Category Archives: Sunday Series

The Dearest and Best

Many times I sit and think about things that have been. I listen to music the way that it was. Most times I find that so many things were done right the first time. I love to enjoy the creativity of lyrics, words written, and music compiled beautifully. Then sometimes I delve into these things a little bit deeper, maybe just to feel them, or maybe to record memories that I’ll hold close to me for always. Then in this moment I was captivated by the simple words “the dearest and best”.

dearest: most loved or cherished

bestthat which is the most excellent, outstanding, or desirable Continue reading

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It Was Me, I Lost God

Have you ever found yourself looking around in the darkness of your somehow closed mind, and wondered how in the world you arrived at this place? If you were to trace your steps, reflecting on every detail that you pondered in the making of choices you made, did you find that first wrong turn? No? Then you’re not being completely honest with yourself. Own up; look in the mirror; search your soul, and tell yourself the truth, even if it hurts. Do not justify the unjustifiable (“not able to be shown to be right or reasonable”). Wrong is wrong, deal with it. Take your time, as nothing in the rest of your life might be so important as it is to get this right. Seriously.

…How I ever held myself together through this time was a feat in itself. And I know it was God that pushed me, it was God that helped me keep it together, for it was God’s truths I was at war with. My character, my upbringing, the things I knew in my gut were right, the countless places I could have corrected my direction, these were the things I fought during this time. As if I were lost in the deepest, darkest forest while knowing a couple of difficult, pride relinquishing steps were all it would take to get back on track, and instead I talk myself into believing this isn’t so bad. I mean how lost can one get anyways? You have to get pretty lost to lose God. Thankfully the little voice in my conscience that represented God never went completely away. I tried to silence the voice over years of time, but fortunately God’s plan was more powerful than anything I could muster…

The rest of the story.

Pray Pastor

Pray pastor, please continue to pray, so I don’t have to raise my head or open my eyes. I wish not to wipe my eyes, nor do I care to address the shortness of breath accompanied with the quiet sobs rippling through me. For all the pain and suffering that surrounds me, I am okay here, safely seeking refuge in this old, friendly church. If this moment could just last forever, maybe I could return to my youth, playing out on the farm on a warm summer day. I could again, smell the sweet air that was found out there. Inside, my grandmother would be rolling out the materials to create those most wonderful home-made donuts, with our visit in mind. Down the old dirt road, my uncles would once again come. They were larger than life to me, so strong, so smart, so unafraid, and such Godly men who were an example to us all, maybe even more than they knew. My aunts would gather and nourishment was prepared in every shape and form. Hymns being sung could be heard waltzing through the air. Grampy would have kick started my day with the sweet aroma of bacon cooked on a wood stove, and probably shared a couple of tricks to resourceful farm living if I had been paying enough attention to him going about his day. Time would be moving just slowly enough to make sure that I would not lose these memories, nor would I forget the lessons learned among the greatest people I have ever known. Pray longer pastor, for here it’s safe and nothing hurts. Here there is love, all around me, and from above. In this row I sit with the nearest and the dearest from now and from times before me too. On all sides there is hope, there is admiration, and there is selflessness. I am praying with you pastor. Can we just pray a little more? I need prayer, we all do, and I sit here, head bowed, eyes closed, in reverence I pray too. Amen.

The rest of that story.

Sunday Series – Above the noise

This is just a short poem I wrote. It’s inspired by some recent conversations that I have been apart of and also by the song by Casting Crowns. It’s simple I suppose. But it means a lot to me; even deeper than I am able to convey. I hope you can read between the lines and understand where this is coming from. Merry Christmas from above the noise.

Above the noise

This is about the season and the song 

It’s Christmas time and I have to say

Give me some peace and quiet time 

Decrease noise, so we can reflect and pray

 

I climb higher to the sacred ground

Where I can hover above the noise

To me this is where we should be

All about the Son and songs, not toys

 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Not the ones heard begging for things

But bells celebrating our Lord’s birth

When children and angels all sing

 

Their old familiar carols play

Sounds so divine, not for show

We sing, as one with the words

Faith to some, but you and I know

 

And mild and sweet their songs repeat

The message heard but too often ignored

Melodies dance from the tips of tongues

These words celebrate the birth of our Lord

 

Of peace on earth, good will to men

Most defy somehow each day

Peace means quiet and tranquility

Let there be peace, here, let us stay

Sunday Series – Christmas Edition – Silent Night

Silent Night. The most famous Christmas song of all-time. The lyrics of this song started as a poem written in the early 19th century by an Austrian priest. At the time the little village on the Salzach River was split with half going to Bavaria and half going to Austria in the same year the poem was written. Today the village on the border of Germany and Austria has around 5,500 residents nestled on the edge of the Austrian Alps. It’s a small village in a small European country.

