The Morgan Church Devotional

a pastor's thoughts about...uhm...stuff

Location: Morgan, VT., United States

follower of Jesus. husband & father. friend. pastor.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Everlasting Arms

"The Eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the Everlasting Arms"
Dt 33:27

Lord, hold me
in Your everlasting arms
enfold me
in Your everlasting arms
let striving cease
that i may come to rest
in perfect peace
renewed and truly blest

Lord bathe me
in Your everlasting light
Lord raise me
in Your everlasting light
awake my mind
that i may understnad
and come to find
the truth of who i really am

above the silvery bay
a bird rose on the breeze
then swooped as if to say
you too may fly
with ease

Lord lift me
in Your everlasting love
home swiftly
in Your everlasting love
i'll go where
a temple stands upon a hill
in silence there
i'll wait upon Your will
Lord lift me
in Your everlasting arms

Everlasting Arms
by Mike Scott

It's All A Dream We Dreamed, One Afternoon, Long Ago

i took a nap today and dreamt that a post had 12 comments on it...

Friday, February 24, 2006

We Ought to Advertize this Stuff:

last night's bible study contained a 20 minute discussion on the pros and cons of marajuana use amongst christians.

it was interesting and challenging. we really had to think about it...

that's the way it is with what we order to really "own" what we believe, we have to think it thru...ponder it...wrestle with it.

when we are asked about a tough subject, we shouldn't ever just give the answer that we've always heard. it may be the "right" answer, but if it isn't "our" answer people will see right thru it.

working thru tough questions takes:

clear thinking.

it takes guts because:

wrestling with questions may reveal some of our own personal weaknesses.

for instance, i have no desire to smoke pot. one of the reasons i said i didn't was that it was a "crutch" of sorts for people...then we started talking about other crutches we xians have.

it takes honesty because:

1. when a personal weakness is revealed, we must be willing to admit it (at least to ourselves)
2. we must admit that there are some issues (maybe even many) that aren't exactly black and white...

again, in last night's conversation, i was never tempted to give in and say smoking pot is ok for a christian...i was never tempted to give in and begin using it as a crutch...

but i did have to come to terms with my own crutches--i had to admit that i have them. it doesn't negate our point about pot being a crutch, but if we pretend we don't have one, it gives fuel to the other person to dismiss what we are saying because we are a hypocrite.

sometimes in the course of debate (not argument, hopefully!) we must concede certain points. if a position is meritless, not too many people would take that, when someone makes a good point, come clean and admit it.

for instance, i am not calvinist in my theology. there are reasons i am not, and those reasons are (obviously, to me) compelling reasons...but i would do myself (and my position) a dis-service if i don't admit that calvinism makes some very good points. it doesn't diminish my position, but it does challenge me to think it thru.

let's be people who think.

Today's Lament:

i definitely need a haircut. when it gets longer it gets fuzzy...when it gets fuzzy i have to de-fuzz it with mousse or gel or something.

today, i ran out of everything...i had to use this hairspray i found lying around...i hate the way it smells...when ever i catch a wiff of it i turn around and look for my grandma.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mr. Pot, Meet Mr. Kettle

skater #1 withdraws from a team race in order to concentrate on his individual events.

He is criticised by skater #2 who said (in so many words) "olympic ideals teach us to do what we can for our country, not for ourselves"...

which is fine and true and would be a neat thing for him to say, had he not also said this: "him withdrawing from the team race caused a slower skater to take his place which will prevent us from winning a medal in that event"...oh yeah...then i wont be able to set a record for most medals for a skater in an olympics...i think i heard my 4 year old say something like that...

"I" deals, indeed.

Everyday I Write the Book

the title is a great elvis song...

oh...not that elvis...

chapter 1.
title: grace
after several years of reckless gambling, loose living and other things too sordid to mention i incur credit card debt so large (in the multiple millions of dollars) i could not possibly repay it.

after being arrested for credit card fraud, i'm brought before the owner of the credit card company. i ask him for a couple of weeks, that i'm expecting to get paid soon, you know...but, i'll pay it off, honest i will...i don't think the man believes least i don't think he should...

but, against all odds (you see my problem with gambling?) and against all the advice of his lawyers and underlings, the pres has mercy on me!...whoa! i can't believe it! that's great! that's awesome! i'm overjoyed...

chapter 2
title: grace part 2
after leaving the president of the credit card company's office, i figure i'll stop and get a bite to eat. but, hmmm...where to go? what do i feel like today? maybe i'll go by that place that has those electronic poker machines...maybe i'll pick up a lottery ticket on the to make back that money, youknow...

but, then i see him! there he is! he owes me $50!!! whoa! what i could do with 50 bucks! that's like an hour on the poker machine!!! whoohoo!

