Archive for March, 2009

Did the enemy get him?

Posted in Bible Study with tags , , , , , , , on 2009/03/24 by NY4JB

I used to think highly of Gordon McDonald until I read this, http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/currenttrendscolumns/leadershipweekly/theshackbykingdavid.html

How he can talk about God the Father in this way “I found myself wanting to sit at her kitchen table and to enjoy her cooking, her conversation, and her maternal affection.”

I find no reference in the Bible to God’s “maternal affection” but I have heard that “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Romans 10:17 (ESV)

That is where we need to start, with the Bible; any book that takes liberties and rewrites what the Bible says is dangerous.

Revelation 22:17-19 (ESV)

 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Heavenly Father,
You are great and merciful and we are weak and needy.  Thank you for giving us your word; please protect us from those who would twist and distort it for intentions other than your will.  We know that all will be shaken so we ask for great strength from you that we may be good witnesses to your glory, for Jesus’ sake we pray.
Amen

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Riot or Revival

Posted in Observations with tags , , , , , on 2009/03/22 by NY4JB

Michael Easley quoting one of his professors, “ ‘…wherever Paul went either a revival or a riot broke out, when I go places they serve tea.’  The same can be said of Jesus.”  That is, Jesus caused strong reactions, not the serving of tea.

Wow, that’s something to think about.  I’ve heard some boring sermons where it was a struggle to stay awake, but on the other hand I’ve heard some that caused a lot of excitement but had no point; you know the type, on the drive home you’re saying “what was that all about?”  I do know that when Jesus comes up in conversation opinions are rarely neutral, sometimes the conversation comes to an abrupt halt, other times there are strong opinions and there are even people who never talk to you again.  I’d love to hear some thoughts from others…

A Little Light

Posted in Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , on 2009/03/22 by NY4JB

Although this is a dark time for my family, the mood has changed now that my grandson has arrived.  You can’t stay depressed when there is a baby in the room cooing and squealing; well not when you’re related.

Being grandpa has certain advantages, while I don’t actually have to take care of the baby, I can act like a total idiot making faces and using strange voices.  If you do this under normal circumstances people will look at you with concern but grandpa gets a pass and is automatically cool for being himself, I mean acting like a nut in front of the baby.

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for sending comfort in the form of a little baby and showing us that life goes on.  You always know what we need, please continue to comfort and strengthen us and make us witnesses to your glory.  This I pray in Jesus’ name.
Amen

Suffering

Posted in Observations with tags , , , , , , , on 2009/03/20 by NY4JB

Romans 8:16-18 (ESV)
16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

For those who haven’t heard, my wife’s sister passed away a couple of days ago after being in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit for the last seven months.  I’ve watched my wife ride the day to day ups and downs and take every wave hard even though I would try to warn her not to get too excited when things looked better and not to get too down when things looked bad.  A couple of weeks ago the doctors called her sister’s husband in and told him there was nothing left for them to do.  A week ago, we drove the six hours and the entire family met with the doctors because decisions had to be made.  She was suffering and the doctors had nothing left to offer, they were keeping her alive with no hope of recovery.  This was a painful realization for some who were living with false hope; everyone was in some level of denial; there was debate and concern, was removing what was keeping her failed body alive murder?  Finally, all agreed that she should be made comfortable.

The hospital on the other hand has seen this scenario all too often and even has a dedicated team to handle what they call comfort care.  The family gathered at the hospital again and was granted the use of a conference room inside the ward so they would be close and wouldn’t be sitting out with the other families in the waiting room.  Visiting hours and rules were waived and all were given as much time to say goodbye as they needed.  Then those who wanted to be present gathered in the room and the nurse was informed that we were ready.  The comfort care team was called in and her pain medicine was turned up just to make sure she would not feel any pain or anxiety as the life support was reduced.  They slowly reduced the life support and twenty minutes later her heart stopped.  Her suffering was over and she headed out to see God’s glory.

The family’s suffering continues; arrangements must be made; phone calls; grieving.  I should mention that in some ways I’m almost an outside observer as I’ve not spent a great deal of time with my wife’s sister.  I did not grow up with her, we would see her at Thanksgiving and Christmas and once in a while in between but I’ve only been part of this family for a relatively short time, not quite twelve years.  The nurses who have been taking care of her for the last seven months may have spent more time with her than I have.  Also, my family handles death in a much less emotional manner.  That being said I am also still in shock that a young, active woman is now gone and it is very hard for me to see my wife in so much pain.

Yesterday, we went to the funeral home.  I was only there to help comfort and possibly carry out my wife or her mother if they needed support.  The arrangements were made, pretty much standard for the area, you just pick your colors and verses and tell them about any special items you want.  Again, my family is very different as we don’t put any value on the empty shell we each will leave behind, for example when my father died his body was sent directly from the hospital to be cremated while we had his wake at my brother’s house.  We saw the relatives you only see at weddings and funerals, had a meal together, passed some pictures around (this was a little hard for my mom to handle) and talked about anything but death.  A week later there was a second gathering at the beach for friends of the family where the ashes were disposed.  I did not feel any need to attend although I would like to have seen some of the people that were there.

Last night we had a meal with my wife’s family at her sister’s mother-in-law’s house.  Now, we wait in the hotel for the next couple of days while the funeral home gets everything in order.  A quick service and trip to the cemetery next week is all that’s left of the formal process.  The grieving will go on for much longer and I suspect next Thanksgiving will be very different and difficult.  There’s so much more that I could say about each step of this process but this is where I will leave off for now.

