Recently Brenda and I had our grandchildren for an overnight. In the morning she opened the shades in the room of two year old Cameron. He looked out of the window and exclaimed “sticks!” He was seeing the top of a very dead tree on the far west side of the house. To him branches without leaves are sticks.
October is the month I most associate with leaves. The months to follow are the seasons of sticks. October is a time of colorful leaves and the ripening of fruit. October is a mature season as nature utilizes the summer growing season and produces ripened fruit, nuts, and seeds.
The Bible speaks of leaves in interesting ways. In Genesis 8:11 leaves signal the earth’s renewal following the flood. In Psalm 1:3 leaves reference the productivity of the Kingdom. In Revelation 22:2 leaves’ purpose is “medicine to heal the nations”, a sign that the fullness of life in “the tree of life” has been opened for God’s people to enjoy. Death and dying have been overcome with life. Brokenness and sin among nations and people have been healed in Christ.
Perhaps in October we will take trips to revel in the splendor of autumn leaves, or we will find ourselves gathering the leaves together that have fallen. Perhaps our children or grandchildren (or we) will enjoy jumping into a fresh raked pile of leaves. When we experience these things we remember that these colorful and spent leaves, having completed their life-giving work to trees, also represent the life that God gives us in Jesus Christ. He gave himself that we might have life and have it to the fullest.
Does Jesus Ask to Much?
Luke 14: 25-33
Rally Day has varying meanings in churches. Ours is no different.
But the point is Rally Day is a time to get focused and start a season of growth and commitment.
After the baptism of his baby brother in church, little Johnny sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, “That pastor said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I want to stay with you guys!”
A LOOK @ LUKE 14: 25-33
Varies with the person. Note in the Bible how Jesus response varies in the specifics.
REPEAT WITH ME OUR MISSIONAL STATEMENT OF TRINTY CHURCH:
Empowered by God
(This is not Larry Baird’s Church. This is not Nate Lange’s Church. This is not the Administrative Council’s Church. It is God’s Church. We need to understand God’s agenda and get on board.)
Trinity Church Will
(Our sole agenda is to “Offer Christ” and all that means to as many as possible, wherever they are.)
(Trinity Church needs to have a clear path and program to do this and ask if what we are doing contributes to this in measurable ways.)
And Transform the World
(Just as did Jesus, we make one disciple at a time, and Just as Jesus as His body in the world we impact the world when we do that.)
Pastor Larry Baird
School has resumed in most places, and each year we hear stories of children going off to kindergarten for the first time. It takes a lot of courage on the part of the child to make this transition, and perhaps an equal amount on the part of concerned parents. I actually remember my first day of kindergarten. I know that is quite a feat since it was so long ago, but major events such as that have a way of making an indelible impression. In the news this morning there was an account of a child's worse nightmare. A 5-year-old boy was let off a bus miles from home. Thankfully a caring adult found him, and the police eventually got him home. It will take an extra dose of courage the next time he boards the bus.
Today I also led a worship service at a nursing home and spoke on the subject of courage. It occured to me that many of the residents were also in a situation that requires courage. It has been said that growing old is not for the faint of heart. With uncharacteristic attention the elderly congregation listened carefully as I spoke. I began with asking them if perhaps they could remember their first day leaving home for kindergarten. I then talked about the many times and places in life that called for varying degrees of courage. Was there one who had to find courage as a soldier? Was there another who had to face some family situation with courage? Were any in need of courage for facing the mental, physical, and spiritual challenges of advanced age?
The Bible speaks frequently of courage. It recognizes that it is a key element in living life. Deuteronomy 31: 7 and 8 share Moses' advice to the emergent leader Joshua. "Be strong and courageous!" "Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you or abandon you." ( NLT) This Old Testament reference foreshadows the Christian understanding of courage. There we are told to live courageous lives in the knowledge that Jesus Christ is present in the life of the believer through every aspect of life and death. "Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong." 1 Corinthians 16: 13 (NLT)
In what area of your life do you need courage? Consider your relationship with Jesus Christ, and be of good courage. He has gone before you and through faith He will journey with you to give you courage and strength.
Pastor Larry Baird
September 5, 2013
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
*This blog entry is from Pastor Baird's article in Trinity Church's Summer edition of TRINITY TIDINGS
Of all the past times I miss the most are the summers that made up my life during my elementary school years. July and August were quite simply giant, extravagant Sabbath rests. I have not experienced summers like that since, and only anticipate to do so again in retirement. Brenda may have other ideas for me, but let me dream for a moment.
The summers I remember were free from anything resembling appointments, except for Sunday mornings. We were a family who worshipped 52 Sundays a year. The rest of the week entailed enjoying the outdoors, reading, and generally indulging in the finer things in life. Outdoors my brother and I would collect insects and keep them for a time in vented glass jars on the back porch. We learned about them that way, came to appreciate their characteristics and then released them back into the bug world. Some days were filled with chasing butterflies with our homemade nets. There were always gardens to tend, and even they seemed not a little like leisure as we sampled strawberries, peas, and anticipated the ripening of many other kinds of fruit and vegetables. There were trees to climb, adventures to be had including trips to Johnson’s Creek to fish for bass, pickerel, bluegills, and bullheads. A special treat would often await upon our return to home base. Most often this was an orange Popsicle. There was a proper way of enjoying these and that was to leisurely suck on them drawing the full flavor from their icy consistency. I would sit on the lowest step of the front porch and lean forward to make sure there were no drips on the steps. They would still melt but the drip would traverse down my arm and drip on the sidewalk where ants would gather to share in the delight. Somehow this became a ritual now imbedded in my mind as a near sacred moment.
I’ll bore you no longer with my tale of “perfect summer” only to ask you to consider if it is possible that today we rob our children, and ourselves of these delightful times. Today we tend to fill our children’s and our times with nearly frenetic appointed and arranged activity. There is no time to hunt for frogs in the low lying fields next door. There is no time to really savor a Popsicle. And so I think, no I know, life gets somehow diminished and we become stressed-out adults raising stressed-out kids. And for what? To find a good life?
God had a word for us. “Be still and know that I am God.” I know now that those summers were a part of my spiritual development.
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, author of the book we are using for the outline for my summer sermon series entitled Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, Intervarsity Press, 2005 writes this in a section called “slowing:”
“The mother was busy hurrying her daughter out the door when the little girl replied, ‘Mommy. Stop! Why are we always in a hurry when we never go anywhere important?’ The little girl intuitively knew that hurry got in the way of what was important. Life is too precious to miss, and the faster we go the more likely we are to miss what really matters.” (p. 79)
So worship this summer. Have some Sabbath rest. Yes, that should include public worship with your brothers and sister in Christ. But, it should also include a leisurely stop at the fishing hole and a time to suck on a Popsicle; preferably orange and using the proper technique. These are important places to go. May we all journey to this sacred space many times this summer.
Excuse me now while I go to the store for some Popsicles. I know two little kids who need to know about this.
The 8 and 10:30 AM sermon series continued this past week as we moved on looking at spiritual disciplines. This week's fpcus was "Relinquishing the False Self." Here is a summary of the key points:
Questions for the Week
Be confident that as you place yourself before God that this God who knows exactly who you are and knows exactly who you could be is willing and capable of transforming you through the work of the Holy Spirit.
THE AUDIO OF THIS MESSAGE CAN BE FOUND ON THIS WEB SITE, MAIN PAGE, BY CLICKING THE SERMON BUTTON.
If you have any questions feel free to include them below or email Pastor Baird at LarryRBaird@gmail.com.