Tag Archives: joy

Stick Simplicity: A Lesson In Contentment

George

First off, George is my dog. George is the best dog in the world. Everybody loves George. These are the facts.

Secondly, George loves me more than anyone else, and that’s because we think alike in many ways – and because I play with him more.

George is a dog. He doesn’t have a job, any source of income, and no idea what it would even mean to go shopping. His only concept of “Black Friday” is when I turn out the lights and put him in his kennel earlier than he deems fair.

Simple Stick

But George is the kind of dog that likes simple things. He likes his fancy squeaky toys, but he is just as happy with an empty toilet paper roll, a dust mask he might have snatched, or a simple stick in the back yard.

Don’t you wish we could be that way? Don’t you wish that we could be satisfied with a simple little stick to play with? Why do we crave the extravagant things? Why do we need so many expensive and complicated things to make us smile?

That reminds me of a song by Sean Morey I heard on the radio years ago when I lived in Kentucky. It’s called “Dear Santa.” Here’s a video made by a fan.

Sure, there’s more to life than a stick. But just look at George’s face! Look at that smile of contentment! Wouldn’t you like to be that happy?

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. – 1Timothy 6:6-8

Why don’t we just try – I know, we try every year – to keep things simple? Just keep in mind this key truth: George is MOST happy when I play WITH him.

As long as we can find enjoyment in being with those we love, who needs more than a stick?

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Filed under Christmas, Culture Wars, Family, Life Lessons, Thanksgiving

It’s Going to Be a Good Year

Happy 2018!

It is the afternoon of the first day of 2018, and I am looking forward to what’s ahead. I can only hope what lies ahead are things that will bring me happiness, but I can’t assume; some of the things that bring us the most joy are not always the things that initially brings us much happiness.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to being happy more often than not. I mean, even in the hard times and through seasons of disappointment, do we not have a choice? Can we not find a way to rejoice in the positive instead of dwelling on the negative?

For example, when I left the surgeon’s office the other day after getting stitches out of my shoulder, one of the nurses spoke to me. As I passed by with my arm in a sling, probably a little pale from the stress of it all, he asked, “Are you doing OK?” I paused, looked back, and replied,

“You know, there are people in the world who have to use their toes to brush their teeth. I don’t have to do that, so I guess I’ll be OK – it could be worse.”

And that’s really it, isn’t? Most of the things we complain about are really nothing more than first-world problems. Most of our unfulfilled dreams and expectations could be traced back to desires that most of the world would find laughable, if not absurdly immoral. Most of you who are reading this could be much worse off than you are in every area of life, everything from finances to relationships, or from health issues to housing issues.

Heck, if you didn’t have to ride an hour on an unsafe, crowded bus in 90-degree weather, all just to get to a place where you could stand in line to get access to a computer and internet, then you are automatically better off than hundreds I saw do just that in Zimbabwe.

I have a Savior who loves me and wants to commune with me, even when I forget He’s there. I have a God who is there every morning before I wake, painting a one-of-kind sunrise just for me! I am able to witness and experience the incredible complexity of nature, all with senses designed to recognize them and give glory to their Creator! I am blessed!

So, this is going to be a good year! I just know it! All it will take is recognizing what I have, as opposed to what I don’t have. I could even go a step further and recognize what I don’t have, as opposed to what I could be enduring.

This is the [YEAR] that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be GLAD (i.e., happy) in it! – Psalm 118:24

Our newest game – a cashless “Monopoly.” Scary, really.

….even if in the first game of the year I play with my youngest daughter, Haley, she completely decimated me and obtained complete control of everything. Good for her! 😉

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Filed under Future, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials, the future

Thankful to be Thankful

Blogging With a View

This morning I am getting the rare opportunity to sit down at a computer while it is still daylight outside! As a matter of fact, I am sitting in the living room of the parsonage, writing on my wife’s computer – because it’s the only one up and running, and – because of a temporary lack of space – the only one we can find a place for – looking out of the window to my right at the church sign by the street.

