Thanksgiving and Lazarus (John 11:1-44)

This year for thanksgiving we enjoyed a “first” and went to Branson for a few days with my parents and my brother Todd and his family.  We had a blast; my only regret is that today we don’t have any leftovers from the HUGE Thanksgiving Dinner.

After eating our first ever Thanksgiving dinner at a buffet in Branson, we took some time to share all the things for which we are thankful.

I am certainly thankful for my family….beginning with Leigh-Ann, Alexa and Sophia and extending out beyond my parents, brothers and sister and their families.  I am also thankful for you….if you are reading this you are a part of the New Life family that has not only had its beginnings within the past year, but has also been growing like a weed.

I think about all the different lives that have been changed…some straight off the street, some lives that have been entrenched in painful and dangerous lifestyles, some that are children, some that have enjoyed the comforts of life for too long and some like me who had become complacent in a form of spirituality.  God certainly changes lives and we certainly have much to thank Him for….

Today I received an email with the following:

Someone wrote, “If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, then you are more blessed than the million who will not live through this week.

“If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.”

“If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, then you are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world.”

“If you have money in the bank, cash in your wallet and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8 percent of the world’s wealthy.”

Again, we have much to be thankful for. And when you get down to it, this is why we primarily exist: To give thanks to God – not just on Thanksgiving Day – but every day of our lives.

Sunday, we will study the story of the raising of Lazarus from John 11:1-44.  I hope you will pray with me for God to work in each of our lives.  This Sunday we will also have the opportunity to look at a property that is a possibility for our relocation at 2:30pm.  We will spend time in prayer following a tour.

I hope you enjoy the next few days worth of leftovers and don’t forget to thank the Lord for His provision, because not everyone has Turkey in the fridge!

In a spirit of thanksgiving!

Troy

The GPS affect on men, and Jesus the Good Shepherd (John 10:19-41)

How long has it been since you have been lost?  Notice, I didn’t ask if you had been lost…I assume that anyone that can read this has been lost.  The first time I remember being lost was when I wandered off in a department store long before I was old enough to go to school.  I can still feel the fear that overwhelmed my body.  I have many stories about getting lost while driving…I will spare you the details.  The other day I was riding in the car with a friend who has GPS.  This is cheating!  For centuries men have navigated independently, become lost independently, made excuses independently and have had to do a lot of explaining independently.  Simply put, asking for directions has always been a sign of weakness. Think about it…..why would a man that claims to still have all of his mental faculties need to ask someone else for location and directions?

Several years ago while we were still dating; Leigh-Ann and I decided to hike up a mountain in New Hampshire.  After spending some time at the top, taking in the incredible view all around us, we began our descent.  Within a few minutes Leigh-Ann said, “This doesn’t look familiar.”  I responded, “You were probably busy admiring my skill at navigating the rocks on the way up…we’ll be fine.”  A few more minutes passed…“this still doesn’t look right.”  I responded, “Trust me; I know where we’re going.”  Several more minutes passed, the trail had ended and we were fighting through branches and tripping over rocks and she said, “I think we better turn around.”  I responded quickly to communicate my confidence, “I’m sure that this trail will meet up with our original trail soon…at least we’re headed down.”

After hours of traipsing all over the mountain, we finally came to a creek and followed it out to a dirt road and within minutes we were able to flag down a car coming in our direction.  The lady (who by the way knew where she was going) agreed to drive us nearly ten miles to our car.  Thanks to my lack of direction, we had walked down the opposite side of the mountain.  I will admit that after a few hours I began to get pretty nervous.  When the sun began to drop, I was flat out scared.  The feeling of being lost is indescribably painful.

The journey of life is packed full of dead end trails, inaccurate signs and daunting obstacles that can leave us feeling lost and without hope.  Finding direction for life is far more important than finding our direction on a mountain.  Apart from the consistent leading from the Good Shepherd we will most certainly be lost in life.  This Sunday, it is my prayer that you will follow the lead of the Good Shepherd and make a transition from tradition to faith in your life as we study John 10:19-41.  I also ask that you join me in spending a little extra time in prayer for God to clearly direct us to the location He desires.

