THE FRIENDLY WHITE CHURCH ON THE HILL




WEDNESDAYS TOO!
TOPINABEE COMMUNITY CHURCH
Be our Guest every Wednesday in July and August:

Dinner served 5:15-5:40; Celebration and Inspiration- 5:45-6:15.

Nursery Provided plus Children’s Church for age 4-9.


And Sundays, 11:00 am Inspiring messages with

Dr. Michael Sanders
The Church is located off of US 27 on the Topinabee Mail Route in Topinabee



CHURCH MISSION STATEMENT

We are called to bring people into a personal relationship with God through his son, Jesus Christ.
We accomplish this by bringing others into the community of the church through genuine friendship and fellowship. In this loving fellowship we grow in faith through the Word, community, prayer and worship.











ANNUAL PICNIC
Potluck picnic will be held August 7


BIBLE STUDY

"The Way We Walk" an informal bible study that meets in homes over a cup of coffee.  The first meeting will be July 12 at 10:00am at Karen Vance's home.  Contact Karen for questions (989-245-6080).



CHURCH CLEAN-UP

The Church clean-up was held Wednesday. A hearty crew of 13 souls cleaned the Church inside and outside and then did the biblical thing-they ate!
Karen, Jim and Roger shovel bark.  Pastor Mike must be the "straw boss".



CHURCH SERMONS

(WAIT FOR IT TO LOAD-CHECK THE SERMONS TAB FOR MORE SERMONS)

                                                                                              












MUSIC



by Pastor Mike

OUR DEBTS
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6.12 NRSV

 July 21, 2016

Howard had always wanted a boat. Not a yacht, but a nice little boat to sail around the inner lakes in northern Michigan.

       One day the answer came in the mail. It was an offer for a bright, shiny new credit card with a high limit. With that card, Howard could pay the down payment and meet the monthly bill for many months if things got tight. His father always warned him about taking on too much debt, but Howard really wanted the boat.  

       He and his family enjoyed that summer on the lakes. Fall came and the boat was put away, just a pleasant memory.

       But the bills were not put away, nor were they pleasant. Over time, he had to use that shiny new credit card over and over until the day it was maxed out.

       The bills came but he couldn’t pay them all. Letters came, polite at first and then less so. Then came the phone calls. Then threats. Then two men came with a trailer and took the boat away.

       Sadly, that was not the end because Howard owed the credit company and was also behind several months on boat payments.

       Several things could have happened, including bankruptcy, shame or worse. Or someone else could have come and paid off his debt.   

       We owe a sin debt, every one of us. We are not capable of making it all right no matter how hard we try. But Someone else paid that debt for us.

 Prayer: Lord, thank You seems small, but it is all I have.

Duct Tape and Other Solutions

“Now there are varieties of gifts...” 1 Corinthians 12.4 NRSV
July 19, 2016
Like many of you, I’ve had the habit of using what was handy to solve a problem, often with mixed results. When I was young and could not find a bottle opener (do you remember those?), I discovered that the handle on a kitchen cabinet was perfect for popping off the cap of a Royal Crown Cola.
Butter knifes made decent screwdrivers. That was unless it was a Philips screw and then I was in trouble.
When the door latch on the truck was broken, out came the fix-it for almost all ills, duct tape! Now available in many bright colors.
All of us have jury-rigged something and found it satisfactory for the moment. And many of us have “jury-rigged” our lives from time to time.
We saw a need in the family, church or at work and took it on. 
This wasn’t because we enjoyed it or were even well suited for it, but simply because we could.
 In the long run, temporary fixes need to be temporary. Just because we can do a thing doesn’t mean we should make a habit or career of it. 
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the versatility to help in a pinch. But help us always concentrate on what we do best.

It Is What It Is and More

 I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.” Matthew 25.25NRSV
July 18, 2016
         More and more we hear the phrase, “It is what it is.” We understand this is a way of saying, “Yes, this might stink, but it’s what we have to work with.”
         True enough, but there is a follow-up statement that should not be forgotten: “It is what it is, but it will be what we make of it.”
Today we may have to labor under less-than-ideal conditions. Today we may have to live in a situation that really isn’t for us.
But we are not stuck there forever. We have the desire to do better. We have the mind that can envision a better way. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but one day and soon, we can fly.
Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to that which is better for me and then, if I lack courage at that moment, give me a shove!
Start Over For the Joy of It


  “...So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” 2 Corinthians 5.17 NRSV


July 14, 2016
A very popular preacher in Philadelphia had just finished a sermon series. It was run in the local papers and was well received. Yes, there was a time  when what the pastor preached on Sunday was considered relevant to the community. 
He was asked if he would repeat his series on the radio over the next several months. He agreed and then promptly destroyed all of his notes and started fresh on the same scriptures and subjects.


