Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The importance of warming up

We picked up my grandson Ryan so he could spend a week with us. That was last Friday and we’ve been busy.

Monday morning we went to a local park with baseball fields so we could play catch. To our dismay we found all four fields padlocked and inaccessible, but then we discovered the batting cages. And they were unlocked! We availed ourselves of this boon – I pitched while he practiced batting left handed. Lot of fun. Then in the afternoon we tossed the ball for a while. Good day.

Tuesday morning we headed back to the batting cages. We went straight to work. I threw the first pitch. And it hurt! My shoulder that is. I tossed another one. Man! (I should take a moment to explain – my left shoulder hurt last year and I came oh so close to having surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. Insurance denied the surgery and I took steroid pills which seemed to work wonders, the pain in my left shoulder is almost non-existent. Now my right shoulder is giving me trouble and this was the shoulder that was hurting.) Ryan noticed my pain and said, “We can go back home.” Very thoughtful, but I replied, “No way!” Then he suggested we warm up first.

What a novel idea and great suggestion! (You see, in my head I’m still 25-30 years old and undamaged.) We got closer together and began to toss the ball back a forth. At first it hurt, but as we continued to toss the ball the pain went away. I backed up a few steps and continued to toss the ball. A couple more steps back and so on until I was at the spot where I would be pitching. Arm limbered up, no pain, ready to go. Which we did.

This shows the importance of warming up. Of course, I’m having to take a non-steroid anti-inflammatory to alleviate the pain in my shoulder, but I can still pitch if I warm up properly!!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Why did you ever leave?

Mary invited a friend to go with her to see The King and I in Charlotte. When she and her daughter got here, they came in the front door, then they all headed out the back door for Mary’s car. They saw my banana trees and the daughter said, “Look, Mom, banana trees!” I said, “Yeah, I used to live in Hawai’i.” She asked, “Why did you ever leave?”

Why did I ever leave Hawai’i? That’s a good question and I actually have a good answer. As I told her, “I was in high school and my mom decided to leave.”

Now for the rest of the story.

We moved to Hawai’i when I was in the 3rd grade. Our first residence was The Round Hotel (the official name is The Circle Hotel), located right on Prince Kuhio Beach in Waikiki.

We moved into a little apartment in Honolulu and I finished 3rd grade at Queen Liliuokalani Elementary School.

After the school year we moved to Kahaluu and I went to 4th grade there. At the end of the school year we moved again, this time to Kaneohe. We lived here the rest of our time in Hawai’i. I went to elementary and intermediate school (5th-8th grade) in Kaneohe, then 9th through 11th grade in Kailua. My junior year in high school my Dad got really sick and eventually took his life.

I remember the day the landlord came and explained to my Mother that he would be raising the rent. Mother told us we could not afford this increase so we would be moving back to the mainland. I was stunned. Devastated. And determined not to move. I left home.

I found a job that offered housing and moved out. I can’t recall what the job entailed. I worked that first day and then we all returned to this guy’s house. There were maybe three or four other men there. Here I was, fresh out of my junior year in high school, working and living with grown men. Strange grown men. That first night, oh my! Next morning I decided it would be better to go back home and move to the mainland.

We held a yard sale, sold as much of our stuff as we could, and boarded a plane bound for Nashville, TN. And that’s why I left Hawai’i.

But think about it:

The Round Hotel
Prince Kuhio Beach
Queen Liliuokalani Elementary School
Kapunahala Elementary School

Pretty cool stuff! That’s what I think about when I look at my banana trees.

Friday, June 30, 2017

I missed the night

My normal routine when Mary works is to sit outside till about 9 pm and then, once it’s dark, go back inside and watch an hour or so of TV. Last night, however, it was so pleasant I decided to have a fire.

Been a while since I had a night fire.

As I sat by the fire, in the dark, I realized I had missed the night.

I was out in the back, under the trees. The moon was in its first quarter. The crickets were cricketing. Off in the distance I could hear a train. Even though there was the occasional sounds of traffic, it was still and quiet. This is a quiet neighborhood, but night quiet is different.

I truly had missed the night. It is so peaceful. Calming. Beautiful.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Fellowship of the Used to Be

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.     (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

I started thinking about this passage the other day. Now, I know that some of you think you know where I’m going with this and are either beginning to get angry or are thinking, “Yeah, yeah, heard this before.” But stick with me, I believe you will be surprised and find a blessing.

I see three things in these verses:

1) We get an insight into the message Paul preached.
“Oh yeah, what is that?” The kingdom of God. We tend to overlook the kingdom of God. I mean, John the Baptist and Jesus talked about it but it seems to have gone away. Yet here is Paul preaching the kingdom in Corinth. And this is very common in the Book of Acts:
 As Clement, Bishop of Rome, wrote in his epistle to the Corinthians (AD 96), “the apostles went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand.”

And it looks like he also preached repentance, the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Maybe something like, The kingdom of God is coming and you are not ready for it. You must turn from your idols and your sins. Now let me tell you about Jesus who will forgive your sins . . .

