Pray for Veterans, part 1

April 30, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Posted in encouragement, pray, Veterans | Leave a comment
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Sometimes we Americans really take for granted the privileges of freedom. We also struggle with the truth that freedoms we have and most other countries want were bought at a price. Today I want to encourage my readers to pray for the brave men and women who serve in our various branches of the military. Let’s remember those who are either active duty or retired and take the time to intercede for them and their families.

Memorial Day is coming up and it is an important holiday. When I was a little kid my family used to go Bedford Ohio to watch the parade in the morning. We would go and stand in front of the Bedford Cemetery on Broadway to watch the parade. I remember a lot of people showing up for the parade. We would wave flags and clap as the parade went by. My grandmother would put flags and flowers on my grandfather’s and uncle’s graves. Now my uncle puts flowers and flags on those graves and the grave of my father also. Some traditions are worth repeating and communicating to coming generations.

When I was younger I did not understand all of this. I didn’t understand why some people were crying. I didn’t understand why some people were putting their right hand over their heart. I didn’t understand why most people clapped and cheered as the Veterans of Foreign Wars went by. I didn’t understand why all the time was spent just standing in front of a grave. As I type this I can still see it in the pictures of my mind. It is not just something I imagined; I experienced the importance of Memorial Day.

I cannot say that I fully understand what all those men and women went through because I never served in the military. Me and two of my friends registered for the draft when we were seniors in high school. But I think the draft stopped the same year so none of us were drafted. Some readers are too young to know anything about the draft. Birthdates were drawn lottery style and if your number came up, you were in the Army. You also had the option of joining one of the other branches of the military too.

As I got older and was able to do what I wanted to do and go where I wanted to go, I began to understand freedom and its privileges a little better. After God saved me and called me into the ministry and I began to counsel men who had served in Vietnam and I realized how little I knew about the military life and being in combat. So I began to learn and read and ask questions and listen and not judge. I had fewer answers and a lot more questions.

There is still a lot that I do not understand. The older I get the more thankful I am for GRACE. I may even have more questions and fewer answers to why some people go through what they go through. I recently read Daily Strength for the Battle by Chaplain (Col.) Scott McChyrstal (ret.) and I highly recommend it. You can read my review on my Book Review page. If you know of someone who served or is currently serving in the military I suggest you get it and send it to them.

But even more important than that is to pray for them. So let’s pray for the brave men and women who are currently serving and for those who have served in our country’s military. You can personalize these prayer points with specific names if you know someone or pray in a general way. Let’s pray for:

1.      Their protection, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

2.      Their family’s protection and for God’s provision in their lives.

3.      Many to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

4.      The many godly chaplains to do their ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit.

5.      The families that have had loved ones die to experience God’s comfort, mercy and presence as they grieve (2 Corinthians 1:3).

6.      The general public to appreciate what these men and women do to serve their country.

7.      The healing of broken bodies and emotions because of what they have gone through.

8.      That no matter what the circumstances they have experienced, they would turn to God and not away from Him.

9.      However else God may lead you to intercede for someone.

Thank you for praying. Your prayers make a difference and they are important. Someone may not know you are praying for them down here, but Almighty God knows you are praying. God responds to His people’s prayers. Stay faithful and hopeful!

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; John 15:7

A “veteran” – whether active duty, discharged, retired or reserve – is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to the “United States of America,” for an amount “up to and including his/her life.”

–         Anonymous

–         Daily Strength for the Battle, p.12.

____________________________

“The nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools.”

–         Thucydides

If I Knew Then by Brian Willis, p. 59.

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Come, Thou Fount

April 29, 2010 at 9:44 am | Posted in encouragement, hymns, Praise | Leave a comment
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Come, Thou Fount

By Robert Robinson (1735-1790)

1. Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;

Streams of mercy never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet, Sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the mount – I’m fixed upon it – Mount of Thy redeeming love.

2. Hither to Thy love has blest me; Thou hast brought me to this place;

And I know Thy hand will bring me Safely home by Thy good grace.

Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God;

He, to rescue me from danger Bought me with His precious blood.

3. Oh, to grace how great a debtor, Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let Thy goodness, as a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee;

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it – Seal it for Thy courts above.

 

There are a lot of hymns that I like to sing. That’s not to say I like every hymn ever put in a hymnal. I also like many choruses and praise songs and some of the modern songs written for church. What I’m trying to say is that I like a blended song selection to be sung in church. I don’t like the singing part of a worship service to be all one way or the other. I like balanced song selection and singing.

So I will try to pick a hymn a week to put in this blog for my readers. My hope is that they will appreciate the words and thoughts behind them. I also hope they may sing them as an offering to the Lord in their personal prayer or study time. They may even want to suggest to their church’s song leader to consider singing them some Sunday. I do think that our singing in the worship service should be balanced between old and new, traditional and contemporary.

Those are just my thoughts. There will be another hymn next week.

I read an interesting Spurgeon selection this morning at: http://www.reformationtheology.com/2010/04/and_this_was_just_part_of_spur.php#more

If you have the time you should check it out.  God bless you, stay faithful and hopeful!

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Coffee Review – John Conti, “Cafe Tarrazu”

April 28, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews, Coffee Shop Reviews | Leave a comment
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My wife and I finally made it to the John Conti (www.johnconti.com ) shop on Bardstown Road in Louisville. We have seen their coffee in local grocery stores but have never purchased it. Since we are trying to go to all of the coffee shops in Louisville and try the different coffees we decided to go there.

When we got there we did not know that you couldn’t purchase brewed coffee. You can only buy whole bean or ground coffee. The salesman, Nick, we talked with was very helpful. He could give sales people a good reputation. When we told him our story about wanting to try coffee from all of the coffee shops in Louisville and write about our experiences, he went to their break room and brought us out two cups of coffee to try. That is service beyond what we expected.

The coffee we tried is a light roast called Café Tarrazu. It is described as “A combination of Central American coffees specially blended to produce a sweet, balanced cup, smooth, but with a complex blend of fruit, nut, citrus, and floral flavors.” It was developed after their master roaster took a trip to El Salvador to visit coffee plantations. It is one of their most popular roasts. We ended up purchasing a bag of Café Tarrazu and two sampler packs.

We intended to brew it three different ways when we got home (not in the same day of course, I couldn’t handle that much caffeine!) and then write about how it tasted. First up was the auto drip so that the coffee was ready when we got up in the morning. There isn’t much aroma and it isn’t a bold coffee. It tastes good, but we like a bolder coffee in the morning. This was our least favorite way of brewing and drinking Café Tarrazu.

Next we brewed the coffee in the Chemex coffee maker (www.chemexcoffeemaker.com). You could really taste the subtle flavor of the coffee. Here is where I noticed both the flavor and fruitiness. The light crisp flavor really shined here. This was my favorite brew and tasting style.

Then we brewed the coffee in a French Press. This helped the coffee taste a little bolder, but not too bold. This was my wife’s favorite style of brewing and tasting. The coffee left a nice taste on your tongue and was stronger tasting, but not overpowering.

I’m neither a coffee snob nor a coffee expert, but I know what I like and if I would buy it again. I did not like drinking the coffee in the morning because I like a bolder morning coffee, but I did like it in the afternoon. We thought it has a nice crisp, taste and light body. Overall we liked Café Tarrazu and would recommend it as an afternoon or desert coffee. We will definitely try some of their other coffees, probably some medium or dark roasts though.

Nick, the salesman that helped us probably doesn’t realize how much his helpfulness “sold” us. If all John Conti employees are like him, it explains why they have been successful in Louisville for so many years. You can learn more about John Conti here: www.johnconti.com .

I’m also looking forward to the next coffee date with my wife. Brewing and tasting the coffees with her at home is fun too.

