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Archive for the month “September, 2016”

Cassie’s Drum

It isn’t a pretty instrument.  It is a large bongo drum with dull colors and no shine.  It doesn’t have a very loud sound.  Usually it is drowned out by more traditional instruments.  It seems that when it is played the person playing it with only their hands is totally consumed in their worship.  I was watching a young man playing the drum last Sunday.  He sat right in front of me just like Cassie used to.  His eyes were closed as he was undoubtedly feeling the closeness of God as he played along with the main worship band.

Cassie would always come with her mother.  The first thing she did when she arrived was to find the drum.  Sometimes it was in place right by where she always sat.  Other times she had to find and drag it into position.  Almost every Sunday it was common for Cassie to be gracefully slapping that drum in front of me.  I didn’t think about it at the time but that drum was a lot like Cassie.

There was nothing fake about Cassie.   She was a straight shooter as Jeremy so eloquently described her last week.  Jeremy is my non traditional pastor who has touched my life so much these last few months. Jeremy mentioned how Cassie would sometimes tell him that she had messed up and needed prayer.  Other times she would say that she was doing great!  Cassie always told it the way it was.  She was a real person and that is why the bongo drum comparison relates.  Like that drum Cassie was often pushed aside.  She was not one of these pretty people that seemingly have no faults.  She knew she needed God to keep his hand on her and she was honest enough to admit it.

Jeremy told the story of how he originally met Cassie.  His band was playing downtown and Cassie happened to be there.    For some reason Jeremy couldn’t keep his eyes off of her.  Jeremy had a strong feeling that he was supposed to talk to this lady about the lord.  After the music was done Jeremy approached and shared Jesus with her.  Cassie had been down many roads. She had a drug problem and was looking for something different in her life.  Jeremy’s words touched her and she repeated the sinners prayer that day!

It was a while before Jeremy saw Cassie again.  Then one day her and her mother walked into Jeremy’s church.  “Hey, I know you”, Cassie excitedly proclaimed!  “You are the man I met downtown!”  From that day forward Cassie and her mother were regulars. When I arrived they were established in the body and doing their part to keep the church moving ahead!

We were invited downtown a couple of months ago to a local restaurant/bar.  Jeremy and his band were making an appearance and their music rocked the place.  Jeremy accepts the invitation because he knows his music can open the door for him to share the gospel in unusual places.  In the room glad to be a part of Jeremy’s fans was Cassie.  She was dressed in her usual jean jacket and I could tell she was proud to be there supporting him.

Three weeks ago we had our usual Sunday service.  I noticed that Cassie and her mother weren’t there.  It was easy to notice because they always sat right in front of us and she played that drum.  That morning the drum was silent.  On Monday I heard the news that shocked my world.  When her mother arrived to pick her up Cassie was in her chair but Cassie wasn’t with us anymore.

The next Sunday I was supposed to speak before Jeremy gave his message.   I was prepared to talk about how Jesus is always ready to help us unlike companies of today who put us on hold and have computers telling us what to do.  It would have been a funny message that was sure to have people laughing.  Jeremy postponed my message that day as it was appropriate to discuss Cassie’s life.

Through the week last week I had a feeling in my spirit that the message I was going to give wasn’t the one the lord wanted.  I had Cassie on my mind the whole week.  We sometimes act like a memorial service takes all of the pain away from a loss of a loved one. I have found that the continued memory of that person is the greatest comfort to the ones they left behind.  As I thought about Cassie I thought about that drum again.  She got such a delight playing that drum.  I believe that although the sound didn’t stand out it did to God!  I think that he delighted in the road she was on and the sound of her praise!

I had the drum pushed in front of the podium as I talked about Cassie.  I didn’t really know Cassie but to me that drum symbolized her.  It wasn’t shiny, it wasn’t loud, it could be easily forgotten and yet it wasn’t.  God doesn’t forget about us either.  Unlike man he is not concerned about our outside appearance but looks at our hearts.  Luke 5:31-32 states that Jesus told them”It is not the healthy that need a doctor it is the sick, I have not come to call the righteous.”  Don’t we all need Jesus?  The answer of course is yes but we have to admit that we are sick.  Many are too proud to make such an admission.  Cassie was not because she was honest and real!

