Important Facts to Remember as You Grow Older

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A Facebook friend posted the following thoughts, probably not original:

  1. Death is the number one killer in the world.
  2. Life is sexually transmitted.
  3. Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
  4. Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks, months, maybe years.
  5. Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.
  6. All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
  7. In the 60s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it normal.
  8. Don’t worry about old age; it doesn’t last that long.

Obviously my friend had his tongue at least partially embedded in his cheek. Some of these are more humorous than others. Yet within the humor lies one basic truth. We are mortal, finite human beings. Our human life had a beginning. It will also have an ending.

King David says it like this: “We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.” 1 Chron. 29:15

For Christians, that’s not the end of the story. At the death of his close friend Lazarus, Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. And whoever who lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26

To some, that’s double talk. How can someone die and yet never die? That’s the mystery of death, solved only by the promise of eternal life through faith in Christ. For when a person dies, he/she takes off his/her body and moves to another existence. In that new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1) that person’s life never ends.

That’s a truth worth living for … a truth worth dying for … a promise to remember as you grow older.

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Thanksgiving

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Today I share with you this story (http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/thanksgiving/short-stories/religious-thanksgiving.html):

Thanksgiving by Bruce Wright

What does Thanksgiving mean to you? I hear one boy say, “It means a big dinner.” I think we all agree with him. Who does not welcome and enjoy a good dinner! I hear Mary say, “Thanksgiving means a day off from school.” I guess you are right too. School is not such a charming place that girls and boys are unwilling to have an occasional holiday.

Now I am going to ask some of the older people what the day means to them. There is a young woman, a stenographer. She says, “Thanksgiving means a day away from the office. I’m at the office every day except Sunday, and I do appreciate, now and then, a day that’s really my own.”

Yonder is a traveling salesman. “What does Thanksgiving mean to you?” He says, “It means a day at home. Last year I spent one hundred and sixty-nine nights away from home. I have three children. I should like to see them every day. There are times when many days pass and I do not see them. Thanksgiving week I plan to be at home.”

There are others I could ask. Each has his or her answer. But Thanksgiving has a special meaning for us. It is the harvest time. I have here an apple. Isn’t this a beautiful apple? What color! Who mixed the paints, who handled the brush to give such color to this apple? God. He, in his infinite love and wisdom, has provided, through the unfailing laws of nature, for the growth, sweetness, coloring and beautifying of all the products of the fields. This apple is but one of many kinds of fruits.

Praise, then, is the great meaning of Thanksgiving. God, our heavenly Father, sends us every good gift. From his bountiful hand come our daily and nightly mercies. We should praise him every day. But the day for the united chorus of praise is Thanksgiving.

Psalm 150: 6: “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.”

Hymn 892 (Lutheran Service Book):

Come, ye thankful people, come; raise the song of harvest home.
All be safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God, our maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come; raise the song of harvest home.

Terry and I pray for each of you a Blessed Thanksgiving!

Super Blessed!

Usually at this time of year our thoughts are focused on people or things for whom or which we are thankful. Today I’m sharing with you what a foster child in Oklahoma listed when asked what she wanted in a family. Here are her answers:

Things I want in my family:

  • A clean safe house with running water and lights.
  • Mom and Dad who don’t fight or hit on me.
  • I want no drugs.
  • Don’t kill my pets.
  • Nice clean clothes and a coat.
  • No lice or bugs in the house.
  • A bed with covers.
  • Don’t sell my toys.
  • Treat me fair.
  • Don’t get drunk.
  • My own comb and soap and toothbrush.
  • I want love.

This little girl’s list touches my heart with the reminder that not everyone in our country and world experiences the blessings of God in the same measure with which my family, and most likely yours as well, have been blessed.

The mental picture of this little girl also moves me to reach out in love, care, and concern to folks who can only dream of having the necessities of life, not to mention the luxuries many of us often take for granted.

As you prepare to observe Thanksgiving Day, remember what I strive to recall every day: We have been abundantly blessed by our gracious God … for a reason … to be a blessing! That’s why when someone asks me how I’m doing, my reply is almost always: “Super blessed!”

Eight Simple Profound Realities

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1. Everyone in a village decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella.
That’s FAITH.

2. When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them.
That’s TRUST.

3. Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set our alarm to wake up.
That’s HOPE.

4. We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future.
That’s CONFIDENCE.

5. We see the world suffering, but still we get married and have children.
That’s LOVE.

6. On an old man’s shirt was written the sentence: “I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience.”
That’s ATTITUDE.

