something is to our good senses the better. So I’m not sure, are we supposed to try not to offend…or is the idea to be ultra-offensive. I can never keep it all strait. Am I allowed to say “strait”? I’m just not sure anymore. It’s all so confusing. I know I’m old, but there used to only be two genders…and now…who knows how many there are? That particular bar just keeps on moving, seemingly picking up speed by the day! I’m not sure…are gender reveal parties still allowed or are they considered to be presumptuous? 

Why is it even necessary to consider such things? Because we have lost our way. So much so that in the hallowed halls of the capitol of our “One nation under God” a U.S. Congressman stated this past week in response to a call for greater godliness in our law making that “God is no concern in this congress”. We have totally and completely lost our way, and the “forward thinking” of our society prove it on a regular basis. Just wait five minutes if you don’t believe me. 

We have totally dumbed down life to the point that if we keep going in this direction it will quickly become unsustainable…literally! Why can’t I decide to identify as weightless? Aside from the law of gravity identified by Isaac Newton 300+ years ago which was integral to Einstein’s theory of relativity accepted by every serious scientist for the past century…it just isn’t feasible, but then those two relatively smart guys said it wasn’t. The fact of the matter is that I don’t get to decide what laws of physics I will agree with and which ones I will ignore. You kinda have to follow the science to use a contemporary phrase. Even more so I cannot ignore God’s laws. We don’t get to decide what is righteous…it’s already been decided. People will try, they have for all history…but it won’t change what is righteous and what is unrighteous. Those were chiseled in stone thousands of years ago.. 

God’s word exposes how we have gone so far astray. 2 Corinthians 10:12 tells us that…when we measure ourselves by ourselves and compare ourselves to ourselves we are not wise. One version goes so far as to say “we understand nothing”. In other words when we try to decide what will be good for us ignoring the outside influence of authority we dumb it down and become stupid. A surefire recipe for a stupid decision is to make it without consulting God. If we want to succeed in life we must consider the creator of that life. To do anything else is folly. Thankfully God’s word also explains how to be wise and succeed. Proverbs 9:10-11 says The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied and years of life will be added to you.   

We cannot say as that foolish congressman did that God is of no concern in our lives. We must consider and obey the author of life if we are to live, and we have to give our lives to the author and finisher of our salvation if we are to be saved. We have been created with a mind. One that was given to us to reason with, but also one that was intended to reason with our God within the confines of His design and plan for our lives. 

I have decided against identifying as weightless…the gravity of the situation was just too important.  

So now, considering God and giving Him His rightful place in your life…go be awesome! 

 

Responding with “Here I am Lord”

Responding with “Here I am Lord”

Hi this is pastor Ken and normally I would be giving you my thoughts on a Thursday, but my sweet wife was reading in God’s word earlier this week and she shared something with me that I wanted her to share with you. So, this week we will be hearing from Lynn and she will give you her thoughts on a Thursday…

We know that from the very time of his birth, Moses was protected and preserved by God for a purpose. Later on we learn that he is tasked with seeing the Israelite children – an entire people group, out of their bondage in Egypt. So today I’d like to start in chapter 3 and read from the beginning through verse 14.

Exodus 3:1-14 (NKJV) Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.  So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”  Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”

Now there is a lot more to be gleaned from this book of Exodus but I’ve been learning to stop reading when something catches my thoughts and ponder it, so let me share what I feel these verses have been saying to me.

God speaks in unexpected ways (from a burning bush no less) here we see that when God called his name, Moses simply said “Here I am” — he didn’t wonder who or even if he heard right, he simply RESPONDED.

When our Father calls our name, WE need to respond! No questions asked…

I don’t know if you’re like me, but If I’m honest, I’ve not always been willing to stop and listen when I hear from the Lord. Though I am learning to hear His voice, feel His nudge or see His direction, I can be pretty strong willed and sometimes desperately need to be reminded He knows best, and I just need to follow.

