The Meanderings of a Follower

“My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.”

                                                       Psalm 63:8

 The King James Version says, “my soul follows hard after thee.”  Some days I follow hard.  Some days I… meander.  I wander about a bit.  I am easily distracted by whatever is occupying my day.  I don’t take the most direct route in following my Savior.  Thankfully, I don’t have to do this Christian life thing on my own; that verse concludes with, “Your right hand holds me up.”

Whenever I’m not necessarily “following hard,” whenever I’m meandering God takes the initiative to pull me along.  He meets where I am and shows me wonderful glimpses of Himself wherever I happen to be.

So, in this blog, my intent is to share with you some of the discoveries I make about our magnificent God along the way.  I’m calling this blog:  The Meanderings of a Follower.

No Church Yet?

When they said, “Let’s go to the house of God,” my heart leaped for joy.
Psalm 122:1 (MSG)

I might add to that verse:  “But, I was disheartened when they said that we couldn’t.”

We know.  We miss church too.

Of course, Wednesday nights will not be able to resume on April 1st, as we originally thought.

You might ask, “so, what ARE we doing?

* Sunday morning message is live streamed at 11:00 A.M. on Facebook:  BridgeWay Church STL 

* After the message Miss Kristy will have something awesome for the kids on Facebook.

Then, as quickly as possible, it will be posted here on our website, and on our YouTube channel:  BridgeWay Church STL.

* Everyday at noon we are going to pray
(and fast lunch if you would like) for this virus to end and for the good news of Jesus to keep going out.

* On Good Friday we are all going to take communion at 7:00 PM

* We WILL celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus
whether it’s on April 12th or not.

Until we come together again, remember:
Pray with Faith  ~   Act with Wisdom  ~  Live with Joy

 

Thoughts on the Corona Virus

My family watched the Tom Hanks movie about Mr. Rogers earlier this week.
While helping someone walk through the dying of a loved one, Mr. Rogers says,
“Death is human.  Anything human is mentionable.
Anything mentionable is manageable.”

That’s powerful! Anything mentionable is manageable.

So, with the power of the Holy Spirit added to the mix, we can certainly manage what I am about to mention.

We don’t have to respond with panic.
Two words have resounded with people who are seeking God’s help through prayer:
Faith and Wisdom
That’s how we need to respond.

FAITH
We must not fall victim to fear.  Living in fear incapacitates us, stops us in our tracks.
It will distract us from living in faith.

God is our source, our refuge, our protector, our shield.  We can and should trust Him to care for us each and every day. (Corona virus or not)

WISDOM
Use the simple hygienic directives that are being suggested. (Most of which you should already be doing.) The CDC website
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/cleaning-disinfection.html has pages of recommendations.

If we trust in God and behave responsibly we can navigate this crisis.

Remember:
Pray with Faith
Act with Wisdom
Live with Joy

Come Up Higher

In Luke 19 Jesus is invited to a dinner at the home of a prominent Pharisee.
There He notices the pride of the religious leaders.
The culture in which they lived created a particular seating order for dinners and banquets.
The more honored the guest, the closer to the host he sat.
We still practice portions of this today.
Well, at this particular dinner Jesus stands back and watches the Pharisees and scribes scramble to get the seats of highest honor.

So he makes a suggestion:
When you are invited to a banquet, don’t be so quick to snatch-up the seat of highest honor.
What if there has been someone more distinguished than you invited to the event.
You would be embarrassed to have the host come to you and say, “Slide down, Jack.”
Jesus added, take the lowest spot.
Then you will be honored with the host comes to you and says:

“Friend, come up higher.”
Luke 14:10 BLB

Now the context of this is a lesson on pride, but the admonition remains the same.

How often do we enter the presence of God, whether it by ourselves or here, in a worship service, only to feel so insecure and unworthy that we slip to the back of the room to remain unnoticed?

For fear of being humiliated, we take the lesser seat, not wanting to presume on the kindness of God. But, then, the God we worship sees us hiding in the back and says,
“What are you doing back there friend? Come up higher!
I want you to sit with me! I want you to enjoy my presence! I love you!”

Have you had that kind of experience? Instantly, you feel valued!

The New Living Translation puts it like this,
“Friend, we have a better place for you!”
Luke 14:10 NLT

This year, we’re hearing our God say:  Come up higher; I have a better place for you

How amazing to know that God invites you to come up higher, to move up to a better place than where you are in life right now.

You should never be satisfied with where you simply began your walk with Christ.
The walk of faith assumes progression.
It’s a walk!
Don’t stand still, but don’t just move forward… move upward.

Friend, come up higher!

It’s both a gracious invitation and an awesome challenge!
God has so much more for us than when we first began in our journey with Him!

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!
Romans 5:10 NIV

Catch the phrase:  “much more

God has much more. Not just more. MUCH more for us.

But you won’t find it slumping down in the back, His call for you is
Come Up Higher

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us…
Ephesians 3:20 AMP

God offers you immeasurably more than you could even ask or dream!
The choice is yours. You can remain where you are or come up higher!