Personally, I call that overkill. But then again, no one has ever asked me to repeat any of my sermons on the radio. Bummer.


But we see in him the acting out of a principle that is precious to me:

Never get stuck doing things the same way all the time, even if they seem to be OK. Strike out in a new direction and reinvent yourself from time to time. It is a joyous, frightening and most liberating experience.

Prayer: Lord, help me keep my eyes open for new ways to do things.

Top Four and a Fifth
“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10.25NRSV


July 13, 2016
As we readied ourselves for the new service, I researched why people who claim a belief in God do not come to church. Several denominations and ministries have done extensive polling, and tapping into their efforts, I was able to distill the reasons into four basic categories:



1.Athletic events. Many professional athletic events take place on Sundays and force a choice between attending church and being at the game or tailgate event.



2. Exhaustion. Younger families say that they find themselves exhausted by a six-day workweek, overactive social life and over-engaged children and They also say that Sunday is now their only day to be together as a family.



3. Holidays. The number of Sundays that are now part of holiday weekends has risen dramatically. Long weekends invite travel and time away from home.



4. Children. The array of activities for children offered only on weekends is overwhelming. Athletic travel teams, academic conferences, chess tournaments, cheering competitions, parties and trips have proliferated in the last 30 years. Many parents tag along and find themselves far from home on Sunday mornings.


 I accept and agree that all of these are occasionally valid.


 I’ve added my reason number 5. Some people just don’t want to go to church. We find time for what we want. So folks, that is our challenge. It is a most improbable enterprise we are about in bringing people into the fellowship of faith. Fortunately, our God is up to it. He has been about building his church for thousands of years and our numbers worldwide continue to grow.


         Prayer: Lord, we will do the best we know how and trust it all into Your hands. 

Batteries Included
“Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but one who rejects a rebuke goes astray.” Proverbs 10.17NRSV


July 12, 2016 
At a pastor’s meeting Monday, my friend Pastor David from up the hill shared a statement he had heard: “Have you noticed that for a battery to work, there is a positive and a negative side?”
I thought about that for a moment and found a way to apply the statement to myself. As a young writer, it was the positive feedback I needed most to keep me going. But, over time, it was the “negative” comments, the references to my legendary grammar gaffs; my fascination with non-consistent verb tenses and much more that helped me improve.


         It was the heartfelt positive notes, letters and emails that kept me going, but it was the well-intention criticisms that made what I did better. (Thanks Sean!)  


   Prayer: Lord, thanks for sending those folks into my life that have pushed me forward.
Sleeper Awake

“Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5.14 NRSV 

July 11, 2016

From time to time, a wind as from autumn,

Tries to chill, to send a shiver in my soul,

To remind me the days I have lived are greater

Than the days I have yet before me.
And then, in the midst of that tremor,
That fearful vibration changes to a chuckle,
And erupts into a deep, soul-warming laugh.
What a great life I’ve had!
And the end? Ah, my friends,
I shall stir from this dream,
Awaken to the ultimate reality,
And see the smiling face of the One Who loves me best.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the promise of what is yet to come.

Trust and Step Out

 
“But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.” 2 Timothy 1.12 NRSV



July 7, 2016     
In the churches I’ve served, there were always those who know we could not do a thing. “Pastor Mike, we can’t build. There isn’t enough money and the economic outlook is poor.”
      

We built and never had to borrow a dime. 
      
“Pastor Mike, this church is just a little church and always will be little.”
      

We added an extra service when we were unable fit all the cars into the parking lot. 

Did all this happen because I am a genius at making things happen? Was it because I am a masterful leader of churches?

Whereas I would like to think so, that is not the answer.

Last night, we had our “dress rehearsal” for our Wednesday night service. It went well and smooth. Will it catch on? Will people without a church or without a faith to hold onto begin to come and fill our building? I pray so.
But I will not trust those whose vision is limited by only what they can see and the money they can count.  First, I will trust the hard-working and dedicated people I pastor. I know them and I have seen in the past what they can do. And I will trust the One who fed five thousand with a boy’s picnic lunch and Who walked out of His own grave three days after He died. 

