Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Angels Are Watching!

Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. My blog today is the fact that our lives with Christ can be so exciting that even “The Angels Are Watching” us!

There’s a fascination with angels, and rightly so. But the angels that some people revere, especially in books and movies, may be more feel-good stories designed to make us do just that, “feel good”, but may not be based on hard evidence?

Peter wrote about angels. You and I weren’t there during the time of Jesus and the time of Acts for actual angel sightings, so it may be difficult for us to comprehend it.

The writer in Acts 12:5-7 describes how an angel, while Peter was in prison, awakened Peter, made the chains fall off his wrists, and led Peter out of prison. So Peter was directly helped by an angel (see picture), which may have been the reason he wrote more about angels later.

Peter talks in I Peter 1 about God’s “great mercy” by which we are “born again” because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, and that he “raised Jesus Christ from the dead”.

He goes on to talk about how “we now live with great expectation” and “we have a priceless inheritance”.

But wait, he goes on to talk about fact that we should “be truly glad”, and that there’s “wonderful joy ahead”, and that we “rejoice with inexpressible joy” due to the great “reward” in “the salvation of your souls”.

But Peter’s not done yet! He then talks about the “Good News” “announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven“.


So there you have it. When you or I feel down we can realize that angels are eagerly watching us in anticipation of what will happen next in our lives!

See you next time,

Sunday, October 2, 2016

"Oh Happy Day!" The Jotta A Effect

Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. My blog today is about what I learned from a little boy in Brazil. I’m calling it ‘“Oh Happy Day” The Jotta A Effect’.

My wife is always well ahead of me when it comes to web content and web videos gone viral. I ask her and she usually says the following, “I already saw that a couple weeks ago”…or "a couple months ago”.

Typically she doesn’t directly point out to me specific videos or web content unless she deems them very special and worthy of mention.

One such occasion occurred this week when she shared a 2011 video with a young 11 year old boy on a Brazilian kid’s talent show. I was somewhat blasé at first, but then I started watching intently, I saw what she meant about how awesome she thought his performance was, and by the end of it tears were rolling down my cheeks.

Why would the performance of an 11 year old boy bring tears to my eyes? It is what I might call “The Jotta A Effect” It was his sheer enthusiasm about the topic of his song “O Happy Day” that did me in.

I then started listening to the rest of his songs, all of which have gone viral, many of them in Portuguese, the official Brazilian language. I even cried at those when I saw his passion…and his wonderful voice.

If you have not already done so I urge you to now watch his videos and see if they have the same effect on you.

So what do you think? I immediately think of my lack of passion and lame attempts to express my love for God.

I recently have been “church hopping”, I guess what I’m doing, perhaps subconsciously, is looking for that elusive church experience where the people, the pastor, and myself can experience and express the same passion, perhaps Holy Spirit joy, as Jotta A, and can say definitively, “O Happy Day!”

See you next time,

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Go Browns! Go Church!

Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. My blog today is about what I learned from a Cleveland Browns preseason football game against the Green Bay Packers.

The Browns played their first preseason game of 2016 last Friday night at Lambeau Field versus the Packers. It was what I expected. There were some exciting moments, and some letdowns.

I had the same feelings often during the Cavaliers NBA championship run. With a win came excitement, and with a loss came disappointment. After a win I listened to each postgame interview, and got every tidbit of info from sports radio shows the next day. After a loss, however, I avoided all postgame interviews, and turned the radio off the next day.

Browns coach Hue Jackson was like the Cavs in stating that he is more concerned about the process in how the team got to a win or a loss than he was the win or loss itself. He makes it clear that he wants to win. But he uses the loss as a learning tool to find out what the team can do better.

I was so excited when Robert Griffin III (RG III) threw the first pass down the sideline to the newly transformed quarterback to wideout Terrelle Pryor from Ohio State. But then reality set in a few plays later when RG III threw an interception. Same old Browns…they get you excited then they let you down!

