Friday, January 12, 2007

Discussion Article: "How To Share Your Faith"

Today’s Quote: “I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul remembering my good friends.” Richard III 2.3.46-47

Anyone who has read this blog in the past will now, from time to time, read a discussion on an article I have read for church. The people involved in our “front line team” will read the article and then use our blogs to comment and share our thoughts on the article. When possible, I will give the title, author, and publication the article appeared in.

“How To Share Your Faith” from Building Church Leaders, published by Leadership Resources.

This whole article reminds me of Keith Green’s messages from his records (yes, records, which I still play occasionally!) and written messages. I read Keith’s biography during the month of December. His message is echoed in this article. I have to go where the people are; they probably aren’t going to come to me. I need to get out of my comfort zone and reach out to people. I may be the only way some people ever get to know Jesus up close and personal.

This isn’t easy, nor is it a short term task. Building relationships takes time. I like the idea from the article that when people hear “the good news from our lips, they should also see the good news in our lives.” I also like the idea that if I have lived faithfully, there will be opportunities to tell my story to someone who needs to hear it.

The challenge for me in this seems to center around a struggle I’m having right now. I’m trying to decide if I need to leave the family business where I have been employed over the last 8+ years and start on another path, or stay here, come what may. My Dad and younger brother, while having accepted Christ as savior in their younger years, have walked away from that. It’s all about the money and the businesses. I often wonder what effect, if any, I have on the two of them. Given the ugly note 2006 ended on and 2007 began with, I feel as if work is a very dark place. Am I sharing my Christianity in a positive or negative way? There are many days when I think my example is negative rather than positive.

The discussion questions have me pondering whether I really should stay, regardless of what it costs me to do so. Can I be a blessing to these two men, who desperately need to allow Christ to be their Lord as well as Savoir? What kind of relationship would I have with each of them if I leave here? Is God calling me to stay? I need to spend more time in prayer on this one.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Happy 2007!

"When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past..." Sonnet 30.1-2

What remembrances come up first for anyone reading this?

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Different Experience...

Today’s Quote: “He hath eaten me out of house and home”. Henry IV 2.1.74

I had a very interesting experience on Monday. My brother in law, Steve, comes from a Jewish family. His grandmother died over the weekend, and her funeral was on Monday afternoon. My sister told me to be at the cemetery about ½ hour or so before the service started. People come early and give condolences to the family before the service.

I met my parents, and one of my brothers at the cemetery. Everyone was dressed in black (even the children). We stood around and talked before the service started. I think there were maybe twenty people there. When it was time for the service to start, Steve’s mom (Naomi) and Dad (Marv) were seated graveside. Most of the rest of us stood behind them. The Rabbi started the service with all of us reciting the 23rd Psalm. I found that very interesting. I wanted to ask why that Psalm in particular, but I didn’t. As we recited it, I wondered if it was chosen for the verse about “walking through the valley of death”, or for the end, which says, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”. I also wondered if those reciting it really knew what they were saying. And, if they did, what did those words mean to them. Did they see a promise of life in heaven from this Psalm? Did they find any comfort in these words which promise God is with us through everything, no matter what we are experiencing? I wish I knew. I’m afraid it was probably just something one recites at a funeral.

I’m guessing that it was just words they recite at a funeral for many of those in attendance. I say that because, after having experienced a Passover meal with many of these family members, I learned they do not know why they say or do most of what happens during times of ceremony or special services. I was surprised that no one could answer my questions about why this or that. I had to get my answers from my books at home afterwards (next time I’ll read before I go to the meal!). It seems their faith is just rituals they do during certain times of the year ( the Jewish New Year and The Day of Atonement are the first that come to mind), or during services like the funeral service I attended. I know there are also many people who say they are Christians, but don’t know much about what that means. And, only attend church during Christmas and Easter time.

After the funeral, we were invited back to my sister’s in laws’ home for a meal and a chance to visit together. Before we entered the door, we had to wash our hands outside so we would remove all evil spirits that had come with us from the cemetery. In that way, none of the evil spirits would be able to enter the home. I wish I knew more of what was behind this practice. Maybe my sister could find out for me.