GRACE and peace to you,

Bill

(Romans 15:13)

Daily Strength for the Battle

April 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Posted in Book Reviews, Devotional | Leave a comment
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Just posted a new book review/recommendation on Daily Strength for the Battle by Chaplain Scott McChrystal. Chaplain McChyrstal is a retired Colonel who served with the United States Army for 31 years.

cleftRock Retreat Center

April 26, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Posted in prayer, Retreats, rural | Leave a comment
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Over the past weekend my wife and I had the privilege to attend a Literacy Missions Leaders Retreat in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. It was held at the cleftRock Retreat Center (www.cleftrock.org). This is in rural southern Kentucky. For people who have spent most of their lives in very populated areas this was going to be a cross cultural experience. Since my wife and I like to drive through the country I decided to drive the back roads and stay off of the freeway.

We went south on Route 31 to Route 150 east to Route 1249 (I think?) to the cleftRock Retreat Center. This took us through a lot of small towns and cities. We stopped in Danville for coffee. The service was poor to very poor, but the coffee was pretty good. We’ll post a review on the coffee shop later. It was a nice leisurely drive to Mt. Vernon.

Once in Mt. Vernon, I called the retreat leader for some directions. We were told to turn the wrong way and once I got that corrected we were on our way into who knows where to get to the center. We were now going by the mileage and looking for signs. The road was narrow, twisting and at times had a steep drop-off with no guard rail. It was fun! When we saw the Rebel flags waving in some yards and the wooden shacks with satellite dishes on them, I think my wife said to me, “where are you taking me?”

I was beginning to wonder that myself. In my head I was starting to hear the banjo and guitar song from Deliverance. But I was just imagining that, at least I think I was. As we drove more and more into who knows where, I think I called the leader two or three times to make sure we were going in the right direction. Then we got there.

Man, let me tell you, it was worth the trip! cleftRock was started by former missionaries to Israel who had a burden for a place that would minister to pastors or missionaries and their families. It is a non-profit organization and it borders the Daniel Boone National Forest. It is in a beautiful setting and God has provided it all! It is an amazing work of prayer and ministry.

The housing facilities are top notch. The room we had was better than some hotels we’ve stayed in. There are no televisions or radios. The food was very good. The staff was helpful and gracious. They cared about helping you enjoy your visit and be ministered to. Anyone can go to cleftRock, and they give pastors and missionaries a discount. If you need a break and are looking for a quiet, beautiful place to recharge and reconnect with God I would encourage you to go there.

You can find out more about cleftRock Retreat Center at www.cleftrock.org . You won’t be sorry if you take the time to check them out on the web. You’ll be even happier if you go there for a retreat. My wife and I plan to go back again for a couple of days to relax, walk the trails, pray and spend some good quality time with each other and God.

GRACE and peace to you,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; Exodus 33:12-23

Book Review of R. C. Sproul’s ……….

April 25, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Posted in Book Reviews, Children's Books | Leave a comment
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I’ve added a new book review tonight of R. C. Sproul’s The Lightlings. This is a children’s book that was read and reviewed by my wife.  You will find it in the Book Review page.

Pray For the Unemployed

April 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Posted in men, pray | Leave a comment
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There are a lot of people who are unemployed or in danger of losing their jobs. Recently I saw a news report that 44% of adults have been experienced unemployment. I hope I heard that wrong. The other report that I heard was that the majority of the unemployed, about 70% are men. Most of these men who are unemployed want to work but can’t find jobs. If they find jobs they don’t make as much and/or they don’t get a job that they are qualified for.

I don’t want to get into gender issues, but men need to work to really feel like men. A good man wants to work and earn a living if he is physically and mentally capable. It’s part of being a man. A working man, whether white or blue collar doesn’t want to collect unemployment, he wants to work and provide for his family. He will even take a job where he is underemployed and undervalued just to work.

