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Here Today – Gone Tomorrow

fall2
The Casting Crowns have a popular song called “Who Am I?” I hear it ever so often on the Sound of Life radio station. Part of the lyrics say, “I am a flower quickly fading. Here today and gone tomorrow. A wave tossed in the ocean. A vapor in the wind.” It is likely based on Psalm 103:15-16 (NRSV), which says, 
“As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”

 

I have to say, fall in the northeast is certainly spectacular. The leaves on the trees with all the different variations of colors are simply majestic. It is a visual reminder of how awesome our Creator is. And when I am driving in my car during this time of year, I am almost overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of it all. And I try as much as is possible to take it all in. To appreciate it. To marvel in it. To enjoy it for its magnificence. Because I know that soon it will all be gone. In a matter of weeks it will all be gone and there will only be bare branches left.

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Hidden Treasures in Plain Sight

Gibson
When I left my previous congregation in Queens for Faith Church about 8 years ago, one of my friends gave me a goodbye present – an old guitar that he was not using anymore. It was something he wanted me to have. At the time, I thanked him, took a quick glance at the guitar, and stored it in its case in the unfinished basement of my house.
 
Since I have become the pastor of Faith Church, and as a member of the Praise and Worship Team, I have been playing much more guitar than ever before. So a few months ago I dug out the old guitar in the basement and for the first time took a good look at it. It then registered in my mind that the guitar is an old Gibson. I did some research online on the serial number and discovered that it was made in 1960. And here is the pleasant surprise. I learned that it is actually quite valuable. It is probably worth about four to five thousand dollars! This treasure has been hiding in my basement in plain sight for all these years and I never took the trouble to discover it.

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas2015

Celebrating Christmas in South Africa, where I grew up, is much different. Because South Africa is located in the southern hemisphere, the Christmas holiday falls right in the middle of the summer break. Needless to say that Santa wears shorts in that part of the world. I remember us being at the coast, or gathered around the swimming pool during the festive season. On Christmas Eve we used to have a big barbecue outside and then open the presents around the Christmas tree. On Christmas Day we would first go to church, and then sit down for a big meal with the family. The meal usually consisted of a roasted leg of lamb with mint jelly, cow tongue with mustard, chicken pie and deep fried potatoes. It was a feast of biblical proportions.

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Underinsured?

Car1Insurance is a billion dollar industry. People take out insurance on almost everything – property, automobiles, their lives, health and on and on, in the hope of being sufficiently covered in case of an accident, crisis or emergency.

On our recent travels to England, I rented a car for the first 10 days of our trip. And I drove the car everywhere – from London Gatwick to Sandbach, to Liverpool, to Wychnor, to London, to Wychnor, to Liverpool, to Lytham, to Dock Acres, to the Southern Lake District, to Dock Acres, to Newcastle, to Dock Acres, to Liverpool and finally back to London Gatwick. I sat in the worst traffic I have ever seen on the M6 and I drove in the thickest fog I have ever imagined on the way to Newcastle and back, and I drove on roads in the Lake District that are so small, I had to back up a number of times so that cars traveling from the opposite direction could pass me. I had to drive on the left hand side of the road with a stick shift and I have to say, I performed admirably well. I took it all in my stride, until the last day of my car hire. The day on which I was to hand the car back to the rental company. It happened on the final day!

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Looking Forward

ForwardI will be leaving for a trip to England this week with my only son. It is a trip we have been planning for a long time. It is something that we have been looking forward to for quite a while. It’s his early graduation present and my belated 50th birthday present. It is something that I’m sure we will remember for the rest of our lives. An opportunity to bond together through a unique experience. Something he will hopefully look back on one day with great fondness.

Being born and raised in South Africa, the game of rugby is running through my veins. I played it in school and college and I follow it religiously. And I’m still a huge supporter of the South African rugby side called the Springbokke. Next time you see the license plate on my minivan, you will understand that Bokke is simply short for Springbokke. It has been many years since I have seen the Springbokke play an international match. Right now the Rugby World Cup, which happens every four years, is taking place in England. So during our trip we will be attending the match between South Africa (the Springbokke) and Scotland in Newcastle. We will also be going to the match between the Springbokke and the United States Eagles at the Olympic Stadium in London.


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How We Come To Church

WorshipHow would you respond if you could have a personal meeting with the President of the United States this Saturday at 9:00 a.m.?

You would probably be excited and nervous at the same time. You might go out and buy a new outfit for the occasion. You might make a list of questions you want to ask him. You might get a haircut or have your hair done for the event. You might have a hard time sleeping the previous night. You will definitely set your alarm so you can get up early and make sure you are there on time. You would definitely not want to miss such an important occasion. It would be silly to squander such a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Having a meeting with the president will obviously be a very special occasion, no doubt. But have you ever thought about the fact that you have the opportunity to meet with the President of the Universe, the Creator of everything, the Almighty God every Sunday at 10:30 a.m.? There is no one more important than him. And yet we often treat this meeting as something that is of no importance at all.


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Why I Love Going to Church

Church1There is the old joke about a mother who went to wake her son for church one Sunday morning. When she knocked on his door, he said, “I’m not going!” “Why not?” asked his mother. “I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said. “One, they don’t like me. Two, I don’t like them.” His mother replied, “I’ll give you two good reasons why YOU WILL go to church. One, you’re 50 years old. Two, you’re the pastor!”

It is a reality that a lot of families today are struggling to go to church, and the desire to sleep in on Sunday morning is certainly only one of the challenges they face. The hour of worship is competing with sports activities for the children and catching up with responsibilities at home and recreation and all sorts of things.

My wife and I have made it our commitment to go to church on Sundays a long time ago, and that’s what we do as a family. My kids know that for as long as they are staying under our roof, church attendance on Sunday is a non-negotiable. Unless there are unusual circumstances, of course. But because it is so easy to fall out of habit when it comes to attending worship, absence on Sundays is the rare exception for us, rather than the norm.


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