Dusty Keys

Shutter Elf

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Never lose the passion.

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Hurting

Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover


“I’ve lost my song,” my mother-in-law told me, as her tender heart broke into a million pieces.Today, I understand exactly what she meant.

Sometimes the pain seems relentlessly intense and hopelessly never-ending. During those times, the singer can’t sing, the writer can’t write and the artist can’t paint.

Each of us is born with a unique gift or ability, given to us by our Creator, so that we can fully express ourselves. Using the gift is a way of expressing our love and thanks to our Heavenly Father, a way to encourage others we meet along the way, and a way of joyfully immersing ourselves in our passion. We make time, knowing that we affirm ourselves and our God-given abilities as we express ourselves.

And then…unexpectedly, because we are imperfect humans living in a fallen world, we encounter heartbreak so overwhelming, it immobilizes us. We may be able to awaken each morning, get dressed and make it through our day; we may even remember to thank God for the blessings we know are still all around us. Truth is, though, we feel hopelessness inside. While we may be able to continue to function, we are not able to thrive.

Finally, knowing our spirits will break if we don’t get help, we fall to our knees beseeching our Father for the comfort only he can give. We quietly absorb the grace and mercy of being in his presence. His love surrounds us and our burden is lifted. We are renewed.

Once again, the singer sings, the writer writes, and the artist paints. It seems amazing, but the time spent away from the gift seems only to enhance the song, the words, or the painting. Yes, our Father created each of us with a wonderfully unique gift and gives us a time and place to use the gift. The greatest gift he gave each of us, though, is the freedom to have a relationship with him. He alone can replace our brokenness with joy and thanksgiving.

There may be several periods during a lifetime when the hurt seems greater than the hope. We know, though, because we belong to him, he is our hope, and there is nothing greater than him!

 

 

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Stepping Stones

Another post from my daughter, Katie Marie. Have you ever thought about steps?

Shutter Elf

DSC_0297.JPG Colosseum in Verona

The day that I went to Verona, Italy I was able to see the colosseum where opera productions are now held. As we were there, my small group walked around and climbed up to the top in several places. We ate lunch and fought the birds that were wanting a taste of the packed meal. But we never really discussed the historical impact of the structure. We mostly stayed quiet or pointed out how the rows of chairs at the bottom looked funny or how strange some people appeared to be.

Still, I thought about it. In the confinds of my mind I was thinking about how many people over hundreds of years – centuries – would climb these same steps and watch the slaughter that might have happened within its walls. I wondered how much torment took place and how many people cheered at the sight…

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I Will Sing a New Song

A Guest Post by: David Fuller


Over the years, my favorite creative outlets have been playing and composing music, and various attempts at written expression, both prose and poetry. I’m arguably better at the prose.

Some years ago, the person I was with at the time complained that I had never written a love song about her, which, given my musical aspirations, was awkwardly true. Also true was that I had never written a love song, period. Not for lack of trying. They just always seemed to come out cheesy and contrived. Not my niche, I guess. So I decided to give it another shot. Relationships take work, right? Unfortunately, my relationship at the time was not a great source of inspiration.

So, enamoured as I am with His woos and advances, I decided to draw inspiration from my relationship with God. I wrote the only love song I’ve ever written, and knew as soon as I finished, that He had actually written it for me.

And for you.

I love you more than the sun is bright
More than darkness fills the night
To the top of Everest’s freezing height,
My love still burns for you.

I love you more than the day is long
More sweetly than the saddest song
When the heavens and the earth are gone
I will be here with you.

I love you more romantically
Than moonlight on the lonely sea
The ways I’ll show you number more
Than grains of sand along the shore.

You and I will be together
Even longer than forever
And I will hold you close to me
Closer than the air we breathe.

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A Universal Gospel?

The following is an outline (nothing but an outline) that I prepared to preach one Sunday several years ago. I found it while searching through some documents on my computer and felt led to share it with you. Feel free to use it, if that’s what you do. Other than that, maybe you could use it as a study tool. 


“Examining the Universality of the Gospel”

I.   Introduction

Luke 2:9-10. Is the Gospel good news for all people?

The word “people” was “pointing specially to the people of Israel.”

II.  What does it mean to be universal?

The term universal is described by one dictionary as an “adjective relating to or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases.”

III. What is the Gospel?

Dictionary Definition:

The gospel is the The Eng. word “gospel,” i.e. “good message,” is the equivalent of euangelion (Eng., “evangel”). In the NT it denotes the “good tidings” of the Kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension, e.g., Act 15:7; 20:24; 1Pe 4:17.[3]

Paul’s Definition: In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul makes it very clear that the gospel is simple, not complicated, and consists of two central features:

  • Jesus the Messiah died on the cross and
  • He rose from the dead according to the Scriptures.[4]

IV. Objections and False Gospels  Some object to a Universal Gospel because race, culture, past experiences, etc.

  1. From those who have been hurt or don’t understand. “You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a Book. If it was intended for us, as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us, and not only to us, but why did He not give to our forefathers the knowledge of that Book, with the means of understanding it rightly. We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?”[5] – Chief Red Jacket, 1805, in a speech to the Six Nations and an American missionary, Mr. Cram.
  2. The Jews. In the eleventh chapter of the book of Acts, for instance, we read how that Peter, when he went to Jerusalem, “contended” with the Jews over the issue of the gospel being presented to the Gentiles. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul mentioned those who forbade him to “speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved.”
  3. Prosperity Gospel. It is certainly not a gospel that expects “blessing and favor” as evidence of God’s grace.