You may know some men like this. They may be discouraged and tired. They may be close to being depressed thinking the situation will never change. If you watch the news the job outlook is not too good. But there is a God who created men with a desire to work and to provide and He knows the problem and the answer. So let’s take the time to pray for men to be able to find jobs so they can provide for their families. Let’s join our faith and intercede with for:

  1. These hard economic times to help us humble ourselves before God (1 Pet. 5:6-7).
  2. Good jobs to become available in spite of this bad economy.
  3. Men who want to work to find good work so they can provide for their families.
  4. Families of the unemployed to overcome difficulty and grow in hope (Rom. 4:17, 20-21).
  5. The Church to step up and view these times as opportunities to minister in tangible ways.
  6. Men who do not want to work to come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
  7. All of God’s children, the employed and unemployed to be thankful (1 Thes. 5:16-18).
  8. God’s children to give generously and joyfully whatever their circumstances (2 Cor. 8:1-9; 9:8).

There have been difficult times in the past and there will be difficult times again in the future. But God is faithful! Let us be faithful also. Let’s pray and trust God to do what only He can do. Thank you for praying, it does make a difference.

Much grace and peace to you,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13

(Psalm 50:23) He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.

Victory In Jesus!

April 4, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Posted in Easter songs, encouragement, hymns | Leave a comment
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Because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ believers can sing this song with both joy and confidence. Believers have God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit actively at work in their lives. What a blessed truth to have in one’s life. There may be things that we can’t explain too well to an unbelieving world, but we can be confident in our Victory in Jesus! What a great, great privilege it is to believe in what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

For almost the past 30 years I have had some type of leadership or preaching responsibility on Easter Sunday. I preached my first Easter Sunrise service in a cemetery in 1981. Today my wife and I attended a friend’s church as worship service visitors. We were blessed to be in church today. The Easter musical was good. The preaching was good. The praying and singing were good. It was good to be in one of God’s local churches worshipping Him.

Some of the songs we sang this morning were, Lord, I Lift Your Name on High; Christ the Lord Is Risen Today; He Lives; Christ Arose; Give Thanks; and Only Trust Him. My friend the pastor preached on “Real Hope and Change” from John 14:1-6. It really was good to be in church this morning. The church we were at is not that big, but it was packed today. The presence of God was there and you could sense humility before God. We were blessed.

I hope you were blessed today. I hope you will be blessed tomorrow as well. It is so good to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. May you find strength and rest in being yoked with Him. (28)”Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29)Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (30)For My yoke is easy and My burden is Light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

Much Grace and peace to you,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; Psalm 21:6

Victory in Jesus

By Eugene M. Bartlett (1885-1941)

1.      I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory,

How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me.

I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning.

Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.

(Refrain)

Oh, victory in Jesus, my Saviour, forever! He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming blood. He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him. He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

 2.      I heard about His healing, of His cleansing power revealing,

How He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see.

And then I cried, “Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit”;

And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory.

(Refrain)

3.      I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory,

And I heard about the streets of gold beyond the crystal sea,

About the angels singing, and the old redemption story;

And some sweet day I’ll sing up there the song of victory.

(Refrain)

SAVED!

April 3, 2010 at 7:49 am | Posted in Easter songs, encouragement | Leave a comment
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This song brings back a lot of memories to me. I think it was written the year I got saved. I was a young Christian and renting a house with four other guys who were young Christians. One day one of them comes home with this Dylan album, yes an album. (Some of my readers will have to think retro. A black shinny disc made of plastic with grooves in it. It spun at 33 and a 1/3 rpm’s). We were shocked to think Dylan was even saved. I don’t really know if Dylan is saved but this album and Slow Train Coming are two very good Christian albums.

You can find Dylan and his band performing this song on Youtube. I was surprised to find that and other songs from these two albums. Check out their perfomance from Toronto 1980 to listen to this song. Man, that brought back some good memories! I was jamming in my house. Until the other day I did not know this and other performances were available on Youtube. We truly need discernment when it comes to the internet, but sometimes it is a real blessing.

