Thanks for Showing Up!

I know that there are lots of important places on the web where you could be. This isn't one of the nicest or most thought provoking but it is a place where you can find balance in your daily life. So take some time away from a hectic world and spend some time adding stability to your day.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Getting Soft in My Old Age

Looking good while painting is more important than painting good
As you can imagine there has been a pretty good list of honey-do jobs to keep me busy this summer. Peggy started putting the list together about five years ago. Needless to say, the list is rather long. One of the items on the list was to paint the garage door. It still had the primer on it from when we moved to Logansport nine years ago. It was a good thing that the primer was close to the right color. LOL! It seemed like a nice day yesterday so I got the paint out to begin the project. Well, guess who wanted to help me??? There were these two little girls, paint brush in hand, with the idea that they could help dad do this job. Mind you, I was a contractor for fifteen years, my father expected the best from us, and painting was something that
could make or break a job. Everybody thinks that they can paint, but the proof is in the runs, smudges and missed areas that not everyone can paint.

Jenna is pretty intent on her work
Yes, Jessica is sticking her tongue out at me. She is just like momma.
Now, I am beginning to think that in the middle of the night an alien spacecraft landed on my roof, climbed into my window, entered my ear and and took control of my body. Because when the girls asked if they could paint I said yes. Mind you, I have NEVER let them paint on anything other than paper at the house. But for some reason I said yes. I told them how to hold the brush, how to dip their brush in the paint, to only wipe the brush on one side of the bowl and they didn't follow any of my directions. By the time the garage door was painted their hands, the bowls, their hair and the door were covered with paint. And you know what? We had a blast! Jessica and Jenna told me all about VBS, their friends and what they were thinking. We talked about Hawaii, Disney World and the beginning of school. And our time together was amazing.

I could spend some time looking for a biblical narrative to prove this point but I am pretty sure it is true even if it is not in the bible. Here are some words of wisdom for today, "The paint does not need to be perfect if you had a great time painting together." I think Solomon said something like that, and if he didn't it was because he didn't have a garage door that needed painted. Here is what I know. I know that I would not have painted the door the way it was painted. I know that I would not have had that much paint on me if I painted it. And I know that it would not have taken that long to clean the brushes if I had painted the door myself. But if I could do it differently, I would not. The joy of this day will live in my mind for years to come. Kids grow up fast and when I look at the garage door as I pull in the driveway it will remind me of a very special day.I love those little girls. Aaron

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Event to Remember

One of the joys of this summer's sabbatical has been seeing, in person, places that I have only viewed in pictures. I didn't think that seeing the Mona Lisa in person would be moving, but seeing the painting that I had only seen pictures of was pretty amazing. Standing inside of the Colosseum in Rome was an amazing experience. Walking on the streets of Philippi; knowing that Paul was there, took my breath away. Well, last week I had another one of those experiences. I am sure you recognize the picture to the right. It is the
Arizona War Memorial. Located at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Memorial marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The attack that took place on the island of O'ahu led to the United States direct involvement in World War II. This memorial was dedicated in 1962 and straddles the sunken hull of the battleship without touching it. These sunken remains of the battleship was declared a National Historic Landmark on May 5, 1989.

One of the historic events that the Logansport Children's Choir had the honor to participate in during their Coral Rim Choir Festival was to sing at the War Memorial. It would be one of the highlights of of their trip and mine. As we entered the area where artifacts of the infamous day are located, we found three very important men. They were survivors of the Pearl
Herb Weatherwax, Pearl Harbor Survivor

Alfred B. K. Rodrigues USS Washington
Harbor attack. One that caught my heart, and the hearts of many on the trip, was Herb Weatherwax. Herb, a 93 year old army veteran, spends his days wheeling around the site sharing stories of the attack. His spirits are high, his humor delightful, and his smile refreshing. As the children gathered at the historic sight, they brought these hero's front and center and sang God Bless America to them.It was a moment I will  not soon forget.

With tears running down my face, I thought how amazing this day was. Even today, while blogging about it, I have a lump in my throat and have fought back the tears. You see, I realized that in a few years no one will have the privilege of singing to these men. The number of survivors of the Arizona is down to twelve, and the average age of the men and women who served at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 is 94.