Whether the place that you are in right now is horrible, okay, or absolutely amazing,
God’s invitation for you this year, is to come up higher.

Theology from the ……….dog?

We have a Chiweenie (half Dachshund, half Chihuahua. Yes. They intentionally breed them.) His name is Dax, and He has quite stolen our hearts.

He’s a smart dog. You can’t say “car ride” or “go for a walk” without him running back and forth between you and the door. If you don’t move quickly enough for his liking (after several runs to the door and back,) he stops and looks up at you as if to say, “but, you said…” (His eye markings make his face very expressive.)

However….. He can be a stinker. He sometimes willfully disobeys. We have trained him so that we can let him out the back door and he stays in the back yard. We use a stake and tether to reinforce that lesson. If he ever ventures into the neighbor’s yard (usually because the geese have waddled up from the pond,) we put him on the leash when he goes out, for a couple of days.

One day he had been out back, and no one paid any attention to the fact that he hadn’t come back in. All of a sudden he came rushing in the door and began to bark frantically. He does that whenever someone comes to the door. I went to the door and sure enough a lady from down the street was there. She informed us that Dax had gone 2 doors down in the middle of the street. I politely thanked the neighbor and assured her that this behavior was not the norm.

After she left, I took Dax and decided, “Okay Buster, you’re getting a time-out.” I took him out back and reached for the cable. As I brought the latch to his collar ring he gave me another one of his faces.
“But, Daddy? Why? Don’t you love me anymore?”

My heart melted, but I hooked the latch anyway. I do love him, and I can’t bear the thought of him getting hurt. I walked away wondering how often I look into my heavenly Father’s eyes and cry, “Father, Why?,” only to have Him answer, “Because I love you.”

 

Fill ‘Er Up

Some weeks ago I made a confession in the Sunday morning service.  Once… about 18 years ago, I allowed myself to… run out of gasoline… with my (then two year old) son Alex in the truck.  If you want to hear that story, you will need to listen to the message recording.  The point here is that I’m guilty. I was an irresponsible parent. I ran out of gas.  I promised myself and my toddler son, whom I carried down the shoulder of the interstate, that it would never happen again.  I am happy to report that I have kept that promise.

Alex is twelve years older than his little brother, Josiah.

Josiah has never experienced the misfortune of his father running out of gas. Josiah has never been afraid of the cars whizzing past him just a few yards away.

 

Yet, it is Josiah who constantly asks me, “Do we have enough gas, Dad?”

He will stealthily unbuckle his seatbelt, lean forward in his seat and look over my shoulder to get a glimpse of the gas gauge. “Are you going to get gas today or tomorrow, Dad?”

“Josiah, we have half a tank. I will get gas in then next two or three days.” (A tank will last me seven to ten days.)  Sometimes I get annoyed.  Why doesn’t he trust me? I’m the adult; I take care of the gasoline.

“Josiah, trust me; I will take care of you.”

And then, it hits me.  Is this how God feels when I don’t trust Him?  I get anxious.  I worry.  Will he answer my prayer.  Is he paying attention to my situation? I try to lean over His shoulder to check the gas gauge.

Unlike me, God has never run out of gas.  If I can be trusted to get Josiah to school every morning, how much more can my heavenly father give good gifts to me?

 

Lessons From the Pool

Eight year old boys aren’t especially noted for self-control — especially where candy is involved.  This summer I had Josiah at swimming lessons and he was usually the only student in his group.  The last day of a two-week session is usually a “fun” day, and we had reached this “graduation” event.  As usual, Josiah was the only student, but he enjoyed the one-on-one attention from his instructor. As the session concluded, the guppies, and jellyfish, and dolphins, and sharks (names given to the various levels) plodded out of the water and began to towel-off.  Josiah was standing near an instructor who had a rather large group of younger children.

She was giving “dum-dum” suckers to each of her pupils. I could see it in his eyes; he desperately wanted one of those dum-dums.  Self-control is something we have been working on with Josiah, so, I watched.  She didn’t offer him one of the lollipops. (To be honest, it made me mad.)  Josiah held his tongue. So did I.  I helped him get ready and we left the pool.  When we got to the car, I asked him about it.

“Josiah, you saw that teacher giving suckers to her students, didn’t you?”
“Yes, Daddy.”
“You wanted one, didn’t you?”
“Yes, Daddy.”

I told him how proud I was of him for using his self-control, and that I was going to reward his behavior by getting him a treat way better than a silly, old, sucker. So, I took him to Steak ‘n Shake for a milkshake (I think as much to appease my offense as a parent having their child excluded, as to reinforce his good choice.)

I have to wonder, though, how many milkshakes have I missed out on, because I had to have the sucker.
“It’s not fair, God!”
“I want what they have!”
“Why can’t I have a sucker, now?”

Well, possibly, because there is a milkshake waiting in the wings.

