Winter – deep and dark colors, black, gray, navy blue.
Spring Time – Light colors, pastels of blue, green, yellow, pink, purple, and green!
Colors tell us where we are and what time the season is. But then, we begin to blend in with the settings around us! And in this season of spring, we find ourselves in a “Stay at Home Advisory’, blending in out of necessity for life. We are now having to be intentional about those COLORS we love to see here in New England – the white and grays of winter, to the greens, yellows, oranges, and pastels of spring.
How does this affect us as Christians? We could say that red is a Christians favorite color, because of Calvary. We could say that white is a Christians favorite color, because of Redemption. We could say that blue is a Christians favorite color, because someday we will be caught up in the sky with our savior! All are true, but think about this…
We are called to be a peculiar people! To not blend in! To be different! This week as we begin to celebrate the Easter season, the thought crosses my mind, “What do people see when they look at me, a Christ Follower?” Do they see traditional or contemporary, how about a style of music, a particular political bent? Does my family not just look different, but act different and actually walk the as Jesus walked? I want to encourage, us both, to take an inventory of our hearts and lives. “Match our colors with Christ, not our surroundings!”
Easter is literally 1 week away! Find a friend, neighbor, co-worker, relative, and invite them to church online, over the next several opportunities through Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter! I heard a friend say this week, “Let’s have a virtual cup of coffee together over Zoom or Facetime.” They “go” to church together! We all need to hear the story of the resurrection this season, the testimony of life and togetherness – it is coming back! Even though you may think they will not come, invite them and see what God does!
Let’s get out of our comfort zone to see Jesus change lives! Have a colorful week this week!
“All I want to is for someone to put their arms around me, to hug me, to love me, to help me know that I am not alone!”
“I hate being in the shadows…”
Shadows…of pain, hurt, rejection, despair, loneliness, and hopelessness. They are places of fear, places of pain remembered, places of darkness, places that we often don’t want to be.
A son in his father’s shadow.
A daughter in her mother’s shadow.
An apprentice in the shadow of their master.
An athlete who just doesn’t measure up.
A student who can’t quite muster up the grades.
A mom that feels pulled in a million directions.
A father who has lost the sense of purpose.
This morning, through pain, through questions, through the unknown, through all the shadows… There is a shadow that is safe and not painful. There is shadow where peace and comfort and joy and love and hope reside. There is a shadow that is not tempting to try to overcome. There is a shadow that is place of rest and wisdom.
Where is this shadow? I’m glad you asked…
Psalm 91:1-13 (MSG)
1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in the Almighty’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path
14-16“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
“I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!”
Today, I am walking through my own questions as to the shadows in my life. I am sure you are as well. I believe that the answer to our shadows is not our quest for more authority, more gifts, more talent, more influence, more money, more of whatever you and I feel meets the void. Our answer to the shadows that we fight so desperately to get out from under, is the shadow of the Almighty God!
So will you join me in finding Rest for you, Peace for the journey, and Love from your Heavenly Father in this shadow, in His Shadow…
This Christmas Season has been unlike any other that I have experienced. Jen did most to the Christmas Shopping, I found myself being pulled in many ways those closing days to Christmas. Then on Saturday, Dec. 22nd, after coaching my 6-year-old 2ndbasketball game – EVER – I came home and crashed for 3-hour nap, in which I woke up with a 102.5 fever. The Christmas Flu hit, and I was in my bed for 5 days. For the 1sttime in my 21 years of Full Time Ministry, I missed a Sunday and a Christmas Eve Service due to sickness! WOW, what a season for firsts…
Of course, being a great sharer, my 3 kids and wonderful wife are on the way to recovering. Sorry guys, I Love You!
Then last night, on Thursday, Dec. 27th, I stood with a family from our church in an ICU room, and said goodbye to their Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle… to me – My Friend! Chuck Baker, almost 80, went to be with Jesus at 7:10 PM.
It is the first time I have been in the room as I watched a person, a friend, take the 1-second-long journey from life to death. I watched in grief, in wonder, in despair, in pain, in great rejoicing, in bewilderment, and utter amazement. A man that I had laughed with, joked with, prayed with, talked about everything with, and man that I worshipped Jesus within Church, was now in the place that I have preached about for 21 years – he is there.
I didn’t know what to do with all of that emotions. All of that weightiness from the family’s grief. All of my own emotions filled with so many thoughts. For the first time in my 45 years, I had witnessed the miracle of eternal life. I was on the earthly side of that miracle, and I longed to be on Chuck’s side – Heaven! He wasn’t in pain anymore. He didn’t have a walker. No more pills. His heart was strong, all in 1 second! It was the first time I ever truly wanted to switch sides with a Red Sox Fan! You see we talked of being never able to trade places as baseball fans, I as a Yankees Fan – He as a Red Sox Fan! After the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the 2018 Playoffs, Chuck gave me a sympathy card, and he drew a broom on the inside of it. (Chuck has a great sense of humor!) As a good friend of ours said, “Chuck is now playing with the Angels!”
I have been somewhat fortunate in this world to have only been close to death only about 20 times in my life. My mom, my father, my father in law, 2 grandfathers, a grandmother, an aunt, an uncle, several classmates, and then about 8 close families that I have walked through death with, as they said goodbye. In all of these journeys to eternity, I have never been in the final hours of life. I have never seen death, the beginning of eternal life.
After last night, I have a fresh perspective of the true meaning of the words written by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8 & 9, “8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.”
