Notes from the Organ Bench

Jan-Feb

2018.  Just let that sink in for a moment.  I can remember not so many years ago when the year 2000 seemed far away and  way in the future.   As a child, the year 2000 seemed to be so far in the future that I would never see it. And here we are almost 20 years into a new century.  The 1900’s seem to be in the distant past now. Many of our children and grandchildren were born in the 2000s. I read something recently that said as of this year, 2018, there are no longer any “children” that were born in the 1900s. This of course is based on the fact that one is considered an adult at the age of 18. Therefore, anyone born in the 2000s is officially an adult this year. All this of course makes one think. Where will the world be in another 18 or 20 years?  Will things be better?  Will things get worse? We just don’t know. Many say the world is a better place now than it was years ago.  Some things are better, maybe.  But to me, the world in general is no better off, and actually may be worse than in years past. One thing that hasn’t changed, and never will, is the fact that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord and He will return one day to gather all of us who believe into Heaven to be with Him forever.  We don’t know when this will take place. Many think it will be soon. Many thought it would have already happened. Jesus didn’t tell us “when” He was coming back. He just said “be ready”.  Are you ready?  If you have any doubt, I suggest you read your Bible daily, especially the New Testament. As a matter of fact, I challenge all of you to

read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as part of your Lenten discipline. There are four weeks in Lent plus Holy Week, so that gives you at least a week to read each one. If you still feel doubt in your heart, come to the Lenten and Holy Week services. Of course many will come for Easter, but the true meaning of Easter is not realized unless you have taken the Lenten journey. I never get tired of hearing the story. It reminds me just how much Jesus loved all of us. To go through what He did, even though He could have chosen not to. He did it anyway. Believe this if you believe nothing else. If it weren’t for Jesus, God would have already destroyed this vile and worthless world and all the people in it. But He didn’t, and we can all thank Jesus for that.  Lent will be starting soon, with Ash Wednesday on Feb.14th.  Quite appropriate if you ask me, that the time when Jesus showed His utmost love for us begins on the day we call the “love day”.  Come join us this year for Ash Wednesday, Lenten services and meals and Holy week. I guarantee you, Easter will have that much more meaning for you.  Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ WILL come again. Ten words you can take to the bank.

SOLEO DEO GLORIA



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May-June 2017


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March - 2017

And so it begins.  We have just experienced the transfiguration of Jesus, signifying the beginning if His ministry. Also signifying the first steps on the way to the cross. Early in Jesus’ ministry He met a man who was paralyzed. When Jesus saw the faith of the man and his friends, He said, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”  He didn’t just reach out and heal the man. He said your sins are forgiven. That would have been enough to heal the man. But the scribes that were present argued about it. Saying Jesus was blasphemous and that He had no authority to forgive. Jesus asked them, “Is it easier to say your sins are forgiven or to say arise and walk?”  Then, to prove His point, Jesus said, “arise and walk.” And the man arose, took up his bed and walked home. Of course all the scribes were even more taken aback by this gesture. But Jesus had proved His point.

    What can we learn from this?  I think Jesus is telling us that we can all perform miracles in our own way.  We cannot tell a paralytic to get up and walk and expect it to happen. However, we can tell anyone their sins are forgiven and we can be assured that they will be forgiven.  Jesus gave us that assurance when He chose to die on the cross for us. Every Sunday during our confession, our pastor declares to us the entire forgiveness of all our sins. Then at the end of the service we are instructed to go out and do likewise. I think in this miracle that Jesus performed He shows us that not all ailments are physical. He is telling us that the simple act of forgiveness is very powerful. And we have that power. Jesus gave us that power when He went to the cross.  He died so that all of us would be forgiven.

     As we again take the Lenten journey to the cross, let us not forget the reason Jesus went there. He gave His life to forgive our sins. The beauty of the story is that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice so that we wouldn’t have too. However, He asks us just as He asked the scribes. Is it easier to say your sins are forgiven or to say get up and be healed.  If all of our sins are forgiven, any physical infirmities we have will seem of little importance.



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JANUARY

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! wow! Christmas sure went faster than it came. They say, Christmas is a magical time of year. I believe it. At about 6p.m. on Christmas Day, everything Christmas magically disappears. Most all of the Christmas stuff is gone from the stores. The radio stations that have been playing Christmas music since Halloween have magically stopped. It's a shame really. Because the TRUE Christmas has just begun. Someone in my family asked me why we haven't sung any Christmas carols at church yet. I said, "because it's not Christmas yet!" I'm kinda old school when it comes to that.