Prayer: Lord, we will follow You all the way. 
Caffeine and Stress






“Which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to make sure you have what it takes to finish the job?” Luke 14.28



July 6, 2016
         Most of what will be accomplished this week will not be accomplished by my merely being busy.
         I’ve worked in organizations that were full of folks running this way and that, filing forms and sending memos to everyone and, at the end of the day, a large paper trail was heralded as accomplishment.
         The fact that I am busy this week doesn’t mean I will do real work. That will come when I think ahead, have a clear goal in mind and then apply perspiration to that small bit of inspiration.
         As I write this, I am slowing down from a headlong rush through a busy week. I, and our staff and workers at Topinabee Community Church, have a new worship service tonight. They have jobs and family as I do and this has been added into the mix for the summer.
I do not know how they will arrange their time, but I will not use my old system. You might be familiar with it.  I called it the “Coffee plus Deprivation of Sleep System”. I would put myself into a minor panic mode to raise my adrenalin by setting unrealistic goals. Then I would complain bitterly when life got in the way of my “sacred” plans and, all the while, burn myself out with the midnight oil.  Feel free to use it. It’s out of copyright.
Instead, I will try to work diligently to reject the dozen or more urgent - but not important things - that will inevitably arise. I will work when it is time to work, but will remember that when I’m exhausted and abusing caffeine to accomplish a task, it’s time for a nap. So at the end of the week, I can look back and say, “Wow, what a ride!”  Instead of, “Where did the week go?”  Pray for me and I will pray for you!
        
Prayer: Lord, as I prepare for this week, thought I might check to see what You have in mind. Seems like a good idea.





Tomorrow
So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6.34 NRSV 


July 5, 2016
Have you ever just sat totally buffaloed by what you needed to do the next day? So much not yet accomplished, so many things not perfected and tomorrow will be here in just a few hours!


         Me, too.
We begin our Wednesday evenings of fellowship, celebration and inspiration this week. Is everything ready to go? Eh, not quite.  You see, the church decided to install a new, state of the art audio-visual system. It will be awesome! The only little bump in the road is that the company we hired is going full throttle this summer and have not yet made it to us.


         What to do?! Oh my gosh! Let’s wring our hands, cry out “No!!!” and fret and sweat. Yep, that will do some good.
Yes, we would like to have the new system in and yes I truly believe it will enhance our services. So what will we do?  We will meet around the (free!) dinner table and get to know each better. We will sing the praises of our God and King. We will tell the old, old story that we have loved so long. And God will be honored.


         And if you are like us and you will lay yourself to sleep tonight with uncertainties about tomorrow, try the prayer I will be using tonight:
Prayer: Lord, we are as ready as we are going to be. I need to go to sleep now, but You don’t and I know You are ready for what will come with the rising of the sun. That sure is a load off my mind.
The Distance Between



One who is often reproved, yet remains stubborn, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. Proverbs 29.1 NRSV


June 30, 2016

  Our dog Trooper holds to Archimedes’ principle that states that “The shortest distance between two point is a straight line.”  He will jump over, walk on or push through anything between him and where he wants to go.


         Yesterday at breakfast, he wanted to go to the other side of the table. He didn’t go around, but under. Sounds logical, except my legs blocked his way. His response was to push and push my legs to get through. Being as stubborn as he is, I held my ground. So he found just enough room to slip through the few inches between my legs and the legs of the table. Where upon, he lay down.


Unfortunately, Trooper has been known to knock over pots, plants and other assorted obstacles, not out of meanness, but simply to get to where he wants to go.


         Persistence is a virtue I support. But the dark side of persistence is stubbornness. And on more than one occasion, I’ve discovered my virtue of persistence actually was only stubbornness in disguise. I’m still working on knowing the difference some days. You?


 Prayer: Lord, never let my stubborn, willful heart stand between You and me.






When I Was a Child

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” 1 Corinthians 13.11 NRSV

June 29, 2016

As a child, my perfect day held no responsibilities. There were no chores or homework, just the blissful feeling of a day stretching out in front of me full of play and cartoons. And at the end of that effortless day, a dinner was provided without any effort on my part.

That’s pretty cool for a child, but not for a grown-up. The responsibilities that I shoulder determine what kind of person I really am. I’ve committed myself to my wife, family and those I love. I have accepted and embraced an obligation to my jobs, which are the churches I shepherd. I have assumed all this and more, as have you.  And in these obligations we can find meaning, contentment and a joy at the end of the day and at the end of our days.

It isn’t the shirking of responsibility that adds to our life, it is service to those around us.

Prayer: Lord, let me live my life so as to be counted on by those around me.



