Can’t Remember Names!

 I’m barely keeping up. Which basically means that I’m not.

With Names

I see people I know, but can’t remember their names. It’s embarrassing and awkward. Then as I walk away their names come to me within 15 seconds.

After nearly 40 years of ministry, I still struggle with meeting new people and then forgetting their names almost instantly.

With The Pace of Life

Tomorrow is August 1. What happened to June? Did we skip July? I’ve traveled some this summer. Between the trips, family gatherings, church events, weddings, funerals, birthdays, and so forth, the summer has flown by at light speed.

There is more going on with people and places than I can manage.

Now Jesus

It isn’t fair to compare myself with him. He had some scheduling advantages. He wasn’t married, didn’t have children, didn’t own a home, have yard work, or need to get his cars serviced. Seems like his days were more productive than mine. And he got up while it was dark and found quiet places to pray. Maybe that’s why?

Then he had all the people with all their needs and concerns. Every day he took care of those who were:

  1. Hungry
  2. Hurting
  3. Deaf
  4. Blind
  5. Lame
  6. Leprous
  7. Demon Possessed
  8. Diseased
  9. Deceased
  10. Lost
  11. Defiled
  12. Unwanted

While daily helping the multitudes, he also had to cope with enemies, detractors, and persecutors. He was daily confronted by Rabbis and Pharisees who challenged him with questions both sincere and duplicitous. It must have been exhausting. Was it? 

To Close

Did Jesus ever feel like he couldn’t keep up? Did he get tired? Was he ever frustrated by their constant wants and desires? Probably not.  

Either way, I’m guessing he was good with names.  

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Shalom

“Needs More Salt!”

My introduction to the importance of salt came from football.

Two-A-Days

For a week in August we practiced mornings and afternoons. The heat and humidity were horrific. We were soaking wet by the time we got to the practice field. After each work out, we were given salt pills to avoid cramping. They said it was vital that we did.

football practice
Took salt pills to prevent cramping 

Salt had other uses too.

Sore Throat

We gargled warm salt water for a sore throat. I can’t remember if it helped. We ended up at the Doctor’s office anyway. 

salt into water
Gargling with salt water for sore throats?

Food

I remember my Dad, after the prayer, reaching for the salt and pepper shakers. So, we followed his example. Mom would say, “You should taste the food first.” She was right. 

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We shake a lot of salt on our food!

Clearing Ice

We cleared ice from the front steps and walk ways with salt. Not sure why the salt melted the ice, but it did.

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Not my sidewalk or my bucket, but close, really very close.

Jesus Said

“You are the salt of the earth.”

That’s Matthew 5:13. I guess those who heard understood what it meant. The Jews knew the importance of salt, especially those living in the desert regions.

Bible Applications

  • Flavor
  • Preserving
  • Medicinal
  • Essential for life
  • Influence

Do believers bring a sweet flavor to life? Do they preserve the world with righteous influence? Do people of faith bring healing? Are we essential to the world because we are its salt?

The Salt Covenant

Scripture mentions a Salt Covenant. It was primarily about trust. Each side trusted the other to sustain the agreements. The agreements were established and then salt was exchanged, the salt was a symbol of life. With God, he trusts us to give him our obedience and we trust him to provide what he promised.

To Close

Was there a Salt Covenant between Jesus and his disciples? Were they the salt the Messiah sent into the world? They changed the world by their influence, healing, and their Messianic message, and trusted Jesus to be with them always.

Do we have a Salt Covenant with Christ?

A Recipe for Friendship

I’m thinking about friendship this morning.

The Recipe

What makes a good and lasting friendship? What’s the recipe? Here’s some ingredients:

  1. Things in common
  2. Shared experiences
  3. Compatibility
  4. Similar interests
  5. Mutual trust and respect

And?

There’s something to be said about liking each other; it’s a key factor in forming a friendship. What is it we like?

  1. Talking
  2. Laughing
  3. Adventure
  4. Values
  5. Perspective
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Not my friends, but close, really very close.

The Odd Couple

However, I have close friends who are different, or I’m different from them.

I have a close friend who loves to hunt, loves everything about it, and is good at it. Me? I don’t hunt, don’t care for it, and don’t want to kill anything. But we are great friends. Go figure?

Another close friend is a thrill seeker. Loves adventure and excitement. Loves to jet ski, ride horses, and is up for anything interesting or exciting. Loves to be outside gardening, doing yard work, and getting sweaty and dirty, and yet is fastidious about being neat and clean. I don’t like any of those things.