I hope you have an incredible weekend relishing NEW LIFE, “The way Life is meant to be!”

Expecting a Miracle!

Troy

The debate over red lights, and Jesus the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18)

Warning! I have a frustration that I need to vent.  Well, I don’t need to vent, but I really want too so here goes….this morning, I was running late.  I exited off the interstate and came to a stop light at the top of the ramp.  And waited…..and waited….and looked both ways since no cars had come for a loooong time and waited.  While waiting, I began to think about the evil things that this traffic light engineer must have endured as a child to have the nerve to set the timer for this long.

It was in this frame of mind, that my thoughts began to digress.  I imagined that he probably has a video camera at this intersection and is sitting at his desk drinking coffee, watching me and tracking how long people will sit before blowing through the red light.  As I continued to wait, I gauged the risk involved with pulling around the car in front of me (who obviously had no schedule to meet) and making a public statement that this traffic light was for the birds (it certainly wasn’t doing any good for the traffic).

This may come as a surprise to some, but I found myself multitasking at this red light.  I was able to consider the risk of blowing the red light, imagine the life history of some traffic light engineer, concoct some good excuse for being late and attempt to remember where I was even going.

I was going to speak in a chapel service!  When this thought came through my small mind it seemed to create a blockage…with all other thoughts backing up behind it.  It was at this time, I realized the car ahead of me has already entered the intersection and I better go now before the light turns red again.  Since the car was now moving, the angry blood began to drain from my neck.  All of a sudden, I am confused. This is the first time I had taken this exit from this direction and nothing looked familiar.  In a moment of panic, I turned and the panic grew….I was supposed to speak for chapel and I don’t even know where I am.  AHHHHHHHHH!!!  Then I saw a Quick Trip.  There is something very calming about Quick Trip.  I turned into the parking lot, gathered my thoughts and remembered exactly where I needed to go, and drove straight to my destination—just in time.

I am amazed at how easy it is for me to get frazzled at the simplest little things in life.  I guess that is probably why I am referred to as a sheep in the Bible.  This week we will study John 10:1-18 and learn about how the “Good Shepherd” is able to protect and comfort “frazzled” sheep.  I am praying that you will be encouraged and strengthened from our study of the eternal, incorruptible, living Word of God.

Blessings!

Troy

Getting out of bed, and other difficult decisions (John 9:1-41)

As I was lying in bed this morning after my alarm jolted me out of R.E.M. I began the process of rationalizing my need for a few more minutes of sleep.  There is something about having to wake up when the house is cold and the bed is warm.  I have begun to develop a pretty significant love-hate relationship with this time of year.  At night there is nothing better than going to bed when it is cool…in the morning there is nothing more painful than getting up when it is cool.

When I went down to wake up Alexa she was totally under the blankets.  I pulled back the blankets and whispered that it was time to get up.  Schwoooop!  The blankets are suddenly ripped out of my hand and once again covering her head.    “I don’t want to get up” she says.  I empathize since it had just taken me 20 minutes to roll out of bed myself.  Now I expect her to do it immediately.  In the end we both made it out of bed and off to school and work.

After making it into a cold car and finding my way downtown, I have had some time to think….life is full of difficult decisions.  Where should I live?  Who should I vote for in the coming elections?  How can I mend a troubled relationship?  What is the best way to raise children?  I have concluded that quite possibly the most difficult question of all is the one we have to make every day, “Why should I get up?”

If you are a morning purist, please do not join in this conversation.  If you hear the alarm clock and jump out of bed with no effort at all…you make me sick.  Furthermore if you can get by on 3-4 hours of sleep you need to have a full psychological evaluation.  At the very least you are proof that life is not fair.  If you are like me and spend time thinking about these issues of life, this e-mail is for you.

This Saturday night is DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME…we all get an extra hour of sleep.  I am very optimistic that the service at 10:45am on Sunday will be full of smiling, well rested faces.  I hope you will be there.

If you have time to read through John 9:1-41, it will help as you allow God to prepare your heart for the service.

I know I have mentioned this before, but if I can help you in any way, please feel free to reply.

In His Grip!

Troy