Stopped Up Ears

Stopped Up Ears

I’m in a room surrounded by people who seem to seem to have stopped up ears. I’m saying something, but for some reason, they can’t seem to hear me. Nobody is looking my way when I speak. No one is turning my direction. No one is responding to me with their own words. They all seem to have stopped up ears.

Some have the latest noise canceling headphones on. They are focused on their own thoughts or their own task, and they don’t want to be distracted or disturbed. I get that. Some are listening to the latest jam, the latest hit, the coolest song they have ever heard. Some have their hands over their ears, or their fingers in them. That looks kind of weird, and I don’t know how they do that and still carry their kid or their backpack, but maybe I’m not seeing that right. And some have nothing over their ears, but they are still not responding, so their ears must be stopped up.

Can’t they hear my words, my heart, my cries of pain? Are they literally deaf or hard of hearing? I would get that, but why are they not paying any attention to me? Why are they not noticing me? Why are they not trying to check on me or ask what’s wrong, or ask me what they can do to help? I’m surrounded by people that can’t, or won’t, or just don’t want to hear. What is the deal here, Lord?

I have something in me that has to get out. I have to say it, sing it, scream it, do anything to get these feelings or ideas out. People around me don’t understand what’s going on inside of me. They don’t know the memories swimming around in my head, memories of abuse, neglect, trauma, brokenness, grief. I’m not designed to carry all that baggage and not get it out somehow. I have to let these thoughts and feelings out, but why aren’t people responding? Why aren’t they looking my way? Why aren’t they asking if I’m okay? Why do I feel alone in a crowded room?

Lord, thank you that you hear me when I cry, even if no one else can or will. You know my thoughts, my feelings, my pain, my brokenness. You see inside. You are in me since I asked you to save me, so you know me from the inside out. Thank you that I can always come to you and express what’s on my heart. I know I can hand my heart to you for healing. Lord, you are my listener, my healer, my compassionate friend. Sometimes I need your people to listen to me, but you know what’s going on in their heart too. Help me, Lord, to release all this to you and to let it go. God of compassion, God of love, God who sent Jesus to die for my sins, thank you for hearing my prayers. While I am waiting for others to respond, I know that you hear my words, have my heart, and will listen to my cries.

Jesus, please help us all to listen and to be heard in a world of people with stopped up ears. In your name we pray. Amen.

Some Ears ARE Open

Some Ears ARE Open”

This piece is an attempt to counterbalance the last writing, “Stopped Up Ears” and to tell you, the reader, where my heart was coming from. Although I wrote it in first person, I did that not because I was crying out in pain and I feel like nobody was listening. (At times I have felt that way, but not at that moment. ) The intention was literary. It was for readers to be able to get into a first person story and relate to the character. I wanted to validate people’s venting. I wanted to be vulnerable with them and with everybody, since there is a small part of me that does feel this way, that “no one knows what is going on inside, even though I want them to know what I am feeling.” So I admit I relate to the character, which all of us can relate to at one point or another. I wanted to be vulnerable, identify with my readers, and to share the compassion of Christ.

Two things I did not realize when I wrote this last piece. It always amazes me the compassion that is shown to me when I am venting or asking questions. I assure everyone reading this that I am fine. These thoughts used to consume me. Now the Lord has enabled me to deal with them quickly and submit them to Him. I am not consumed with these thoughts, though the piece made it appear so. Many of you honored me with great compassion, prayers, and a connection to my heart. I am humbled by this. The second thing I realized is this: I need to rethink my strategy in writing. First person may not be a good idea. I want so bad to connect with people, to empathize or sympathize with them. I want to relate to people so that they can feel and know that they are heard. I know I can’t relate to the depth of pain some people have in their body, their mind, their spirit (emotions), and the crises they have in relationships because of their life circumstances. But the truth is I don’t know exactly what people are going through, or how deep those feelings go. There’s no way I can, because I am not in their shoes. In fact, many of you challenge me to exam my own faith and priorities, the way you go through so much and still have so much joy. Thank you for that challenge. The long and short of it is this: I need to get closer to Jesus, so when the deep waters of grief or pain hit, I will not drown, but will rise above them with joy. My faith is weak in this area.

