“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O LORD.”
Psalm 36:6 (NRSV)
I am a “dog person.” While I have learned to appreciate all pets, I am crazy about dogs especially. That’s not to take away from the love our youngest son has for his cat, or the love our youngest daughter has for her rats and snakes (and yes, they are kept very separated), but dogs have always been my saving grace. A very faithful dog in my adolescent life literally (yes, the correct use) saved my life. He was my “go to” when everything in my world crumbled.
Paulette and I now have three little dogs, the latest was a rescue from a place that hoarded 87 dogs. Simon was way undernourished when we got him and he is nearly blind because, as a small dog competing with bigger dogs, he never got food left for him, so his optic nerves never properly developed. Most of the time dogs in that situation grow to be very aggressive and stand-off(ish). Simon is the polar-opposite of that. He is one of the sweetest little critters you will ever meet and, while he runs into things a lot, he never complains and is always ecstatic to welcome us home. We are blessed.
I tell you this for two reasons. First, I love talking about dogs. And second, to remind you that if you have a pet, spend serious time with them especially during these days of additional lock-down. Most pets just want your time (and food, as Simon enjoys these days). If you have a pet, I hope they are the “huggy and cuddly kind” because we are hardwired to need hugs. And with so many ways we “can’t” hug others these days, we need to cherish the hugs we CAN get—from pets and others. And think about why we seem to need hugs. Why did God create us with that need?
Well…if I haven’t lost you yet, then I think you’ll enjoy the poem below. I met the author when he was the Poet Laureate of Kentucky, and when he read this particular poem, it started me on a journey you’ll likely hear about sometime this fall or next spring. But for now, read it and appreciate the simple “life rhythm” it conveys. Then, go hug your whatever…
Pastor Rusty <><
Those I Want in Heaven With Me Should There Be Such a Place
By James Still
First I want my dog Jack,
Granted that Mama and Papa are there,
And my nine brothers and sisters,
And “Aunt” Fanny who diapered me, comforted me, shielded me,
Aunt Enore who was too good for this world,
And the grandpa who used to bite my ears,
And the other one who couldn’t remember my name—
There were so many of us;
And Uncle Edd—“Eddie Boozer” they called him—
Who had devils dancing in his eyes,
And Uncle Luther who laughed so loud in the churchyard
He had to apologize to the congregation,
And Uncle Joe who saved the first dollar he ever earned,
And the last one, and all those in between;
And Aunt Carrie who kept me informed:
“Too bad you’re not good looking like your daddy”;
And my first sweetheart, who died at sixteen,
Before she got around to saying “Yes”;
I want my dog Jack nipping at my heels,
Who was my boon companion,
Suddenly gone when I was six;
And I want Rusty, my ginger pony,
Who took me on my first journey—
Not far, yet far enough for the time.
I want the play fellows of my youth
Who gathered bumblebees in bottles,
Erected flutter mills by streams,
Flew kites nearly to heaven,
And who before me saw God.
Be with me there.
1. Please remember to make reservations to attend in-person worship. We will likely continue this through August (if not beyond, because none of us knows). Thursday at 10am is the deadline simply because it takes time to adjust planning for Sunday morning, should that become necessary.
2. Thank you for continuing to support all God continues to do through Old Bethel! And if you can, please ramp up your prayers for protection for all who continue to bless others in the name of Jesus Christ, especially in these difficult times. It seems it is too easy to become discouraged these days.
3. The Message Notes for this Sunday are below. God has something important He likely wants you to share from this Sunday’s Message. I hope you will use the notes to help you do that.
July 19: Life of Faith: Resolving Issues on Purpose
The four basic life issues will determine the ___________________, the _______________, and the _______________ of my life.
Life's Four Basic Issues:
1. Defining _________________.
By faith, Moses, when grown, refused the privileges of the Egyptian royal house.
Hebrews 11:24 (Msg)
True success is _________ what and who _______ _________ me to be.
2. Accepting __________________.
I've got to stop seeing myself as a _____________ of ___________________.
If God's really going to use me, I’ve got to accept responsibility for the _______________ of my life __________.
[Moses] chose a hard life with God's people rather than an opportunistic soft life of sin with the oppressors. Hebrews 11:25 (Msg)
God will _________ my ________ if I get bless-able.
The secret to breaking a negative in my life is to __________ the negative and then_____________ something ___________ in its place.
One thing I always can control is my ____________ in how I ___________ to circumstances.
Two facts of life:
First, I cannot blame ________ ___________ for the ____________ of my life.
Second, I cannot live off others' _______________ _________________.
Uncomfortable Truth: I am as _________ to God as I ___________ to be!
3. Determining ________________.
[Moses] thought that it was better to suffer for the promised Christ than to own all the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking forward to the great reward that God would give him.
Hebrews 11:26 (Living)
Unless I __________ and ___________ my values, they will fly out the window when things _____ _____________.
If I don't decide what really matters most to me in life, _______ _________ will do it for me.
The world’s values system can be summarized by three words: _____________, ______________, and _______________.
4. Choosing _______________.
It was by faith that Moses left Egypt and was not afraid of the king's anger. Moses continued strong as if he could see the God that no one can see. Hebrews 11:27 (NCV)
In the final analysis it doesn't matter what _______________ ________ is going to say about my life. What matters is what _________ says.