Another great friend is a world class fly fisherman who lives on a world-class fly fishing river. But he rarely fly-fishes. His summers are spent helping and serving others. He’s a Pastor in a small mountain community and he invests all his time caring for his flock. I admire him. But I would want to fish more!

One of my closest friends is way smarter than me. By smarter I mean, higher I.Q., quicker mind, faster conceptually, gets the point before I do. Why we are friends I’ll never know. It’s hard for me to keep up and hard for my friend to wait for me. Anyway, we get along.

To Close

 Frankly, I don’t get the friendship recipe, but I know a good friend is a wonderful thing.

To my friends, thanks for being my friend. We don’t always understand each other, and we have some differences, but somehow, someway, we keep growing closer.

Thank you.

The Faces

Someone said, “I’m not two faced, if I had another face I’d wear it.”

Other Face Statements:

  • “He’s just two faced.”
  • “She has a face for everybody.”
  • “They lost face in that deal.”
  • “You need to face your problem.”
  • “Well, I need to get my face on.”

Some People

I’ve known people who had a face for everyone. They were chameleons, blending and adapting to the behavior and attitudes of whomever they were with. That must take a special talent?  

The Faces of Christ

Jesus was the same with everyone. But he did reveal his personality and showed different “faces.” He knew how to be all things to all people, unless the thing was immoral or immaterial.

Remember when Jesus…

  1. held infants in his arms and blessed them?
  2. challenged the Rabbi’s by asking, “Have you not read?”
  3. rebuked Simon for being a stumbling block?
  4. raised the widow of Nain’s son because his heart went out to her?
  5. felt compassion for the crowds who were sheep without a shepherd?
  6. set his face towards Jerusalem and the awaiting cross?
  7. wept with Mary and Martha?
  8. was “frustrated” by his disciple’s lack of faith?

Relating to Jesus

Some can’t relate to Jesus because he lived a perfect life. Thats tough to relate to. But consider that he also cried, felt sadness and happiness, and loved his mom. At times he appeared angry, frustrated, and impatient. Perhaps he wasn’t, but he wasn’t gentle and calm when he drove out the money changers and overturned their tables.

To Close

Look for his face for humanity, it’s there. It was a face full of human emotions. See him on the cross, scorning its shame, and asking…

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

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Our joy is the cross, for it’s an abiding symbol of his mercy and grace. But for Jesus?

The Story of One

My name is Richard. But I’ve been Rick or Ricky since birth.

What’s in A Name?

Richard” is a combination of two words:

  1. Ric: ruler, leader, powerful, king
  2. Hard: strong, brave, hardy

Therefore, Richard means “strong in rule.”

Some Things I’ve Ruled

  1. Captain of HS football team
  2. Editor of School Newspaper
  3. President of Hope For Haiti’s Children
  4. Executive Committee of Habitat for Humanity
  5. Milk-Monitor in third grade

A Let Down?

My life fell short of my name. I’m king of nothing, rule nothing, and have never been characterized as powerful, brave, or hardy. However, I totally owned that milk-monitor thing. If you wanted milk then you had to go through me. I ruled.

What’s In A Name?

“Jesus” is the English derivative of the Hebrew word: “Yeshua”

  1. It means salvation.
  2. Or, salvation of God.

Who Did He Save?

  1. A woman caught in adultery
  2. A thief on a cross
  3. Those raised from the dead
  4. A tax collector
  5. Mankind from their sins

A Let Down?

His life lived up to his name. He brought God’s forgiveness. He became King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He was Emanuel, “God with Us.” He was the lamb who took away the sins of the world.

He healed the demon-possessed, the deaf, and the blind. He restored mobility to the lame. Even the lepers knew his healing power. He cleansed our sins and destroyed the power of death. He reigns over us. He rules.

The Bible
Not the savior of the world, but close, really close!

The Prophesy

My name suggested that I’d rule with power, I haven’t. His name suggested that he would save the world. He did.

It was prophesied that Jesus would fulfill everything written about the Messiah in the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets, he did that too.

To Close

This morning, my sermon will demonstrate that the beatitudes were not just “random” statements, but teaching that came from Isaiah, specifically Isaiah 61. It’s the story of one, of one Savior from Genesis to Revelation.  

It all points to Him!

Life In The Back

I’m a front seat guy, usually. 

What?

If given the choice, I’ll sit in the front, the front of the classroom or at the head of the table. I want to be close to the stage at a play, musical, or concert.

Exceptions?

Sure. I don’t want the front row in a movie theater or the front table in a restaurant. But otherwise, it’s the front seats for me.