Ironically, just after he proclaims “Here I am” Moses proceeds to question whether or not he is fit for the task the Lord has set before him. Moses continued to ask several questions that were self-centered you could say…who am I to do this thing? Who shall I tell them sent me? God finally answers Moses in all capital letters in my version of the Bible…I AM WHO I AM! Now in today’s culture when a person uses all capital letters they are, in essence, shouting at us. Using capital letters exclusively is considered a way to emphasize written text, and I can imagine God may have felt some frustration having to remind Moses who was boss…I mean, prior to this there is no shortage of examples of God being God in Moses’ life. Perhaps I’m not the only person God has to shout this reminder to?

It appears to me that Moses’ focus was on what he couldn’t do, until God reminded him that HE was the driving force behind what he was asking of Moses, which got me thinking about my own life. There have been times -at all ages and stages in my life, that when challenged with hard tasks, I fretted, worried, dare I even admit complained. But then on the other side of the situation, often I am able to look back and see the many ways the Lord had helped and intervened, and I see any success I may have had can be attributed to my own ability.

Let’s look at that last part from today’s reading again, “So He (God) said, I will certainly be with you.” Now I’m not sure what situations you will specifically be dealing with this week, this month or this year, but I do know this: what is written in my Bible was not merely to catalog the history of people in ages past, but it can speak to us today, in any situation.

God says to US, I will certainly be with you – “certainly” like in a you-can-take-that-to-the-bank way…He WILL be with us in any situation, so call on Him, remind him of this promise. It’s for us too, and even more importantly, we should live our lives here knowing he IS with us and should also live in such a way that when we are no longer here, we ARE WITH Him! That is the goal, the prize and the promise for those who live and love like He did.

So now, in the full confidence that He is with you, listen for his voice, RESPOND to His call, and go be awesome!

What is something The Lord has been teaching you lately?

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…What is something The Lord has been teaching you lately?

That is a question I like to ask people. I don’t ask it to corner anyone or put them on the spot, though I am sure by the facial expressions I have received when asking, that I have at times inadvertently done just that. However, to those I know enjoy a close walk with their savior, I love asking. Why? I suppose it is because I just love hearing what the Lord is saying to others because it usually blesses me with some new view of who God is and just how very good He is to us. Sometimes I have to admit, I ask the question to begin the conversation so I can also share some wondrous revelation I have experienced.

How do we have such revelatory times with the Lord? Obviously we have to spend the time seeking Him. His word tells us that it we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. (James 4:8) That particular verse goes on to intimate that as we do that, our thoughts will become less divided between the cares of the world around us and the God we seek to know better, and our minds will become singly settled on Him. So we have to decide that hearing from God is our intention and set aside time for it to take place. Walking closely with our sweet, sweet Savior and hearing the wonderful words of affirmation and instruction from our Master will never happen by osmosis…it is a product of intention.

For me that means I have to set a specific time aside. I am too easily distracted to simply decide that at some point everyday I will spend time with Jesus. For me it has to be scheduled. As I said last week I love to fly by the seat of my pants…but let’s be real…that attribute, as fun as it may be, has not produced my biggest successes in life. No, those have happened by intention…devoted intention. I’m not saying it is this way for everyone, only everyone I know of…if we are going to regularly spend time with God we have to set a specific time aside to do that. The interesting result is a heightened awareness to the time He has set aside for me. To my amazement, I have found that He wants to spend regular time with me as well, though He is more generous than I am, He desires to pay attention to me 24 hours a day…7 days a week, 365 days a year! What a God He is!

Over the years I have used many different strategies to spend time in God’s word and in prayer. Though there are times when I get better at “praying without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) that is something I continue to need to work on. I love the time that I do spend with the Lord in prayer, it is often the highly emotional part of our relationship, and I love it when I am overwhelmed by talking with Him. As to being in His word, I have enjoyed lots of different ways of doing that. I have appreciated reading from cover to cover though I have to be honest and admit that there might still be a sense of personal accomplishment that I feel when I do that. It does help though to give a context to His word that is not possible any other way. On that note I will say that I absolutely enjoyed reading through the bible using a chronological Bible. Having it all laid out for me in a timeline really increased my understanding of the Old Testament historically. I have utilized the read through the bible in a year plans, the hunt and peck method, and unashamedly I have even spent time in the word using Bible roulette, reading that day wherever my bible opened.

