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Archive for June, 2010

15 But you, O Lord,
are a God of compassion and mercy,
slow to get angry
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
16 Look down and have mercy on me.
Give your strength to your servant;
save me, the son of your servant.

It has consumed my thoughts for the past several days.  Josh and Raven are two YOUNG people who have struggled with life and death.  I guess it is true that you get real honest about life especially during two important times in life.  First you get real about life when birth happens.  I had the privilege of seeing all three of my children born, hearing their first cry (which I might add has had no rival as the most moving experience of my life – nothing compares to that sound), taking all of them to the nursery and watching my wife put her life on the line in order to see new life.  It is as if heaven opens up and you get real for that moment about the issues of life.  The second time is when you face death.  I will never forget having to figure it all out as a young child when my grandmother died.  We called her Granny and she was my father’s mom.  I was young.  I knew little about the issue of dying and I vividly remember being there and feeling a grand sense of loss and great compassion for my father who was having to deal with loss.  I remember the Marine crying…very few times did I see that…but he did.  Since then there have been others who died.  I remember grieving for the loss of Jerry Kornahrens and not being able to attend his funeral – how broken I was…he was a dear friend.  I remember my grandparents on my mother’s side dying.  I am still affected by the sound of “Taps” as they are played at military funerals for thy call my attention back to my own father’s funeral.  At least these experiences were spread out over a long period of time.

I never expected a young couple to experience both of these experiences so quickly.  Their son, Channing, was born on the 19th and died from complications on the 26th.  Here a young mother is struggling to recover physically from giving birth and now facing the deep emotions of grieving for a son that died.  Heaven is sweet when you make a deposit there.  It gives one such great comfort that although I cannot bring them back to this earth in our reality, that I can see them again one of these days.  I wish I could say I could understand what they are going through.  I cannot.  One minute the family is gathered around a cell phone listening to the experience of birth happen behind the doors of a delivery room…several days later they are gathered in the hall as they are told of how that young life had graduated from earth to heaven.

And then I hear God say to me in the coolness of this study as I watch the birds eat from the feeders chirping and fighting for one of the limited number of perches,

15 But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
16 Look down and have mercy on me.  Give your strength to your servant; save me, the son of your servant.

I am reminded again this morning that I am in a relationship with and journeying with a God who knows a great deal about loosing a Son.  Josh and Raven had no control over their great loss.  God did!  As a matter of fact, before the foundations of the world, God planned to send His Son to die for us.

Oh, Holy Spirit, comfort young hearts, especially as they face this day.  We will depend on You to comfort hearts as they stand around a cemetery’s open grave and lay to rest the body of their young son.  I am thankful that you are a God of compassion and mercy.  I am thankful that you are not angry with us.  I am blown away by the fact that you are filled with unfailing love and you are so faithful.  I need your comfort today, your strength today.

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3 Turn us again to yourself, O God.
Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.

Psalm 80.

The implication of this verse is that there was a time when there was great intimacy and respect with God.  These fine folk once enjoyed God’s face shining down on them.  In their desperation they noticed how lost they were without HIM.

It is a national song.  A song pleading for the nation of Israel.  It is a song well sung here in our own homeland.  It is a song forgotten by many.  There has been a day when our nation honored God and enjoyed deep intimacy with Him.  We once knew what it was like to see His face shining down on us.  I guess when we get desperate enough we will return to God.

My assumption is true in my own life.  When I get desperate enough… what a phrase.  I know of couples who are fighting and obviously enjoying the thunder of the war rather than looking for ways to put pride aside and come to forgiveness, peace and rest.  I know of folk who refuse to come to Christ as Savior and when they get desperate enough…may they come to HIM.  I know of dads who need to get desperate enough to change their ways and take on the responsibility of children…young and old.  And that is just a few that come to mind this morning.

A hurricane named Hugo brought our community to our knees for several months…back at the same old thing.  I’ve seen death bring a family to its knees – got desperate enough to forgive and let healing take its proper work in the family.  I have seen divorce reek havoc in a family and cause people to wake up… What will it take?

Desperate people do whatever it takes to turn the monster around.  And the truth is because of God’s Grace we still can!

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14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.