In his book, Diary of a Pearl Harbor Survivor, Alfred Rodrigues, one of the men the children sang for, wrote, "I am writing to remind people that we should honor the memories of my generation so that we can pass on to future generations the stories of what those brave, heroic men and women of World War II did to preserve our freedom. Freedom is not free."
Names of those who died on the Arizona
How true, our freedom is not free. We often memorialize this fact in our nation as a reminder to us and future generations of the cost of our freedom. Places like Arlington Cementary, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and this memorial stand as symbols of the cost of freedom. But do we do the same in our faith? Do we remember the cost of our freedom in Christ? My friends, our freedom in Christ is not free. Every time we eat of the bread and drink of the cup during our communion service we are called to remember the Lord's death until He comes. The communion meal reminds us of our freedom and it reminds us the cost of it. The Lord of Glory paid a high price so we could be set free from sin and death.

So today, I rejoice in the freedom I have as an American citizen. I marvel at the fact that men and women have given their lives so I can experience the freedom we have today. But there is only one who gave His life so that I may have salvation. There is only one that gives me the freedom that leads to eternal life. His Name is the Name that is above all Names. For at the name of Jesus every knee will bow; in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!  I will not wait for that day to declare my allegiance to Him. I will not wait for that day to tell my friends and family what Jesus has done for me. Today, once again, I bow my knee and confess with my mouth that Jesus Christ is my Lord. Today, once again, I will be a living memorial and share with those around me what Christ has done for humanity. And our call as Christians is to remember and be a reminder, a living memorial, to the work of Jesus Christ.

In the somewhat revised words from Alfred Rodrigues, ""I am blogging to remind people that we should honor the memory of Jesus Christ so that we can pass on to future generations the story of what the brave, heroic son of God did on the cross to give us freedom. Freedom is not free." Amen!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Growing in Faith takes Work

The old statement "Good things come to those who wait" may be accurate in some instances. When it comes to our spiritual life; however, this statement is anything but true. Many people follow that statement as an means to their personal spiritual growth. They wait on God to move in their spiritual life. They wait for others to help them grow spiritually. They wait to become the person God wants them to be. And they die no closer to God than they were when they walked into the water of baptism. Maybe they even die further away from God because they never tried to get to know Him. Maybe a better statement for the believer would be, "Good things come to those who work on their faith."

Saying that, let me remind myself and those following this blog that this summer, my goal was to grow in my faith. That has taken work on my part. It has not been a summer of waiting for God to do something in me: it has been a summer of placing myself in a position where God can do His work. I have been reminded of that many times this summer. You see, it would be easy to just spend this summer vacationing and hoping God would do something in me. But if I did that I would totally miss out on what God has to offer.

I have spent the last twelve days in Hawaii with some wonderful people. My guess is some of them had a great vacation and came no closer to God than when they left. Some of them may even be farther away from God than they were before. And if it wasn't for one sacred location where I spent many hours, I would have been just like them. You see, every day for the seven days we spent in Waikiki, I started my morning with God. My devotions took place on my balcony overlooking Diamond Head. It is the volcano that you see in this picture. And for hours each day I would pour over the scriptures, read my devotional books, pray, sit in silence, and look over this sacred space. The balcony in my hotel became the place to meet with God each day. It was the place where I shed so many tears. It was the place where I felt the presence of God. It was the place where thankfulness flowed. It was the place that held the deepest revelation so far in my whole sabbatical.

This is what the volcano looked like when I began my morning with God. It was between 4:30 and 5:00 am when my day would begin with the Lord. I came to the place where I felt like God was waiting for me to show up to see Him. I wonder how many days He has felt that way for each of us. He wanted us to spend time with Him but we didn't. He wanted us to talk to Him, share with Him, listen to Him, read about Him but the hectic pace of life made our time with God all too short; and maybe that time didn't exist at all. Spending time with God required work on my part. It would have been easy to sleep in after our long days on the trip. But somehow I thought I would miss something if I did that.When I went to the balcony He was always there, always ready to speak, always ready to listen, always ready for time with me. It was not about me waiting for God to move but moving into a space where I could hear from my Lord.

The reality of the work involved in our spiritual journey happened on day five of our trip. It was the day that we made our way to the top of Diamond Head. I had been looking at this volcano for days, but now I would get up close and personal with it. The trip to the top of the volcano was a pretty arduous one. They dropped us off in the crater that you see to the right and then we would have to make a trek to the top. It was a pretty difficult climb up a really rough trail on a hot and sunny day. That trek led to a set of 271 steps to reach the spectacular view of the ocean. We began the journey well-rested with a large crowd of people. But soon, after the journey began, the number on the trail decreased. The big group turned into a line, then a line with spaces, then small groups making the trek. Some didn't even come on the journey believing it would be too difficult, others started and turned back, and still others gave it all they had and made it to the top. The journey was easier for some than for others. Some had prepared for the journey and others never realized it was coming.