Cardinals and Cubs Baseball
Grey hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life..” Proverbs 16.31NRSV


June 28, 2016 
About ten or twelve years ago, I went to Wrigley Field to watch my St. Louis Cardinals do battle with their great rival, the Chicago Cubs. (Thanks David!)


Halfway through the game, Jim Edmonds came to the plate for the Cards. The Cubs had been having their way with my beloved team all day. Jim was an all-star, but had been in a slump.


About the second or third pitch, the rookie on the mound made a youthful, but arrogant decision. He threw the pitch deliberately inside, high and hot, brushing Jim back. I suppose he was trying to make a statement.


I turned to David and said, “Do you think it’s really a good idea to upset a veteran all-star like that?”


You can guess what happened when the now angry batter came back to the plate. It was a beautiful arcing home run and someone got a souvenir as my Cards rallied to win.


I value the exuberance and energy of young people. I like to hear their fresh takes on many things. But I also value the years of experience that have matured into wisdom of the older among us.  Besides, I’ve discovered that old age and treachery tends to beat youth and enthusiasm. Just saying.



Prayer: Lord, let us always to be ready for new and better ways to do things. And let us also remember that wisdom saves a lot of time, money and heartbreak.



Here Right Now for You
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8.28 NRSV
June 27, 2016
         A man I know was driving south on I-57 some years back. He passed a car on the side of the road only to realize it was his daughter’s. Before he could find a place to turn around, he came upon a rest stop. He wheeled in and, sure enough, there stood his unhappy daughter.
         “You OK?” he asked.
         “I guess so. My car made some loud noises and just stopped. I’m getting tired of everything going wrong in my life. Where’s God?”
         He knew she was going through trying times with a boyfriend, college and life in general.
         “Well, I can’t answer all your questions. But here I am.  I never drive on I-57 anymore since we moved east. But I had a meeting to attend down the road. It was for yesterday. But they postponed it to today. Not only that, but I was supposed to drive through here about an hour ago, but I got a call that delayed me. All that so God could have me here right now for you.”
         She brushed a few tears from her eyes and gave him a quick smile.
         “Not bad,” she said. “Not bad at all.”
Prayer: Lord, You are always working things for good. Forgive us when we get frustrated in the moment and forget how much You care for us.

Painful Straight Answers
 “Let your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” James 5.12b NRSV


June 23, 2016
Late one night, an old friend from high school called me. We hadn’t seen each other for over twenty years, but he went right to the point. He asked me if the way he was living was wrong in the eyes of God.


         I was conflicted. His conduct fell short of what God wants from us and was becoming dangerous for him. So I dodged the question and tried to talk about what he might do to change his behavior. He went right back to his central question, “I know all of that, but is it wrong by what your faith teaches?”
It is very rare that I get a call asking for a moral standard to be applied to the caller’s life. But he kept insisting. So I told him.


         “That’s what I thought,” he said. And conversation went on to something else.
That incident caused me to do some soul searching. Finally, I determined that, without being intentionally rude or hurtful, if someone is willing to ask me a question, then I need to give him or her an honest answer when and if I have one.


Prayer: Lord, help me, with all kindness and love, to be fully honest with people.
A Wonderful Cup of Coffee

(With a sassy bite)


“There are doubtless many different kinds of sounds in the world, and nothing is without sound.” I Corinthians 14.10  

June 22, 2016      


Eight years ago, Kathy and I attended a church not our own. In the bulletin, I found a description of the fellowship time with this comment about the coffee: “Decaf coffee: Morning Decaf Blend from Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia and Costa Rica. Portland Roasting.”

 “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” I murmured to Kathy.


Since it was Communion Sunday, I was surprised we didn’t get the source and vintage of the communion wine with the comment, “An unpretentious red wine with a slightly nutty aftertaste.”

OK, I’m being a little snarky there. I did note that the proceeds from the coffee hour were to be used to help the needy.


I still don’t know what to make of the experience. Where I’ve served, we’ve never used fellowship time as a fundraiser and, despite my love of premium coffee, I’ve found that Folgers, friends and homemade baked goods without charge make for a wonderful time.

Well, to each his own. The church universal is a marvelously complicated, diverse and sometimes eccentric place to worship. I rather like that.




Prayer: Lord, thank You for loving the mixed bag of folks called the church. We really are something, aren’t we?




Nowhere to Hide



“Where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.”  Psalm 139.7,8 NRSV 


June 20, 2016

 God’s love redeems those we do not care for and those we hold in contempt and disdain.