I met a man in 2010 in Memphis, TN.
Wes Linder was a kind and gentle man to me. You see, he was homeless, had nothing to his name but an old SUV, the clothes on his back, and then a few earthly possessions in the old SUV. I was introduced to him by his family. I got to know his brother and his mother. The day, I met Wes, we went to the food pantry and grabbed several bags of dry good groceries and personal items, and went back to his SUV.
You see, I sat in his truck and let him talk and talk. We shared cold soup, canned tuna, crackers, and bottles of water. We talked of dreams and goals. We talked of family and future. We talked of God and sin and eternity. I prayed with Wes that day, and only saw him one other time after that. He died 6 months later, just weeks after my family moved from Memphis, TN to Cape Cod, MA. On Dec. 29, 2010. There was nothing I could do or say. My broken friend’s body couldn’t hold together the years of his life. But this I know, his soul was desperately looking and searching for the love and meaning of Christ’s Love for him!
2 men, that I have known for collectively less than 2 years, made a huge impact on me.
Wes taught me that there is no price tag too small or too great to spend time with someone who needs to be loved. Wes taught me that love matters, no matter how it is shared. Wes taught me that life is not about position or bank accounts, but it is about heart and soul. Wes taught me that there are some amazing jewels hidden in the roughs of life. Wes taught me that simple love is found in simple ways – in authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability. Wes taught me to NEVER judge a book by the cover!
Even though Wes had so many questions as to the many of life, he lives on these 8 years later, because he made an impact on so many people, before he crossed over to eternity!
Chuck taught me to laugh. Chuck “made” me love the taste of Root Beer. Chuck helped me loved the Yankees that much more. Chuck taught me what a passionate, never quit, tougher than nails life is all about. For the last 8 years of Chuck’s life, he made a commitment to Jesus, because he survived a Heart Attack (1 of several) that should have been it for him. He didn’t miss church from that point. Chuck taught me what friendship with differences is all about – you try being a Yankees Fan up here – LOL! Chuck taught me what faithful looks like, sounds like, and is.
Chuck understood his meaning in life, and though Chuck’s death is only a few hours old, Chuck will live on, because he made an impact on so many people, before he crossed over to eternity!
On the way home for the hospital last night, I stopped at the store and bought a bottle of A&W Root Beer and had a good cry. Once home, I talked to my wife to unpack the emotion, then I went upstairs and prayed for my kids as they laid in bed, then spent some time with my oldest son.
Today for lunch, I went down to the food pantry at our church, and had a cold can of soup and some crackers, and sipped on a bottle of water.
You see, I’m 45, and hopefully, have a lot of life to go. But today, I understand life a little more than I did last night…
I understand, that being alone in this world is hard – so do life with people that are like you and that are not!
I understand that the simple things in life, are often the most meaningful.
I understand that no life is a waste and that we are all meant to impact the world for good, by pleasing Jesus.
I understand what Clarence said, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends!”
And I have had some greats ones!
Love You, Chuck! Sundays will not be the same, but you will not be forgotten!
Love You, Wes! You’ll never be forgotten, and always be remembered!
I think I am beginning to understand this journey of life…got a lot to learn still…but I am up for it!
I was at the Missouri River the other evening. Just me and the river. There were no fishermen, no idling cars, no walkers or dogs, just me and the river. The thought went through my mind, “Boy that is a lazy river.” You see it wasn’t flowing super fast, no whitecaps, no hustling water fall sound. Just patient and steady, heading south as it has for hundreds of years.
That day was a day of great encouragement. I received a card in the mail this morning with the following written in it…
And great discouragement. “Dan you are not going to get the job when you thought you would.” ‘Lord, do you really mean more waiting?’
Holy Buckets – the ebbs and flows of life. The ups and down of the day. The turbulent mixed with the peaceful. Just like the river! Peaceful and steady, turbulent and messy. Within it’s banks and not, not stopping to look for another answer, just doing what rivers do – flowing in spite of the blocks, the down turns, the situations – just flowing.
In the natural, flowing doesn’t always appear to be the right thing or the popular thing. A river just has to be. The Bible gives us the admonition of being over the doing.
Acts 17:28, ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’
So how do we be? Great question, if I knew the right and universal equation…I would put in a book and pay off your mortgage. In jest I write that. There is a universal equation. Tried and true. Time tested and battered rammed through the centuries.
Prov. 3:5&6…”5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”
It is so simple, yet we make it so complex. This simple truth is…
John 7:38 & 39, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.”
When you are consumed with doing, your being is totally upside down, because you don’t know who you are.
When you know what you are supposed to be, your doing flows out of who you are!
So who are we? What are supposed to be? What does Jesus say about that?
Mark 1:17, “Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.”
Acts 1:8, “..And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere…”
You will grow tired in your doing. In your being… Don’t get weary, He will be your rest!
Doing will cause you to lose hope in results. In your being… Don’t lose hope, He is our Greatest Hope!
Doing, can cause you to be confused on love. In your being… Don’t lose your Love, remember greater love has no man than this, that Jesus laid down His life for you and I!
Oh yeah the river…in the words of Rodney Atkins in “The River Knows”…
‘Cause the river don’t talk, the river don’t care.
Where you’ve been, what you’ve done,
Why it is your standin’ there.
It just rolls on by whisperin’ to your soul,
It’s gonna be alright, the river just knows!