Friday, June 27, 2014

Tune to Concert A

Recently, we had the baby grand piano at our church tuned. Have you ever watched a piano tuner? A piano may sound in tune with itself, but the tuner strikes a tuning fork to determine if the piano is in tune to concert A. He then turns the pegs on each string until it is tuned to the intended pitch. Only when all musical instruments are tuned to Concert A can they play together and produce beautiful harmonies.

During our first few years in Gloversville, we had a worship leader who would only tune her guitar "to herself," to her own ear. She didn't have perfect pitch, so of course, no other instruments could play along with her. And she prided herself on her natural musical ability (she'd never taken lessons) as opposed to those of us who had taken lessons and developed our natural ability by the discipline of study and practice. Needless to say, she didn't remain in our church very long.

In life, the Bible is like a tuning fork. God gave us His written Word as the standard to which we are to tune our lives. The Word of God shows us our sin and gives us the opportunity to be restored (tuned) to the God's standard. Only when we are in tune with God's Word do we have the promise of eternal life.

Often, even Christians do not read the Bible, thinking they don't have time. Yet, reading biographies of Christians who have made a difference in this world, we find that in spite of their hectic lives, they read and studied the Bible more than any of us.

By reading the Bible just ten minutes a day, the average person could read the Bible through in less than a year. Even those who have read through the Bible need to read it again and again to keep its words fresh in our remembrance. As Psalm 119:11 reminds us to hide God's Word in our hearts to keep us from sinning against God. And verse 105 point out that God's Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.

A man in our church often points out that reading the Bible a minimum of four times a week is required to bring our lives into conformity to God's will. It has been estimated that a habit is established in about three weeks. By the time we have spent ten minutes a day reading the four Gospels, we will have established the habit of daily Bible reading. And we will find our life to be more harmonious and melodious.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Surprise! Surprise!

The summer after the Bartletts (see my previous two blog posts) moved away from Gloversville, the General Council of the Assemblies of God was to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, in August. This meeting of all the ministers of the Fellowship is held biennially. We had been able to attend the previous one in Baltimore, because my cousin had invited us to stay in their home. It had been such a blessing and encouragement to us that we really wanted to go to the upcoming one, but we would have to drive much farther and stay in a motel for the nearly week-long conference. Our meager salary as a church planting pastor barely covered our expenses, let alone such an expensive trip, so we dismissed the thought of going.

Then a letter came from the Bartletts. They wrote thanking us for all we had done to help them reestablish their marriage and enclosed a sum of money to be used for something special for us. It was exactly the amount we needed to attend the General Council.

In August, we left Bobby with his grandparents in Newburgh and drove to St. Louis. We checked into our motel near the airport and headed to the convention center. Ten to fifteen thousand people attended General Councils. We arrived early for the first service so we could find seats on the main floor of the arena and settled in to wait for the service to begin.

After a while, I stood up to stretch and looked around to see if I recognized anyone. Two people were coming down the aisle toward us.

I said to Bob, "Look! Don't those two people look like my parents?" But I was sure it couldn't be because I knew they weren't coming.

As the couple drew closer, they smiled and waved.

Suddenly, I recognized them. "It is my parents!" I squealed and ran to meet them.

They pastored a small church in Washington State. I had not seen them in several years. At the last minute, someone had paid their way to come.

When we asked them where they were staying, we discovered that they were in the same motel we were in and in the room right across the hall from us. They had flown to St. Louis and had no car. Since we had driven, we were able to take them with us to and from the convention center. Not only did we enjoy the services but we had a wonderful reunion too.

Some might call it all coincidence, but I know God prearranged it. Our Heavenly Father likes to plan wonderful surprises for His children.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Father's Day Remembrance

Although my 92-year-old father lives 3,000 miles away, he is always with me, a presence I carry in my heart and life not only on Father's Day but every day. When I look through my photo albums, I find pictures of my Daddy that remind me of the relationship we have shared all throughout my life and what he has taught me about God and about living.