V.   A Gospel that IS Universal

  • Not limited by race, gender, age, nationality, boundary of any kind, or economic status. It is truly “good news” to anyone and everyone as long as they first realize they have a need for it.
  • Meet the most basic needs of Humanity.
  1. Sin. All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Because of Adam, sin entered the world, and death by sin; therefore death has passed as a consequence upon all men (Rom. 5:12). Jesus Christ died for the sins of all, and whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).
  2. The gospel is universal because it addresses the world we all live in. It answers the questions of pain and suffering. It gives meaning to the struggles of life. The gospel is not a drug or panacea of some sort; it is a reality pill.
  3. Love and Compassion. Mother Teresa said, “Maybe they are starved for bread in Africa. You are starved for love in the United States.”[6] What greater message of love can one share than that of the gospel of Jesus? “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

 VI. Conclusion  The gospel that is truly universal in its scope and application.

  1. All men are born in sin – Romans 5:12
  2. There is none righteous – Romans 3:10
  3. All have sinned – Romans 3:23

But…

  1. Jesus is the only Way – John 14:6
  2. One day ever knee will bow and ever tongue will confess – Phil. 2:10-11

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15 KJV

A message of love to every “creature” (κτίσις , εως f creation, what is created, created order, creature [7]) – how much more “universal” can a gospel get?

 

 

 

[1] Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), Lk 2:10.

[2] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[3] W. E. Vine, “Gospel (Noun and Verb: to Preach)”, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Blue Letter Bible. 1940. 24 June, 1996 3 Dec 2012.

[4] Donny Mathis, “Gospel” In , in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 671.

[5] Bryan, William Jennings, ed. The World’s Famous Orations. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1906; New York: Bartleby.com, 2003. www.bartleby.com/268/. [Accessed Dec. 2, 2012].

[6] G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1986), 257.

[7] Barclay M. Newman, Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies, 1993), 104.

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Freedom

Another beautiful post by my daughter, Katie.

Shutter Elf

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At what price does your freedom cost, if you consider to have freedom at all?

I have heard all of my life that freedom comes with a price and salvation, which allows for “freedom” was “free.” How can this be? Freedom, no matter what kind, was always paid for and always will be. Whether you or another person pays for it, the debt is owed.

The price of salvation was blood sacrifice. Yes, that sounds extreme because it is. The blood sacrifice of a being which was perfect and innocent in every way was required to pay the amount in full for the purchase of our souls’ freedom, and that saccrifice was supposed to be dear. It was to seal the covenant of redemption permenantly until the day of atonemnet, and it was the only way that there would be certainty of a life after death. The one person that was…

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I’m Not a Superhero

Email Ads

I don’t know how it happens, but somehow my email gets flooded with “half-off” offers and all such craziness. Even though I delete cookies, unsubscribe to stuff, and threaten friends, people still send me links to things I can’t afford.

Now, honestly, not all of the ads are worthless. As a matter of fact, if I had the money, I’d take advantage of some of the Groupon offers. Come to think of it, I should have taken advantage of some of those coupons before my last anniversary! Dang it! Why didn’t I think of that?

Once, on Facebook, someone sent me a link to a company selling t-shirts. The one that caught their attention was one that read, “I’m a School Bus Driver. What’s your superpower?” I thought that was cool! Alas, I didn’t have $20 to spend on a t-shirt, even though I wanted it.

However, it was not long after the offer for the first t-shirt that I got another offer. This time I wasn’t so happy.

Super Pastor

Dear reader, dear friend, dear occasional stalker, etc., I am not a superhero!

photoFor those of you who may be having this read to you, to the right is a picture of the advertisement as it appeared on my cell phone. It shows a black t-shirt that has printed on the front: “I’m a PASTOR, what’s your SUPERPOWER?”

Unlike when I saw the one about being school bus driver, when I saw this t-shirt design, I didn’t laugh, smile, or even grin; it ticked me off.

Folks, I don’t even joke about this. Pastors are already placed on unwanted pedestals, live in glass houses, and are thought of as superhuman. We, along with our families, are expected to have special powers of some kind, almost like Baptist wizards, impervious to the spells of the dark lord.

But, we are not special, only our calling is. Pastors are not gifted with superpowers, and to suggest that only adds to the expectation that we can do everything perfectly, never getting tired, never mouthing off to our kids, and always having the right answer for everything.

Super Savior

The only thing I can say is that God called me to a humbling “profession.” I did not choose to do what I do; He put the desire in my heart. And unlike other careers, like bus driver, fire fighter, school teacher, etc., no amount of education, training, or experience can make us successful at what we pastors do; only the living presence of Jesus can do that.

I have no super power other than the power of Christ within me. As a matter of fact, the weaker I am – the more the “kryptonite” affects me – the more He is able to work through me (Phil. 4:13).

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 KJV

I am only human. I have no superpower. All I have is a Super Savior.

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