Jenna was one of those travelers on this journey who never knew it was coming. She had not prepared for it as I had. For the last five months, I had worked on my tread mill at an incline to get ready for Diamond Head. I heard it was difficult but I wanted to make sure I could complete the climb. Jenna, on the other hand, began by running ahead, then walking, and at points she would have to stop for a while. There where times that she cried because she got so tired. And there were times when she wanted to turn back. Her big sister was one that
was ready for the trip. Her summer in soft ball and the time we went for a walk together must have helped her. Peggy and Vicky were committed to the task but just a little slower than some. With empty water bottles in hand, they made the last few steps to the top of the volcano together. One encouraging the other, one pushing the other, but in the end victorious over the volcano. And when the journey was over, there was an amazing surprise. It was more than a beautiful view, it was arriving at the destination together.

Here is a picture of Jeremy, Jessica and Jenna on the platform at the top of Diamond Head. It was a beautiful moment for the family to stand here together. We were victorious! But the victory took much work. And the same is true in our relationships with Jesus. My friends, it takes work to grow closer to the Lord. Many will never experience the joy of a deep, abiding relationship with the Lord because they will not put in the work needed. They will not make room in their lives or give time in the day to get to know Him. Jesus is always present and waiting for us. He never moves but too often we do.

Every morning during our trip to Hawaii I began my day basking in the presence of the Lord. What happened was really amazing. You see, throughout the day, I began to see the Lord in things around me. God spoke to me in His creation. Joy would flood over my spirit and at times tears would run from my eyes. And in those moments it was God; God who is always present but very visible in the moment if we will allow Him to be. I saw God in places were many missed Him because I took the time to see Him in what was around me. This journey of faith takes work on our part. But, my friends, the view is amazing.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fun with the Kids!

We hear so many people say that children are our future; but let me tell you, the future is now.  I have spent the last 6 days with 32 wonderful kids and our own children have gotten to be a part of this special group. While we have seen some beautiful sights in Hawaii, our children have had an opportunity to witness for Christ.  From a church, to a hotel, to the Polynesian Cultural Center, and even on the bus tonight, they have sung about Christ's resurrection and return.  It makes a dad proud to see and hear his children lift up the name of Jesus in song. Here are a few pictures of the kids enjoying God's creation in Hawaii. 

Jeremy and Jenna at Pali Road. The windiest place on the island.

Jessica with some of her friends on the windiest part of the island. 

Singing at the Polynesian Cultural Center

And the kids all dressed up to go on the sunset dinner cruise--the Ali'i Kai

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In A Hurry

It was 1:30 am when we left the house this morning.  After a pretty much sleepless night, we were all in a hurry to get to Hawaii.  So we hurried to McHale PAC and . . . waited.  Then we hurried up to get on the bus and . . . waited.  We hurried up to get the airport and . . . waited.  The plane hurried to Arizona where we have waited for 3 hours. It seems we spend a lot of time hurrying up so we can wait. But I wonder in what moments we would be more likely to wait on the Lord. Do we hear The Lord best in our hurry up mode. Do we hear him, in the words of VeggieTales, when we are "busy, busy, frightfully busy." Or could it just be in those moments of waiting that God is most inclined to speak to you.  It is no wonder that Solomon wrote the words in Proverbs 20:22, "Wait on The Lord and He will rescue you." I don't know about you, but I can get so frustrated in the waiting that my God ears do not hear him very well.  In those moments of waiting, I can miss the very thing that God is trying to tell me. And it could be that playing the game, Old Maid, with my daughter in the airport concourse is the blessing that God wanted for me all along. 

In our hurry up society, most waiting time is complaining time.  We do not like to wait on that trainee at the cash register.  We do not want to wait for those two people in front of us to get their oil changed.  And, we are in such a hurry, that we often finish other people's sentences. Maybe today, instead of hurrying up so we can . . . wait, we should just spend those few minutes . . . waiting. Why not take a few minutes to let the Lord rescue you from your problem? Why not take a few moments and wait to do the urgent thing and instead do the important thing. Why not look forward to the waiting just to see what God will do in those moments? Maybe today we need to experience the joy of waiting.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fun with Family

There has been a lot of joking around through the years with me about the issue of family, As most of you know, I am an only child. Now, let's get this straight, there is no way in the world that I will ever be able to understand what it is like to have a brother or sister. I have people that I would say are like 
brother or sister, but there is really no way for me to know what that is like. It is just like someone who has never parachuted. You can talk about it, but without experience, it is hard to be authoritative in your comments; at least not like someone who has actually taken the jump.