However

There are advantages to life in the back:

  • There’s anonymity.
  • You can see everybody.
  • It’s where kids can get rowdy.
  • You can sleep, use your phone, or talk.

In my church, people come early to get a back seat. They want to be as far away from me as possible and still be in church. Unless there’s a children’s program. Then people come an hour early to get front-row seats. It’s madness. I’ve seen people get snippy about the front seats at a children’s performance. Then Sunday morning, its back to the back.

I think people sit in the back because there aren’t any chairs in the parking lot.

crowded church
Not my church or my members, not even close. But they sure like to sit in the back!

Other Reasons?

  • People don’t like to be noticed.
  • They’re leaving early and don’t want to be a distraction.
  • They don’t feel well and may have to go out.
  • The want to be the last ones in and the first ones out.

Wednesday Night

We sat in the back this past Wednesday. There was noise and distraction. People arriving late want to sit in the back. It’s funny on Sunday mornings when the only available seats are on the front rows. People who normally populate the back are forced to fill the front. They seem uncomfortable, like they are with foreigners. 

In Closing

Life in the back is different. I guess life in the front is different too. At the end of the day, I’m just glad everyone shows up.

It’s a biased statement, and I have no theology for it, but I think Jesus was a front row person. It’s just a thought.

Shalom

A Fork In The Road?

Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Good Advice?

It has some folksy wisdom since you’ve got to go one way or the other. It’s a trail trial, a challenge to going forward.

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An ATV trip in the Colorado Mountains is a spectacular experience!

Trail Trials

We faced some trail trials on a recent ATV trip in the Colorado Mountains. There were times when we had to go around because the trail was impassable. There were:

  1. Tall snow drifts
  2. Deep mud holes
  3. Fallen trees across the trail
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There were several areas that were impassable.

Where There’s a Will

There’s a way. We maneuvered around the obstacles, reached the top and eased over to the other side. But were immediately faced with something new.

It was a herd of elk.

elk herd
They didn’t hurry, didn’t rush, just calmly walked to the trees and were gone.

They were lounging in a meadow below us. We watched for a while then tried to get closer, but couldn’t. They got up and calmly walked to the tree line and disappeared. They were big, powerful, and majestic.

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Seeing elk in the mountains is an amazing thing to see!

Lewis & Clark?

We didn’t blaze a dangerous trail. Stories won’t be told. But there were some places where we might have chosen to turn back.

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It wasn’t a rugged trail, but there was an old rugged cross.

I’m so glad we didn’t.

Jesus And Trail Trials?

Luke 9 recorded that Jesus, “Resolutely set his face towards Jerusalem.” He followed his trail to the Holy City, to Passover, and through the gate to Golgotha’s cross.

His trials were of human and Satanic nature. Matthew recorded one that encompassed both. Jesus told his disciples about his impending death. Then Peter responded:

“Never Lord,” he said. “This shall never happen to you.”

“Then Jesus said, ‘Get behind me Satan, you are a stumbling block to me.’”

Our trials weren’t as intense, our stumbling blocks less severe. And at the end we had a beautiful experience. His trials were insanely intense, his stumbling blocks more challenging. And at the end he had the hateful cross.

We dealt with our trials by going around them, moving on to a pleasant place. He dealt with his by going through them, moving on to a determined death.

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To Close

There was a fork in the road. We took the easy path. He took the other one. It made all the difference.

Shalom

Having Divine DNA

“You’re the spitting image of your father.”

“You look more like your mom every day.”

Such Things

Such things are said when children mirror their parents. It may be their looks, how they talk, or their mannerisms and personalities. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” we sometimes say.

father son playing guitar
Kids want to be like their parents.

A couple of weeks ago, a good friend said to my adult son, “You are becoming more and more like your dad” I’m not sure how he felt about that? But I loved it!

Nurture/Nature

Is it DNA? Something genetic that gets passed down? Or is it nurturing within the family culture? We imitate those we are closest to.

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Sons want to be as strong as their Dads.

Fathers and Sons

Not to bias this piece with gender, but there’s an interesting beatitude about sons and the Father in Mathew 5:9:

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God.”

It’s The Only Beatitude That:

  1. Requires a specific action: “the peacemakers.”
  2. Promises a blessing of words: “will be called”
  3. Connects behavior with relationship: “sons of God.”
dad and son changing tire
Be with your father, become like your father.