2) We see the kind of people Paul attracted with the preaching of this Gospel:
fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners What a list!

As I mentioned, it seems to me that Paul’s preaching included warnings of judgment and calls to repent of sin. He liked to make lists in his epistles, reminding the readers of behavior that will keep one out of the kingdom:
Paul preached the gospel concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ and people responded. And what a motley crew this gospel drew!

3) We see the transforming power of the Gospel
the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God... And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Amen! and such were some of you. That’s what you used to be. The Gospel calls all people, accepts all people, but, and here’s the good news, it doesn’t leave them there! No, Jesus saves us from sin! The Church is The Fellowship Of The Used To Be. You don’t come to Jesus and continue in your sin. And that’s what Paul continuously warns us about, the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. No, I must repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. But it’s not just me trying my best to be better, no, ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins. Amen! When you get a hold of Jesus, or rather, He gets aholt of you, you will be transformed and you will join The Fellowship Of The Used To Be!

That we being delivered 
out of the hand of our enemies 
might serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him
all the days of our life.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Words used by Jesus for the Second Coming

This past Advent I did a series on my blog I called The Second Coming in 1 & 2 Thessalonians. I looked at the description of the second advent in each chapter and highlighted the particular words used for His return. I summarized my findings this way : His coming is called parousia, apocalypse, epiphany. He will be revealed from heaven with power (apocalypse), he will appear in glory (epiphany), he will come to be present with us (parousia). It is a very good study and I would encourage you to check it out.

A few weeks ago, in a Bible study I am teaching, we were in Mark 8 and concluded with this verse:

38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

I had a fleeting thought, “I wonder what word He used for ‘coming’?” Then, at church this past Sunday, a reference was made to Revelation 22:20, …Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. I wondered again about the word used, but this time I had the opportunity to look it up. And was I surprised! It was not one of the words referenced above. It was actually a fairly common word. A plan formed - This week I will look more fully into this. And I did. This was illuminating and exciting!

I looked at every occurrence of come in the Gospels and Revelation (since I was wondering what word Jesus used in connection with the second coming).

First, He does use the word parousia. It occurs four times, all in Matthew 24 – verses 3, 27, 37, and 39. Actually, Jesus used it 3 times, and the disciples once.

But by far the most frequently used word is ἔρχομαι  (erchomai). It occurs 643 times in the New Testament and is translated come 616 times. According to Thayer it means: “to come; to come from one place to another; to appear, make one's appearance, come before the public.” Actually, it is used in the New Testament more often for the second coming than parousia – 22 times compared to 16. I was really surprised by this discovery.

I will simply list the references in the Gospels and Revelation where erchomai is used and hope you are motivated to look them up.

Matthew 16:27, 28; 24:30, 42, 44; 25:13, 31
Mark 8:38; 13:26
Luke 12:40; 18:8; 21:27
John 14:3
Revelation 1:7; 3:11; 16:15; 22:7, 12, 20

This raises a question, Why did Jesus use this word so often?

Because his teaching on the second coming is based on Daniel 7. What? Yes, it’s true. Let’s take a look. Here is Daniel 7:13 from the Septuagint (the Greek Translation of the Old Testament, which is the version most often quoted in the New Testament)

I beheld in the night vision, and, lo, one coming with the clouds of heaven as the Son of man, and he came on to the Ancient of days, and was brought near to him.

The key phrase is, coming with the clouds of heaven as the Son of man. Compare this with Matthew 24:30

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

The Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. The word for coming in Daniel is erchomai and since Jesus is quoting Daniel, he uses erchomai as well. We find the same expression in Mark 13:26 and Luke 21:27. And this is even more striking in the Greek.

Here is the full picture painted by Jesus of his second coming, Matthew 24:30-31

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 

Why am I presenting this? Because Paul quotes Jesus concerning the angel, the trumpet, and the gathering of the elect

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

John also quotes Jesus when he describes the second coming

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

And he closes the book with, He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

And every time it’s the word erchomai.

What is the benefit of all this?

1) Well, I learned there is another word used for the second coming, erchomai

2) We see that the teaching of the second coming comes from Daniel 7:13. Jesus quotes Daniel and the Apostles quote Jesus. That is cool.

3) And of course there is this, they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A weekend in Ohio

"Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the park"
We just returned from a wonderful long weekend in Ohio. Our daughter lives there with her neat family and we went up to see them. What did we do while we were in Ohio visiting with the Meesters? We went to baseball games, we talked baseball, we watched college baseball on TV... yep, that pretty much sums it up. A great weekend it was, too!

We arrived mid-afternoon. Couple of hours after arriving we headed to the ballpark to watch Scarlett and Ryan play.

Scarlett waiting to take a swing at her softball game

Ryan slugging a double
Anne always makes pizza on Fridays so we had delicious pizza on the run

In the morning I drove up to Urbana to watch Drew play. It is an hour drive and the field is way out in the middle of nowhere! Just before his game ended I hopped in the car to drive back to Springboro to watch Chase’s game.

Chase getting a hit
That night we all went to a Japanese Steakhouse for supper.