Nancy and I have been in Maryland for a few days enjoying fellowship with our son Jason and our daughter-in-law Jenn who is blessing our family with our first grandchild.  Camryn Renee is expected to arrive somewhere around September 19th and we are anticipating the ‘young lady’s arrival’.  Jenn is doing well and all is well with the pregnancy.  Jason joined Nancy and me in painting the baby’s room and doing some needed repairs to the stair rails at the front of his home.  We worked like crazy people for the three days we could work – traveled two of the five and then worked for three.  We tried to cram as much as we could in the three days.  Jason and I were able to enjoy three mornings at Starbucks drinking coffee and we talked a lot.  I am enjoying the changing conversations I am having with all three of my children.  It is a pleasure to watch them grow up.  God has been good to Nancy and me.  On top of that I got to spend Father’s Day with Jason and Jenn, enjoyed talking to Jeremy and Kimberly as well and had a wonderful meal in complete Maryland style.  Steamed blue crabs, corn, soft-shelled crabs fried to perfection, chicken on the grill (Old Bay on some, lemon-pepper on others, and some were simply plain), all kinds of salads, along with sweet tea and a lot of good conversation were the staples for the day.  What a meal!  Jason and Jenn are great hosts and we join them in looking forward to the biggest change in their lives since getting married.  We are excited for them.

Trying to focus when you are real tired is very difficult.  This calling on my life never let’s up – and I am not complaining – simply being honest.  Add to all that the demands of being a husband, dad, friend,and seemingly a thousand other things like that and you have the makings of being just as normal as everyone else.  I watch Jason and Jenn.  Jenn is working and going to school working on her Masters in Social Work and now pregnant and preparing to see her life change.  Jason is working and preparing to see his life change as a father.  They get exhausted and they are half as old as I.  The demands of life never stop.  God has been so faithful and gracious to allow us to have the strength to meet the demands of this stage in our lives.

I needed the reminder this morning from the Lord to be faithful to the things I have been taught.  I read from the Bible this morning of king after king who would not listen to God’s guidance and suffered the consequences for it all.  They did not “walk in the ways of their father David…” or some variant of that line.  The only Captain that can navigate you through life is Christ and the chief way he does that is by using the guide that is faithful, true, and never varies – the Word of God.  The only guide for faith and practice that is more reliable than any other guideline from any other type of religious leader is the Bible.  I am 54.  I have been saved since I was 11.  I have been in this ministry to which I have been called by God, since I was 17.  I have been around this for a long time.  Between the crazy schedules we all have and a normal tendency toward being mediocre at everything, we need a reminder to stay faithful to God.

“Stay at it, Crooks!”  “Don’t give in at all!”

I needed to hear that, today!  The greatest gift I can give my family is to stay in the Word of God and to pray for them each day.  Remaining Faithful to God!

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In 1 Kings – Story of Ahab and Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel – Elijah speaking to the people gathered there…

“How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!”

Paul speaking to the Colossian Church

20 You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21“Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.

I am fighting with every dab of strength I have this morning against the legalism that I have been so used to in my past.  Rules and regulations that kill, find their way into popular guilt trip preaching and are the fodder that the “I told them people off” preachers can use.  Manipulation and guilt are pitiful motivators.  The truth of God’s word is powerful and adequate in turning the heart toward God.

In the daily journey I travel, I find God inviting me to join Him today in what He is doing in my life and in the world around me.  I simply listen for His voice, watch for His movements, and learn to partner with him in the movements of the day.  Every now and then He looks me in the face and says something like this, “Crooks, let Me bring this up again for us to talk about.  You are just like everyone else.  You struggle with two things – whether you are going to be the one that calls the shots in your life or whether I am going to be given that privilege.  I am not walking off and leaving you.  I just want you to consider the way we walk together.  I have noticed that you waver.  One of these days that wobbling will stop for when I get you to heaven you will be free from wavering.  Today, it is a good reminder that if I am God, then follow Me.”

Paul was talking today and said to me that I am free from the spiritual powers of this world…religious spiritual powers that bring no life.

I am learning more every day to listen to His voice…sweeter than honey…and gives life!

That’s the struggle with this Christian walk.  It’s like milkin’ cows – it’s unbelievably daily!  It’s a daily thang!

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Amy Thompson has a blog site that she posts to every day with pictures I might add in an additional link.  It is unbelievable to see what is going on there.  Link is at the right under my blogroll.  Do yourself a favor and enhance your prayer life by watching what a great group of adults are doing as they travel doing medical clinics with adults, activities with

children, and several of them are sharing the gospel with the folk there along with preaching.  Amy’s link will do a lot to help you get the flavor of what they are doing.  It causes me to thank God for the group there and to remember to do my part every day in praying for them.

Vacation Bible School has started.  Everyday challenges and successes are evident.  It is wonderful to see how God is using people to see the lives of children changed.  I am amazed that the same old gospel message of God’s love for man and our need to respond to Him is still so strong and powerful in reaching out to the lives of children.  God is at work.  Keep praying.  I will post numbers when I get them.  Check back today and I will see if I can post some pictures from the work here as well.