     John bought and sold human beings.  Jesus found him and inspired him to write, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.”


     Paul was shackled by his self-righteousness and arrogance.  Jesus found him and knocked him to the ground.  It was there that Jesus revealed himself to Paul, changing Paul forever.

God’s love is relentless and will not rest until we are His. When we think we are alone, when we can taste the fear, when it seems we have utterly failed, God’s love is there.  We are safe in His care.   


Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for never letting me go.




A Feather Dipped in Ink



“But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.’” Luke 10,41 NRSV

June 16, 2016


Nine years ago, we came into a small windfall.  What to do with it? We could replace the Formica with a granite countertop. Very sharp looking.  We could literally purchase a small library of new books. And no, there are never too many books. Or perhaps we could buy a laptop to facilitate my writing ministry. Nice.

So, after much consideration, we purchased a shiny, brand new computerized furnace. Sigh.


With the old furnace failing, staying warm trumped everything. Our Formica countertops functioned fine. I already possessed so many books that there was no place to display them all. And as for the enticing laptop, I must acknowledge that some of the most successful writers of all time never had a laptop or a word processor or even a typewriter. Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest writer in the English-speaking world, used a feather dipped in ink, for pity’s sake.

The path to success or achievement is not created by the accessories, but by our vision, drive and persistence. OK, I’m still not using a feather dipped in ink. Gross!


Prayer: Lord, You gave us strength and intelligence enough. The rest is up to us.



Classic Songs From Yesterday



 The singers in front, the musicians last, between them girls playing tambourines.” Psalm 68.25 NRSV


 June 15, 2016   


         I remember the stress as the church of my youth went through a minor transition in music forty some years ago. There were those who were uncomfortable with the change and voiced their concerns. Actually, we were told that we, as a generation, were ruining music.


         Being a cheeky little fellow (OK, I was never little), I responded by writing a short rejoinder. Since I was the editor of our youth newsletter, I had a platform and used it:

“We modern youth are murdering music with our inane, childish, silly songs that really say nothing at all. Why can’t we sing some of the beautiful classics that our parents sang in their youth? Songs like “Mairzy Doats” and “The Feew Wittle Fishes Fam and Fam Wight over the Dam”?


         I am proud to say that the response of that generation was to take it in stride, and one of the more vocal ones said, “The laugh is on us, isn’t it?” It was that kind of example that helped teach me that even those who disagree with me are, in their hearts, often the best of people. Thank you Logan Street!

Prayer: Lord, thank You for setting my parents in a Godly congregation. A church full of smiling, arguing, celebrating  and flawed but ultimately generous and loving people.




“The Great Disturbance”

 “They dragged Jason and some believers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also.'” Acts 17.6b, 7 NRSV

June 14, 2016


Jesus was clear in describing how we are to treat each other, even those different from us. We are to treat others the exact way we want to be treated. We are to act toward others in a loving way even if those people hate our faith and us.


We were never given permission to hurt or demean those with whom we disagree.


Nor were we given the prerogative of abandoning our core values in order to get along with others. We are to resist the temptation to alter our faith and morality just to be seen by our culture as “nice” people.


Theologian Karl Barth wrote that our ethics are to be “the great disturbance” of our culture.


Talk about a rock and a hard place! The thing is that Jesus never said it would always be easy; in fact, he said quite the opposite. 


Welcome to our living, dynamic and challenging faith! 

Prayer: Lord, we really need Your help today and all days to come.



Have You Tried?





 “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4.12 NRSV




July 12, 2016




          Ray Bradbury is one of my all time favorite writers. His books Dandelion Wine, Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes just scratch the surface of his great story telling ability. He tells the story about being called in to do some of the writing for the film King of Kings in 1961.


          The director, Nicolas Ray, was having some problems with the now classic film on the life of Christ. He said to Mr. Bradbury, “We need an ending for the film; we don’t know what the ending should be.”


          Bradbury replied, “Have you tried the Bible?”*


          Ray Bradbury was not a Christian in the orthodox sense of the term, but he knew where to find the story of Christ and the answer to the director’s problem. 


          How often have we tried to find answers to our questions by asking friends or colleagues? Or perhaps we read self-help books only to find ourselves dissatisfied. Then, tired and frustrated, we finally turned to the book whose wisdom has served us faithfully for thousands of years.




Prayer: Lord, no matter how smart or clever I think I am, there is a source of wisdom and power greater than I can even imagine.