This summer I will be saved thirty years. Yes, that’s right, thirty years. I have had both good and bad times. I have both easy and hard circumstances. I have seen people get saved and persevere. I have also seen people talk the talk for awhile, then turn their back on the Lord and walk away. But this I know, salvation is real. You can know if you are saved or not. Salvation involves repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You have to understand that you are a sinner and you need to be forgiven. Then you have to ask God to forgive you and accept what Jesus Christ has accomplished by going to the cross for you.

If this sounds too personal it is because it is personal. The wrath of God is upon the sinner. He is the enemy of God. Eternal damnation and seperation awaits him. The only escape from an eternity spent in hell under constant torment is to be saved! The sinner (the one who misses the mark of God’s perfection) needs to humble himself and repent. You can be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other way of salvation. Call out to God in humble confession and receive from God what only He can do – save your soul.

For the one who humbles himself and goes to God in God’s way, there is mercy, grace and peace for eternity. The saved one is adopted into God’s family. He is sealed with the Holy Spirit and their eternity with God is garaunteed. Salvation is real. Easter reminds us of this and should remind the Christian of their responsiblilty to live as saved ones and to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I hope this truly is a resurrection weekend for you and your loved ones.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill (a fellow-laborer) Romans 3:9-31, 5:1-11, 8:1-4, 12-17, 15:13

“Saved”

by Bob Dylan

I was blinded by the devil
Born already ruined
Stone-cold dead
As I stepped out of the womb
By His grace I have been touched
By His word I have been healed
By His hand I have been delivered
By His spirit I Have been sealed.

I’ve been saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
Saved
And I’m so glad
Yes, I’m so glad
I’m so glad
So glad
I want to thank you, Lord
I just want to thank You Lord
Thank You Lord.

By his truth I can be upright
By his strength I do endure
By His power I’ve been lifted
In His love I am secure
He bought me with a price
Freed me from the pit
Full of emptiness and wrath
And the fire that burns in it.

I’ve been saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
Saved
And I’m so glad
Yes, I’m so glad
I’m so glad
So glad
I want to thank you, Lord
I just want to thank You Lord
Thank You, Lord.
Nobody to rescue me
Nobody would dare
I was going down for the last time
But by His Mercy I’ve been spared
Not by works
But by faith in Him who called
For so long I’ve been hindered
For so long I’ve been stalled.

I’ve been saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
Saved
And I’m so glad
Yes, I’m so glad
I’m so glad
So glad
I want to thank you, Lord
I just want to thank You Lord
Thank You, Lord.

Nothing But The Blood!

April 2, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Easter songs, hymns, prayer | Leave a comment
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I love the call and response of this hymn. There have been different times that I have led congregations and men’s groups to sing this song. I’ve done it in a call and response style. I have the group be quiet while I sing the first part and then have them all sing out in unison the response. It is a very moving way to sing this song. This song is so meaningful to me that I want it sung at my funeral. Yes, my wife knows that.

But Friday’s are for prayer reminders. Let’s pray for churches to experience the power and presence of God this weekend. There are a lot of church activities going on and most churches will have more visitors this weekend than any other weekend. So let’s pray for:

  1. Unsaved visitors to attend true Bible believing Christian churches this Sunday
  2. Many unsaved people of all ages to get saved this Sunday
  3. Visitors to feel welcomed by the church people and return to those churches
  4. Pastor’s to preach the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit
  5. People to listen attentively this Sunday
  6. Churches to grow through evangelism/disciplemaking
  7. New churches to be started
  8. God to be glorified this Sunday in many different ways
  9. God’s people to live as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ

Thank you for praying. Your prayers will make a difference. I hope you have a great weekend.

Grace and peace to you,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13

(19)For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, (20)and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

Nothing But the Blood

By Robert Lowry (1826-1899)

1.  What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

(Refrain) Oh, precious is the flow That makes me white as snow;

No other font I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

2.  For my pardon this I see – Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

For my cleansing, this my plea – Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

(Refrain)

3.  Nothing can for sin atone – Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

Naught of good that I have done – Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

(Refrain)

4. This is all my hope and peace – Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

This is all my righteousness – Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

(Refrain)

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