Then I started looking more at the process. I started looking at glimpses of improvement over past years. I jumped with excitement when 6’7” rookie Carl Nassib from Penn State tracked down a much smaller, quicker runner from behind. Rookie Emmanuel Ogbah from Oklahoma State played like a beast. Jamie Meder from little Ashland University, located in the city where I work, broke through to drop the runner for a safety.

Late in the game rookie QB Cody Kessler threw an outside fade route to Hollywood Higgins for a touchdown. He and his teammates jumped for joy! But a few plays later Cody ran back out of the end zone for a safety. He was clearly upset at the bonehead play, but his teammates and coaches came and patted Cody on the helmet and said an encouraging word to the heartbroken QB.

What I like most about games like this was the process of finding out what makes guys tick. It is emphasized time and time again by the coaching staff that they are evaluating the strengths and weaknesses that each player has. They try to accentuate the strengths and minimize the areas of weakness.

What would it be like if in the church we truly thought of ourselves as teammates on a quest to win a championship? We would jump for joy with each other’s successes, and give pats on the back to encourage us when we make bonehead plays.

And what if our pastors and leaders got to know each part of what makes us tick, if they tried to accentuate the positive parts of our personalities to reach people for Christ, and to minimize the parts of us that are not so positive, and if they used us in the most effective way possible?

I would very much welcome such an approach. It follows many themes of the Bible. One is in Paul’s first letter to Timothy: “Instead, train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1Timothy 4:7-8

Go Browns! Go Church!

See you next time,

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Have You Ever Thought About “The Book of Life”?

Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. My blog today is about the “Book of Life”.

I was listening to Revelation in the Bible this morning and a phrase the “Book of Life” impacted me like it hadn’t before. I had heard and read the phrase a number of times in the past, but this time was different.

I researched how many times the phrase is used in the Bible and found five. The first is Psalm 69:28 when King David in his exhaustion from being hunted down by his persecutors cried out to God,
“Erase their names from the Book of Life;”

In Philippians 4:3 Paul talked about
“Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.”

In the first case King David wanted his persecutors to be erased from consideration to be included in the Book of Life. In the second case Paul acknowledged some of his trusted partners that were shoe-ins to be included in the Book of Life.

Revelation gives us more insight into the elusive meaning of the Book of Life.

In Revelation 3:5 the Apostle John on the Island of Patmos wrote to the most faithful followers of Jesus in Sardis the following revelation God gave to him:
“All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.” There is that word “erase” again, only in a positive context with the word “never”.

Revelation 17:8 talks about the “beast” (antichrist) coming up out of the bottomless pit after everyone thought he was dead, and those persons
“whose names were not written in the Book of Life” were amazed at the antichrist’s seeming resurrection. People whose names were not in the Book of Life were duped into following a failed leader whose eternal destruction was very soon coming.

But Revelation 20:10-15 has the most clear-cut description of the seriousness of whether a person’s name is included, or not, in the Book of Life. It is a little lengthy, but well worth reading:
“Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

So the Bible is very clear that having one’s name in the Book of Life, or not, is a very serious matter…a matter of eternal life, or eternal destruction.

See you next time,

Monday, May 30, 2016

Dee Yoder, Hero

Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. My blog today is about heroes.

I recently watched all the Hunger Games movies. Katniss Everdeen, the hero of the movie, was the inspiration and “savior” against soft spoken but brutal President Snow who ruled from the opulent Capitol. He ruled, terrorized, and killed all the downtrodden, poor lower working classes in outlying land sectors.

Katniss was sometimes misunderstood by the oppressed masses. They fluctuated from skeptical to adoring, and everywhere in between. They thought at times she was a puppet of the Capitol, and other times she was the one, with the sound of the Mockingjay and the three finger salute, to inspire them to beat the odds to bring down President Snow.

The story has parallels to people in my own life, only they are real. One is my wife Dee. She is very caring and compassionate. But she is also very direct and not afraid to take on a challenge, especially when the challenge is from people who are using accusations to get their own way, or propel their own agenda.