Here is the story about family that has gotten me lots of funny looks through the years. When Peggy and I got married twenty some years ago, we had all these pictures taken at the wedding. We had so many taken that it was hard to decide which ones we wanted to keep. When we finally decided Peggy said to me, "We just need my sister's picture order and we will be good to go." I looked at Peggy funny and said, "Why does she want some of our pictures?" Peggy responded, "because she is my sister." To which I said, "I don't know why she would want any of our pictures, I wouldn't want any of hers." Before you get all judgmental on me, remember that I had no context of a sister - sister relationship. It was an only child who had no context.

Let me just say that my context has changed. It has been twenty three years ago that my ignorance flowed out of my mouth without restraint. Now I have grown to love my sister-in-law and her family deeply. It has been a joy to spend time with them on so many occasions. They have opened their home to us, laughed with us, went out to eat with us, and loved us. I have held and prayed for each of her kids when they were babies, watched them grow into wonderful adults and had the great joy of performing the wedding service for their oldest, Katie to Ryan, who has been a great addition to our family. 

For the last four days we have had a blast at their home in Ohio. Hebrews 13:1 says, "Keep on loving each other as brothers." Let me say that this family has helped me to understand this passage better than any other. I have a sister through Peggy and her wonderful family. And as we have been on sabbatical this summer we had time to be with them more than any other. I asked the congregation to spend one day a week this summer loving God and family. On the sabbath, practice the fourth command that ties loving God to loving each other. Let me just say, that this sabbath with my "sister" has been great and I now have some "pictures that I really want" to prove it.

So don't forget to spend one day a week this summer loving God and family. Enjoy God and each other, then write about the special things you did with your family so we can share them with each other this fall. 

Gina, Andy, Katie, Ryan, Kyle, and Chaney-- love you guys!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fully Alive!!!

WOW!!! What an evening! It was so great to see so many of my church family at the Ken Davis concert on Saturday. It was wonderful to see McHale filled with people from our community for this special event. It was wonderful to see Brian present Jason from the Emmaus Center a check for $5000.00. It was wonderful to hear the message from Ken about living life to the fullest. It was wonderful to be a part of such a grand evening! A special thanks to Brian King who poured his love and energy into this event. And to the Sabbatical Team for giving back to the community since we have been blessed by God in so many ways. And thanks to the volunteers who gave of their time to make this evening great! And let us not forget to thank the Good Lord who made this all available to us. God has been so good to us as a congregation and we need to make sure that we are praising His Holy Name this summer.

Back to the concert; It is amazing to me that the message that Ken Davis shared on Saturday has been the message that has been on my heart all summer. It has been the course of my study. It has been the prayer that I have lifted up to Jesus day after day. I do not want to be one of those people who spend their whole life waiting to die. I know lots of Christians who are so looking forward to the afterlife that they missed living this life. Don't get me wrong; I am looking forward to living eternally with Jesus, but I believe God wants us to live fully for Him today. God wants us to enjoy living. Think about this, God could have done away with this life and just sent us all to heaven to begin with. Since He did not do this, life must be important to God: living must be important to God for He gave us life. I believe the words of Paul in Philippians, "If I am to go on living in the body this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me" (Philippians 1:22-26). Paul got the fact that it was better for him (and us) to be with Christ. But, that does not mean that we should not live life fully in the joy of Christ today! Paul was here for the progress and JOY of the faith. Living a life filled with joy. I have determined that I will live for Christ while I have breath in my lungs. I will serve Christ while I have power in my muscles. I will  think about Christ while I have grey matter in my skull. And then, after my life is over, I will live with Christ in worship and praise to Him throughout eternity.

I had someone who said to me a few months ago, "I have figured out Jeremy and Jessica, but that Jenna, I just can't peg her." As many of you know, Jenna is a little different than my other two children. They all have their own personalities but Jenna is a little different than  the other two. I said to this person, "I have Jenna pegged perfectly. Jenna just loves to live! She loves life and lives it fully! Every day is a new day with new possibilities and Jenna lives that day to its fullest. She doesn't regret yesterday and she doesn't worry about tomorrow, she just lives." Jenna has figured out what it means to be fully alive in Christ at eight. She has something in her that most adults have missed. Maybe that is why Jesus calls us to have a child like faith. We need to be more like Jenna and not worry so much about what we did yesterday. Maybe we need to be more like Jenna and not worry so much about what tomorrow holds. Instead, we need to live for Christ today. God gives us life, let's live it. Christ gives us salvation, let's enjoy it. The Holy Spirit gives us power, let's use it and live!!!

Pastor Aaron