This past month however, I have been doing something a bit different that I want to challenge all of you to do. I have become a sponge. Sponges have always intrigued me…I’m simple I know. But I am always amazed by how much you can get a sponge to absorb. If you let it soak for a while and then squeeze it over a bowl it is astounding how much liquid comes out! This decision to soak in God’s word came about quite by coincidence. I had been reading through the book of Ephesians and on February 1st I found I was at Chapter 5 beginning that day with verse 22. For those not familiar with the scripture it is some of Paul’s most referenced writing on the topic of marriage. As one who counsels mostly in that realm, I am always interested in what God has to say about it, and looked forward to what I would read that day. I paid close attention to the words hoping I would see something new. God did not disappoint. I did get something new and enjoyed it so much. I have always reveled in the ability of God’s word to continue to produce more depth with each encounter. It was then and there that I decided I would read that passage (Eph. 5:22-33) each day for the rest of the month. I figured that doing that with a scripture about marriage during the month that is centrally dedicated to love might be a good idea. I have not been bored. I have read it now 18 times and will read it for another 10 days. Each day I have absorbed more truth than the day before. I am finding depth that would not be possible in a one-day skim over the surface. As my soaking in it has increased in duration so has my understanding proportionately. By concentrating on it solely I believe I have absorbed exponentially more than I would have through 28 visits to it separated by weeks, months or even years. Maybe when the month is complete I’ll do a podcast sharing all that God has shown me through this exercise.

When does the liquid come out of the sponge? When pressure is applied to it. Likewise, one of the beauties of being a sponge of God’s word is that when we are put under pressure and feel wrung out…it is He who emerges and not us…what a beautiful and wonderfully desirable result.

Want to take the challenge? Chose a scripture passage you want to know more about; it doesn’t have to be the one I chose. Determine you will read it each day for the next 30 days. Remember the idea is to absorb…so soak in it. Resist the temptation to geek it out. I have had to remind myself that it isn’t a Bible study and put the Greek–English bible, the concordance and my favorite commentary down…let the Holy Spirit do the revealing and teaching. See what comes out of the word and is absorbed by you so that it can come out again next time you are under pressure. If you choose to, tell me what God is teaching you, I’ll be all too happy to hear.

So now, soaking up God’s love letter to you like a sponge…Go be awesome!

What’s The Plan?

Hi this is pastor Ken and these are my thought on a Thursday…What’s The Plan?

I’m a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of guy. There is little that intrigues me more than something unplanned. The only way you can ruin something spontaneous in my mind is to stop and plan how you will go about the new found opportunity. I am a firm believer in the old adage that “The planning of something is often its undoing”. My idea of a great day is to hit the road with no destination in mind, and to turn around when my time or money is half gone so I can have just as much fun coming home from wherever I ended up. My sweet wife on the other hand, thinks that is the recipe for a disaster not a great vacation. I’m not ready to say she over plans things, she does not, but she does like to have a plan. She likes to know what she is doing, who she will be doing it with, and when the day is done, she likes to see that she accomplished something in particular. She loves a good to do list…especially if it has a lot of checkmarks on it at the end of the day.

At the end of the day, in this respect, she is more like God than I am. He likes to know who He is working with; in fact, He likes to know everything there is to know about that person. The New Century Version states Psalm 139:1-6 this way; Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them. You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. Lord, even before I say a word, you already know it. You are all around me – in front and in back – and have put your hand on me. Your knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand. God knows everything there is to know about us. He knows when we are resting or beginning to work on something. If we take a trip, a planned one or the kind I mentioned I like to take…He knows where we are going, how far we will get and makes plans ahead of time, to provide for us when we need to stop. He knows everything we have done, are doing and will ever do. He knows our very thoughts…even before we do. He knows what is going to come out of our mouths before we even form the words. He cares so intimately about who you are, what you think, where you go and what you do, that He chooses to lead, and to follow so that He can protect you from what’s ahead and behind. And just so nothing can touch you that He hasn’t looked over and decided will be useful in your being transformed to look like Jesus, He keeps His hand of covering over you. That is indeed amazing to think about…but let’s take it a step further.