"hey, man."
"Got my money?"
" have $5 here but my kid needs lunch. but i get paid in a couple of days (haven't i heard that???) and i'll be able to pay you then."

tune in next tuesday to see if i give the guy a break.

i'll be taking bets on whether i do at:


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Big One

We're always waiting for the Big One...

the big earth quake, the big flood, the big financial shakedown...fred sanford was always waiting for the big one....

we've even seen some of the big ones in recent times...

big is relative. big has to be compared to something in order to be big. my kids marvel at how strong i am...when, truth be told, i'm not very (but don't tell them that)...but they compare themselves to me, and to them, i am strong. bless thier hearts.

Jesus tells us about the "big one".

"i'll let a lot of things can say want you want about Me...but if you see the work the Spirit of God is doing and say that it isn't Him, but it's the devil...then you're in trouble."

for the Xian, everything else can and will be forgiven.

one more thing about "the big one"...we often look at our spiritual lives as a quest for the "big one", the big thing we can do for God that would cement us in His memory...

in a sense, there's nothing wrong with desiring to do great things for God. we should aspire to do great things...

but the wonderful truth of Christianity is that God is in the everyday. He's in the waking and the sleeping...He's in the eating and the drinking...He's in the going to work and in the family time. He's ever present and He's always with us and we can give Him glory honor and praise in every minute of every day.

the good job we did at work today glorifies God and could provide an opportunity to share our faith with someone...same with the kind deed...

same with the time we sinned against someone. sure. we can go to them, apologise and ask for forgiveness. what better representation of the christian life could there be than a humble heart seeking forgiveness?

here i come elizabeth

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"Oops" (Said the Average Bible Reader)

When you are reading your Bible and come across words in italics the tendency is to emphasis those words (because that is what we would normally do when reading)...but we shouldn't. translaters (and paraphrasers) use italics to indicate a word that does not appear in the original language but is needed to make proper sense in english.

it is similar to one of my difficulties in learning spanish...i always say something like "yo te queiro" (I love you)...but spanish speakers would just say "te queiro"; the "yo" (pronounced Joe, btw) is implied. the way i say it isn't is just unnecessary.

not too spiritual (well, it is if you ask me) but i thought you might find that interesting.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cold Rain and Snow...

what a day yesterday was. it was warm in the morning, began to rain and then as it got colder, the rain (and my car) froze. then, of course, the power went out and stayed out until night. pipes froze (but didn't break)...

you know what? that's a crock. i mean, it is true...but there was a mudslide in the philipines that took out a whole village, riots in the muslim world (over stupid cartoons! but that's another story), a war...

i guess having to wear an extra sweater or blanket isn't all that bad.

God forgive me.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Alas...a New Struggle

i've discovered for myself the conundrum of having to fix your reading glasses by screwing in that tiny screw with out having use of said reading glasses.

where is that younger wife of mine?

btw...i had a very nice post about right belief leading to right practice that got deleted...i'll re post it later today.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

An Old Standby

The LORD is my Shepherd
i shall not want
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
He leadeth me beside the still waters
He restoreth my soul
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake

yea, though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death
i will fear no evil
for Thou art with me
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me

Thou preparest a table before in the presence of mine enemies
Thou anointest my head with oil
my cup runneth over
surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
and i will dwell in the house of the LORD

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Day Like Any Other Day

if you love your lover every day in a way that makes her feel loved you don't have to spring for expensive jewelry on valentine's day.

great wisdom from the I Ching.

anyway...from Exodus 39 (a description of the High Priest's clothing):

"and they set onyx stones, enclosed in settings of gold; they were engraved...with the names of the sons of Israel, as the LORD commanded Moses....and he made the breastplate...and set in it four rows of stones...there were twelve stones in all according to the names of the sons of Israel."

and so, when the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies--where the very presence of God was--he did so bearing the names of the children of Israel.

so it is with Jesus:

"therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let ushold firmly to the fiath we profess."

Jesus as the True High Priest has borne our sins on His shoulders to Hell and keeps us close to His heart and He is raised from the dead and ascends into Heaven...and that (according to Paul in the book of collosians) is were we sit with Him...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning

Jesus tells us a parable (a short story with a pointed lesson) about 10 virgins in today's gospel reading. they (the virgins) were to be something akin to bridesmaids and all were instructed to be ready for the coming of the bridegroom. this meant they were to keep their lamps fit with wick and oil. 5 did so, 5 did not.

all of a sudden the call came out, the bridegroom is coming! he'll be here any moment, quick! go get your lamps!

"uhm..." said 5. 'gee...can you...uh...that is...can we...uhm...borrow know...borrow some..uhm...oil?"


no? that's not very christian, is it? it doesn't sound it, anyway.

but that is because of the point of the parable...the point isn't selflessness or generousity or giving...there are other parables for that. it is about personal responsibility and the need to be spiritually fit and ready.

we cannot coast along on the coat tails of someone else's (whether it be a parent, friend, spouse or leader) spirituality.

another thing about this often made me feel like keeping my lamps trimmed and burning was a bit of a chore...