The more time we spend together with Steve’s family and extended family, I realize how lost they are. They have all the tools to see the truth of who Jesus is, but they are still blind. Many of the parts of their faith point directly to Jesus, as Messiah and Lord (Passover and The Day of Atonement, for starters). I think maybe I need to go back and restudy my Old Testament, so I know what Scripture actually says. I need to start praying for all of them by name. I’m not sure what else to do besides pray, study, and be ready to give a reason for what I believe, when the opportunity presents itself. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I’d better do some reading and studying and praying between now and then! (Both families will join together this year for Thanksgiving.)


Monday, October 30, 2006

Does Anyone Know Where I Find...

I need some help, please! Amy's (my sister) husband's grandmother passed away over the weekend. She was almost 100 years old. My brother in law and his family are Jewish. Some family members were telling my sister (if I understood what she told me) that they can get to heaven by good works. The Scriptures say so. Supposedly there are certain things they are required to do, and if they do all these things, they will go to heaven. Her question to me was, where in the Old Testament does it talk about hell, heaven and who goes where.

I found several passages that mention "Sheol". When I looked up the definition of the word, it is an ancient Hebrew word for "the place of the dead". It is found under the earth. Are there any passages which directly speak about what happens when someone in the Old Testament died? I know Enoch and Elijah went directly to heaven. I found no other reference to anyone going to heaven. If you know of passages in the Old Testament that speak on this subject, please let me know.

The 6th chapter of Deuteronomy has decrees about loving God and what His commands are. The chapter ends with this verse: "And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us, that will be our righteousness." I'm wondering if this is what her inlaws are talking about? After reviewing Genesis-Deuteronomy last night, this was the best passage I found. If you know of others, please help me out, so I can answer my sister's questions she had about what her inlaws told her.

I will be attending the funeral today at 3:00. I'm not sure how it will be. Without the promise of seeing a loved one in heaven, I'm not sure what to expect of this ceremony. It won't be a celebration of a joyous homegoing, at least I don't expect it to be so.

Please pray for my sister and her family, especially my brother in law, Steve. He has been exposed to the gospel message many times. He has said he sees that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, but he doesn't see that Jesus is fully God and fully man; nor does he understand why he needs Jesus in his life. As time has passed, it has been fun to see my sister become more and more on fire for Jesus. Her three girls are all involved in church. The oldest two accepted Christ as little girls, and are getting great training in the church they now attend. Her youngest (who is also Steve's daughter) is getting great teaching too. It is fun to hear her singing Bible school songs, and I was very happy to have her ask me, "Did I know Jesus is God?". I am praying God will use Steve's daughter to reach him for Christ. Only God knows what the catalyst will be for Steve to cross the line of faith. Please pray it happens soon!

I appreciate any help anyone can give me regarding the teaching of the Old Testament on death, going to heaven, and if it teaches about hell. Thanks!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

The story behind "Now Thank We All Our God"

In view of the workload that is coming my way shortly, and will last at least through February, I will blog when I can. If I have time to look up some fun trivia about Shakespeare and his plays, I will add that, if not, I will at least try to write a bit each day.

With that said, today I want to share the background of a hymn we have been rehearsing in choir for Thanksgiving. The title is “Now Thank We All Our God”. I have sung it many times, without ever knowing the back ground behind the writing of it. (I have a wonderful book entitled “Then Sings My Soul” by Robert J. Morgan. It gives the stories behind 150 hymns.) It was written by Martin Rinkart (1589-1649). He was a Lutheran pastor in Eilenberg, Saxony. He grew up poor and after studying, began his pastoral work just as the Thirty Years’ War was beginning in Germany.

There were hundreds of refugees inside the walls of the village of Eilenberg. The Swedish army surrounded the city, and inside there was famine, plague, and fear. Eight hundred homes were destroyed. Many people died. As you would imagine, there was a hugh strain on the pastors. They preached, cared for the sick and dying, and conducted funerals. As time went on, all the other pastors took sick and died, leaving Martin Rinkart the only pastor in the city. He conducted as many as 50 funerals each day.