But anyway, by the time you get this we will be in the midst of Christmas in the church. So that brings me to another point. Were you naughty or nice this year? That seemed to be the big question all around. What did you get??? oh... you must have been very good!!!! It seems that being good is the key to getting what we want. Some think that is the way it is with our salvation. Recently I heard of a study that was done by a prominent Christian university. They asked over 3000 people if being good would get you into heaven. Amazingly, over 75% said yes. Over three fourths thought that being good was what it took to get into heaven. The sad part, to me, was that a large portion of the 75% was evangelical Christians. That is to say, Lutherans, Baptists, Presbyterian, etc. This is terrible. To me, this tells me our pastors, our Sunday school teachers, our parents, any one who teaches us about our salvation, is not doing a very good job. And there are going to be a lot of disappointed people when they get to the gates of heaven. The Bible clearly states it. Paul clearly preached it. Jesus clearly proclaimed it. No one, I repeat, NO ONE goes to heaven unless they believe in Jesus Christ and confess Him as their Lord and Savior. Period.

But according to this survey, many believe they can get to heaven just by being good. Now, don't misunderstand, I'm not saying just run out and do bad things just because you believe. That's not what Jesus taught us. If we believe in God and Jesus Christ we will WANT to do good. Jesus said the greatest commandment is love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Don't just SAY you love your neighbor, show him. But, Jesus also told us, no one is good except the Father. So Jesus knows we will be bad. We can't help it. We are human. And for those that think better of themselves because they think they have only little sins. It doesn't matter to God. Sin is sin. All sins are the same size to God. So as you look back over the past year, and look forward to the next, remember this. You probably weren't as "nice" as you could have been. And you certainly weren't as "good" as you thought you were. And I hope and pray that you are in the 25 % of that survey that said no, I don't think being good will get me to heaven. 



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DECEMBER

"Christmas is-a-coming, Christmas is-a-coming!" do you remember that old song? I used to sing that over and over when I was a kid. That was the only line I knew, so my Mother quickly tired of hearing that. But it is true. Christmas is coming; quickly. I was just talking to the Pastor Sunday about how it seems there is never enough time after the choir's July break to get everything ready. Not only is this true with the church, it's almost everything we do this time of year. Everything is so hectic, we never seem to have enough time to be ready. But our Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent tells us we better be ready. During Advent we get ready for the coming of the Christ child, again. But this Gospel is not referring to that coming. The first coming has already taken place. We must ready for the second coming. This is what Matthew is telling us in this Gospel. Christ will come like a thief in the night. Of course this doesn't mean He is going to come in steal something, it means you don't know when He will come. It will be a surprise; a big one. And He will probably come when you least expect it. Much like a thief in the night would come. The main point is being ready. Not getting ready. We can get ready for everything else. I can get the choir ready for Christmas. We can all get ready for Christmas. We can get ready to go here and there, we can get ready to eat a meal. But, if we plan on getting ready for Christ' coming, then we are too late. We can't GET ready for that. We must BE ready. I had an old band director who would say, "If you are just on time for practice, then you are already late." His philosophy was to BEGIN practice at a certain time. Not be there getting ready at that time. The same with Christ' coming. If you are GETTING ready when He comes, I am afraid you will already be late. 


Be ready to give this Christmas also. There are so many opportunities for giving and helping. Last week on the news, I saw a man who came to this country 40 some years ago as an immigrant. He came with nothing. Today he has a very prosperous restaurant in the Charlotte area. He was on the news because he had prepared and given away over 4000 meals this year alone, not to mention how many he had given away over the years. When asked why he did it, he said, "God gave me two good hands, one to receive and the other to give." That really struck me. This man started with nothing. But he had received much. And so he was compelled to give much. Which of your hands is the busiest?


Please join us for all the holiday events happening at church this year. Especially the Choir Cantata on Dec. 19 at the 10:30 service. All the choirs will be performing. We have tentatively planned an encore performance of the Choir Concert with excerpts from the Christmas Eve play on January 2nd at 5 o'clock in the evening followed by a reception. More info on this to come. Oh, and one more thing. Every time someone says "Happy Holidays" to you, respond by saying "Merry Christmas". It is our duty as Christians to keep CHRIST in Christmas.



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JULY

Whew, it's been hot. If I had ten dollars for every time someone asked me if it was hot enough for me, I could take a vacation to somewhere cooler! But after all, it is summer. At least here it is. On the other side of the world, in Australia, it's the middle of winter. Now wouldn't that be strange? It's still July, but it's cold there. Anyway, even though it's hot, we can still enjoy all that summer has to offer. Cookouts and days in the pool, outdoor concerts and lightning bugs. We are truly blessed with good things, so we can put up with a little heat. 