Some people would try to convince others that Dee’s directness is mean-spirited and unchristian-like. I know otherwise. When it comes to rallying around an underdog Dee will be there, and I would want no one other than Dee to come to their/my defense, and I know if many of you would get to know her well would learn that she will always be fair and compassionate, but also very firm against what she thinks is wrong. I think this is very Biblical and Christian-like.

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” II Timothy 1:7.


“Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.” Psalm 146:5-7

Katniss Everdeen was a make-believe movie hero that was fun to watch…but Dee is a real-life hero who we can really emulate.

See you next time,

Monday, March 21, 2016

Where's Keith Green When You Need Him?

Dear Readers,

I’m glad you stopped by. Today I’m going to talk about a subject that I’ve been thinking about for some time. I talk about it fairly frequently with close family and friends.

It’s about Keith Green, a Christian songwriter, singer, and pianist popular back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s before he died in a plane crash in 1982.

Keith became a born again Christian in about 1975. He and Melody, his songwriter wife, soon began taking in people who needed help into their small home in the suburbs of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley.

More and more people landed on their doorstep, including recovering drug addicts and prostitutes, bikers, homeless people, and many single pregnant girls needing shelter and safety. My brother in Miami University of Ohio, and a myriad of other college students all over America began subscribing to the Last Days Newsletter. (Wikipedia)

In 1977 the effort grew so much that Keith and Melody started Last Days Ministries and they moved to a 140 acre plot in Texas.

What was it about Keith Green that people were drawn to him? I think it was because he had a singular focus on winning people to Jesus, because he personally experienced the life-changing message of the Messiah.

I have not heard that Last Days Ministries had large fundraising campaigns, tithe challenges, and big name speakers to bring income and popularity to the ministry. It seemed that people were drawn to Keith and a group of persons that just deeply cared about their fellow man, and did not want anyone to go to hell.

I put a link above to a YouTube video that shows only a bit of Keith’s passion to reach others for Christ.

I long for a person like Keith Green to come into my life. A person with no agenda except to reach lost souls for Jesus. And just perhaps…that person will rub off on me.

“Asleep In the Light” by Keith Green

Do you see?
Do you see?
All the people sinking down?
Don't you care?
Don't you care?
Are you gonna let them drown?

How can you be so numb?!
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job is done

See you next time,

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Man With Paranoid Schizophrenia Shifts My Focus to View of Horizon

Dear Readers,

To give a little background I would label myself a fairly focused person. When I’m like that I tend not to look at any other thing, but usually walk with my head down, looking at my object of focus.

I am only slightly aware of my surroundings, perhaps only enough to stay out of a head-on collision. But I ignore persons coming my way, and have to force myself to acknowledge them.

The same holds true when I’m driving a car. You might say you’re glad I’m focused on the road. The problem is that I’m probably not as focused on the road as you might think.

What happens with a person that is focused like me? I was made aware of that one sunny afternoon about twenty years ago while driving down the hill of Claremont Avenue in Ashland, Ohio.

I work in community mental health and at that time I was with a man who has the disabling condition of paranoid schizophrenia. He was a wonderful young man who at times had bizarre behavior, but also was very observant and thoughtful.

I was my usual self thinking of my next task. The passenger in my car roused me out of my reverie when he encouraged me to look at the picturesque sunny horizon and the large blue water tower in the distance located atop a factory building.

The point is I had been driving that same way almost daily for about five or six years, and never once noticed the horizon view.

Here I was, an educated man, and people think of me as a sensitive and observant person. But it took a high school only educated person who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia to urge me to shift my focus to finally observe the beauty of a horizon.

As a result of my then passenger’s observance, I more often, but not always, look at the horizon while driving down Claremont Avenue.

"I was there when he established the heavens, when he drew the horizon..." Proverbs 8:27

See you next time,