After I talked Jeremy gave his message.  The drum was not moved and as I listened I couldn’t help but think of Cassie again.  Looking at that drum I knew that I was right.  It isn’t a pretty instrument.  In fact it seemed to have many flaws.  When you think about it though isn’t that the way it is with us? Who can honestly say that they are not flawed?  Yet, I am convinced that something about that drum is very special to God.  In my mind I see Cassie playing it with feeling and desire.  I see her doing exactly what she felt God wanted and that made her and her drum very beautiful in his sight!

 

My Love Is Endless

I had a very short dream last night.  I was sitting in this glass building and people on the outside were going to work.  It reminded me of some of those TV sets that you can see the people on the outside trying to get the attention of the camera.  This was just the opposite though.  From my seat on the inside I was paying attention to the people on the outside.  I saw several people and they were getting attention like famous people do.  Each one seemed delighted and happy that they were known and were greeted in such a loving way.  Several people passed and I was watching every one.  Suddenly a familiar face walked by.  It was the bearded face of Leo Buscaglia who was affectionately known as the love doctor because he had the ability to verbalize love as he saw it.  “Hey Buscaglia”, I shouted.  He had a smile on his face and he kind of looked around.  He heard me but didn’t see me.  I could tell though that he was pleased to be recognized and it made him happy.  Suddenly I woke up and I felt the spirit of God so powerfully in my spirit.

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Normally in my stories I might give the background of Buscaglia.  I might tell his story and how he became “the love doctor.”  The message that I got though wasn’t really about Buscaglia.  Buscaglia had ideas about love but they were always self driven.  His message was about making the effort to love and everything we needed to do to embrace love.  My dream with him in it was simply a way that God used to get me on the subject of love.  “Lord, what was that all about?”, I wondered.  Without hesitation the Holy Spirit within me gave the answer.  “I want you to know how how much I love you.”

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Usually the passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 is applied to how we should love. I was told that the description of how we should love comes from how he loves us.  Starting with verse 4 we read “love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude , it is not self seeking.  It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.

God gave me a revelation of the peaceful feeling we get when we give our lives to him.  Jesus told his disciples that it is necessary for him to go.  He promised that he would send the comforter to them.  This comforter is of course the Holy Spirit.  That comfort and peace that he gives us is him showing his love in us.  When we embrace it and open ourselves up to following his spirit it becomes something we want to share!  It is not us generating the love like Buscaglia taught, but it is just accepting God’s love within us and letting that spirit of love he gives spread to those we come in contact with.

Something else was revealed to me this morning.  That peaceful loving feeling that the Holy Spirit gives us as he enters our lives will be with us throughout eternity.  That spirit will be only of love.  We will be surrounded by loved ones in a lovely place beyond description with a love in our hearts that will never die!  I Corinthians 2:9 states that “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.”

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Buscaglia taught us to embrace love, but God is letting us know that he wants us to embrace him.  Since God is love it is like directly plugging into the power source!  His message this morning is that we cannot comprehend how much he loves us!  It is a love so deep, so strong, and so heart felt that he was willing to sacrifice his only son for us. Emerge yourself in his endless love!  John 15:13 states that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Love
By Lewis Hamilton
From the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

That rock song speaks of love
playing on the radio
Words are ringing from their lips
but the meaning they don’t know

We know the meaning of the word
if we’ve been truly saved
No greater love was ever shown
when Jesus’ life he gave

To rescue us from all hell’s flames
he brought us back to God again
With a loving heart from heaven above
God sent his son to show us love

This love so great can’t be explained
by earthly men with earthly brains
It goes beyond our normal mind,
a love so real, a love so kind

To sacrifice his only son
for our salvation to be won
The blood he spilled upon the tree,
he died for you, he died for me

The song plays on, the words are sung
The truth is never heard
The greatest love song there ever was
is written in God’s word.

This is how God showed his
love among us. He sent his one
and only Son into the world that
we might live through him.

I John 4:9

The Spam Invasion

The other day I missed an important message in my email.  Part of the problem was what I call the spam invasion.  Spam in email talk is unwanted and unsolicited emails that are sent at random and find a home in your email.  In my case the spam emails were all around the important one and contributed to me overlooking what I needed to look at.  So how and why do we get so many spam emails?