It was not my intention to hurt anybody or make them sad or scared. It was my intention to bring people together around a struggle, and help them tackle it together, and to get their focus, and my own, on Jesus. He is our help, healer, and friend. I pray that you hear my heart, as I long to hear yours. I am honored by the way many of you take care of me and pray for me, and offer to pray with me over the phone. God bless you for your faithfulness and compassion.

At this moment, one of our cats, “Moose”, is asleep on my left hand as I try to type this piece out, sitting here on my couch. At the next writing, Lord willing, I will be writing about the difference between humility and humiliation. They are not the same things, though they often get jumbled up together, with not so positive results. And I promise not to write it in first person!

Until next time, may God bless and prosper us all.

Pastor John

New Website in Progress

New Website in Progress

This week’s writing is going to be about a new website that the Lord has laid on my heart for sometime. The site will be dedicated to meeting the needs of senior citizens who need practical advice, support, and encouragement – without all the drama and backbiting that is common in social media today. It has gotten really nasty on these social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, for example)

The way that I wanted to keep my website secure and drama free is to make it a private site, by invitation only. I have searched, prayed, and asked others to pray for a way to get this done. The long and short of it is this – by the grace of God, and the generosity of the couple that started this website (Unresolved Life), this new website, “Pastor John’s Senior Moments”, will finally be making progress again. Michael and Teresa are going to help me get it set up, and they are going to host it. This is a huge answer to prayer.

Here is the set up I am looking to create. I want to have scripture throughout and use that scripture for encouagement and instruction. That will be one page or section. Scripture will be a major component on this website. Scripture is God’s word.

Another section or page for the website will be blogs. This will be a place where seniors and others can post about what’s going on in their lives, a place to share their needs, their hurts, their hearts. Many of us as seniors have questions about their bodies, their minds, and their spiritual lives. They need a soft place to land where they can be real, seek advice, and a place to find encouragement.

This is the heart of what I want to do with the website, why I am doing it, and a little of how I plan to put it together. This has all come about by the grace and calling of the Lord, and with the prayers and practical help of a lot of people, including Michael and Teresa. When the website is done, I will post a link or otherwise let the Unresolved community know what’s going on.

Thank you for your prayers for this webite ministry and for me, Pastor John of Mississippi. Take care and God bless. Pastor John signing out.

The New Toilet

The New Toilet

I bought a new toilet – not a pond, not a pot. It’s right by the bedroom – a most convenient spot. And if I need clean water, I just turn on the tap. Cold or hot, its right there. Now just imagine that!

Hot food in my belly, made fresh on the stove. There’s food in the cupboard, and flavors I love. My lifestyle is cozy. It fits like a glove.

But others, I’ve heard, have to pee in a pot, or a bucket, or outside – whatever they’ve got. Our life is convenient while theirs, it is not. Hey, you do what you do just to “find a good spot.”

Their water is far, and not healthy or clean, from a watering hole, where the animals are seen. Disease in the water, bacteria, for sure. Our water is clean, and theirs is impure.

No doctors or hospitals their ailments to fix. No money, no income – maybe sell a few sticks, ’til the government says “no!”. Maybe begging would do the trick.

This writing, you see, is not meant to cause pain, but to make us all grateful for the things that we’ve gained. Some things have been earned, and some have been given. God shares His wealth. Could we do the same?

Help one person, help many – whatever we can do. Lord help us to see how to see people through.

This ode to the toilet is an ode to God’s grace. “Lord, help me help others as I run this race. And may you be pleased, Jesus, when I see your face.

That is my prayer, and that is my plea. Help me to help others, as You have helped me.”

Missed Connections

Missed Connections

There seem to be a lot of things not connected as we get older, as we approach “middle age”, as we become “senior citizens.” Mind you, I don’t know what these terms mean. Does middle age mean the middle of the road, middle of life, or middle between zero and a hundred? And as far as “senior citizen” goes, I qualify for a senior citizen discount in some places (which I love taking advantage of!) and in other places, I don’t. I am 63. According to the men in my Sunday school class, I am young. (Then how old are they???) But I digress.

Back to the missed connections, I seem to be missing a few myself, in body, mind, and spirit. The body, as we get older, is just not happy sometimes, and is very confusing! It is easier to get down and pick something up than to get back up. Okay, sometimes its not easy gettting down! (I didn’t want to admit that!) Our bodies so odd things too, like sweating all of the sudden for no reason, then the next second you’re fine, or like getting up, sweating, and discovering sore muscles, all at the same time. Well, at least my body does that. And the sounds that it makes – well, you get the idea. We are not connected in our body like we think we should be.

