Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Has it ever occurred to you that Light is always generated at the expense of the thing that generates it? A candle has its wax, a campfire its logs, the star in the night sky its combustible mixture of gases and even the flashlight in your drawer at home its batteries. And not a one of them can produce Light without consuming something else.

To me, this strikes especially close to home when I consider Jesus' words in Matthew 5:16 - "Let your light shine before men..." What makes His words so significant in "light" of our exchange today is that in order for us to "let our light shine" (yes, just like the song you learned as a child), it is imperative (a.k.a. non-negotiable, critical, vital, crucial, very important, essential) that we be tapped into the inextinguishable One (Jesus Christ - The Light), or we, too, will be consumed in our lighting of other peoples' lives.

If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know that we've touched on the area of Rest recently, and this topic is not far removed from it. You see, there is no amount of good-intentions, pure-motives, sincere-heartedness that will ensure a supply that will not be exhausted in well-doing. The only thing that will guarantee that is being connected to the limitless supply found in Jesus Christ.

I don't mind being a light for Jesus...not at all...even burning for Him, but I dare not allow myself to burn out for Him. The ripple effects of that would be profound, and not represent well at all what God had in mind when He put me here...or you! Reconnect with Him today...and let that Light shine!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rest - Part 2

When it became clear to me what God had for me to write this week, I was sure that we had talked about this before, and checking past posts, sure enough we had! The fact that He brought it up again obviously means I still haven't "got it," so here's what's on my heart today (and I believe on His heart also).

I've had posted in my office for some time now words from Isaiah 30:15. I draw on them for strength, wisdom and encouragement. But true to American form, while I printed out the whole verse, I continually drew upon only part of it (why do we do this?).

The part I had gotten quite familiar with is the last half, which reads, "In quietness and trust is your strength." Great words, but only half of what God intended for me to get out it. It had challenged me to quiet myself and draw upon the strength that He provides more than once, and I still love it.

But look at the first half of the verse: "In repentance and rest you will be saved..." I don't know about you, but nearly every day I need saving of some type - from errant words, thoughts, deeds, attitudes & desires - usually just from myself! And while quieting myself was a good step in the right direction in achieving this, without the "rest" of the verse (bad pun?), I was still experiencing stress & frustration.

Quieting is good, trusting even better, but without the "repentance and rest" I am going to spin my wheels much more often than I like...or need to. Which means, I need a spiritual tune-up in these areas: turning from what I know to be wrong (the essence of the word "repent" means "to turn away from" - not "do less of" or "tolerate better") and taking...making space to rest.

This doesn't mean just getting more sleep, but disengaging from need-meeting (strategically & opportunistically) and plugging into things that feed me. Family, outdoors, a good movie, a good book and plain old quiet work for me! Unfortunately, for far too long I have far too often treated these things as optional.

I know I need saving...how about you? Why not think proactively with me about really repenting...really resting? Not only will we benefit, but as is always the case with God, everyone else will benefit as well!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

God Is Good...All the Time?

Some years ago while pastoring in El Cajon, California, Christian musician, Don Moen, made popular a song entitled "God Is Good, All the Time." We quickly incorporated it into our worship times at church and have found ourselves humming this song and quoting this phrase ever since. As catchy as it may be, seems kind of important to know if it is indeed true.