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Let us suppose that you built a very unique mouse trap.  Let’s say that your mouse trap caught mice faster and could trap several of them at once.  Have you ever heard the saying that “you can build the worlds best mousetrap but if no one knows it, it doesn’t do any good?”  Well that is the case of anything even if it is a multi-million dollar idea.  Mary Kay Ash said that “ideas are a dime a dozen, people who implement them are priceless.”  I’m reminded of a commercial encouraging people to send in their invention ideas.  Someone saw the clapper which was a system attached to a light where all you had to do was clap your hands to turn it on.  “Hey, that was my idea”, they sadly proclaimed.

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People that have ideas to make money want to get them out in the public.  Usually the cost would be enormous.  That is where spam mail can help.  You send your 100 friends or people that you know their emails this email.  “Kill more mice in less time” and send it their way.  Let’s say that 5 our of 100 buy your mouse trap.  You get thinking that if you sent out 100 emails and 5 bought if you could send out 1,000 or 10,000 what would sales look like?  The only problem is that you don’t know of any more email addresses.  Good news…there are companies out there that will sell you email addresses.  You decide to pay the fee and get your addresses and you are in the spam email business.  Multiply this by the hundreds of people trying to get their idea out there at a reasonable price and it is no wonder we get so many spam emails.

Years ago there was a different spam invasion.  You see the original spam product is meat that was packaged by a company called Hormel.  Invented in 1937 it involved taking pork shoulder meat and combining it with ham, salt, water, sugar, and using sodium nitrate as a preservative.  The contents were packaged air tight in a can and the meat remained fresh.  Spam could be eaten cold or could be heated up as desired.  The need for such a product came to the fore front in World War II.  Spam became a main food for the U.S. Army and other armies.  During WWII and the occupations that came after Spam was introduced  in Guam, Hawaii, Okinawa, the Philippines , and other islands in the Pacific.  Over 150 million pounds of Spam was purchased by the military before the war ended.  Here at home Spam became a big hit too because of it’s expanded shelf life, affordability, and convenience.  3.8 cans of Spam were consumed per second in the United States in the 90’s.  Spam is especially popular in Hawaii as it consumes more Spam per capital than any other state.

What is it about the word spam that made it the description for unwanted emails.  Well let’s start with the description of Spam again.  Spam was convenient and fast.  Spam was not the best meat or the most healthy meat you could eat.  Spam was easy to transport because it was packaged so efficiently.  Spam made Hormel into a world known company that today employs 20,700 people and has annual sales of 9.16 billion dollars.  In the same way spam email has been the start of many successful companies today.

I was thinking about this spam email invasion and realized that it works the same way in our walk with God.  How many times have you wanted to have a closer walk with God but something gets in the way?  Like how spam email got in the way of my important message the enemy uses his spam to get our mind off what is really important in life.  You look at things that are top priorities in our lives that we might be ashamed to admit.  A job, a house, things, sports, money, power, admiration, and even our families are put right at the top of our list of important things in life.  All of these things I listed are temporary.  The enemy uses these things to get our eye off what we are really here for.

What Consumes Your Mind, Controls Your Life

The number one thing that we should all be concerned about is where we will spend eternity.  While all of those other concerns are here today and gone tomorrow eternity lasts forever.  Yet today the spam invasion lives in our lives.  Our mind goes from one thing to another in a quest of the temporary form of happiness.  The cheap spam ads are all around us and penetrate our minds.  The more we let in the more they take control of us.  Over time we are controlled by desires of material success, fame, or whatever else the spam ads are pushing us into.

There is an alternative to the cheap spam that comes into our lives every day.  The solution is a deep relationship with Jesus Christ.  Jesus was God but came into this world to die for your sins and mine.  He is the only way to eternal life.  While spam in our lives tries to hide the message it is there.  We need to take the spam out of our lives.  Filter it out as we would use a filter in our emails.  You know the filter that puts those emails into junk.  Even with a filter some spam emails get through.  Spammers have become efficient at wording things and disguising their emails so that our filters do not catch them.  They end up cluttering our list and important emails can still be missed.  The same is true in the messages that are thrown at us every day.

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The solution to our dilemma is to use a much stronger filter.  We need to give ourselves completely to God and let him be our filter of what to do with things that come our way.  He alone can give us peace and happiness.  He alone can give us eternal life.  His message is out there in your hearts email.  Peal away the spam that the enemy has placed in your heart and you will find it.  When you do you will see clearly the jewel in a world of spam.

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