Connections in the mind? I really wonder about this one. Yesterday I took my wife to the library, where she tutors math. She was scheduled to tutor from
2:00-5:00. We left at 1:30 to get there. So far, so good. I stay at a carrell with my computer while I wait for her. It passes the time and gives me something to do, plus I love playing games on my computer. So here’s the set up. I know that one person leaves tutoring and the next one comes in on the hour. I was watching the time, so I could tell her something at 3:00 before she started her next student. I was so intent on watching for 3:00 that I convinced myelf that we got there at 3:00 and were leaving at 6:00. I was really concerned that I wouldn’t have enough time to go home, get a bite to heat, then head out immediately for quartet practice at 7:00. When she finished at 5:00, I was surprised that she was done an hour early. Good grief, the mind is strange.

The spirit (emotions) seems to change as well, at least for me. I don’t like to show emotions, but end up showing them at the oddest time and in the oddest ways.

But the most important connection you will ever make is your connection to Jesus Christ, who connects you to eternal life. Are you connected to Christ by faith? Are you aware of His connection to you? If you have not repented of your sins and turned to Christ in faith, it is not too late. Give Him your life and let it go. He’s already given His to you.

Let’s stay connected on this blog, okay?

Burden of Shame

“Burden of Shame”
Do you carry a burden of shame? Do you cling to the root of your pain? Do you suffer a deep sense of loss? You can carry these straight to the cross.
Jesus our burdens He bore. So we need cling to them no more. Both our sin and our grief. His cross brings relief. Now His peace, if we’ll take it, is in store.
Release that pain to Jesus, the shame, guilt, despair, all the rest. Receive His free gift, and your burdens will lift. And from the inside out you’ll be blessed.

Snack Drawer

Chewy chocolate

Chewy chocolate

Snack Drawer

1 Corinthians 10:23 King James Version (KJV)

23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

Recently I wrote a piece called “Ice Cream Truck!” which emphasized the joy, laughter, fun, and playfulness we can have as God’s kids, that He delights in us and loves spending time with us. This is all true, but let’s flip the script on this, let’s turn the record over and see what’s on the other side. That other side is found in the scripture verse above – all things are lawful, but not all things are expedient. Another way to say this is “not everything is helpful.” Ice cream is good, but it is not helpful to eat a lot of it, or to eat it all the time.

It’s nice to eat ice cream every once in a while but but it is not expedient, not helpful, to make it a “most important” thing to do. It is not helpful for me to look to food to be my hero, my comforter, but that is what I do sometimes. Anything taken to extremes can be harmful. Jesus’ love is sweeter than chocolate and more satisfying than candy. (That was a reminder to self, not a judgment call on anyone else. I need to remember that an occasional snack is okay, but to keep it in moderation.)

Its good to know that no matter what the issue, no matter what the concern, no matter what the habit, you and I can give that to Jesus, and He will help us let it go and overcome it. He is our ultimate helper in all things and He can be trusted.

Here with you on the journey,

Pastor John

Ice Cream Truck!

“Ice Cream Truck!”

Ps. 34:18 – Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Ice cream was not around in Biblical times, at least not that I know of. The Bible does talk about the promised land being a land “flowing with milk and honey”. That sounds to me like that would make some great ice cream!

I wish you could be a fly on the wall in our house when we hear that sound that we heard and loved as kids growing up – the ice cream truck! We almost ran to that truck when we heard it a couple of weeks ago and were so excited, just like a couple of kids! And we are kids – we are children of God, and children like to play and have fun!

We also like to celebrate – with or without ice cream. Our Father God loves us and has declared us innocent. We are free from the penalty and the power of sin. There’s a lot of things we don’t know or understand, but that’s okay. Our Father, our Papa, knows what’s going on, and He’s taking care of it. All He asks is that we just keep talking to Him, learning from Him, and enjoying His presence. Believe it or not, He enjoys ours. He wants to be with us. He doesn’t look down on us in shame, because Jesus adopted that shame as His own when He died for our sins. Yes, we need to be aware of our sins and our weakness, but we don’t need to wallow around in it, play in it, or shake our fingers at ourselves saying “you should have known better, you useless thing.” That is NOT biblical.

