The Pastor's Perch

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Seeking the Holy in Halloween

Halloweening the Reforming Saints, or what happened to 500 years of no fear. Well, Halloween is upon us and the great pumpkin is about to rise from the patch, so that we can be spooked once again, except for all those thrill seekers who have to be spooked continually on their electronic devices. I say with certainty that there are nasty, ghostly things because I have had to deal with them. Or rather, I have had to call upon the Lord to deal with them for me. I will not go into it, but a few times in my life, the supernatural on the bad side has reached out to me, and fool that I was at those times, I reached back. Touching evil means leaving the safe confines of God’s care through angels, and seeking the lord of the flies, the prince of the air, the old dragon, the devil himself. And once he appears, you will never forget the experience. I realize this puts me at risk—both for being seen as a nut and also as one who may be misunderstood as some sort of religious fanatic. I am neither. I am a sinner who has been brought through the darkness into the light of Christ Jesus. Never mind what I have seen or experienced. Every place on this earth has angels and demons, and the Lord protects His children by keeping the latter away by the power of the former. If you want to see a ghost (really a demon from hell and not your dear departed Aunt Agnes, who is in heaven) God will let you do that. But why expose yourself to such hell, when God has better plans for you? We celebrate All Saints ’ Day, not praying for or to those faithful who have been received into heaven, nor placing food or other victuals for our dead relatives, as this is animism or ancestor worship at the very least. They are with the Lord who saved them by His precious blood and innocent suffering and death—He, Jesus, punished for our sin and sinfulness. They are in bliss and peace. No more tears. No more suffering. No more sorrow. No more sin. The sinner-saints who have passed from this vale of sadness are with the One who brings us gladness, so that with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify His glorious Name and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of Hosts!

Please pray this prayer: I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Be Still! But not you!

As a young child, when an adult wanted to silence a bunch of kids, we might hear the shout, Be still!" Shut up was the obvious meaning, and soon the room was quiet so that an important announcement from the top could be shared with us. Often we want God to speak to us, but He is silent. He will not break the silence, and even worse, He wants the noise of the world to be silenced. Why? Because He promised to listen to you and hear your call to Him. He doesn't want us silent, but He knows how to silence the world around you so that you know He hears you. The devil, the non-believing world and our own sinful selves love to fill in the silence with noise that takes us far from our Heavenly Father. The devil even wants us to be silent because we think God will not want to listen to us. Maybe you think that God would not listen to you because you have been far from Him. He will never leave you or foresake you (Hebrews 13:5). God has promised to hear you (Isaiah 65:24), and even when you don't know what to say, the Holy Spirit speaks for you (Romans 8:26-28), and especially does our Lord Jesus pray for us (John 17:20-23). Pray the Lord silence the world so that you can focus on Him, but know that He will always hear you, and He will help you even when you don't know what to say. He is your advocate. He is your savior. He is with you always.

Interruptions

It's been a while since I posted. Not that I didn't want to. Many things happen in a person's life, things that take priority. Even our Lord Jesus had to take time from His busy schedule to attend to things. Not that He can't be everywhere. He could, but to test people, and to let people know that He uses the things He created to serve others, He often allowed interruptions in His ministry. These interruptions were interruptions of further interruptions. In Luke 8:40-56, Jesus is at it once again, bringing the kingdom into focus in people's lives. Here comes Jairus, a ruler of the local church, whose 12-year-old daughter is (from the last he saw her) near death. She does die while her father and Jesus make their way to the house where she is. In the process, a woman with a 12-year-old illness sneaks up behind Jesus to get healed when she touches His robe. Talk about cutting into the line! She had patiently waited and paid through the nose to doctors to heal her, and it only got worse. Desparation causes her to cut into the line, and now poor Jairus must wait while the Great Physician pronounces that her faith in Him was well placed; she is healed by Jesus. So that leaves Jairus out in the cold: his daughter is dead and he is like most of us dads, lost in inconsolable grief. Why her and not my child? Why a line-jumper and not me? The point is that Jairus was a line-jumper also. He comes swooping in and wants Jesus to drop everything to heal his daughter. But the point is that both Jairus and the unnamed woman trusted that Jesus could heal and save. They were desparate and now the Lord is there, and they in great faith approached Him. And He more than delivered. We wish He would do for us what He did for them. Often people think that Jesus forgot them because their issue, trouble, problem was not solved. They wake up each day with the same trouble, same problem. Where is Jesus? Right there, in the middle of their life. Right there, in the middle of the trouble. Right there. And that is there where He wants to be. Right next to you, not just when trouble occurs. All the time. And He answers prayers in His time and in His way. We trust Him, not to answer the prayer our way, but His way. Can we trust Him?