Why has God been watching us so closely? Is it because He loves us so immensely and intensely? Yes, but wait…there’s more! It’s also because has chosen us from the very beginning. Before He created a single thing…you were on his mind! Ephesians 1:4 again from the New Century Version tells us That is, in Christ, he chose us before the world was made so that we would be his holy people—people without blame before him. This is wonderful news…His eyes have been on us because His heart has been for us…forever! Beyond that, Ephesians 1:11 goes on to say In Christ we were chosen to be God’s people, because from the very beginning God had decided this in keeping with his plan. And he is the One who makes everything agree with what he decides and wants. God has been intently keeping His eyes on us, thinking of us since before the beginning of time, because He has plans for us. Amazing!

So what’s the plan? For the answer to that we have to turn in our Bibles all the way to…the next chapter. Ephesians 2:10 reads; God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing. God has been planning for you…forever…for such a time as this. Your life; where you live it, who you live it with, who your friends are, where you work, where you like to eat out, where you will vacation next, all of it has been by design. God has been concerned with it all because He has some specific things that need doing, and He has the perfect person for the job…You!

So how will you know what the plan is? How will you know the good works He has laid out for you? Well this is where it gets interesting for impetuous, spontaneous people like me who want to fly by the seat of their pants and who want all of life to be viewed from the edge of their seats. Just go love people, love them the way God loves you, His plan will unfold right before your impulsive eyes. For those of you who love that there is a plan…well, you guys, plan to love, everybody, every day, just like God loves you. As you do, the comforting plan of God for your life will be continuously revealed…and you can check it off as you fulfill it if it makes you happy.

So now, whether you are a planner or a high flyer, lovingly fulfilling His plans…go be awesome!

How to Win Every Disagreement

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…how to win every disagreement.

It seems there is no shortage of opportunities to become disgruntled in today’s environment. There are our employers, our coworkers, our families, our marriages, social media, the news media, and for some of us…those we have to share the roads with. All giving us the opportunity to find ourselves in opposition to someone else. So how can we win every disagreement or altercation with someone we find ourselves engaged in? The following scripture from the New Life Translation speaks to just that dilemma.

James 1:19-20 (New Life Translation) My Christian brothers, you know everyone should listen much and speak little. He should be slow to become angry. A man’s anger does not allow him to be right with God.

How many times could I have avoided trouble if only I had learned to heed that advice sooner? How about you? Have you found in your life there are all too many examples that flesh out the wisdom stated here as I have?  This is an interesting scripture because it offers three great lessons in just two short verses.

Lesson # 1 – We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I bet if your upbringing was anything like mine, you heard this phrase thrown in your direction by a parent or teacher when you were failing to understand the importance of listening first and then speaking. It is true that we have two ears and one mouth, and while I’m not sure God made that anatomical choice for this reason…we should learn to use them proportionately. There have been occasions in my life when I have followed this rule (though not often enough in my youth for sure) that it has profited me. When I have let wisdom prevail and listened before speaking, I have avoided arguments, preventing unnecessary strife, foolishness, and the general unpleasant taste of my foot in my mouth. When I haven’t followed this admonition I have lost face, money, time, dignity and others good will toward me. If we are to be seen as people of favor, we must learn to listen much and speak little. We must take the time to garner as much information as possible before taking a position that we may not be so comfortable with had we just waited before adhering ourselves to it. Proverbs 17:28 says that Even a fool, when he keeps quiet, is thought to be wise. When he closes his lips, he is thought of as a man of understanding. Reminds me of a sign I once saw hanging on the wall of a manager’s office…“Never miss the chance to shut up”. Crude perhaps, but good advice none the less.

Lesson # 2 – We should be slow to become angry. Many people believe that this part of the scripture hinges on the first, that by first listening, we will gain enough understanding that we will not become angry when we realize there is nothing to be angry about. This can be the case. Sometimes through listening we will realize that an offense is not present that we may have thought to exist before we heard all the facts. But what about the times when even after listening, an offense still lingers in our ears. Are we then free to ‘let-r-rip’ and tell the offender off? I don’t think we can assume from this or any other scripture we are being given such permission. This is a separate admonition altogether. No matter what the circumstances, we are to be slow to become angry. Why? Because anger is seldom controlled. Not that it is impossible, just improbable. When we become angry we tend to let that particular emotion do the talking for us…and that is rarely if ever profitable. We are told in Psalm 4:4, Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. In other words, when you are angry, don’t go off half-cocked, wait a while and decide later how to handle it. Being slow to become angry is always…always better for us as people, but even more so as Christ followers. Why?

