Changing Diapers

Since retiring my wife and I have been watching our firstborn grandson since our daughter had to go back to work. So many things we do not remember from raising our own four kids! But diapers … we remember!!!

My wife received the book, Every Moment Holy, and there are two liturgical messages about changing diapers! What a blessing we have to be able to spend this time with our grandson … diapers and all! Here is one of the prayers!

Blessings in ALL you do!

A Liturgy for the Changing of Diapers

Heavenly Father, in such menial moments as this-the changing of a diaper-I would remember this truth: that o me My unseen labors are not lost,for it is these repeated actsof small sacrifice that-like bright, ragged patches-are slowly being sewn into a quilt of lovingkindnessthat swaddles this child
I am not just changing a diaper. By love and service I am tending a budding heart that, rooted early in suchgrace-filled devotion, might one day be more readily-inclined to bow to your compassionate conviction-knowing itself then as both a receptacle and a reservoir of heavenly grace.

So this little act of diapering-though in form sometimes feltas base drudgery – might bebetter described as one of ten thousand acts by which I am actively creating a culture of compassionate service and selfless love to shape the life of this family and this beloved child.
So take this unremarkable act of necessary service, O Christ, and in your economy let it be multiplied into the greater outworking of worship and of faith, a true investment in the incremental advance of your kingdomacross generations.

Open my eyes that I might see this act for what it is from the fixed vantage of eternity, O Lord-
how the changing of a diaper might sit upstream of the changing of a heart; how the changing of a heart might sit upstream of the changing of the world. Amen

Team Player

Let’s talk about sports, even though I don’t watch sports, I know it is a favorite pastime of Christians and nonchristians alike. You name the sport, and you name the team. Whoever the team is, we find this team practicing together; everyone assigned to the team has a specific purpose. But his or her purpose is to play their part in concert with the others who have their part. The coach sees this, and aligns his players, and teaches them to work together, and it will be the team who will function better than other teams. We spend a lot of time rooting for our team, that special team, the way they put the plays together, the way they execute each play, and the success that they have is based mostly on how well they have done their part. If one fails, the play will not be executed like it is supposed to be. We encourage our teams by going to the games, and yelling for them, putting our energy in their work. And don’t you know that many Christians will be at those games encouraging those players to be better, play stronger, and keep in the game, but will not think to encourage the person who sits next to them in church. You see, the church is a team effort. Listen to Scripture: “Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts; If prophecy, use it according to the standard of one’s faith; if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching; if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:4-8 Why wouldn’t we be there, cheering each other on, holding each other up? Why is it we will work harder for our sports teams to be better at what they do, than we do our fellow believers? Instead of holding each other up, when the team is not playing well, we leave to find another team. When we are unhappy that “our” body is not functioning, we look to the others instead of ourselves, and wonder why they are not doing their part. Perhaps it’s because they can only do their part if you do yours. So what part do you hold in the local fellowship? What gift has God given you that you have not been using. it just might be the lack that you are seeing in others. Don’t you think it’s about time we start listening to the coach. He knows better than us what our gifts are, because He has given them. He knows how to get the most out of each player, if we just listen. He will make the church the shining light in the community, if we all do our parts. In doing so, our faith will grow stronger, our strength more stable. Our ability to hold each other up will be the winning ingredient for a successful life in Christ, and we will all draw closer to the coach, to listen without question, to move when He tells us to move, and to do our part, as He has given us the gifts and ability to do so: “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 Pastor Andy

