Take Time to Breathe

PeteThe following is a compilation from the work of Pastor and Author Doug Batchelor:

The book of Ezekiel was written by the prophet bearing the same name, which means "God will strengthen."  A Hebrew from the tribe of Levi, he was among the elite of Judah who were captured by Nebuchadnezzar and carried away to Babylon.  Ezekiel prophesied between the years 600 and 570 B.C. and was a contemporary of the prophet Daniel.  Some scholars believe that his reference in the very first verse of the book to "the thirtieth year" was probably an indication of his age.  If so, that means Ezekiel would have been only 25 years old at the time he was forced to leave his homeland.  Thirty was also the age when a priest could begin to minister (Numbers 4:3).  It was at age 30 that Jesus began His ministry, Joseph began to rule over Egypt, and David began his reign.

This fascinating prophecy of dry bones in Ezekiel has something for everyone.  He was speaking primarily to his fellow captives among the children of Israel.  By this time in history, the 10 tribes of Israel had been so widely scattered among the surrounding nations that they seemed all but lost as a people.  The tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi had just been conquered and carried away captive to Babylon.  It looked as if their national identity was forever gone and they would never again return to their Promised Land.  Hence, one purpose of this vision was to inspire them with hope that God would someday revive them as a nation.

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A Friend of Lonely Robot

God and I have had some wonderful conversations lately.  This last Sunday, he told me to study 1 Samuel 8.  OK says I.  This chapter is about the Israelites wanting a king and the price they would pay for having one.  From there my mind wandered to the idea of God vs Man, then to Lonely Robot’s 2015 video "God vs Man," then to how are we related and yet different.  The following are parts of two articles discussing God and the Man of God:

First God:  Because God is a personal Spirit I will seek intimate fellowship with Him.  “I reach out for You.  I thirst for You as parched land thirsts for rain.”  (Psalm 143:6)  Our awesome God is gloriously incomprehensible.  The following are four of the many ways He is beyond our understanding.

God is infinite.  Unlike us, God has no limits or boundaries.  He is not confined to the dimension of space.  His love, holiness, mercy and all His other qualities are unlimited in their scope and expression.

God is self-existent.  Unlike everything else in the entire universe, He had no beginning.  Because He is the Creator, He is the only One who exists outside of the created order.

God is eternal.  He is not bound by the dimension of time.  He created time as a temporary context for His creation.  With God, everything that has ever happened or will ever happen has already occurred within His awareness.  God encompasses all of eternity!

God is self-sufficient.  All creation relies on God for existence, but He has no need for anything.  He does not need our help.  He only offers us the privilege of being involved with Him in the fulfillment of His purposes.

Read more: A Friend of Lonely Robot

God is Good!

Last month I said that I would have a semi-set schedule for my physical presence at FPC Madisonville.  I’ll be in the office Monday - Wednesday from 9:00 till noon.  Other times can be arranged through the office.

I want to thank all of you for your kind words, prayers, condolences, meals, and love during this time of readjustment with Peggy being in Heaven.  We will have a memorial service soon here at the church.  We plan to scatter Peggy’s ashes on the Aran Islands when we can.

“I am blessed, I am called.  I am healed, I am whole.  I am saved in Jesus’ name.  Highly favored, anointed, filled with your power.  For the Glory of Jesus’ name.  And should this life bring suffering Lord I’ll remember what Calvary has bought for me both now and forever.”  God is Good, Sixsteps Music, 2018.

Grace is everything for nothing to those who don’t deserve anything.  Grace is what everyone needs, what none can earn.  Every believer is familiar with the concept and reality of God’s grace.  When we speak of His Grace we mean all the good gifts we enjoy freely in life.  As humans we are given a unique place in the created order.  God pronounces all creation, including humankind, full of His grace.  When we use the word “graceful” to describe a creature, it is because the creature is being expressive of its God-given self.  Be graceful, express your God-given self!

In His love,

Pete

From Psalm 38

A psalm of David, a petition.  Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.  Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me.  Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.  My guilt has  overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.  Lord, do not forsake me;  do not be far from me, my God.  Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.