"! i have take down the lamp, find a new wick...replace it! then find some oil...fill it up...etc, etc..."

but it is not. knowing Jesus, walking with Jesus, loving Jesus is about cultivating a deep, growing, loving, awe inspired friendship...

keep your lamps trimmed and burning.

we are all responsible to cultivate our relationship with the Lord...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

If You Want to FIX the Problem You Need to Know What the Problem Is

in a passage from Blue Like Jazz the author, Don Miller, recounts how he and a friend were out protesting this or that...

in the process of the chapter he realizes:

1. protesting doesn't really do too much--that maybe he wants to be known as someone who is against this or that rather than really doing something about it
2. that if he is really going to do something about the problems in our world he has to reckon with the real problem...him

you see, we're always willing to change something (or someone) else...but we are the ones (every time!) that God is interested in changing.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What's Your Meditation?

we think meditation is kinda goofy. we picture someone sitting cross legged on the floor with thier fingers curled saying "ohm" over and over and over again. maybe that's not goofy to you, i don't know...

none the less, that's not what (christian) meditation is. that idea comes from eastern religions and the idea of meditation is to "empty" yourself--not so for us!

when the bible talks about meditaion it has the idea of "filling" yourself. contemplating...thinking over and over about:

God's Nature.
God's Person.
God's Promises.
God's Goodness.
God's Grace.
God's Plan.
God's...well, meditating on God.

God's Nature...He's Holy and worthy of worship--and i think of Psalms.
God's revealed in Christ--so i read the Gospels.
God's Promises...are real and true and i know God can't lie.
God's told about in the historical books of the Bible.
God's expounded upon in the book of Romans.
God's Plan...i read the book of Acts to remind Me He is still at work.

the thing is we all meditate...but the question is, what do we think about over and over?

are we trapped in the trouble that has befallen us?
do we stay mired in the mud of our woes?
are we weighed down with our worry?
do we dwell on the dour?

then, that's your meditaion.

child of God, lift up your eyes to the hills! He is your Salvation!

and may the words of my mouth, and the MEDITATION OF MY HEART be pleasing to You, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mercy Seat Request

Mylon Lefebvre had a tune called mercy seat...i'm not much for alot of his cheesey 80's music...but this song always brought a tear to my eye...

any body have it?

The Mercy Seat

this is a unique word in Scripture...only used of the covering of the ark of the covenant. it was to be made out of pure gold (while the rest of the ark was gold plated) and have large cherubim fashioned above it. These angels were to be facing one another (that is, facing the center) and bowing.

i wonder what it looked like.

the important thing about the mercy seat was who "sat" on it. the VERY PRESENCE OF GOD dwelt on the mercy seat!

i think it's a beautiful picture of God's character--He sits in the place of mercy...remember that next time you are feeling condemnation.

Whattaya Mean By That...?

Jesus told those pharisees (hypocrites!) that they "strain a gnat and swallow a camel". the gnat is the smallest of unclean animals and the camel is the largest.

so in other words, they were getting so preoccupied with the little stuff that they neglected the bigger (and more important) stuff.

we can do the same...make some things so "important" that we neglect the most important thing--loving God and loving people.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Strain a Gnat, Swallow a Camel

Jesus was pretty tough on the religious leaders of His day. In this passage He calls them hypocrites no less than 4 times! "woe to you, scribes and pharisees! hypocrites!"

why so tough? they:

1. Follow the law when it's convenient, but find excuses when it counts

2. They look good on the outside but are corrupt on the inside

3. Because they look good on the outside they add corruption to unsuspecting bystanders

4. They condemn their anscestors for persecuting the prophets, but do the same thing themselves!

They are witnesses against themselves...they will be judged with the same judgement they have judged others with...


yet, listen to the words Jesus has for "regular ol' sinners":

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, O how I longed to gather you under My wings as a hen gathers her chicks"

i'm glad i've learned to be just a "regular ol' sinner".

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bono preaches

an interesting read.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

What is that?

sometimes the bible is very funny.

the israelites complain to God that they don't have food and drink...this is just after:

1. God does a MIRACLE and saves them from the egyptians
2. God does a MIRACLE and purifies "bitter" water for them to drink
3. God does a MIRACLE and allows them to camp by an oasis

yet they complain and wish they were back in egypt where "our pots were full of meat and we ate bread to the full"...and where (oh yeah!) we were slaves with terrible masters...but that's besides the point--GIVE ME WHAT I WANT...NOW!!

i shouldn't be so hard on's what i do too.

anyway, what does God say?

I'll give you some food, wait and see.

come morning, as the fog lifted, where the dew once was, there was this...this...this...i don't know, hey levi, what is it? levi said, "hmmph mmhph grmmph ckmmpph" (translation: i don't know, but it tastes good!")

that unknown stuff became known by the name "what is it" (manna) and they had it as long as they wandered in the long as they were willing to go out and take the day's worth (2 days worth on friday--no work on the sabbath)...they could bake it, fry it, dry it, try it...or, i guess, was there and it was their's...

they only had to go out and recognise it.