August 29th, 2016 Afirm

We consistently see the advertisements. I’ve noticed them with more frequency lately. Not only do I see them on TV commercials but now seeing graphic, heart wrenching interviews on the social media, like FaceBook.

I’m talk about that issue of texting while driving. The latest one I saw showed a young person sitting comfortably in a room, being interviewed and nonchalantly answering some innocent questions about if they text and drove and why they text while they drive.

Then, in walks into the room, a very pretty young lady. You can tell when you first see her that she has some physical issues. She walks with a limp… her left arm is stationary… her hand unusable… her face is a bit deformed, most noticeably around her mouth as she speaks.

She introduces herself and immediately begins telling her story. Never once does she talk with hate or anger, but with simple compassion. She was in the car of her parents when another driver who was texting crossed over the centerline, forcing a semi to have to move over which caused a head on collision with her parents car. Both her parents were killed immediately. She was in the hospital for 2 months. Most her her bones were broken. She had many surgeries. She spent an enormous amount of time in therapy, but she survived and now serves as a living testimony as to what can happen when we text and drive.

I share that with you today because I read in these words in my Bible…
“Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life; not for a minute will I take my eyes off Your road.” Psalm 119:17 MSG

Now we all understand that when the Psalmist wrote this, they didn’t have vehicles like we do today. They had horses and donkey’s and camels, who though some go could fast would never reach the speed of today’s transportation. Going off the road took real effort. You purposefully had to stop watching.

Friends, it’s easy in today’s fast paced world to take our eyes off of Jesus. And because of the speed of our times, it only takes a split second for us to end up in the ditch, sometimes not only hurting ourselves but also others.

God in His grace, laid out a road for each of us to follow – it leads to Him. But if you take your eyes off of Him, like texting while driving, you may end up in a terrible accident.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: While driving through your daily activities, “…keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed.” Hebrews 12:2 MSG

Father,
Through the power of Your Spirit today, help me keep my eyes on You and not be distracted by any text. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen

August 22, 2016 – Affirm

Last week I had a great talk with my cousin Kim on the phone. I haven’t talked to her in… I don’t know how many years. Her husband is a pastor down in Texas. Kim and I are the same age and have a number of other cousins who were all born the same year (must have been a good year to have kids!)

Kim had sent me an email concerning our family tree and asked whether I’d be the point person for my dad’s family in getting her updated information. So far she’s traced our family line back to the early 1700’s. While talking with her, we shared stories of growing up and things we remembered. Our conversation was peppered with a lot of laughter.

I share that with you because as I was reading the in the book of Ezra today, I ran across some verses that described a group of people. Here’s what it said…
“… They weren’t able to prove their ancestry, whether they were true Israelites or not… They had thoroughly searched for their family records but couldn’t find them.” Ezra 2:60,62 MSG

How unnerving would that be? Not being able to know where you came from, or who you were? Not being able to prove your existence?

Well, I happen to think there’s a lot of people who have that same problem in a spiritual manner. They’ve forgotten who they are. They’ve lost track of their family inheritance. They no longer have any records of their spiritual ancestry.

Now they may have lost that due to many circumstances and situations, but none-the-less, they no longer know they are children of God. They belong to a huge family where there’s plenty of love and care, but they’ve become disconnected. They’ve become spiritual orphans and most often we don’t do anything to bring them back into the family.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s what God says to you, to me, to them…
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.” Isaiah 43:1 MSG

Jesus said…
“I will not leave you orphaned.” John 14:18 MSG

So here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Do you know someone who needs a family? Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s your coworker, neighbor, spouse, best friend. Why not welcome them home and introduce them to their family and let them know they belong!

Father,
We are Your children. You created us… You redeemed us… You empower us. Please remind us often how blessed we are to be in Your family. Thank You for adopting us. As You’re looking for those who are orphaned, open our eyes to see them too and invite them in as Your children. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen

Affirm August 15th 2016

Affirm 2016

I’m one of those people that some might call ignorant when it comes to world news. I haven’t watched the news or listened to the news in many, many years. It just got too depressing. Every day the bad news just kept mounting up – shootings, drugs, racial hatred, injustice. It wasn’t just a single occurrence, but multiple occurrences with different people in different places.

I remember getting agitated because everyone wanted to tell me they bad news but nobody wanted to offer a solution. I know it sounds too simple, but Jesus is the answer for the world today. I then began asking myself what, if anything, I could do to bring change to this desperate situation?

In the Old Testament of the Bible, there was a king by the name of Josiah. And even though Josiah was a godly king, he couldn’t change the history of Judah and he couldn’t change the punishment that would be inflicted on Judah for their disobedience. But because of his faithfulness, he would see peace and prosperity in his lifetime.

