Remember being in junior high school – everybody was against you, and nobody would let you do anything you wanted?  If only you could be in high school, because they could do anything, even drive when they got old enough.

Remember being in high school – nobody would let you do what you wanted?  You were an adult, almost, and you should be able to make your own decisions.  If only you could graduate right now, and then go to college or get a job, and everything would be perfect.

Remember being in your first job, thinking about how you didn’t have enough money to do what you wanted, how you had to live in a little apartment or with your parents, and thinking to the future where you would be rich and could do anything you want?  Get married, buy a car, buy a house – the possibilities are endless.

This sounds a little like “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” –  and there’s some truth to that.  Certain parts of other people’s lives can look appealing, but we don’t always see the whole picture.

But this isn’t a “be peaceful and accept your lot in life” meditation.  There’s some truth to that, too – but that goes against the Proverbs 31 wife.  Verse 16 says “She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.”.  That isn’t passive.

I am not recommending some sort of middle ground, where sometimes you’re active and sometimes you’re passive, based on a coin flip or doing what you want.

John 5:19 says “Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”  And that’s what Jesus does.  He has His own wishes and desires – praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He said “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.”.  He knew it was going to hurt.  And He knew that the physical pain wasn’t going to be the worst part.

But that isn’t where Jesus stopped.  You all know that He continued “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Jesus could have had anything He wanted – that is how Satan tempted Him. But Jesus, though He had a choice, did His Father’s will.

And that is what we are celebrating now – the death of Jesus on the cross, in the body and blood represented with the wafer and the juice, and the resurrection on the third day that gives us hope.  Let’s pray.

Father God, Jesus showed us how to live perfect lives.  He was in fellowship with You, and it cost Him His life, and gave us eternal life.  Help us to live not wanting more, but wanting Your perfect will.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Communion meditation June 6, 2021

I’ve had my “new car” for seven years. About 95K miles on it so far.

The dealership keeps on wanting me to buy something newer, trade it on on that “new car feel” or something. I’m smart enough to thank them kindly, and save my shekels.

This time, though, they are trying something different. This is as clipped from the email – no editing, no photoshop.

The way I interpret it, the “care wash” means that I won’t have any more cares, because of the free car. And yes, that would be a special day.

Point A: If I get up the nerve to try it, I’ll let you know how it comes out.

Point B: Good to know that I can always get a job as a proof-reader. I’d want to read the employment contract very carefully.

Jim Knowles died earlier this month. He wasn’t a large man, but he was a big man.

He was big on his family.

He was big on his wife, Nancy.

And he was big on Jesus. A licensed minister, a holder of a Masters degree in Religion, and he had more than twenty years of service as a minister in a couple different churches. I don’t have pictures, but I have memories of him. He’s sitting in his rocker, early in the morning and late at night, Bible on his lap or right next to him.

He wasn’t an ivory-tower saint – he lived in the world, knew how it worked, and understood people. And loved them.

One thing I don’t understand, though, is how to reconcile the fact that the Bible says that there will not be marriage in Heaven, in contrast to the eternal love Jim had for Nancy.

God will work it all out. Jim trusted Him, eternally, and God is still working out His plans through Jim and his legacy.

Every one of us are unique.  We are created in the image of God, but we are not identical.  We all have something that we’re born with, maybe something that has happened to us, that makes us different than anyone else.  My wife Bettie has something that’s different, and only shows up when her hands get cold.

She has a thing called Raynaud’s Syndrome.  How it works is that some of her blood vessels like to go overboard – they clamp off the blood supply to part of her fingers if she gets too cold.

Fortunately, there’s an easy cure for this – just warm up, and everything is fine again.  The blood vessels open up, blood starts flowing, color returns, and everybody’s happy.

If she doesn’t get warmed up, I imagine there could be some significant consequences – we all need the blood to flow to keep on living.

And then I realized this is true for us spiritually.  If we don’t have the blood of Christ, we don’t have life.  1 Peter 1, verse 18 and into 19, says

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ

And that is what we’re celebrating now, the life-giving body and blood of our sinless Redeemer and Lord, available to all who answer the call.  Let’s pray.

Father God, You know us.  You see us in all of our imperfection, and You love us anyway.  You love us so much that You sent Your perfect, spotless Son to die in our place.  We are called to remember that, and to celebrate it.  We thank You so much for that priceless gift, the blood that washes away our sins.  We thank You for the gift of eternal life, and the calling to follow Jesus Christ down that narrow road.  In His name I pray, amen.

Communion meditation April 11, 2021

Nobody wants them. From Exodus 32, verses 7 and 11:

7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.

11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?

Almost a game of Hot Potato. God, as He does, came out the winner – and also accepted the Israelites back. He is good, at many levels.

Ohio crossed one million cases of Covid-19 on. Monday.

I had it right after Christmas.

That makes me one in a million!