7. When an election takes place in any organization, secular or ecclesiastical, there are winners and there are losers. The winners have difficulty representing those who voted for the losers, which makes it difficult for the organization to thrive. Yet in most cases it survives.
That’s POLITICAL REALITY.

8. Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong; they are weak but he is strong.
That’s ASSURANCE.

God bless your day!

Wedding Venues

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Terry and I were married January 29, 1966, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Austin. St. Paul is Terry’s home church. It’s where we met. After our August 15, 1965 engagement, our plans were always focused on getting married at St. Paul. We never considered going anywhere else.

Most of our contemporaries also were married in church, traditionally the home church of the bride. Sometimes that was convenient, presuming both bride and groom lived in the same community or general vicinity. If that was not the case, it became a bit more cumbersome to work out the details long distance, especially with no internet, no email, no cell phones.

In recent times, things have changed. Weddings are now often held not in a church but at a wedding venue. Some are called “destination” weddings and may occur at an exotic location, sometimes requiring international travel and expensive lodging, normally at attendees’ expense. Not everyone who would like to attend can afford to do so. Crowds are often small.

Others are held more locally, often at a venue originally constructed or recently renovated for the purpose of accommodating large public gatherings, weddings, graduations, reunions, etc. Some are elaborately furnished and decorated. Others are fairly basic.

Not all such facilities have space for both the ceremony and the reception. That means the ceremony is frequently held outside. In the elements. In the summer when it’s hot and humid. Or windy and rainy. In the winter when it’s cold and frosty. Not always pleasant for the marital couple. Or for the guests. Sometimes the service is abbreviated as a result. But not always.

Many parish pastors I know tell me the overwhelming majority of the weddings at which they are asked to officiate are held at such a venue. The rationale seems to be that if the reception needs to be held at a place other than the church fellowship hall, it’s inconvenient for guests to come to church for the wedding, only to saddle up again after the ceremony and head to the reception at a different location.

Cost of renting both a sanctuary and a reception hall, providing flowers or other decorations at two places, coordination of details with people at each place, etc., are among the reasons for this growing trend. Permission to consume adult beverages, not always granted at a church facility, is not an insignificant factor in moving the entire operation to a secular venue.

You probably know all these things. I just felt the inclination to articulate them. And to add my non-judgmental observation that I’m thankful Terry and I were married at St. Paul. In a beautiful sanctuary. Before the altar of the Lord. With congregation singing worshipful hymns. With gusto. To organ accompaniment. With church aisle processional and recessional.

Is our marriage more sanctified or successful than that of folks who are married at a five star hotel or a remodeled barn or a repurposed fire hall? Not necessarily. The Lord can be worshiped anytime, anywhere.

And I believe he smiles on people who dedicate their lives to him and promise their faithfulness to each other, no matter where those lifelong commitments are made. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. Till death parts us. According to God’s holy will.

Don’t Laugh At Me

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These lyrics to a song by that title touch my heart: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVjbo8dW9c8)

I’m a little boy with glasses, the one they call the geek,
A little girl who never smiles ’cause I’ve got braces on my teeth.
And I know how it feels to cry myself to sleep.

I’m that kid on every playground who’s always chosen last,
A single teenage mother tryin’ to overcome my past.
You don’t have to be my friend but is it too much to ask?

Don’t laugh at me, don’t call me names. Don’t get your pleasure from my pain.
In God’s eyes we’re all the same. Someday we’ll all have perfect wings.
Don’t laugh at me.

I’m the cripple on the corner, you’ve passed me on the street.
And I wouldn’t be out here beggin’ if I had enough to eat.
And don’t think I don’t notice that our eyes never meet.

I lost my wife and little boy when someone crossed that yellow line.
The day we laid them in the ground is the day I lost my mind.
And right now I’m down to holdin’ this little cardboard sign.

Don’t laugh at me, don’t call me names. Don’t get your pleasure from my pain.
In God’s eyes we’re all the same. Someday we’ll all have perfect wings.
Don’t laugh at me.

I’m fat, I’m thin, I’m short, I’m tall, I’m deaf, I’m blind, hey, aren’t we all.

Don’t laugh at me, don’t call me names, don’t get your pleasure from my pain.
In God’s eyes we’re all the same. Someday we’ll all have perfect wings.
Don’t laugh at me.

I’m not convinced we’ll all have “perfect wings.” But I’m absolutely certain that the people described in this song know and feel the pain of insensitive, scoffing, ridiculing and bullying.

The Bible says: “Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32) Those described in this song say: “Don’t laugh at me. Just love me.” God bless your day!