 

Lessons from the Doctor’s office

I had a skin cancer removed from my temple this past spring. (Nothing serious, the doctor said that it should never give me any trouble again.) When the nurse was prepping me for the sutures, she informed me that the doctor would stitch an area larger than the incision.
Sure, fine.
Then he began to stitch, and stitch, and stitch, and…..stitch.
I thought to myself, “Geez, I’m going to look like Frankenstein’s monster, by the time he gets through.”
Eventually, he finished, and I decided that I now know what a quilt feels like.
Then the nurse began to bandage the sutures.
She bandaged, and bandaged, and bandaged, and …bandaged.
I changed my mind, “Frankenstein, nothing; I’m going to look like the Mummy.”
It certainly seemed like overkill. I obliged—going around for several days with my arms extended in my best mummy impersonation.
Today, it is very hard to detect that an incision was made at all. (My older son, Alex, is bummed. He thought a scar would be very cool.)
The doctor knew what he was doing. The suture line had to be long enough to keep the site from puckering.

Sometimes, God has to do surgery in our lives. I may be painful, appear unnecessary, seem excess. But, He knows what He is doing. He needs to cut the cancers out of our souls. And, many times, the healing process, is longer and more invasive than the surgery.
Fear not! When He is done, there won’t be any sign that there was ever a problem before.

More Theology from the Munchkin

“Til You are my one desire
Til You are my one true love
Til you are my breath, my everything
Lord please keep making me.”
We were singing this song at church a couple of weeks ago when Josiah (my 6 year old) taps on my side. “Daddy,when will God get tired of making us?”
I was glad that he was paying attention and wanted to process what he was hearing.  However, to be honest, I was slightly annoyed that he was distracting me from worship…..it’s a great song.
Where do I go?
“God doesn’t get tired.”?
“Just keeping singing,and we’ll talk about it later.”?
“When we see Jesus, we shall be like Him.”?
“God’s mercies are new every morning.”?
All this in about 2 seconds. Yet the decision really wasn’t that hard.
“Josiah, God loves you so much that He will always help you be the person He knows you can be.”
Josiah was satisfied with the answer and returned to worshipping.
I drove home from church that day feeling extremely grateful.
Thanks, Lord, for still making me.

The Finish Line

One week to go… until graduation.

In this blog I share quite a bit about my younger son, Josiah.  This morning, my mind is on my first born, Alex. In 9 days he will graduate from High School, and we are all soooo ready for it.  His mom and I know the great potential Alex has, and we have been his cheering section… All right, we pushed… Actually, some days, we get behind him, lodge our shoulders in his back and HEAVE. Some seniors are coasting toward graduation right now; not Alex.  He has 2 papers, 2 major tests, and THEN finals.  (Someone remind me why we loaded his last semester with such difficult classes.) He is so burned out on school; they call it senioritis.

He tells me, “Senioritis is a real thing, Dad, and I have a bad case.”

Terminal, I think.

Still, we cheer him on (read that: shove.) We were discussing what to put on his graduation cake.   I suggested, “How about, ‘Congratulations, Alex. You did it.’”

“What do you mean, ‘YOU did it’?” Teresa asked.  “WE did it,”

Some days it feels like it.  But, no, Alex read the books.  Alex took the tests.  Alex wrote the papers. Alex worked the math problems (whatever it is you do in Finite Math.)  Alex did it.  We cheered.  We are so very proud of the person he has become.  He has a love for God, and for people.  What more could we ask for; yet he gives us more.  He is intelligent, witty, thoughtful.  I guess that’s why we push so hard; he has so much in him, and we want to let it all out.

You know, you have a cheering section too. Hebrews chapter 12 says that we are surrounded by a crowd of spectators cheering us on to finish our race.  When you have those days when you’re tired of life, your own variety of “Senioritis,” listen carefully. They’re cheering, calling your name:  “I know this test is hard, but keep running; you’re almost to the finish line!  You can do it!” And you have a heavenly father, up there; He is so very proud of the person you’ve become.  He wants to spur you on to the greatest of what you have inside. He cheers…pushes…shoves us through the next lesson, the next test.  He knows you will succeed; He’s there to help.  So, buckle down, chin up, press forward.  There is such a prize waiting for you at the end.

You’re almost there, Alex. One more week.

 

More Theology from the Munchkin

It’s nice to know where you’re going in life. As I shared one Sunday in church, Josiah shared with me one day his vocational aspirations.  “Daddy,” he said.

“Yes, Josiah,” I answered.

“When I grow up, I want to be a ninja,”  (pause) “and work at Six Flags.”

“Daddy,” he asked, “how do you become a ninja?”

I guess the path to becoming a ride operator at Six Flags was evident to him.

I can just see the wonder in his mind’s eye as he envisioned these career choices in child-like amazement. The glory of helping all of mankind with your ninja skills; the thrill of getting to earn money while playing with roller coasters.

I could see his justification; I just couldn’t share it.  I guess my hopes for my six year old are more practical, more grand, and, yes, more lucrative. I can see so much more for him than he can see for himself at this point.

I began thinking, I wonder if my heavenly Father looks down at me and chuckles under his breath: “Oh Richard my plans are greater than yours.  They are more than you can ask, think, or imagine.”

All the while my imagination is captivated with ninjas and the Screamin’ Eagle.

Father, please let me see with your eyes.

Now, if only the 18 year old knew what he wanted to do.