The Context

“Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. Now when he saw the crowds…”  (Matthew 4:25, 5:1)

The eight blessings were rooted in the Psalms and the Prophets. The huge crowds of Jewish people understood what he said and what it meant. For them, the diseased, paralyzed, and demon-possessed, the outcast and lost sheep of Israel, Jesus offered connection, he offered them the Father.

To Close

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, for the Father embeds his divine DNA in the hearts and minds of his children.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.”

Shalom is a word the Jews say when greeting and parting from each another. 

It means Peace.

 

Believe It or Not!

Some things don’t make sense. Or, they don’t make sense to me.

Some Examples

  1. I don’t understand the internet, how so much information comes through a tiny wire into millions of homes and to millions of cell phones.
  2. I don’t understand road construction. Enough said.
  3. I don’t understand airplanes. I get there is less air over the wing and more air under it. Still, the weight of a passenger plane seems too heavy for flight.

Here’s A Thing

I recently went on an ATV trip into the Colorado high country. We got up to 12,000 feet. It was the last day of June, the sun was warm, and used sunscreen to prevent burning.

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It was so hot I nearly took my shirt off. Nobody wanted me too.

Yet, there were large patches of snow, and drifts over my head. I wore a shirt and shorts, and was often too warm. Was tempted to take off my shirt!  

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A huge snowdrift in summer!

Here’s Another Thing

I learned about Bristlecone Pine trees. They only grow at high elevation and rugged conditions. They appear to be rooted in stone. They are known to live for 3,000 years there’s a tree in California believed to be 5,000 years old. It’s the oldest known living tree in the world.

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The Bristlecone Pine, living at 12,000 feet and rooted in rock!

Here’s One More Thing

Jesus walked on water. He cured the sick and healed diseases. He gave hearing to the deaf, sight to the blind, and mobility to the lame. He cured the decaying skin of lepers and raised the dead.

I don’t comprehend that kind of power. On the other hand, he was there when his Father created the world. And nothing was made that wasn’t made through him, (John 1:1-2).

Do I believe God’s son created the world then balk at his power to heal? The former makes the latter a reality.  

To Close

Snow in summer, the internet, air travel, and the Bristlecone. Each are a mystery. Jesus our Messiah was raised from the dead, forgave sin, healed people, and then gave us the Holy Spirit.

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I believe. 

 Shalom

Two Amazing Places

It’s one of my favorite places, requires four-wheel drive, and sits at 11,000 feet.

What?

It’s Lake Kerr, a few miles from Platoro, Colorado. It’s not a huge lake, but it’s one of the most beautiful. When the wind is calm, the surface is like a polished mirror, reflecting the brilliant blue sky. 

Kerr Lake 4
Lake Kerr, Colorado, one of my favorite places!

I have fly fished the lake, have walked its shore, and have picnicked with friends. There are snowcapped peaks around it, and occasionally, the elk will step out from the spruce into the lush meadows of green grass and high mountain flowers.

Kerr Lake 3
Like a polished mirror, amazing!

It’s not easy to get to. At its worst, the road is impassable. At its best, it requires four-wheel drive, and even then, you’ll wonder if you’ll make it. But, it’s so worth the effort.

Another Favorite Place

The Sea of Galilee is also one of my favorite places. It’s not actually a sea, but a lake, and surrounded by low mountains and hills, and Mt. Herman is usually snow-capped. They aren’t as majestic as the Colorado Rockies, but still really beautiful.

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The Sea of Galilee in Israel, an inspiring place!

I haven’t fly fished the lake, or walked around its shore, or had picnics with friends. It doesn’t require four-wheel drive to get to, but it does take some effort, it’s in Israel! I’ve worshipped there with friends, sometimes on the shore, and sometimes from a boat at sunset.

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Sea of Galilee at sunset

I have visited and studied the ancient villages and synagogues that exist around its shores, or close to them. And I’ve been deeply moved by its history and biblical significance:

  • It’s where Peter, Andrew, James and John made their living.
  • It’s where  Peter caught the fish with two coins.
  • Jesus calmed its storms that terrified his apostles.
  • It’s where he performed the miraculous catch of fish, twice.
  • It’s where he called his first disciples.
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Maybe my favorite lake and one of my favorite places to visit! 

To Close

Both lakes stir my soul. The former because of its overwhelming beauty. The other because of its overwhelming significance. I’ve shared both places with friends. I’ve prayed and worshiped in both, and found peace, silence, and the still quiet voice of the Spirit.

Lake Kerr is where I see the face of God. The Sea of Galilee is where I see Jesus walking on the water. At least in my heart!

Two favorite places.

Shalom