I heard something interesting the other day.  Seems like newspapers are having trouble getting the newsprint to publish their papers.  All that paper is apparently being turned into cardboard boxes for shipments from Amazon.

During these times of pandemic and quarantine, it seems like people may not know what they want, but they sure do want it now.  Psychologists have a concept called delayed gratification – the idea is that a person is willing to give up something now to get something more later.  I’m afraid that next-day shipping has thrown all that out the window.

But I don’t think that’s a very good way to think.  Goes against the idea of working towards a goal, of understanding what’s important and putting forth effort to get there.  That credit card bill is coming soon – there is always a price to be paid.

Delayed gratification reminds me of the description of Jesus, described in Hebrews 12:2 –

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Would it have felt better for Jesus to avoid the cross?  Yes, definitely.  Would it have been easier for Him to not be scourged, whipped, had a crown of thorns forced over His head?  I have no doubt.

But those things are a short-term release – immediate gratification.  Jesus had His eyes set on the long term – on eternity – because He knew what mattered.

With this delayed gratification, Jesus isn’t teaching us a life hack, one weird trick to get into Heaven.  He is showing us that being obedient to the Father is the only way to live.  His sacrifice on the cross, that buys our salvation and which we celebrate now, is a recognition of that, and a calling to that level of sacrifice.  Let’s pray.

Father God, you created us.  You created us with free will – we can choose the route of immediate gratification, or we can choose the straight and narrow road that leads to life – eternal life.  Thank You for the gift of Jesus to pay the price for our sins, and to be our Savior and our Lord.  In His name I pray, Amen.

I have been missing a lot of church services lately – my work has kept me away about half the Sundays. I participate online, but I have to say that there is something joyful in corporate worship – singing, taking communion together, hearing the Word preached.

And that reminds me of the words of King David, in Psalm 122:1: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.” He was happy, joyful.

Then on one of those “compare and contrast” moments, we have Jesus cleaning out the Temple. In the book of John, it is recorded that Jesus made a whip out of cords, and used it on the people. And in John 2:16-17 “Then he said to the pigeon-dealers, “Take those things out of here. Don’t you dare turn my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered the scripture — ‘Zeal for your house has eaten me up’”. Jesus wants to be joyful in the temple, but cannot be when it is being used for other purposes. He needed the temple to be holy.

We come now to the time of communion, where Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of Me”. This is a time of joy and happiness, as well as a time of becoming more holy. 1 Corinthians 11:28 says “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” That is not Jesus coming in with a whip. It is an invitation for us to take a look at how we have been keeping our own temple, an invitation to be holy, and invitation to joy.

Let’s pray.

Father God, You know us, better than we know ourselves. Thank You for loving us, thank You for sending Jesus to die in our place, and thank You for continually calling us to holiness. Thank You for the ever-present reminder of communion, whether in the church house or wherever we are – because You are with us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

At Meijer yesterday, I wasn’t impressed at how well my fellow shoppers followed instructions – they got both sides 100% wrong.

They redeemed themselves by keeping the pattern up once it was started.

Good job. Silver star for you.

I started a project in June to re-digitize all my CDs. Finished all the CDs I could locate, turning them into FLAC files. I know I’m missing some, and I didn’t do my vinyl (the project could grow infinitely).

I used the excellent dBpoweramp and the accompanying PerfectTUNES to get the audio off and locate cover art. Again, still more work to do. I’m aiming for useful, not perfection.

Then Google Music shut down, so I downloaded everything I had sent to the cloud, which filled in some gaps and added some Amazon samplers as MP3s. Google downloads don’t know about folders, and every download has the group and album built into the song title. I could fix that, but the project could grow infinitely, as I may have mentioned before.

I spent some time cleaning up folder names and structures, and was finally ready to transfer it all to my phone (I really don’t like YouTube Music, Google’s replacement – it’s structured for them instead of for me, and rather forcefully. Gmail, Google Drive, and Keep are tools for me. YTMusic is all them.). And without a slot for an external memory card, it wouldn’t all fit on my phone.

I’d given myself a budget of 40G for music – seems right on a 128G phone. I had almost 180G of music. On my PC that’s fine – a 10T drive holds that without blinking. But for my phone I achieved 450% of my goal. If I was selling Girl Scout cookies that would be great. With a limited container, not so much.

With much hacking and chopping, making hard decisions, I got down to 50G and couldn’t see much more fat.

Today, Christmas of 2020, I have finally transferred all that music to my phone. No playlists yet, but I have the source material.

I verified the transfer with the always-helpful Beyond Compare. I’m playing the music through Musicolet, a local player. Yes, I paid for the upgrade to be able to cast to the TV (thank you, Google Opinion Rewards!).

Now I can carry around 2,444 songs – that’s 176 hours of music, so I can go a week without repeating – in my pocket.

Merry Christmas, Steve!