But what about other places around the world and in our own country. Places that are suffering from famine and drought and extreme poverty, to oil spills and devastation here in our own country. We read in the Bible that God wants us to live a happy and prosperous life. God doesn't want us to suffer, but invariably we will at times. The people on the Gulf coast are surely suffering, as well as all the animals and sea life. Many people around the world suffer from poverty or war or both. Why does God let these things happen? Why doesn't he end the poverty and hunger, wars and oil spills? We as humans cannot understand why God lets these things happen. We can only pray, and ask God, in His infinite wisdom, to take care of all those who are suffering. I once saw an interview with Mother Teresa. She devoted her life to helping the poor. She spent her entire life nursing others that were suffering. The interviewer asked her what was the first thing she would say to God when she got to Heaven. Without a moments hesitation she said, "I would tell Him, YOU have got a lot of explaining to do!" And I am sure she did. But even as Mother Teresa had no idea why these things happened, neither do we. It's all part of God's greater plan. Unfortunately for us, God will be the one saying, "You've got a lot of explaining to do". The Gospel last Sunday had one line that really stuck with me. Once you put your hand to the plow, never look back. To me that says, once I have taken hold of Jesus hand, I can't look back. There's no need to look back. No matter how bad things get, for me, or for anyone else for that matter, we can never look back. Keep your hand to the plow. Look straight ahead. If we don't...... we might have a lot of explaining to do.

SOLEO DEO GLORIA
TO GOD ALONE THE GLORY



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JUNE

Traditionally, Memorial Day, signifies the beginning of summer. School will be out shortly, and many folks will be taking a long needed vacation. Once June starts, we go into the "green" Sundays in the church, the time after Pentecost. Things slow down a bit and we relax a little. The choirs are winding down, and we have some time to relax and prepare for the upcoming seasons. Many people don't make it to church during these times for one reason or another. Maybe they are on vacation, maybe they just have other things to do. But let us never forget where all our blessings come from. And that is God above. God gave us this beautiful earth to enjoy our vacations. God gave us parents and children and grandchildren to enjoy. Let us never forget to thank Him and worship Him.

While you are away on vacation, or just sitting around being lazy, don't forget about God. These are perfect times to commune with the Almighty. And how do we do that? First we pray. Talk to God. He will listen. God hears every prayer we ever offer to Him. Last Sunday, the Pastor said we shouldn't pray for a new Cadillac, however, I don't think God would mind if we asked Him to help us find a job. Then we could buy ourselves a Cadillac. The point is, just talk to God. We as humans spend millions of dollars on therapists and drugs to help us with our problems. And the solution is right in front of our face. It's God. When we talk to God, do we ever take the time to listen for an answer? Or do we go about our daily routines, just hoping God will answer our prayers. Psalm 46:10 says, "Be silent and know that I am God." This is hard for us to do. We are so busy we don't take the time to be "silent" and listen to God. While you are on vacation or just having a quiet evening on the deck, take time to "be silent" and know that He is God. You might be surprised what He has to say.

SOLEO DEO GLORIA
TO GOD ALONE THE GLORY



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APRIL

Lent can be a depressing time. We have had about all the winter we can stand. The land is still quite lifeless, and we hear about the impending death of our Savior, Jesus Christ. However, in the midst of all this something from the Bible will jump out and make us feel better. The Psalm we used last Sunday is a perfect example. Many times we sing or read through the psalm on Sunday without really hearing what it is telling us. This is the case with Psalm 27. In the midst of not only Lent, but all the terrible and tragic things that are happening in our world, we can take great comfort and assurance from this psalm. It is one of my favorites.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation- so why should I be afraid?" No matter how dark our lives become, God is always the light at the end of the tunnel. "The Lord protects me from danger- so why should I tremble?" Even in tragedy and danger, God is there for us. "The one thing I ask of the Lord- the thing I most seek- is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life." The one thing we must strive for, is to be able to share eternity with Jesus our Savior. "For He will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in His sanctuary." When we are in God's presence, nothing can harm us. "Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close." When we are wrapped in the arms of Jesus we will have that feeling that we had as a child wrapped in our parents arms. "Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living." God wants us to have happy and prosperous lives. Yes, there will be hard times, but God will always bless us with good things. "Wait patiently for the lord, be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." Having patience and waiting is not something we do well. We want things our way and we want them now. It is not like that with God. He will answer our prayers, but in His time and in His way. All we have to do is wait. And so, here we are again, waiting for the death of Jesus. The story is all too tragic. Why do we have to hear it again and again? It is to remind us to be patient, to wait, because we know that Jesus does not stay dead. The disciples were impatient. After Jesus died they thought this was the end. They didn't want to wait for the rest of the story. Jesus told them He would be killed and on the third day He would rise. And He did. God saved the world from sin. But He did it in His way and in His time. Jesus said He would come again. But when? We don't know. It will be in His way and in His time. So all we can do is be patient and wait. "Wait patiently for the Lord, be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." He will come again someday, in all His glory. There will be no more sorrow, no more weeping, no more night. Only praising and singing to the Great I Am. I can hardly wait!