Heavenly Father,
You are merciful and I know that you are comforting us this very hour and we give thanks.  Please, give us all strength, comfort and confidence to know that our sister is with you now.  Fill us with your Holy Spirit and make us witnesses to your truth for Jesus’ sake I pray.
Amen

Stopping the Leaks

Posted in Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2009/03/11 by NY4JB

I’m trying to get my personal debt under control using a modified Dave Ramsey plan. I’ve never read his book but many people have told me about it and I’m taking the best of what I’ve heard and going with it. I closed two major credit cards and started saving money for emergencies instead of thinking “I can just use the credit card.” It’s very easy to think of everything as an emergency when it’s on the credit card but when it comes to taking money out of savings I become more selective. I’m staying away from sin’s door by not just having a look at the latest Musician’s Friend catalog and I stopped getting specials emailed to me. Looking leads to desire and desire leads to justification – then in two days it arrives in the mail all shiny and new and after a few hours it ends up collecting dust with all the other great buys which eventually turn into a big pile of junk.

Exodus 16:16-20 (ESV)
This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.'” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.


Now that I have fewer credit cards it’s easier to track where my money is going. When you have automatic payments spread over several cards you forget about things and who has time to look at all those statements.

So, now I’m working on is stopping the leaks. I have had a business website for many years even though the business doesn’t make any money from the website. Last night I cancelled that account. It was only $13.95/mo so it was easy to justify keeping it but it’s those slow leaks that sneak up and drag you down. I mean you notice the big ones and fix them, right? So, my Music Biz Website is now reduced to one page on this blog, I kept the domains since they are only a few dollars a year but they are now pointed here. I will let those go too, eventually, but they aren’t costing anything right now.  I know I’m leaving a trap open but I will make notes in my bills due list to cancel them just before they come due – remember, you can’t remember these things they have to be written down in a place you refer to often.

So what else is leaking?

Heavenly Father,
Through your great mercy I have never lacked anything I needed. While it is true that not every foolish desire has been fulfilled you have always taken care of me and every Month when there’s just enough money to pay all of the bills I know that it is by your providence and give thanks. I ask for your help in controlling my spending and keeping to a plan so that I will not be a salve to debt and will be free to glorify your name. This I pray for Jesus’ sake
Amen

The Lilies of the Field

Posted in Prayer with tags , , , , on 2009/03/03 by NY4JB

Matthew 6:27-29 (ESV)
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

When I was younger I quit my job and opened a recording studio figuring it wouldn’t be too hard to make a living since I’d been making extra money recording bands from a rented house I lived in.  I had no business plan; no savings; a lot of debt and while I built the place all my clients went elsewhere…in simple terms it was a ‘money pit.’  I quickly found myself living at the studio since I had to give up the place I was living in to save rent money and gas money to get back and forth from my parents house everyday was out of the question.  I cooked on a hot plate and washed my hair in the bathroom sink.  I went home once a week to do laundry and have a proper shower.  It was not a glamorous life but I did enjoy the work when I could get it.  Since I rarely got enough work to pay the rent after a while I took a job as a stock-boy at a drug/general store down the street just to make sure I would have some regular income.  Now, even with this day job I had far more debt than income but somehow always had what I needed (food and shelter).

Two particular events come to mind.  Late one night a client wanted pizza and gave me money to run and get them a couple of slices before the pizza place closed while they stayed at the studio setting up for their recording session.  While the slices were heating up, the guys behind the counter were getting ready to close up shop.  They had a couple of pizzas left over that would normally just get thrown out.  The one guy suddenly started to act weird and said to the other “it would be a shame just to throw these out.”  At this point I had already ordered and had money in hand to pay for my order so there was no way the guy could have known my situation.  The other guy was just trying to close up shop and knew they usually had to throw out some food at closing.  At this point the first guy looks at me and says you want a free pizza?  He didn’t know it but that pizza fed me for a couple of days.

The thing that was so striking about that night and why I remember it so clearly so many years later is the sudden change in the guy at the pizza place.  When I walked in he was acting just like any other New Yorker working in a pizza place, he took my order and threw the slices in the oven.  Did the Holy Spirit touch him as I stood there waiting?  This was a visible transformation that I still remember twenty years later or maybe it was just good luck.

The other event I remember was when I was working at the store.  The various food vendors would come in and stock their shelves with bread or chips etc. and sometimes a few items would go past the ‘sell-by’ date and they would leave an outdated bag of chips or two in the back for the employees to snack on.  One day there was an entire shopping cart full of bags of Sun Chips.  I asked the guys I worked with and they said that everyone had already taken what they wanted and I could have them all if I wanted just throw out what I don’t want.  Needless to say, I took them all and this was another case of my needs being met during a desperate time in my life.  Of course, the guys I worked with didn’t know my situation since I was embarrassed to admit how broke I was and I never even met the vendor who serviced that product so again was this God providing for me or just good luck?

Heavenly Father,
You are the creator of all and have shown me mercy when I didn’t deserve it.  I have made some bad decisions in my life but you have never let me down, thank you for carrying me through the rough times in my life.  I owe you a debt I can never repay so you sent your son, Jesus, to pay it for me and I am grateful.  Give me the courage and strength to spread the Gospel in Jesus’ name.
Amen