If you zoom in, no, I’m not Rev. Kaschimer. Still waiting for the name change 🙂

As you may be able to see by the condensation on the antique windows, it’s still a little cool outside – and I love it! It’s about time we get some bugless weather!

By the way, thanks to all of you who have helped us with this parsonage. There is still work to be done (I can detail that a little later), but at least we have a roof over our head and a place to sleep. And internet 😉

Other “Thankful” Blogs

Anyway, this morning I sat down at the computer (it feels so good to type on a real keyboard, not my phone!) with the intention of writing a “thankful” post in anticipation of Thanksgiving. However, before I began my own writing, I read a few other posts by fellow bloggers who had the same idea. Shoot, I bet they’d even appreciate me sharing a link, wouldn’t you think?

Now, believe me, especially after a sermon I preached this past Sunday, I’ could come up with a humdinger of a list of things for which I’m thankful. However, much of the things on my list would probably sound a lot like the things on other peoples’ lists.

For example, I am thankful for things such as… God’s grace, mercy, salvation, family, a loving wife, bacon, a place to sleep, running water, a church to pastor, Star Wars slippers, eyesight, a job, coffee, wifi, chocolate gravy and biscuits this morning, etc. Like I said, pretty much like everyone else.

But after I got to thinking, wouldn’t it be a little more interesting to write about something other than a list of things for which I’m thankful?

Thankful to be Thankful

Honestly, I am just thankful that I can sit here at this computer and tell you I am thankful – yes, thankful. You see, I could be like one of those people who feel entitled to everything, that God owes them something, but I’m not like that. I’m thankful I’m not in hell – that’s what I deserve.

I’m thankful that I’m not bitter, angry, resentful, jealous, or spiteful. No, I don’t live in a mansion or drive a new car, but I am happy to be thankful for what I have – I could be sleeping in a van down by the river.

I’m thankful I’m not wallowing in sorrow and self-pity, mourning the past and dreading the future. God has redeemed me and rescued me from more than I can speak of! I’m so thankful I want to say so (Psalm 107:2)! Life could be hopeless, but it’s NOT (1 Cor. 15:19-20)! I’m thankful there’s more to this life than this life, and I’m thankful I can be thankful for that!

Hallelujah! I will praise the LORD with all my heart in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation [and on my blog, too]. – Psalm 111:1 CSB

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Filed under Thanksgiving, writing

Emotions of Christmas

Melancholy

Even though Christmas time is full of happiness and joy, there are also moments of melancholy. Just to be sure, I looked up that word and it actually means what I thought it did: “pensive reflection or contemplation.”

Every year that goes by we tend to lose people we love, and that includes pets, too. We lose people, animals, our hair, our smooth skin, and bunches of other things; yet there still remains a joy that’s unexplainable. At least that’s the way I feel.

Have you ever heard Mannheim Steamroller’s version of Silent Night? Every time I hear it I feel both melancholy and reverent at the same time. It also makes me really miss my dad.

Melancholy is also how I feel when I watch the following video I made 5 years ago. A few things have changed since then, the biggest of which is the loss of our little dog, Nugget. Christmas at the Baker home is not the same without him, and that is sad.

Worshipful

But even though I have my moments of melancholy pensiveness, I look forward to the holy, reverent, worshipful experience of a midnight Christmas Eve service. Honestly, if all we ever did was go to tonight’s service at First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, that would be enough for me. Singing Silent Night in a cathedral-like auditorium at midnight while holding candles is chillingly awesome!

You see, no matter what we may have lost here on earth, because of Jesus we have everything in eternity to gain! When the world lay cold and dark, the Lord became flesh and light came into the world “with the dawn of redeeming grace.”

There are many reasons why some people find Christmas to be a time that brings sadness and pain upon the remembrance of loss. However, when we take the time to contemplate the wonder and glory of God’s grace, that He would put on flesh and be born in a manger, the great I AM, so that the lost might be found…

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)! That’s Christmas! Because of that Baby born in a manger, melancholy may endure for a season, but JOY comes in the morning!