At the risk of boring you, I thought one of the best ways to help you settle this in your own heart would be to recap the most recent events of our lives. It's a little long, so bear with me, but I'm sure you'll identify with at least parts of it (hopefully with the conclusion, too!):
  • March 25 - received word that my father-in-law was hospitalized in Florida (concern)
  • March 26 - rode with my parents to Chicago to celebrate my son's (Jordan's) graduation (great family time)
  • March 27 - drove back to North English in time to catch the English Valleys spring play (with numerous teens from our church involved)
  • March 28 - after regular church services, hustled over to Highland Ridge Senior Living Community (where I chaplain) for our annual Memorial Service, remembering 21 residents who went to be with the Lord in the last 12 months
  • March 28 - received word that my father-in-law's condition was becoming critical
  • March 29 - flew my wife, Tonya, to Florida to join her mom & sister at her dad's bedside (time for my Mr. Mom hat - pizza every night!).
  • March 30 - attended induction ceremony for my daughter, Hannah, into the National Honor Society (Tonya missed this, of course)
  • March 30 - received word that Tonya's dad wasn't going to be leaving the hospital - ever
  • March 31 - school conferences for both girls with great reports & compassion from the school staff
  • April 1 - beautiful Maundy Thursday service with final Community Choir rehearsal for our Easter musical
  • April 2 - received word that Tonya's dad passed away in the early hours of Good Friday
  • April 2 - three Good Friday communion services at Highland Ridge with a touching community Tenebrae service later
  • April 3 - Community Choir Easter musical @ Highland Ridge; food and cards begin pouring in
  • April 4 - largest turnout in memory for Easter morning Resurrection service, with breakfast and Community Choir Easter musical performed
  • April 4 - Tonya arrives back in Iowa (hurray!); entire extended Statler clan gathers at my parents' home for annual meal & Easter egg hunt
  • April 5 - my 16-year-old daughter (Hannah) gets her driver's license
  • April 5 - we celebrate my daughter's birthday with a new used car, homemade decorations and her favorite cheesecake!
  • April 5 - my son, Jordan, has his first "real" job interview and is hired for his first "real" job on the spot (10 days after graduation) just 40 minutes from our home
  • April 5 - determination is made to have funeral on Friday; I determine that we will not be back to Iowa for Sunday services (which means I have to "hand off" a Worship Committee meeting, church service, a Care Center service and an Interchurch Council meeting - good for me to do and covered wonderfully by caring, capable friends)
  • April 6 - on pure faith, Jordan & I head to Oxford, Iowa, (20 minutes from his job) and find an unbelievable, unlisted apartment for him that we didn't even know existed when we left the driveway (a huge story here, but not the time or place to tell it all)
  • April 7 - we leave for Indiana for Tonya's dad's (Bob's) funeral with 2 vehicles
  • April 7 - we make the deposit for Jordan's apartment on the way to Indiana
  • April 7 - we leave one vehicle at his current apartment in Chicago
  • April 7 - we arrive in Indiana at 1:00 a.m. April 8 (I prepare a Powerpoint slideshow of Bob's life while Tonya drives; God saves us from a car accident)
  • April 8 - spend the morning preparing for visitation; visitation for nearly 6 hours with hundreds in attendance
  • April 9 - Bob's funeral with hundreds in attendance; the most beautiful service I've ever seen (Tonya & I both play supporting roles in this, and Tonya shares letters from our 3 kids written to Grandpa before his death)
  • April 10 - spend the day going through Bob's things with his wife - discussing plans
  • April 11 - drive back to Chicago, load my son's apartment into both vehicles (barely), then drive to Oxford where we unload it all after signing his lease (only his name)
  • April 12 - I show up at Highland Ridge in hopes of catching up, only to have to move my office as we prepare to make more apartments for new residents

Was all that transpired fun & good? No way! Were parts of this hard at times? Unquestionably! Did it demand all we had? Every ounce! Did we see God's hand move in miraculous ways? More than you'll ever know from this blog!

Having finished an unbelievable 3 weeks, I and my family can tell you, with more confidence than ever, that indeed, "God is good, all the time!" As Jesus told the crowd at Lazarus' death in John 11, "If you believe, you will see the glory of God!"

P.S. No car accidents for Hannah, Jordan is moved into his own place and starts his new job on Monday!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Never Goodbye!

Well...he's gone...at least from this earth. On Good Friday morning at approximately 9:32 a.m., my wife's (Tonya's) father (Bob) ended his existence here and began his new one in eternity with the Savior he could "only imagine" until that moment. Nearly unconscious his last 48 hours, the tears at his passing were a genuine combination of grief and relief. Thanks for all the prayers and support!

But what a marvelous day to be welcomed home by the Savior! Good Friday will never be the same for us again, as each passing year will prove to be a double reminder of God's goodness: in giving His Son for us and in giving us Bob Appleman - father, husband, grandfather and man of God - for his 81 years (about 48 in our collective memories as his kids and grandkids).

O sure, I cried - God made us that way - but the grief was short-lived as every single preparation for the Easter holiday (and they were multitudinous - had to spellcheck that word) reminded me that, as a good friend shared with me years ago, "as believers, we never say 'Goodbye' - only 'See you later!'" I am so grateful for the godly heritage he was intent on modeling, as it gave me an incredible wife, and thus, some great kids!

With the memorial service pending for this Friday, I am sure that there will be tears again; but I am also sure that they will not rule the day. No, there is far too much to celebrate for grief to have the upper hand! We will remember, laugh, be touched, learn again and count ourselves blessed for the life of this one single man...and eagerly look forward to the day when we will be reunited again - not just in hope, but in certainty! Do you have that certainty??? I pray so!!!