Be like wise men … seek Him

One of the things that came about during the advent of Christ’s birth, is the arrival of the wise men. The Bible says, “They arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem.” They wanted to know where the ‘King of the Jews was born, for they saw His star from afar. It took them quite some time to arrive in Jerusalem, and were told that the He would be in Bethlehem, because that was what was foretold by the prophet Micah several hundred years prior: “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah: because out of you will come a leader who will shepherd My people Israel.” Matthew 2:6 So, the Wise men travelled a great distance to find Him who is called the Messiah. So how come more learned men weren’t following the star? Couldn’t they see it? Were there only three who could know that the star they saw was announcing the birth of the Messiah? Certainly the star was there for everyone to see. Even the religious leaders knew enough to tell the wise men that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but they couldn’t see the light either, or they would have left all that they had and followed the wise men. And were the men “wise” only because they saw a star? We don’t know anything about them except that they believed the star they saw was drawing them to where the King of the Jews would be born. Today, what are we drawn by? What draws you to Jesus? These days, it certainly isn’t His popularity, for He is actually hated by many, tolerated by some, and loved by few. Where do you go to see Him? Where do you go to visit Him? This child, whose destiny was the cross, now sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, and He knows our comings and our goings. He knows when we seek Him and when we don’t. He knows when we desire to follow Him, and when we want to speak about Him, and to Him. And He knows when we don’t. It no longer has to be a star to visualize in the heavens, for He is right here. Paul was addressing the men of Athens, and he told them this: “Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it – He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17: 23-27 So, let’s become like the wise men, and seek Him, and we don’t even have to travel to Bethlehem, for He is right here, waiting for you to acknowledge Him and He will give you eyes that see, and ears that hear what He has to say, for He is still the Messiah, Lord of our lives, whether we accept Him or not. And it is true, Wise men still seek Him! Pastor Andy

Strength After Being Tested

This morning I was reading out of Luke and this passage stood out to me, and caused me to stop and ponder myself. It came at a time when the disciples were disputing who should be considered the greatest. Jesus would tell them that, “whoever is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving.” Luke 22:26 This led up to Jesus telling Peter: “Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” “Lord,” he told Him, ‘I’m ready to go with You both to prison and to death!’ “I tell you, Peter,’ He said, ‘The rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know me!'” Luke 22: 31-34 Jesus, knowing what would become of Peter, was letting him know that He prayed that Peter would return after he was being sifted. Notice that He didn’t pray that Peter would be let out of being sifted, but that his faith would not fail. How many times do we pray for a situation in which we do not want to go through, or we ask for a removal from some situation. Yet even Jesus would pray for strength in Peter’s faith instead of removal from the coming trials. Peter, of course, denied that anything like this could happen. He was steadfast and knew that he could handle any situation with Jesus, but Jesus turned that around and told him how he would fail Him that very day. I’m so like Peter in ways I don’t particularly like about myself, or perhaps it’s just the Holy Spirit calling me to honesty instead of thinking how brave I will be during trials. We all want to think about how we will stand when pressured or persecuted. Will we speak out? Will we stand our ground? Or will we remain quiet not wanting to make waves? Will we not want to engage in heated discussions? I often think that I will be able to handle it because I know my faith is strong, yet Peter was strong. He was probably the most outspoken of the 12 and a natural leader among the group. But Jesus knew what he was capable of and what he wasn’t, just like He knows what you and I are capable of and what we aren’t. I think, after reading this morning, I have come to realize that I must pray more for strength during crises, and even if I slip and fall, I know that He who is able to keep us from falling too far, will bring us back once again, will set our feet on solid ground, and hopefully I will have learned just a little more on how to strengthen others by my failures. I think all of us who desire to live as true believers, think we are brave, but still maybe our prayers need to include that our faith will not fail after testing. I pray our faith will not only remain strong, but that we will then step out and strengthen others after we have gone through the fire. Peter did exactly that, and I believe it wasn’t because of his own strength, but by the very prayer that Jesus prayed for him to strengthen others when he had returned from his fall. Through the faith given through Christ our Lord and Savior, we can do this! Pastor Andy