Now to my verse for the day.

2 Chronicles 16:  9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

In a response to why King Asa did not do what the Lord told him to do he was told that the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him, thus erasing any excuse as to why he did not follow the Lord.  I am amazed.  Related to my work today here in the US at my current assignment at Southside, focusing on the work of our Vacation Bible School, and especially with a heart that is following the work of the folk in Romania, I am reminded again that the Lord is controlling His work where ever it is being done.  His eyes are open and watching.  All the folk in Romania and Florence can know without a doubt that He is not asleep.  If that is the case then all of us will be protected by His magnificent care.  I like the picture Amy took of the shepherd caring for his flock.  This is the picture I have here of what I sense the Lord is telling me that no matter what He is protecting me and I can operate in the confidence that not only is he protecting me but He is personally tending to my direction and needs – he is “super-intending” the work to which He has called me.  I can cast all my cares upon Him for He careth for me!

Go God!

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6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I was trying to remember this morning.  Pre-coffee.  Pre-breakfast.  Remember anything?  I don’t think so.  God was walking me back this morning to the day in simply faith I took him at this promise and simply learned to worry about nothing.  Ok…I have that down in a small way…still at work there.  Pray about everything?  Ok…ummmmm – Sometimes!  I wish it were a “knee jerk” (pun intended) response on my part about it all.  I pray about a lot more than I used to and maybe that is part of the journey I am on.  Tell God what you need? – OK! Like he doesn’t know already…so it must be a conversation point about focusing my life with a direct awareness that HE IS around all the time.  Thank him for what he has done?  I am still learning this one…being thankful and all…  I can say that some of this must be going on because HIS PEACE is so real and I guess my heart and my mind really do need guarding.

In two hours, the church house will be ablaze with children who will be attending Vacation Bible School.  Teachers will be focusing on how you can know Christ.  Kids will be singing and learning and the Lord God will be at work in all of our hearts and minds.

Go God!

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13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

It is so familiar that I tend to overlook it.  I am 54 years old.  I have been at my current assignment at Southside for nearly 22 years and proud of it.  I was again reminded that I have not gotten there yet.  There is still new growth ahead.  I have not arrived for there are still places to conquer and places in my own life that need refinement and refreshment.  Sometimes it is hard to forget where I have been.

This week has been interesting.  I got a call from Mr. Bell Friday telling me that Brett and Tracy Horton were ten minutes from the church.  I was excited.  Brett and Tracy have a dream hobby that they have turned into a productive business.   Brett flies small model helicopters.  They hook a camera frame to that thing, make wireless connection to a camera and receiver, and as Brett flies the helicopter, Tracy stands behind a monitor and takes pictures.  They were gracious to stop by the church and bless us with a shoot that gives us a different perspective on our church property.   The helicopter lifted off the ground and I began to see the church from a different perspective and man was I captivated by what was going on inside of me.  I flashed back to the first time I drove on the property.  I caught myself remembering the first real risk at buying a piece of property across the street and behind us and ultimately all around us.  Wow!  To thank God for the new building and the finishing of Phase 1 of our Building Process.  Thank God for reminding me that the work is not finished yet.

I awoke this morning to a reminder to be about the business of personal and corporate worship…to commit myself to share my life with a vital group of spirit filled people who will walk with me through life and to be listening to the Father as he provides ways for me to make a difference in the world around me.

This morning I remember a Business Administrator named Daniel who is at home recovering from heart surgery and his wife Lori who is adjusting to Daniel’s adjusting.  Her help left yesterday for home and now she is nursing a husband and caring for two children.  I remember a group of men and women who are in Romania this week doing vital ministry to adults and children and renewing friendships with fellow believers who are depending on the medical help and the evangelism that comes as a part of it all.  I

Anna Danford

remember Amy and her team as they work with children and Henry and Bob as they preach a lot.  I remember a great group of people who will be working on the mission field here in Florence this week as we watch Vacation Bible School kick off today at Southside.  There have been some mighty

big hurdles to jump over but I am confident that God will be doing big things in the lives of children and the workers who will be sharing the gospel with them.  There are so many more like Jim, Carlton, folk who are concerned about struggling people.  Tami and Alan are being prayed for as she regains strength in Florida.  So much to pray for and remember today.  I celebrate with Kendal and Jennifer in the safe arrival home…from China with their new child – Anna

God, help me today as I press forward toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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