Finally, the Swedes demanded a ransom, and Martin Rinkart left the city to negotiate with them. Due to his part in the negotiations, hostilities soon ceased and the time of suffering ended. Rinkart composed the hymn for the survivors of Eilenberg. After reading this story, see if you too don’t look at this familiar hymn of thanksgiving in a different light. (“Then Sings My Soul page 16-17).

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wonderous things hath done, in whom this world rejoices.
Who from our mother’s arms, hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts, and blessed peace to cheer us.
And keep us in His Grace, and guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore,
For thus it was, is now, and shall be ever more.

I hope sharing the story of this hymn of thanksgiving will stay with you and give new meaning to the hymn whenever you sing it (we usually sing it during the month of November). Blessings!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Time For A Change

Today’s Tidbit: In 1606, an “Acte to restraine Abuses of Players’ was passed by Parliament, for ‘the preventing and avoiding of the great Abuse of the Holy Name of God in Stageplayes Interludes Maygames Shewes and such like’:
Be it enacted . . . That if at any tyme or tymes, after the end of the present
Session of Parliament, any person or persons doe or shall in any Stage
Play Interlude Shewe Maygame or Pageant jestingly or prophanely speake
Or use the holy Name of God or of Christ Jesus, or of the Holy Ghost or of the
Trinitie, which are not to be spoken but with feare and reverence, shall
Forfetie for everie such offence by hym or them committed Tenne Pounde.
(Shakespeare Miscellany, page 152) Ten pounds was a lot of money in 1606!

(I wonder what the writers of this law would think of the language of today’s entertainment??!)

We, as in Gerish Companies, are about to make a very big change. For the first time in fifty (yes, fifty) years, we will have a new accounting firm. Dad started Gerish Building Company on January 1, 1957, with the firm Perrin Scott acting as his C.P.A.

Due to many factors, Dad has decided he is going to make a change. So, beginning shortly, we will have a new accounting firm I will be working with. I’m sure it will be stressful as I learn what they need from me and how often they need it. Usually it takes about 45-50 hours of work to get everything ready for the accountants when they come in December, and another 20 or so hours for the January meeting. I’m sure the new firm will require information much sooner than as of November 30. It will be interesting to see how everything comes together. I think the new firm will be very helpful and it appears they have many good ideas.

If anyone knows of any GOOD stress relievers, please let me know! I don’t want to have chest pain everyday for the next few months until we get everything done for all of the tax returns!

By the way… GO TIGERS! (Is it “Gum time” yet?) (It’s a Nate Robertson thing…!)


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New Beginnings

Today’s Tidbit: “There was no scenery in Elizabethan theatre, and the word ‘scene’ did not automatically mean ‘different place’. Many scenes take place without any clear indication of where the characters are. When it is important to know, it is the words which tell us.” The Shakespeare Miscellany page 151.

I am excited about this fall (no, not just because the Tigers are FINALLY in the playoffs again!) about joining two very different Bible studies. One is a small group of 10 people, mostly couples who are older than I am, and the other is a study group of 12 women from church.

The women’s group is doing a Beth Moore study on the Fruit of the Spirit. I am really enjoying the study and especially getting to know women I have been in choir with and attended church with for over 27 years. There are a few new faces, but most of the women I have known for many years. There is much wisdom to be shared in this group! The study is from the book of Galatians. I like the homework that takes me through some in depth questions, while digging into the Word of God for the answers. It isn’t like some other studies where I could do a week’s homework in about 40 minutes total!

The other group is currently studying the book of Philippians. We aren’t using a study guide, just the Bible and our discussions. The man leading the discussions is a pastor who works in our denomination offices in Livonia. It is a great group. I am looking forward to many meaningful discussions and wonderful prayer times. It will be also be fun to get to know some new people, and to get to know others I have been acquainted with a long time in a new way.

I realized this past week how much I have missed a small group that studies and prays together. The group I had been a part of for 7 years or so had dwindled down to 5 of us. We would meet for dinner, but for whatever reason, we evolved into mostly a supper club. The fellowship was nice. But I knew I needed more. We agreed that it was time to end our group and join others. My new group has one couple from my original small group. I’m glad Greg and Kathy asked if this new group would take 3 new members! I know it will be a great adventure in getting to know new friends!