Effective Prayers

Do you think that your prayers for another are effective? We pray for others even when they can’t pray for ourselves, yet will the prayer of faith heal another. We witness this through Scripture when Jesus was teaching and people had come from every village of Galilee and Judea, and Jerusalem. The Pharisees and Teachers of the law were there also. It was a packed house! Let’s pick it up from Scripture: “Just then some men came, carrying on a mat a man who was paralyzed. They tried to bring him in and set him down before Him. Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the mat through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus. Seeing their faith He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to think: Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone. But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus replied to them, ‘Why are you thinking this in your hearts?” Luke 5:18-22 We have the situation of a man needing healing, and men who carried him. They weren’t to be deterred. When they couldn’t get in, they decided to take dramatic steps. They climbed to the roof and loosened the roof tiles and lowered the man. It was THEIR faith that Jesus commended. He healed the paralyzed man. The paralyzed man could do nothing on his own, but the love of some friends who cared enough for him and believed that Jesus could heal him, propelled them onward, and they wouldn’t give up when all seemed hopeless. Have you ever sat with another whose faith maybe wasn’t that strong, and they couldn’t help themselves. But because of love, you prayed. You petitioned God out of a selfless heart of love for another. How often do we lift prayers up but they are not necessarily prayers of faith, because we may not have an emotional connection to the one needing prayer. They are just duty because we are asked, we respond with prayer. We’ve done our duty. But when we involve the heart from a totally selfless and loving position of care, will our prayers be different. I wonder? So often we think of another needing prayers and we lift up that person to the Lord. But do we find the way to Jesus; would we tear open the roof to get to Him, I know that is only figuratively, but it’s also the passion of faith that is in us that makes us want something so badly for another, that we will go to all lengths to get our prayer to Jesus. I know He hears, because He listens to the heart, and if we are just praying from the duty of the mind, is that a prayer that Jesus would listen to? I wonder? These men could have said to the paralyzed man. “Well, we tried our best, but we just can’t get in.” The paralyzed man was at their mercy, their decisions. He could do nothing for himself, it was all up to them. Somehow, someway, they decided by faith, that they would step out of the box and do whatever it took to get to Jesus. That’s faith. That’s a heart that is dedicated to petition the gates of heaven on behalf of another. Jesus told another parable on the need to pray always and not become discouraged. He said, “And a widow in that town kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary. For a while he was unwilling, but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect man, yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice, so she doesn’t wear me out by her persistent coming. Then the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Will not God grant justice to His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay to help them? Luke 18: 3-7 Let’s be like the persistent widow, and not give up until the Lord answers. For He surely will answer. Pastor Andy

Empty Pit Feeling

Have you ever had that longing deep within you that was an empty pit but drawing you to be filled. You searched for things that would fill it, but nothing did; you searched for meaning, but nothing seemed to have meaning; you searched for purpose but your searches were always dead ends. If you have let me share this with you: “On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.’ He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been received because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” John 7: 37-39 Thirst is like that deep need that comes when we are empty of water, the kind of thirst that pulls from within and can only be quenched by replenishing the body’s need for water. I remember having to drink water from craters left by bombing, when we had run out of water on patrol. So I know what it is like to thirst, and how a cool drink of water satisfies, at least temporarily. But even being filled with water won’t satisfy that deep longing that is buried deep within your soul. After all, we get thirsty again. Deep within us, before we are saved, there is a void, and that void is like the deepest thirst. We are not aware of it at the time, only that something is missing from deep within. Many try to fill this void with things like alcohol, but it doesn’t satisfy. Some try to fill it with sex, but it doesn’t satisfy. Some try to fill it with power, position, and money, but it’s still present after the accumulation of those things. We all go through different roads while we are looking for something that fulfills that deep need within us, even though we don’t know what it is we are looking for. That was my life before Christ. I was doing fine, but I needed something to fill this void deep within, just like a thirst, but unquenchable. I seemed to be on a hopeless search for something that I thought may not exist – a rest for the turbulent need growing within me. I would have never given it a thought to think that I needed Christ, but even then, I tried to fill it with some different religious thinking, but wasn’t satisfied. On the outside, my life looked normal, and I was very careful to not reveal the aching that existed within, for people might think I was abnormal or something like that. But looking back, that night I accepted the truth of Jesus, I saw He was calling me, drawing me, and I didn’t even realize it, for I didn’t want it to be Christianity. But I could no longer deny His existence, and even then was not sure He could fulfill this emptiness inside. But immediately after I cried out in repentance and need, and believed, the void was filled, and I now understood what living water is. I was thirsty in my depths and Jesus filled the thirst. He delivered even when I wasn’t sure it was connected to my deep void. He filled my heart with a new life, and I have been living on “living water” ever since. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well and asked for a drink, a dialogue was started between Jesus and the woman. He would tell her this: “Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again – ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.” John 4:13-14 What is that empty well within you? Have you experienced it? Have you believed in Jesus and received the living water? If you still feel an emptiness inside, Jesus will fill it. The Holy Spirit of God is given, testifying to your soul, that the truth is Jesus, and you will be filled-forever. Pastor Andy