*Page 141 Listen to the Echoes by Sam Weller




A Short Memory to Happiness

“… you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.” Psalm 128.2b NRSV 



June 9, 2016

         

         In football, it is said that defensive backs must develop a short memory. Not that they should forget what the play call means or their place in a particular defense. No, they must develop a short memory when they are beaten on a play.

A defensive back is often by himself. The thousands of spectators in the stands and millions on TV see any mistake. That player can’t let that moment get into his head and cause him to doubt himself.

Developing a short memory can be important to our happiness. We must say good-bye to our past. We must not invite it to become a constant companion, walking with us and mumbling about our shortcomings and past slip-ups.  We need to let go of the small hurts by those around us. Often they are often unaware of the pain their words or actions have caused us.



regularly close Sunday morning worship with a prayer that ends, “Remind us that our past is past and that this is our day to laugh and love and live.” 

When we close our eyes tonight, let the mistakes go dark with the setting sun. And when we awaken in the morning, we are reborn. Rejoice!





 Prayer: Lord, thank You for a brand new day.



Sunshine Tomorrow


“In all toil there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14.23 NRSV
June 8, 2016   
The weather pundits are predicting sunshine tomorrow. The idea of a cool and yet sunny day makes me smile. And think of all I can do tomorrow! I can finish several chapters of my book, spend time in Romans for Sunday’s sermon, and meet a pastor friend. And I get to start the day with Kathy over breakfast and coffee. Sounds good!
         But my tomorrow and yours really begins today. We cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. It will be waiting, a little grumpier, a little more difficult. Besides, my best days were almost all preceded by days of effort and sacrifice.
         And what if the sun does not come out tomorrow?  Then it will the next day.
Prayer: Lord, each day is a wonder full of effort, paper cuts and flowers that smell sweet. Thanks!



Why We Live Here



 “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46.10  RSV


 June 2, 2016


 Today I was reminded of why we live here. The wind actually does whisper through the pines. Often, there is no human sound. The soundtrack is of the Creator’s choosing. Drums by the great woodpeckers and the lyrics and vocals by the varied songbirds.


         I value the sounds of this place. It is here I can finally grow silent, letting the noises of career and other cares fade away. Then I can hear God speaking comfort to my soul in that still voice.


         Some find peace in fly fishing, others while running and some by retiring to a comfortable chair with no electronic devices of any sort in action.


I think it is essential to find our own quiet place, a place where the other voices fade and we can clearly hear what we need to hear.


 Prayer: Lord, help me quiet my mind and soul, that I may hear clearly.


So It Will Cost How Much?!



 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14.28 NRSV


June 7, 2016


          In my lucid moments, I do not doubt that God really has the best in mind for me. My concern is what will this cost me? And how much will it hurt? The best never comes cheaply or without pain.


That is the simple truth of life. It covers relationships, business, health or the church becoming the light of the world.


Ask the athlete how her body feels after a day’s workout. How muscles burn and how there is nothing left to do but collapse. And then she must rise to do it all again the next day, only harder.


Ask a guitar player how his fingers hurt and bleed as he practices hour after hour reaching for that perfect sequence of chords.


Ask the writer how the back will aches and the eyes burn in that moment when it all comes together. Then there is no leaving the keyboard until that writer has exhausted all imagination and perspiration to get just the right words written. And all the while knowing that the following day he or she will toss half of those words into the trash.


          No, I do not doubt God’s good plan. I just wonder some days if I’m up for it. You?      




          Prayer: Lord, a new day is here. Give me strength and fortitude for the wonder and pain about to come.




Spreading the Roots 



“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14  NRSV



 June 1, 2016   



Kathy and I were digging holes and planting roses this week. After pulling the new plant from its pot, Kathy would break up the ball of earth and roots before putting the rosebush into the hole.



As she performed the task, she told me that, “If you don’t do this, the roots sometimes stay in that tight ball and don’t spread out and grow.” I immediately thanked her for my next devotion!



The metaphor is a clear one, isn’t it?  The challenge for many of us is that the spreading of our roots comes disguised as a job that changes or disappears. For a company, it’s a new competitor. For the church, it’s the change of members moving out or coming in. Or, better still, the young demographic saying to us, “Why don’t we try a different way?”



All change has, often deep inside where we can’t see it at first, the opportunity for amazing growth.



So let those of us who need it take a reasonable amount of time to cry “woe is me”, indulge in self-pity and large quantities Chunky Monkey ice cream and homemade brownies. Then let’s ask God about our next step in the great adventure He has for us.  



Prayer: Lord, It’s been good where we have been this past season, but seasons change and the new adventure waits for us. What do You have in mind?