SOLEO DEO GLORIA
TO GOD ALONE THE GLORY



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MARCH

Lent can be a depressing time. We have had about all the winter we can stand. The land is still quite lifeless, and we hear about the impending death of our Savior, Jesus Christ. However, in the midst of all this something from the Bible will jump out and make us feel better. The Psalm we used last Sunday is a perfect example. Many times we sing or read through the psalm on Sunday without really hearing what it is telling us. This is the case with Psalm 27. In the midst of not only Lent, but all the terrible and tragic things that are happening in our world, we can take great comfort and assurance from this psalm. It is one of my favorites.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation- so why should I be afraid?" No matter how dark our lives become, God is always the light at the end of the tunnel. "The Lord protects me from danger- so why should I tremble?" Even in tragedy and danger, God is there for us. "The one thing I ask of the Lord- the thing I most seek- is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life." The one thing we must strive for, is to be able to share eternity with Jesus our Savior. "For He will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in His sanctuary." When we are in God's presence, nothing can harm us. "Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close." When we are wrapped in the arms of Jesus we will have that feeling that we had as a child wrapped in our parents arms. "Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living." God wants us to have happy and prosperous lives. Yes, there will be hard times, but God will always bless us with good things. "Wait patiently for the lord, be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." Having patience and waiting is not something we do well. We want things our way and we want them now. It is not like that with God. He will answer our prayers, but in His time and in His way. All we have to do is wait. And so, here we are again, waiting for the death of Jesus. The story is all too tragic. Why do we have to hear it again and again? It is to remind us to be patient, to wait, because we know that Jesus does not stay dead. The disciples were impatient. After Jesus died they thought this was the end. They didn't want to wait for the rest of the story. Jesus told them He would be killed and on the third day He would rise. And He did. God saved the world from sin. But He did it in His way and in His time. Jesus said He would come again. But when? We don't know. It will be in His way and in His time. So all we can do is be patient and wait. "Wait patiently for the Lord, be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." He will come again someday, in all His glory. There will be no more sorrow, no more weeping, no more night. Only praising and singing to the Great I Am.

I can hardly wait!



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FEBRUARY

This is different. It's Sunday, January 31, and instead of playing the organ, I'm typing this article. I can only remember 3-4 times in 30+ years that church had to be cancelled due to weather. So, my Sunday morning routine has been disrupted. It just doesn't "feel" right. I went for a short walk this morning, just to enjoy the view and the crisp air. I took some pictures of the white wonderland that lay before me. Snow is a big deal to us. When I talk to my son, Chris, who lives in Minnesota, he says they laugh at us because we get all excited over a couple of inches of snow. That's merely a flurry to them. But, since we don't get snow often, we can get excited all we want. In my Bible readings, the people of Israel have had some things to be excited about. First off, they got freed from Egypt. That was pretty exciting! Walking through the Red Sea only to turn around and watch the sea swallow up the Egyptians. 


COOL!!! They got food provided to them every day for free. Manna and quail. All they had to do was pick it up. Life wasn't so bad in the wilderness. Until things went wrong. Then they would groan and moan about everything. Putting poor old Moses in a pickle. Well, you know how the story goes. Two things have stuck out to me this time, from Exodus and Leviticus. First, while Moses was on the mountain, getting the original copy of the Ten Commandments, the people were making a golden statue of a cow. They had already seen the power and might of God, but just because Moses was gone too long, they figured they'd make something of their own to worship. An idol. And we all know how God feels about idols. I wonder, are we any different today? I was watching a show the other night, showing how they built the new Dallas Cowboys stadium. They claim it's the biggest and best in the world. And it may be. But in some ways, isn't that an idol. Many of the people responsible for building it, and many of the ones that will go there seem to worship that stadium more than God. How many of us do the same, on a smaller scale. We think we need the biggest flat screen TV there is, the fanciest car, the best house, I could go on and on. Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with having nice things. I think God wants us to have nice things. But it's when those nice things come between us and God, there is a real problem.

The people of Israel had nice things, even though they were wandering in the desert. The Bible says they took their jewelry and other gold things to make the golden cow. It would take a lot of earrings to make a cow! I think what the Bible is trying to say to us is this. Keep God first in your life. Worship Him only. Do this and you will find true happiness.



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