When Endings are Beginnings

My Mom died June 25 at 5:00 am. She had breathed her last and went on her final journey into heaven, which we all knew was coming, but the blow of losing her is still with us, and most intensely, with Dad. The ones left standing cry all the tears, and we are no different than any other family. But we have that hope in Christ Jesus, who swallowed death for us. St. Paul reminds us that the final victory awaits us, when all things--people, animals and the universe--will be made new by Jesus Christ and His power to bring everything into submission to His will. And His will is for our good. What He does He does for us. Google and Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. And we are forever people because Jesus died for us and paid all that we owed. When you are made debt free, you are freed to serve others who are under a crushing debt. Google and Read Galatians 6:1-10. You are freed because you have been moved from the strike zone to the safe zone of Jesus Christ. Google and Read Colossians 1:1-14. Mom's ending here leads to her beginning there in heaven. And it only gets better. Talk to me about this. God bless and keep you.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

A while back, I spoke of my mother near her exodus from this life. She continues to amaze and astound. What is ironic to me is that while her Alzheimer's continues to close her mind's ability to retain memory, it also seems to erase from her mind that she has another deadly problem, stage-3 ovarian cancer. Mom continues to soldier on, reminding us children that "God will take care of everything." The last trip I made was by plane, because the Missouri River had stopped the Amtrak line from KC, MO, to St. Louis, MO. So now I have just a few modes of transportation left, and I wonder if the next one will be by kayak or canoe. My course to mother is not as important as her course to heaven. Mom is in that part of a believer's life where she is feeling the pull to leave, where she may feel that she has run her race and waits for Lord to finish her path. Paul reminds us that we walk by faith and not by sight and we await the Lord Jesus. We live in hope and we long for our eternal home. While we kids would love for her to stay, we know unltimately it is better by far for her to proceed to her permanent home, resting until the Lord Jesus ends this all. So we pray the prayer of each and every believer, Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

God's Eyes and Ears

Psalm 11:4 "The LORD watches with His eyes and His eyelids test the righteous..."

So, you think that because God is not the all-seeing eye on the dollar bill (look at one some time soon) and He is not yelling at you to pick up your clothes or feed your starving dog, cat or ferret, that He is asleep. Bogus! He does Test us. Try this sometime: wait for your friend/parent/spouse/whatever to be napping, while they are listening to KLOVE, 88.5, 101 the Fox, or whatever radio station. Pull the plug. Wait for response. Most of us are listening, even though it looks like we are fast asleep. It is the background noise that gently lulls us into a sense of rest. Take away the noise and we often awake.

God doesn't necessarily close His eyes, but He can be silent. Will we trust Him through the silence, so that a better plan can come about? Even Christ called to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane "If it be Your will, take this cup (the Passion, Suffering, Punishment of all people of all times on the Cross) from Me. But Your will be done..."

The Father's eyelids were wide open for this, as He had to listen to His Beloved Son cry out to Him from the Cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" The Father forsook His Son so that He would NEVER, EVER, forsake you. His eyes are open, His ears hear every word, so trust Him in Jesus, because in Jesus, the Father Hears You! Wait for Him, and maybe that's a long wait, but He hears and will give you what you need when you need it. Trust Him. He does not turn away.

Read Psalm 13 and hang in there. Jesus hung for three long hours so that you would never feel the suffering we all deserve. God be with you.

And He always is.

A Premature Pronouncement

There is that famous picture of then-president Truman holding the newspaper with the headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman”, which was premature. There was Mark Twain, who, while in England, read his obituary in a newspaper, cabled back from England, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” They got it wrong. I did too. My mother, in an earlier post, was near her exodus from this life. Well, despite her disease, she lives on, and she keeps going. She may make Easter, and praise God for that. The effects of multiple diseases have not stopped her. Easter is upon her as it is upon us all.

While Jesus rose from the dead, He did die, and all those who saw Him die, all those who saw Him taken down from the cross and placed securely in a tomb—all of them—got the shock of their lives when the tomb was empty and Jesus was walking around, very much alive, but with the death wounds still on Him. That is Easter: Jesus is alive; He is visiting His followers, comforting them, forgiving them, and assuring them that He loves them and that they are pardoned of their sins. He brings the peace that no one can bring, and He does it with His scars that remind us all that we are forgiven and loved and that we have a home with Jesus now and into eternity. He is risen. He is risen.

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