Warning Sounds

Today’s devotional came from Our Daily Bread posted by Tom Felton, November 30, 2022. It is easy to read and very impactful:

Ever had a close encounter with a rattlesnake? If so, you might have noticed that the sound of the rattle seemed to get more intense as you moved nearer to the viper. Research reported in 2021 in Current Biology reveals that the venomous reptiles do increase their rattling rate when they think a threat is approaching. This “high-frequency mode” can cause us to think they’re closer than they are. As one researcher put it, “The misinterpretation of distance by the listener . . . creates a distance safety margin.”

People can sometimes use increasing volume with harsh words that push others away during a conflict—exhibiting anger and resorting to shouting. The writer of Proverbs shares some wise advice for times like these: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). He goes on to say that “soothing” and “wise” words can be “a tree of life” and a source of “knowledge” (vv. 4, 7).

Jesus provided the ultimate reasons for gently appealing to those with whom we enter into conflict: extending love that reveals us to be His children (Matthew 5:43–45) and seeking reconciliation—“[winning] them over” (18:15). Instead of raising our voice or using unkind words during conflicts, may we show civility, wisdom, and love to others as God guides us by His Spirit.

By tom felten|November 30th, 2022

To whom Are We Obligated?

To whom or to what are you obligated? If we are married, we are obligated to the family we raise, to feed, nurture, and grow the future. We are obligated to pay taxes, and debts incurred. We are obligated to obey the laws set up in our nation to preserve safety, order, and discipline within the people. What we are not obligated to do, as believers, is to cease prayer in certain places, for nobody has the ability to dictate when we pray. We are not obligated to leadership that tells us how to raise our children. We are not obligated to live according to the flesh, even when the flesh seems to have such a great pull on us, even when the desire makes a significant impact on our mind. The Apostle Paul writes: “So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs – heirs of God and Coheirs with Christ -seeing that we suffer with HIm so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8: 12-17 One of the lady’s of the church shared with me last night what this sounded like in the Message. I looked and listened to how the Message describes verses 15 “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” Romans 8:13 Msg. We are not obligated to live like the world lives. As believers, we share something greater than this world, and we can indeed live according to the Spirit instead of the flesh. We have Christ, and that life surely outweighs the life that the world and the flesh that is trying to persuade us that we need to switch to. But are we expectant? Are we excited? Being a believer can and is an adventure far beyond our expectations, But we must give up something! We must give up the desire in the flesh to live according to the flesh. Therein lies the battle that wages inside us. The desire by the Spirit who lives in us, is against the will of the flesh, that wants to go against everything Christ died for. Sometime in this journey we will be presented with the declaration that we can no longer walk both sides. We can no longer live according to the world, and falsely think we are living a faithful life. We can no longer succumb to the flesh, and still think that we are doing the Lord’s will. They are totally against each other. But as Paul points out. “We are NOT obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die.” Now don’t get me wrong, this death he is talking about is not the death of the flesh that we all will encounter, but the separation from the Lord God, who made the supreme sacrifice to save us from that kind of death. We will be forever with Him in eternity – alive. So what are you obligated to? For me! I will echo the words of Joshua who proclaimed: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” And therein lies the adventure and the Journey of which I am so expectant and excited to walk. Pastor Andy

Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s a good time to give thanks for your friends and neighbors as well as family. There is a scripture that the Lord put on my heart this morning and it’s found in Hebrews 13: “Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily. Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers. Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13: 1-6 Look outward around you today instead of inward. Instead of seeing the family and friends you usually have around you, and are therefore looking inward toward them, look outward! Look around you. Is there one who needs to be sitting at your table tomorrow that you don’t have much to talk about, but you know is alone, without anyone else around them this Thanksgiving? That may be an angel, waiting to see if you see them as neighbors, or if we are too busy looking inward at the familiar, we can never see the one who may bless our day. There is so much hatred in our nation today, that people have stopped looking outward at the unfamiliar. They have stopped being friendly, because you never know who is going to get angry with you. So it’s better to keep your eyes to the ground when you are out and about, and keep your eyes inward when you are in church or other gatherings. I will never forget a man, who those in my hospital wanted to get rid of because he was a bum and he was disrupting all the patients in the waiting room and snack bar. They asked me to get rid of him. So I went to talk to him, and right away saw that he was different. There was something about him that made me want to engage him, instead of turning him away. We talked for about a half hour, and I asked if he had a place to stay, and he said he didn’t. There was a house in town that let strangers stay there for a night that didn’t have a place to sleep, so we took him over there and introduced him to the caretakers, and said good-bye and wished him well. An hour later, I called them to see if the man had settled in alright. They told me he disappeared. He was just gone. One minute he was there, and the next gone. Unbelievers would say he was just a homeless man, wanting to be on the move. I knew it was different. He was an angel, sent to see, perhaps just to me, to see if I would throw this man out because of how he looked. I can only hope I passed the test. I have never forgotten about that man, and still believe it was a time that God introduced me to an angel, not dressed in fine linen, but in old clothes, with a beard and long hair. Unkempt! But totally articulate and interesting to talk to. I remember the first thing he said to me. “You are a man of God, aren’t you!” I remember telling him, “I hope so!” And proceeded to have a wonderful conversation about life and acceptance. He taught me a lot that day in a very small time, and I thank God, that I entertained a stranger that day. Pastor Andy

Forgiven Much

Do you feel like you have been forgiven much, or do you feel like you have been forgiven little? Or in other words, have you had a life before salvation that required much forgiveness, or have you always been a “good” person, and therefore think that you didn’t have much to be forgiven? As for me, perhaps because I came to salvation at age 30, I lived a life that required much forgiveness. There was a lot that happened in my life that I was ashamed about, but not any more, because I know that I have been forgiven. Once, when Jesus was reclining at a table at a Pharisee’s house, a woman who was known about the town as being a sinner, a big sinner, came in with an alabaster jar of fragrant oil. She stood behind Jesus and began to wash His feet with her tears, and wipe them with her hair. Then she began kissing His feet and anointing His feet with the fragrant oil she brought with her. The Pharisee was disgusted, but not necessarily with the woman, but with Jesus because if He really was a prophet, He would know who this was that touched Him. Certainly no one else would allow that to happen to them. Jesus told him this parable: “A creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 denarii, and the other 50. Since they could not pay it back, he graciously forgave them both. So, which of them will love him more? Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one he forgave more.” You have judged correctly,’ He told him. Turning to the woman, He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for My feet, but she, with her tears, has washed My feet and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing My feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint My head with olive oil, but she has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little loves little. Then He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven. Those who were at the table with Him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this man who even forgives sins?’ And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Luke 7:41-50 Even though all of us should have the understanding that such a great salvation has been given us, all of us should love much, because of it. But I wonder if we love Jesus as much as the woman did? Would we look at her as a picture of our own sin, or would we look at her like the Pharisee did. Would it cause us to fall on our knees and weep because of the depth of our own sin, or would we pompously wonder why He would bother with someone with that much sin. I have often said that I am thankful that Jesus saved me, because I wouldn’t save me. With the things I have done not only to others, but to the Lord Himself, I would never have accepted me. But Jesus did, and I know He loves me and forgives me. And because of that I love Him more than I can even imagine. What about you? Do you see your life as not being that bad, so your love for the Lord doesn’t seem to be that dramatic? Maybe we should insert our name in the verses where the woman is talked about, and realize that whatever shape we think we were in before we accepted Jesus as Lord, We owe Him a debt we could never pay, but He forgave the debt. Just like that! All because of love. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Pastor Andy

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