We took Aimee to the Dayton airport so she could catch a flight to a writer’s conference then headed back to Urbana to see Drew’s game. We hung out at the ball field from 9 to 3.

He drew a walk on this at bat
We retired to the hotel pool and ate Chipotle’s.

I walked over to the Meester’s house in the morning then we all headed back to the hotel for more frolicking at the pool.

we thoroughly enjoyed the pool!
Anne got the makings for sandwiches and we ate poolside. I went up to the room to watch the Wake Forest game and afterwards we headed to United Dairy Farmers (my favorite convenience store!!) for ice cream. Then I went to watch Drew umpire a game.

Drew is on the right. He was the home plate umpire
We took the children to Doubleday’s for supper while Anne & Dave had a candle-light dinner to celebrate their anniversary.

Shortly after hitting the road we saw this. We drove home in torrential rain for much of the trip. Took us 11 hours to make an 8 hour drive!

All in all it was a great trip!!! Be sure to look closely at the batting photos - I was amazed that I was able to capture the ball so often!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Just plain wrong

I saw this on Facebook the other day. I do not know the author of this meme. Never heard of him. This is another of those “see how much more compassionate and caring I am than any Christian you ever met” memes which people can “Like” or “Love” to show that they too are so much more caring than any Christian or church that ever existed. The only problem with this is it’s wrong. Just plain wrong. Would it be too harsh to say, plumb ignorant?

In my former life I was a pastor. The last church I pastored was the kind of church that would have supported Christian bakers who didn’t want to bake cakes for homosexual weddings. Was that all we did? Y’know, wait for bakers or florists to get into trouble? Not at all, we were a small church but we supported PATH, a group that provided food, clothing, and financial help and Crisis Pregnancy Center which provided counseling and support for pregnant women. We also had a benevolent fund with which I was able to offer help to families (such as food, rent, utilities) in need. We also supported the missionary endeavors of the denomination we were affiliated with (see below). We were clearly “life affirming.”

Let’s lift our eyes above our little church to see a much bigger picture. Here is a sampling of “life affirming” activities of churches and Christians, in no particular order:

† Christian & Missionary Alliance – the denomination we were affiliated with; one of the main emphases of the Alliance is missions: bringing the gospel to those who have never heard it. This is the most “life affirming” thing you can do. Eternal life is the most important thing +and your spiritual health has a tremendous impact on your physical life. But the Alliance not only preaches the gospel, they also have a division called CAMA, which is designed to minister to the physical needs of people (clean water, relief, food, medical, including hospitals). And this isn’t new: when A.B. Simpson started the Alliance in New York City he had rescue missions, homes for wayward women, homes for healing etc

† William Wilberforce – an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to stop the slave trade. He began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming an independent Member of Parliament. In 1785, he became an Evangelical Christian, which resulted in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform.
In 1787, he came into contact with a group of anti-slave-trade activists. They persuaded Wilberforce to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

† St. Basil of Caesarea - founded the first hospital (c. 369). Christian hospitals grew rapidly, spreading throughout both the East and the West. By the mid-1500s there were 37,000 Benedictine monasteries alone that cared for the sick. Furthermore, the modern hospital owes its origins to Judeo-Christian compassion. Evidence of the vast expansion of faith-based hospitals is seen in the legacy of their names: St. Vincent’s, St. Luke’s, Mt. Sinai, Presbyterian, Mercy, and Beth Israel. These were all charitable hospitals, some of which began as foundling hospitals to care for abandoned children. All around us are hospitals started by churches - Baptist, Methodist, Adventist etc.

† The Red Cross - In 1863 Swiss Christian businessman Jean Henri Dunant formed a relief organization for caring for wartime wounded.

† Cancer Treatment Centers of America – “At Cancer Treatment Centers of America®, we support your faith as part of our commitment to provide comprehensive, integrative cancer care.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, we understand how difficult it may be to stay hopeful. But we also recognize that your faith in God may be a critical source of hope and strength, especially in the face of challenges and difficult moments. The Scripture is full of words of encouragement.
Each of our hospitals has a dedicated pastoral care team committed to encouraging you in your faith and helping you find strength and hope in God.”

† Public Education - was often the work of the church in the community

† Rescue Missions

† Orphanages

† Women’s Ministries

† Samaritan’s Purse – “Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.”

† Rolland & Heidi Baker - In 1980 the Bakers founded Iris Global, a Christian ministry dedicated to charitable service and evangelism, particularly in developing nations. Their  operations include well-drilling, free health clinics, village feeding programs, the operation of primary and secondary schools, cottage industries and the founding more than 5000 churches in Mozambique, with a total of over 10,000 Iris-affiliated churches in more than 20 nations.

† Father Damien – gave his life ministering to the lepers of Molokai

This is just off the top of my head! Clearly, the creator of the meme (as well as all those who liked it) has no idea what he is talking about.  The Church has always been “life affirming.” But not "sin affirming."

I was hungry and you gave Me food
I was thirsty and you gave Me drink
I was a stranger and you took Me in
I was naked and you clothed Me
I was sick and you visited Me
I was in prison and you came to Me.