So how does a priest in a small Austrian village pen the words to the most popular Christmas song of all-time? Well I guess the melody helps a bit. Mostly, in my opinion, it’s the words. It’s the message. Short and sweet. The message of Christmas.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace
 

This is how I picture the scene. Silent. Calm. Bright. Tender. Mild. The presence of a Holy infant. One meaning of the word holy is awe-inspiring. In this way infants are holy in general. Few living things generate the emotional attachment shown in feelings like an infant. Sleep in heavenly peace. Heavenly. Peace. Heavenly can be supremely delightful. Peace, among other things, is a calm and quiet state, free from disturbances or noise. Baby Jesus, mother Mary, sleep in a supremely delightful, calm and quiet state, free from any disturbance. I think that is beautiful. What a picture it paints. It’s Christmas morning, the Son has been born. Rest. We in reverence, would be better off to pause now and again to think on these words, this meaning, and drink in the message. Let the calm, let the peace wash over you. Smile and feel better for it. Share the Word.

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born
 

I look on this as the awesome night display allowing the shepherds to find that tiny manger. Imagine the stillness of that night, the pre-dawn hours, and then the glorious sights and sounds erupt from the heaven’s. I too, would quake.

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
 

God gave us the first ever Christmas gift, his Son. The reason for every Christmas over the last 2000 + years. It will always be the reason. Don’t forget it. We take; we hurry; we worry; we wrongfully place importance on ourselves; we overlook the simple, the beautiful, the obvious, in the name of the Christmas season. The greatest gift has already been given. We need not focus on the material things that come to the forefront of our focus this time each year. Gifts that are things, given to one another are great, and we should count our blessings. Gifts aren’t always things, and things can’t be taken with us when the roll is called up yonder. Focus on the reason, not the things. Give of your time. Give of your own gifts that God has blessed you with. Give of your self. Give gifts for the right reasons.

Love’s pure light. What a great combination of words. Love in its truest form is about as pure as it gets to begin with. Light makes the world function. Our entire ecosystem thrives on light. Light is used to lead when all else is dark. Our light was given to us that first Christmas morning. There is no reason short of our own imperfections to ever be spiritually lost. There is a light to follow and it’s up to you and I to follow. Nobody can stop us.

Dawn of redeeming grace. The word dawn carries a meaning that I think we all get. Maybe it’s too early for us to be awake, up and about, but we all know it means a day anew. A fresh start. Opportunity. Out with the old, in with the new. Redeeming is a great word, meaning compensating for faults or flaws. Thank you Lord for your redeeming grace. I know it’s not easy to love me with all my faults and flaws. I have talked about grace in a previous post, Sunday Series – Amazing Grace. Infinite love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to mankind by God. Wow! Love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to us by God, with a design in compensation for any faults or flaws we have, given to us in amounts that cannot be measured. If that’s not a reason to get past our own hang-ups, our fear of unworthiness, our carefully thought out excuses for why we can’t pursue love’s pure light, the Way, the Truth, then we truly are trying not to.

I think it’s worth noting the last lines of the song. Jesus, Lord, at thy birth. There’s only one Jesus. There are and have been many lords. But there is only one Lord. And He was Lord at His birth. There was no growing into a title given to him by another human being who was created in the same image. He is Lord, He was Lord, He was born Lord. He was not born of any royalty we can relate to. His birth was a gift to us all, He was Lord to a heavenly throne. The only throne worthy of bended knee. This gift, overwhelming power and greatness, came to us here on earth on that first Christmas, a silent night.

I have shared my thoughts on this song, this message, this meaning. As I sit here listening to various versions of the words being sung I can’t help but think of reverence and passion. Many have sung its words and I love when the words are sung with passion and conviction. I may be the only person I know that has the band Manowar in my Christmas playlist, but, to me, they sing a great, passionate version of Silent Night. There are so many versions of the song, like this Silent Night. No matter what your favorite version might be, this season is still all about the first Christmas, a silent night. Sometime on Saturday night, or maybe even in the first morning hours, I will sit in the dim glow of Christmas lights, in silence, and pray. I will enjoy a calm and quiet state, free from disturbances or noise, and I will think on the Lord Jesus and the meaning of Christmas. And in doing so, my Christmas will be that much better. I can’t wait for Silent Night.

 

Sunday Series – Christmas Edition – Away in a Manger

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head
 

Maybe you have a baby, or maybe someone else’s baby is the one, isn’t there or wasn’t there a baby you have been around that was just the cutest thing you ever saw. You looked upon this baby and thought what a sweet little baby. Look at those little toes and fingers. Look at that tiny nose and so on it goes. Imagine one night a little baby that fits any of the descriptions above, and more, is born. But this baby wasn’t born in a hospital with a team of doctor’s and nurses waiting to help. This baby was our Lord Jesus, and his parents had no place to stay the night He was born. But He did have a place to rest His sweet head. I can imagine mom and dad glowing over their new-born Son.