The biggest bully of them all, the devil, wants to steal our joy, our innocence, and our peace. For goodness sakes, we don’t need to let him steal it! We are kids. We are innocent in His sight. We are learning all the time. We love to have fun, play, and laugh, to celebrate, to enjoy this beautiful life that God has given us.

And do you know the coolest part? God enjoys watching His children play, have fun, laugh, and grow. He is a good parent. So the next time you see the “Ice cream truck!!”, get out there and get it. Don’t let it get away. Its time to have some innocent fun as God’s kids. Its definitely time for ice cream!

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving your children many good things to enjoy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

You Big Bully!

You Big Bully!

2 Sam. 9:1

Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

Davud showed kindness to Mephibosheth. Who was Mephibosheth? He was the son of Jonathan, David’s best friend. He was also the grandson of King Saul. In spite of the fact that Saul tried to kill David, he still loved and honored Saul’s position and God-given authority. As a result of this, he wanted to bless someone in Saul’s family, and that was Mephibosheth.

That is the backstory. But the rest of the story is found in 2 Sam. 4:4, which tells us that Mephibosheth was “crippled in both feet”. This happened at the age of five, when his nurse dropped him. Mephibosheth was disabled, and he looked at himself that way too. He probably had to put up with people making fun of him as he was growing up, and had to have been aware of people staring at him and making comments behind his back.

I hate bullies! I hate what they did to me, particularly one that I had from first grade through middle school. I hate what bullies do to others that I know and love. I am writing this to honor a friend of mine whose son was bullied. She and I want you to know how hard bullying is, not only for the victim, but for the whole family. People need to realize this. They need to understand how hard it is.

From a Christian perspective, what can we do? I would like to suggest several things we could do: Pray for the victims and their families, pray for the teachers and schools that have to deal with this, and pray that the Lord would change our hearts and deal with any unforgiveness that may remain there. Finally, we need to lock arms and support victims of bullying and their family, especially parents, grandparents, and other caregivers. We also need to support schools who need to be aware of and deal with this scourge on our society. We need to stand together in all of this.

A note to pastors and churches – you have an opportunity here to minster to many people. Not only can you show them the love of Christ, you can even lead them to Christ, if needed. Victims, families, and even bullies themselves need to hear the Word preached and see it lived out. I would like to see churches start support groups for families and friends of victims of bullying. This is not a problem the church can ignore. Show the love of Christ to all these people. Minister to them, and Christ can touch their heart. And definitely pray for them all.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

Today’s tip – “We can rest for awhile, but we can never quit.”

To be honest, I have struggled how to approach this last of eight tips that Brother Paul lived by and taught to his sons, Josh, Sam, and Paul Henry. I have tried in these writings to honor both Brother Paul, and Jesus, who Brother Paul preached, loved, and shared with so many. I want to represent both men.

I loved his pastor’s heart, his love for Jesus and his deep love for his congregation, and really for everybody he ever met. I want to honor his legacy.

At the heart of Brother Paul’s messages, and the heart of the Bible, was the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God, who died for our sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead, thus conquering sin, death, and Hell. Jesus is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, and the savior to all who would believe.

To the end, Brother Paul preached Jesus and invited people to come to him, to repent of their sins, and commit their lives to Jesus, to trust Him. We are all at some point on that continuum, we all need to grow in our relationship with Jesus and need to get keep working on our commitment to Him. I want all who read these writings to be challenged, encouraged, and motivated to get closer to Jesus.

Brother Paul was a fighter and a lover. He fought hard against the cancer that eventually conquered his body, but not his spirit. It was so obvious that Jesus lived in and saturated his heart. He soaked Him and and poured Him out. Jesus kept him going. He rested when he had to, but never quit in his commitment to Jesus, to growing in Him and sharing him with everyone. He led over 1,000 people to Christ. I want to be like Brother Paul, and in some way to carry on his legacy. I am trying.

To sum this all up, I have two questions: Do you know Jesus, and are you learning from and growing in Him? That is the heart of Brother Paul’s life and message, and that is the heart of the gospel?

Scripture: Colossians 1:27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, for those of us who know You, may we grow in you daily. And for those who don’t know you, may they surrender their life and their eternity into Your hands. In your Name we pray. Amen.