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Struggles and Trials, worship

From Fear to Joy

An Update

It is truly wonderful to sit down and type on a real keyboard, not an iPhone! I finally picked up my computer yesterday, new hard drive and all, and just plugged it in. It’s like Christmas came early 😉

The only downside is that my wife now thinks I will never get anything done around the house, because I will be here clicking away for the next two days 😦 Wait! why a frowny face? Typing is good for the soul! 🙂

Actually, if you want to know the truth, we have a whole house full of life that has to be packed and moved by December 29th; I don’t have time to sit and write a lot. We were finally able to secure a place to live just yesterday, so we will be moving out of the parsonage after Christmas. What a way to spend your Christmas break, right?

Fear

There is a great temptation to fear the future. For example, I recently suffered two/third’s cut in annual pay with no idea how I’m going to make that up; we are moving into a house that is not ours and is only guaranteed through April or May; and the company I drive school buses for is now facing huge law suits because of the Woodmore bus crash. The future is definitely uncertain.

But fear is nothing new. Take the time to read the Christmas story in its entirety and you will find several times where true, bone-shaking fear engulfed many. First there was Zacharias in the first chapter of Luke, then Joseph in Matthew chapter one, and then Mary and the shepherds in Luke 2. Each of them, when confronted with angelic messages, were greatly troubled. And why not?

Have you ever been confronted by a real angel in all its glory? Me neither. I have gotten messages from God, though. Yep, I sure have. For example, resigning the pastorate of one church without anywhere else to go was a clear message from heaven saying, “Trust me.” At first the message brought fear, but when I heard His voice saying, “Fear not,” I was able to begin to enjoy the thrill of a new chapter in life.

Joy

Believe me, I have every reason in the world to worry about the future. I had every reason to tremble in fear when I learned I would be homeless by the end of the year. But just like the shepherds tending their sheep, I have been comforted with the knowledge that my Savior was born. He was the fulfillment of the promises of God, and the promises of God are still true.

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? … 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. … 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Mat 6:25-26, 28, 33-34 HCSB

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. If Joseph and Mary could carry on with life after such shocking announcements, surely I can carry on with wondrous expectation.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – Jesus

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Filed under Christmas, Faith, Future

Going Home

A Change of Plans

This morning I had planned on writing about a silly dream analyst I saw on Dr. Oz (totally pathetic). I had even contemplated writing a piece actually defending …da, da, da… Joel Osteen (yes, I know that’s a shocker). But when I sat down at the computer and took a minute to scroll through recent posts on Facebook, I saw a video, and wept.

However, it is the reason for the tears that I wanted to share a video with you. Yes, I cried tears of happiness for all those little children, wives, and moms and dads who were reunited with their brave dads, husbands, and sons. But I also cried for another reason – the anticipated reunion I will have with my own dad.

Funerals

I have preached many funerals. I have seen many loved ones laid to rest in the cold earth. People have looked to me for comforting words as I have stood beside the lifeless body of a recently passed loved one. All I can tell you is this: the only hope I can offer is the hope found in Jesus Christ.

In the 1 Corinthians 15:19, the apostle Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” So, to put it another way, if trusting in Jesus is only good for this world, like for making you a better person, then what’s the point? Why follow a dead man to the grave?

Real Hope

But Paul adds in the next verse: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” In other words, trusting in Jesus means that this life is NOT all that there is…that we will one day be reunited with our loved ones…and Jesus’ resurrection is the PROOF!

It has been over 20 years since I last saw my dad face-to-face. I never had the chance (except in a dream) to say goodbye. So let me assure you, when I set foot on those celestial shores…when I breath that sparkling air…when I finally reach Home…there is going to be a celebration like this world has never seen.

That’s why I cried.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Faith, Future, salvation, the future