Many days I feel like David, overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations of life.  I wonder why, how, when, if, etc?  Does God withhold his grace and mercy?  No, he gives to all who give him their lives and dedicate themselves to serving him.  I find myself wanting to do more but I'm getting older.  I don’t have as much energy and strength as I once had.  So, what to do?  How about doing what I can physically, mentally, and emotionally and finally relying upon Him who is my salvation.  I pray many times throughout the day asking God to remind me of his promise to be my Savior.

We have many opportunities to serve him in this humble house of God.  We are helping the helpers by housing and feeding the volunteers who are aiding the communities ravaged by the December 10th tornado, we are continuing to help the Christian Food Bank and Breaking Bread Ministry feed the hungry, we have our peanut butter ministry continuing each month, we are raising donations for the Souper Bowl of Caring on Feb 13th, we are still praying and planning to go back to the Yucatan to provide clean water, and we are serving fellow members of our congregation and community.  If you have a need let us know.  If you are compelled to help, call the church office (270.821.6420) or myself (270.339.8414), and we will get you linked with the coordinators of your specific request.

If you need a pastoral visit, someone to share a cup of coffee with, or a prayer need give me a call or come by the office. I’ll have a set, but flexible schedule posted by the time you read this.

Love in the Holy Name of Christ,

Pete.

God Is Always With Us

In light of our recent events, let me borrow the following from Buffalo Christian, God is always with us.  If you are a Christian, then you know that God is always with you.  He will never leave your side and he will always be there to help guide you through the tough times.

The Bible tells us that, “a thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near thee.”  Psalm 91:7  You may have felt discouraged by your struggles in life.  You might feel abandoned and alone.  But God is always with you!  The Bible says in Psalms 139:7 that, “God is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”  This is a promise from God to all Christians alike.  We have a guardian angel watching over us and we should never feel alone or abandoned.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re feeling down and out?  Maybe it’s because of something that happened to you, or maybe it’s because of something someone said.  It doesn’t really matter what the reason is, but sometimes we just need to take some time for ourselves and pray about things and have faith that God is always with us.  Micah 14:11 says, “For I am with you and will save you,” declares the Lord. “Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you,” declares the Lord, yet not even a scratch shall touch you.”  This verse assures God’s protection to all Christians.  Even if God decided he had enough of us and wanted to destroy the world, we would be safe because nothing can touch us.  This verse promises God is always with you in every situation no matter what happens around you.

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Happy Advent 2021

Happy Advent!  This is the time of year when we get ready for the birth of our Lord Jesus, figuratively.  It is a wonderful time of the year.  Praise the Lord!  I need to thank you for the Pastor Appreciation gifts I received from the church and fellow members of FPC.  Though underserved, I do appreciate your love and generosity.  Thank You.

While most of us read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth, I like to read “Barrington Bunny” by Martin Bell and “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen.  The Barrington Bunny story is a classic Christmas/Easter fable.  It's a story of a bunny who gets lost in the forest on Christmas Eve.  He is all alone and has no family to spend Christmas Eve with during that cold winter night.  Barrington then meets a mysterious silver wolf who teaches him the true meaning of Christmas (“A gift, a free gift, no strings attached”).  It's not what you expect.

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Unity is a State of Oneness and Harmony

All believers in Christ are united in Christ.  We are in a relationship that unites us with Him and with every other believer.

Jesus prayed for His disciples, all who would believe in Him for all the ages, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:21).  Some look at the great divisions among Christian denominations and refer to this as Christ’s great “unanswered prayer.”  However, scripture is clear that all believers are united with Christ because of our relationship with Him and with all other believers.  We are all in the same family, even if at times we do not act like it.  Therefore, unity in Christ has two aspects - one is objective fact, and one is subjective experience.

Objective and subjective unity can be true for any number of groups, teams, or even families.  All the members of a football team are unified by their membership in the group.  They do not win or lose games individually.  The individuals contribute to the group, but it is the group that wins or loses - that is the objective fact.  However, there may be times that the team does not act in a unified way.  Selfishness and rivalry may creep in, and when they do, it is impossible for the team to act as a unit - this is the subjective aspect.  The behavior of individuals on the team is not matching the fact of their unity with every other member of the team.

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