Monthly Archives: October 2009

Of revival meetings and work weeks:

Whew! Another week is past and I’ve put in another 50+ hours. If i’ve kept accurate count, thats the 3rd straight week that that has happened. Normally I don’t mind it. After all, I regularly get that amount of hours. But when your church has revival meetings evenings, you want some extra downtime before services.

One negative side-effect of working like that is you feel fatigued evenings. No offense to our revival speaker, Paul Yoder from Nappanee Indiana, but I didnt get a whole lot out of the meetings due to a chronic tiredness. Who’s to blame….me or my work? I think, and my friends would agree, that it would be my work’s fault. Never mind, life moves on and so does work. Another week looms and I must face it.

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SS thoughts from today…

A great thought provoking session in Sunday School today. The text was from Matthew 14: 1-12, the story of John the Baptist’s death at the hands of Herod the Tetrarch. Of course, the conversation word-for-word escapes me right now but the main thoughts are still bouncing around inside of my head. John did not try to buddy up to Herod or attempt to make Herod feel good. He flat out tells him in vs. 4, “It is not lawful for thee to have her”.  For this, Herod jailed John. But it almost seems as if he did it reluctantly.

Thought provoker #1: Speak out

Herod can be seen as someone of weak character and a, for lack of further clarification and better wording, people-pleaser. He wanted to kill John earlier but didn’t. Why? The people still thought highly of John. Also, if we back up a verse or 2, it almost seems as if Herodias was behind John’s jailing. Finally, we see her working behind the scenes once again in the final hour of John’s life. Herod, because he promised with a oath and because of the people’s opinion who were sitting with him, beheads John. Not on his own will but because Herodias commanded her daughter to ask for that as a reward for pleasing Herod.

Thought provoker #2: Stand for truth, regardless of it’s current popularity

It seems senseless. All deaths do that seem meaningless. But as Origen, a early Church father said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”. Or, to put a slightly different twist to it, the idea maybe better portrayed as watering the seed, which is the Gospel preached, be it by tongue or life.  The examples are multitudinous of Christians who have either suffered or died and whose testimonies were instrumental in lives being changed. Too often we see the present, our loss. We don’t look at God’s big picture

Thought provoker #3: God has a plan for each one. And He will accomplish that plan.

This we didn’t find in Scriptures but it is applicable. The Holy Spirit guides us outside of the Scripture and local church standards. Our Sunday School teacher shared from his personal experience about certain books that he had been fond of reading. But he became convicted of it after his family noticed changes in his attitude. And after further prayer and struggles, gave up his favored reading material. What he discovered is that the blessing he received was greater than the thrill that he got from reading his books.

Thought provoker #4: What’s right for you is not always right and beneficial for me.

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A somber end to a busy weekend…

What frustration! What madness and utter hopelessness!! The feeling that truth and reason are slipping away is maddening. Combine that with the fact that you are talking to a person who deliberately is turning away from God, knows it and doesn’t care is enough to make one sick to his stomach. Allow me to clarify.

This past weekend: Not a weekend of rest. To begin, the youth from church were at our place on Friday night to play a variety of outdoor games. Slightly overcast with that fall nip that is becoming prevalent, we did have good times just hanging out together and having fun. My grandparents from KY were around so that added to the evening’s specialness. This event had originally been scheduled about 2 months earlier but for some reason or other, I forget, it had to be pushed out to a later date. I was hoping that it would be pushed out until next year but the rest of the youth committee made sure that it would happen before winter. I say “rest” as I myself am on the committee. My term is up at the end of this month and I believe that only gave impetus to make the evening happen. Snack was….something. I forget. I’m a guy and as long as it’s food, all is well. Later on, a group of us hung around a campfire; sometimes close, sometimes not, depending on the height of the flames.

As could be expected, I got to bed at a later hour than what is usually deemed proper. After all, tomorrow is Saturday, no? Yes, except I was playing in the Middlefield volleyball tournament. Since it is a 2 hour drive, I started rather early, 5:30AM to be precise. If the youth activity the evening before had been any other weekend, I would have gone up Friday night and gotten a decent night of sleep. As it was. it marked the 4th morning in a row that I got up at 4 or 4:30. Trivia aside, the volleyball was a blast! My team didn’t even make the playoffs but we still had fun. Afterward, when the playoffs were in progress, I felt the lack of sleep. So, instead of hanging out with all my friends like I really wanted to do, I went home early. I agonized over doing it ‘cuz, like any other humanoid, I’m a social being and hanging out with friends ranks fairly high on my list.  However, if it wouldn’t have been for Sunday night, I probably would have stayed the night in Middlefield.

Sunday night The 3rd and final part to my run-around weekend. Our church had a hymn sing planned for the evening service and they were so good as to put me in charge. Not! I enjoy music and singing but the planners felt that they should use me while I’m still around. So, a-singing we did go. I did not feel as if I was at my peak but the worship part of the evening was felt. What helped me was I had done my studying a couple weeks earlier when I had a free evening and, in preparation, I did not feel rushed. But the mountaintop worship experience was hampered by the stark reality that someone in the audience was not feeling as close to God as the rest of us were. In fact, he would go as far as to say that he is on the ‘other‘ side.

The Somber Reality: This person is a young man of 17. He was adopted by a couple in our church when he was quite young and has struggled to cope seemingly ever since. Everybody in church knows that he has been difficult to work with and some of us have tried, in our own way, to reach out to him. Our family has, for the past year and a half, invited him over to our place to help with sundry activities on random Saturdays. He really can work if he makes up his mind he will. The problem is convincing him to do so. Part of his problem is that his mother was on drugs before she gave birth to him and the difference is noticeable even to this day. He is very stubborn once he has made up his mind about anything and any issue. We actually thought that he had made a change at the last revival meetings that we had in our church but that hasn’t lasted. He claims he hasn’t read the Bible in the past 10 years, something that we know for a fact is untrue. But back to Sunday night. After the benediction, Neil, my younger brother, confronted Brandon about some writing that Neil noticed on Brandon’s hand during the service. On the palm of his hand, he had written, ‘satan rules my heart‘. On his wrist/lower forearm was ‘the sycthe‘ and ‘death worship‘. Before hymnsing began, he asked me to sing the song, “We are Going Down the Valley“. I was standing beside Neil when he confronted him and my heart sank when I saw that. I knew that in speaking to him, we couldn’t tiptoe around the bush. It had to be direct. So 4 of us youth guys began trying to talk with him. Too often, we try to win him by arguments but he is too, and I use this kindly, stupid to comprehend them and too bull-headed to listen. But it was different this time, I think. We got him to speak what and why he believes and then tried to answer him. He says he doesn’t read the Bible because it doesn’t have enough action. In his words, “I don’t want to read nothing that doesn’t have non-stop action, 24/7“. When asked, he said that he only read Revelations. We told him to read the 1, 2, and 3 John and asked him how hard it was to understand that God is Love. He started to get a little antsy and acted like he thought his mom was ready to leave. We all could see that we had gotten somewhere with him but couldn’t push the point further because he just bulled his way out of the group. It really is sad. He thinks things would be better if he would go back to his birth mom in Texas. Everyone else thinks that that would be a disaster. And yet, he won’t listen and I wonder, will he ever? He knows he would go to hell if he died now but he doesn’t really care. We tried to get him to see the truth but what more can we do?

What is there to do besides pray? Really, it did throw a damper on my spirits that still remains with me…

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