I’m not afraid to admit it–I am not a fan of cold weather. Some have a great love of snow, the crispness in the winter air, and outdoor activities during the shortest days of the year but I’m not one of them. Blame it on my upbringing in the Midwest or living several years in the South, my desire is for warm weather all year round.

But our Lord still does catch my attention this time of the year with the spectacular palette of colors He uses to paint our world for a few short weeks. The reds, yellows, and all shades in between that He pours out into the foliage around northern New Jersey just takes my breath away. I view this as another sign of God’s love for us and His creation as we move through the fall season. The enjoyment that we receive from our Lord’s care for detail among the plants reminds me of how He wonderfully cares for me.

This care culminates in the shedding of red blood by our Savior on a cross for all humankind to offer salvation to all who believe. The colors are made even more vivid in remembering how the blood of Jesus takes away the stain of my sin and makes me whiter than snow. That’s the most beautiful color I know!

I pray you are able to enjoy the fall colors and appreciate the significance of God’s care for us. That knowledge will pull me through the long winter months until the warmth of spring returns.

Interesting News

Here are two bits of news you may find interesting (I did)–

The USS New York sailed from its construction port in Louisiana for the first time. What makes this warship unique is that a portion of the steel in the bow is from iron salvaged from the Trade Center site following September 11, 2001. You can see more about the ship here
A new invention of a bladeless fan by the fellow who invented the bagless vacuum cleaner.

Making a Statement

The phrase, “He (she or they) really made a statement today” has been used for some time now and I believe it means that someone or a group of people provided a definitive answer when the situation presented itself. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers “made a statement” with their easy win over the St. Louis Cardinals–and the Cardinals “made a statement” with their inability to drive in runs throughout the three game series.

Another example–the committee which awards the Nobel Peace Prize “made a statement” with its presentation of the 2009 Peace Prize to President Obama.

Please notice, I’m not saying that all these statements are good (or even truthful) but they certainly caught our attention.

Turning this thought to a better use, Jesus “made a statement” many times during His earthly ministry. He told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). He also said, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:7).

One of my favorite statements by Jesus is this: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). That’s as definite as you can be.

Many of the statements people make today are open to question as they may provoke debate as to whether or not they really are the clear answer some thought they were.

But the statements of Jesus are never open to discussion or debate or even question by us because He always lived up to what He said. They were truthful and we can trust them.

That’s why the older I get, the less importance I place on sports and the overblown attitudes displayed by those who think they have accomplished something. When compared to our Lord, there is no comparison!

I pray you can see the same.

Nothing Good Can Be Said

Look, I have tried every which way I know to put a Biblical spin on what I experienced last night but there is nothing in the Bible that supports me after watching my Cardinals lose to the Dodgers, my Blues lose their home opener, and the only college football team that I pay interest to–the Missouri Tigers–lose at home as well.

I have searched God’s Word to remind myself not to trust in the ways of the world, to look for hope in hopeless situations (that describes the Cardinal’s plight), or some such thing. Probably what I need to to is repent from setting aside time to watch men play games over which I have no control!

The majority of American men set themselves up for such situations when their teams fail and they feel as if they have failed even though they didn’t participate athletically. It’s interesting to see what we place our hopes and dreams in and what we don’t trust. It seems we are more interested in trusting men rather than God.

Now, I’ve made a spiritual point but I still don’t feel any better.

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

God’s Grace Teaches

God’s grace is extended to all people, and it teaches us how to live according to the Spirit and not according to the world. It teaches us what to avoid and what to do. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus: 2:11-14).

Prayer: Good and gracious Heavenly Father, it is only through Your grace that I live this life and will live forever with You. I thank You for Your generosity toward me. You give me so much, in fact, I have nothing apart from You! I especially thank You for the most indescribable gift the gift of Your Son. Help me live a life worthy of Your love and grace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Blessings on your stewardship journey!

Knowing for Certain

(My wife has pointed out to me that our son’s birthday is October 11. This only proves what most of you have suspected–I don’t remember much!)

This day (October 4) is always a bit of a challenge for me as it is the birthday of my son, Matthew, both physically and spiritually. Matthew was born at Christ Hospital (what a lovely name!), Cincinnati OH in 1979 and Barb nor I had any clue what that day would hold for us.

Our son’s birth proceeded without any problems but within a few hours I was called back to the hospital (we lived 50 miles away in southeastern Indiana) as Matthew’s medical condition was deteriorating. He was bluish in color which told the doctors he wasn’t receiving enough oxygen. The decision was made to transport him to Children’s Hospital, just a few blocks away. The medical team determined that it was necessary to perform surgery on Matthew to see exactly what was the reason for the poor distribution of oxygen.

Therefore, that evening, I went to Children’s Hospital from Christ Hospital where Barb was herself still a patient. I was led into the operating room where my son lay on the table in preparation for the procedure and I administered the Sacrament of Holy Baptism which tied my son with His Savior forever. There were no guarantees offered in my son’s situation. He could have died that evening but I knew for certain where he was headed–heaven was his home.

The Lord brought Matthew through that surgery and other procedures and surgeries before calling him home in December 1985. All along I knew there were no guarantees for my son’s health or long life but I did know he was part of God’s family and that was enough to sustain me to this day.

That knowledge still sustains me to this day and will until the Lord says it’s time for me to come home and rejoice with Him and all who have died before me.

May that fact that those who are baptized in the name of Jesus are part of the family of God provide you with strength and hope. And don’t throw away your gift of salvation by renouncing your faith. If you have done your math, you will realize that my son would have been 30 today.

Here’s an anthem by Paul Manz that speaks well to my son’s life and all of our lives in Christ.

A New Season Begins

Most folks who know me learn quickly of my feelings for the St. Louis Cardinals, but many of those same people are surprised at my interest in ice hockey, specifically the St. Louis Blues.

This was an adventure which began for me during my high school years when the Blues came into existence as an expansion team in the NHL. During their first season (1967-68) tickets were pretty easy to come by and a couple of my friends and I went to several games enjoying everything we saw–the speed, the skating, the amazing amount of skill it took to play such a game (and, OK, an occasional fight wasn’t too bad either!)–it was a great way to spend a winter’s evening.

The Blues were part of the first expansion of the NHL with the six new teams all put into the same division and the original six teams in the other grouping. The plan for the playoffs that year had the best team from the one division play the best team from the other. This was a true mismatch in every sense of the word as no one expected an expansion team to have a chance against one of the established teams.

The St. Louis team played OK during it’s first season and made the playoffs where they just kept winning, finally becoming the team to play against the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final. This is where it got interesting for me and I was able to get tickets to one of the Finals game played in St. Louis. It was close checking hockey and the teams were tied at the end of regulation time. Overtime began and, since it was “sudden death”, the teams played until one scored. No scoring in the first overtime and no scoring in the second overtime. Needless to say, the fans were going wild as no one expected for the Blues to even be competitive with the Canadiens. Finally, in the third overtime period as midnight approached, Montreal scored. I was hooked forever on hockey.

During my one year at St. Louis University I became friends with several players from the university hockey team who were from Canada. I was able to sit at rinkside to watch their games and enjoyed every minute of it. All of us from school had a great time.

Anyway, today begins another hockey season for my beloved Blues. They have never won the Stanley Cup in their history (that’s 42 years) but I still support them. Their season begins in a few minutes in Stockholm, Sweden where they will play the Detroit Redwings today and tomorrow.

It’s good to have hockey back!