Lesson # 3 – A man’s anger does not allow him to be right with God. As I stated above, anger producing righteous behavior isn’t impossible…but it is highly improbable. Face it, as human beings, we just aren’t that good. Our anger is almost always augmented by our sense (or ill sense) of self-justification, and it is from that precarious position that we usually take a stand…and then fall…flat on our self-righteous faces! Our example is God. No one has better justification for anger and yet Micah 7:18 tells us that even God delights in choosing to turn from His anger and toward mercy on our behalf. In other words, anger is a natural response to being wronged, but it is not the only possible reaction. If we want to look more like Jesus, if we want to be godly men and women, we have to follow His example and allow our anger toward our offender to melt into mercy. Anger will not allow us to be right with God, mercy on the other hand, makes us look more like Him.

So now, making the most of all those opportunities to look like Jesus…Go be awesome!

Too Blind To See

Hi this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Too Blind To See.

John 9:1-3 (NCV) As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been born blind. His followers asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused this man to be born blind—his own sin or his parents’ sin?”  Jesus answered, “It is not this man’s sin or his parents’ sin that made him blind. This man was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him.

There are several things I find interesting about this particular scripture. First, yet quite possibly least important is that this is one of a very few cases where one entire chapter is dedicated to one miracle Christ performed. I’m not sure that has any meaning beyond that we shouldn’t hurry past it and by virtue of the scriptural time given to it, there are likely many lessons to be gleaned from this one passage.

The second thing I find interesting is that this event took place in Jerusalem and yet the disciples who were not from there, seemed to know that this man was born blind. That may have been for several reasons. Jesus certainly knew, and He may have told them. The man was obviously begging, and may have used the fact that he was born blind as part of his ‘pitch’ to elicit help, or they may have remembered him from annual trips they had taken to Jerusalem throughout their lives for events such as the Passover.  Whatever the reason, they were aware that the man had been blind since birth and it provoked them to ask, “Who sinned here, this guy or his parents, that caused him to be born blind?”

Why did they ask this question? In the society of the day, when someone was sick, lame, blind, deaf, etc. it was assumed that God had done that to them to repay some unrepentant sin in their lives. Sometimes people even in our day and age have the same mindset. As a pastoral counselor I am often asked in response to a person’s emotional pain “Did I do something wrong to make God mad at me? I find that to be an interesting line of thought, because the reverse isn’t always true. All healthy people in this day or that, were and are not free of unrepentant sin.

Nevertheless, they asked the question and Jesus gave them His answer, “It is not this man’s sin or his parents’ sin that made him blind. This man was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him.” Jesus’ answer did indicate that the man had been born blind for a reason, and it seems as though that was so that on that particular day, by miraculous healing, Jesus could bring glory to God.

I’m not at all sure though that man’s life had to progress to that one moment in time when Jesus healed him for his blindness to show the awesome power of God. Certainly Jesus healed him as a part of His ministry to show the power of God to those who witnessed it, those who heard about it, and indeed everyone throughout history from that point forward who read about it as we have today. However, I have to take pause and consider this significant possibility…that man’s life had the same potential to exhibit God’s power just as clearly…blind or sighted.

When we go through difficult times, when we are sick, perhaps even like this man, when we are faced with a life-long physical, emotional, or mental struggle, our lives have thorough potential for showing God’s incredible power. God can and still does show his power through miraculous healing in the lives of his people, I myself have experienced it and it is nothing short of amazing! Just as marvelous however, are the ones who God chooses to allow to continue in their disease, disability or pain. Yet the way they live their lives…the awesome grace that they operate in on a daily basis in spite of their difficulty…in their lives, God’s miraculous power is shown and magnified to the world around them! Glory be to God! I believe one of the important lessons from this account is not only that Christ can heal, then and now…but that God has awesome power, and whatever you and I must deal with, whatever we may be going through, we have equal opportunity to illustrate that power to the world around us…this side or the other of our healing.

So now, understanding the potential your life holds to showcase His power…Go be awesome!

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