Daddy lifting me up on his shoulders when I was little (2) is a visual reminder of the way God, my Heavenly Father, carries me in my weakness.

Daddy escorting me to a special event, opening the car door for me, teaching me by deeds as well as words how to expect a young man to treat me, reminds me that God has shown His love for me by sending His own Son to die for my sins and show me the way to live an abundant life.

Daddy always ready to listen to my woes and pray aloud for me illustrates how the Spirit himself prays for me and how Jesus intercedes to the Father for me.

Daddy walking me down the aisle on my wedding day (7) helps me understand that God has sent His Holy Spirit to prepare me for that great Marriage of the Lamb in heaven.

Daddy extending compassion and forgiveness to a friend who had hurt him deeply taught me how to forgive and reminds me that my Heavenly Father forgives my sin and still desires my friendship even when I have failed Him.

Daddy running out to meet me when I come to visit demonstrates how my Heavenly Father longs for me to fellowship with Him.

Daddy's voice calling me on the phone to ask how I am doing and his words of endearment and encouragement let me know how much he loves me--an earthly picture of God's love for me.

God is our heavenly Abba Father. The word Abba is a term of endearment like "Daddy." Perhaps you didn't have an earthly daddy who was there for you to kiss away your tears and pain, to take pleasure in your accomplishments, to welcome you home, but your Heavenly Abba Father does all this and more. Regardless of the connotation the term "Daddy" holds for you, I pray that as you celebrate this Father's Day, you will find in God and His never-failing love your Abba Father.

Because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our heats, prompting us to call out, "Abba, Father"...You are his child. Galatians 4:6-7 (New Living Translation)

You are His beloved child!

To listen to a podcast interview of me, go to my website, to connect.

Friday, June 6, 2014

God Saved Our Marriage Part 2

Betty had thought she was doing the Lord's will when she left Dave. Then Dave gave his life to the Lord, and the new church in Gloversville that he had begun attending was praying that they would reconcile. Her brother, who had led her to the Lord, was encouraging her to come back to Dave.

In Florida, Betty had been going to a women's Bible study, so she shared her thoughts and her brother's letter with them. To her surprise, they backed up what he had written. But, Betty was still not sure she could forgive Dave.

Two months after Betty had left Dave, her pastor's sermon one Sunday morning seemed to be directed to her. At that same time back in Gloversville, Dave told Pastor Conti, "Betty is going to call today. The Lord told me a week ago I'm going to be leaving for Florida today to bring Betty and Cheryl home." Dave was so sure of it that he went home and packed and was all ready to leave at a moment's notice.

That afternoon, Betty attended a Joy Fellowship meeting. The guest speaker that day spoke on resentment, rejection, and forgiveness. Betty said, "That message had my name all over it. As soon as I got home, I went right to prayer."

Later, Betty called Dave but couldn't bring herself to assure him they could get back together. Dave, however, decided to drive to Florida anyway and was on the road by 6 p.m. He drove straight through, stopping only for gas. When Betty came home at 1:30 a.m., Dave was there. They talked for hours about what the Lord had done for them. They shared from the Bible all the things the Lord had been teaching them. In all that time, they didn't talk about the past--only the future.

The following Sunday morning, just a week before Christmas, Dave, Betty, and Cheryl walked into church together at the Glove Cities Assembly of God in the YMCA in Gloversville, New York.

Betty said, "That Christmas was the best we had ever had because we knew the Christ of Christmas personally."

Dave and Betty became some of the most faithful members of the new church. Pastor Conti counseled with them to help them understand what had caused their problems and how to overcome them in the future.

"And God gave us a son to remind us of what He has done in our lives and in our marriage," Betty said.

Dave served as church treasurer and Betty taught Sunday school until God moved them to a new job out of state. We were heartbroken to see them go, but we still hear from them at Christmas, and they are happy serving the Lord.