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay
 

The night sky was the backdrop for this first Christmas. The stars were shining. I am sure that without much light in this little town the sky would have looked like it was just inches from your face as you stared into the depth of the night sky. A sleeping baby, one of the most precious sights I could ever see, and there He was asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes
 

The baby Jesus is in a manger, where animals normally feed. The cattle are present. They witness the most memorable birth in history. The cattle, they wake the baby Jesus. Somehow, perhaps, He senses His own place in all this as He wakes, and does not cry.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side,
‘Til morning is nigh.
 

As I sit here and write these words my mind wanders. My mind remembers all those friends and family members who are looking down from the sky. They are with my Lord Jesus, they are at His side. Somehow, throughout my life He has been at my side when I needed Him. In the dark of night, or in the dark of our lives, please Lord, stay by my side. Stay at least until I see the sun or until I can lean on my own, and not on your Son.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray
 

Lord, I ask you into my heart to stay. Stay with me always. I will be the person your will would have me be. Love me as I know you can.

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there
 

The dear children. So fitting. Children are dear. Truth be told we can all be God’s children. It’s our free will to choose, to make that conscious decision. One day our Lord, who spent His first hours in a manger will take us Home to live with Him there.

Away in a manger. Meaning: In a different place, possibly far from a place one normally would be, in a trough where animals feed. Talk about an inauspicious start to life. That’s how God planned it. That’s how man arranged it. This Christmas listen to this song, take in the words, and know the reason we celebrate Christmas. Oh, and remember, a holiday was not born that morning, nor was anyone named, X. It was Christ, our Lord, that was born that morning. Merry Christmas.

Sunday Series – Christmas Edition – Little Drummer Boy

I know the Little Drummer Boy doesn’t qualify as a Christmas hymn but I am including it in my series here. Based on the fact that several versions of this song appear in my YouTube Christmas Playlist, I am going to say this song is absolutely one of my favorites. I have included a couple of versions of the song in these links. It’s the tune, the percussion, the words, the meanings behind it all that make it so special to me.

I have included the lyrics as written by Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati, and Harry Simeone in 1958. I am writing this from the perspective of the Little Drummer Boy. Maybe I am grown now, and looking back at my visit to the stable that first Christmas.

Come they told me. This wasn’t a question, but a statement. I was a kid, I didn’t get to make those decisions. I didn’t even have any input. I would get that privilege later in life. As it should be. A new-born King to see? OK, sounds good to me. We get to bring our best gifts and honor Him by giving them to Him? Wow! This is special. I am excited about this visit. May I bring my favorite possession for the King? My drum. Maybe I can play for Him.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
 
A new-born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
 
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
 
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
 
 
So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
 
When we come.
 

We showed up at this little stable tucked away from everything else that seemed to matter. The space was cozy, some how quaint, it was a stable but somehow I felt right at home. The little Baby was lying in a manger, but for some reason it was fitting. Then I thought, well, I am just a poor boy here in front of this King. What do I have that’s fit for a King? Nothing really, nothing fit for a King. I did have my favorite thing in all the world, I had my drum. If my drum was so special to me then just maybe it would be special to this new-born King as well. Mom; Dad? Do you mind if I ask the Baby’s mother if it’s OK for me to play my drum for the King? Thank you. Ma’am I have no gift worthy of a King. May I play my drum for you?

 
Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
 
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
 
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
 
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
 
 
Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
 
On my drum?
 

The Baby’s mother nodded to me, giving me the OK to play for Him. There were animals around as we were in a stable and the Baby was in one of the animals’ manger. I started to play my drum. It sounded and felt right. The ox and lamb watched and kept time. I played and played. I know that I played my best. This was my gift to the King. The only gift I had to offer that was fit for this King, was my best effort, doing my favorite thing, playing my drum. Then He smiled at me. He smiled at me and my drum. His smile was a gift to me. I smiled and felt as though I had given a proper gift to the King.

 
Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
 
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
 
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
 
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
 
 
Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
 
Me and my drum.
 

As it turns out this King was different and somehow I knew that as I played for him. His mother didn’t need to let me play for Him. After all we weren’t rich or prestigious we were just a poor family that was led to the King. This Baby’s mother knew that there was something special about her Baby, and she let us in. She let me play my drum for Him. She knew, He knew, that my best, heart-felt effort, was worthy of the King. If all I had to give was my all, then that’s a gift worthy of this King. It still is. That’s all He asks. I mean we give our all to far less important things all the time. We were created in His image so why shouldn’t we give Him our all. I gave my all back when I was just the Little Drummer Boy.