This is what God told him through a prophet when he decided to just do the right thing…
“Because you took seriously the doom of judgment I spoke against this place and people, and because you responded in humble repentance, tearing your robe in dismay and weeping before me, I’m taking you seriously…” 2 Chronicles 33:27 MSG

As I read that this morning, I started thinking that maybe I/we need to take the posture of Josiah. What if we atoned for our own sins and stopped concentrating on our history or our future? What God has ordained for our country and the world is already put in place. There’s nothing we can do to do stop His divine plan, but we can bring peace and prosperity to our own lives by restoring the covenant God made with us, by worshipping God alone rather than the gods of this world. Once we tear down the idols in our lives, we can live lives as God intended them to be. We can be complete in Him in a world that is increasingly falling apart.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Start with yourself. Look within. Pray like King David prayed, “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for Yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life.” Psalm 139:23-24 MSG

Father,
Start with me. Cross-examine me. See for Yourself who I am, what I’ve done, and grant me mercy. Forgive me and by Your Holy Spirit lead me to You. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen

Affirm 2016 August 8th 2016

Let me share a scripture with you today…
“I’ll get all the prophets to lie.” 2 Chronicles 18:21 MSG

The nations of Israel and Judah had been at odds for many years. They were one nation – one people – at one time. But circumstances divided them.

Years later and now different kings, there was a time that the King of Judah, Jehoshaphat was doing business with the very wicked king of Israel, Ahab.

Ahab invited Jehoshaphat over and treated him to a meal “fit for a king” that was intended to soften him up a bit. You see, Ahab had ulterior motives. When Ahab thought the time was right he suggested an alliance between Israel and Judah so they could fight together against another nation, because Ahab knew he couldn’t win alone.

Jehoshaphat was hesitant and suggested that they consult the Lord. The result was a pre-arranged prophetic display from some of Ahab’s hand-picked prophets, 400 to be exact. Jehoshaphat saw right through it and asked for a second opinion, this time from a real prophet of God.

It’s now that we meet Micaiah. I picture him as a little fireball of a fellow with a bald head. In fact, his feistiness has already gotten him on the bad side of King Ahab. King Ahab doesn’t appreciate Micaiah’s truth telling.

Micaiah says this campaign will end in massive defeat, especially for Israel. When pressed on the matter he gives an imaginary scenario in which the Lord calls a heavenly angelic advisors meeting. The Lord wants their ideas of how to get Ahab to make the foolish decision to follow through and attack. Finally, one angel says it won’t be hard to do; he’ll just get all of Ahab’s paid prophets to lie to him!

As you can imagine all these so called prophets don’t take kindly to being called liars and pandemonium breaks out. Ahab has Micaiah thrown into jail and proceeds with his battle plans. It’s his last battle.

What’s my point in all this: It’s really not hard to find people who agree with us. Some folks really like us and think we can do just about anything; they tell us to go for it. Others want to score points with us… others are intimidated by us… or really don’t care one way or another.

What’s most important is to find people who know what they’re talking about and who will risk telling us the truth, even if it’s not what we want to hear. Are you surrounded by people like that? Because those people are priceless.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Thank the Lord for good friends who tell you the truth in love and then go thank them for being your friend. Be a friend… Make a friend… Bring a friend to Christ!

Father,
Thank You for putting people in my life who are willing to tell me the truth. Help me to be that kind of friend as well. In Jesus name, Amen.

Rev. Dr. M.M. Marxhausen

Night Shift

The Night Shift is a TV show on NBC about the Emergency Room night shift of a hospital in San Antonio. It first aired on May 27, 2014 and currently runs in a third season. I like the show,  but I also know a little about the reality of the ER, and not every staff problem or medical issue can be solved in 50 minutes!

I greatly respect the night shift associates who work in the St. Vincent hospital system. They are the “unsung” heroes of patient care, who often don’t get recognized or included in day time events. At one hospital as I enter for work they are coming out the door and usually look tired and ready for sleep!

I have worked as the overnight Chaplain a number of times and it is taxing physically. Being up all night (at this age!) takes a toll on the body and throws off the body rhythms of sleep and awake time. Usually there is activity somewhere in the hospital, a patient can’t sleep due to worry and anxiety and they’d like a prayer. Sometimes death is near for a patient and the chaplain brings comfort to the family. And, yes, the ER is alive and active and there is always ministry available there. The nursing staff does not seem quite so “harried” at night, and always seem to enjoy talking, sharing about their lives or seeking prayer.

I remember my first week on night shift at our 86th street hospital in Indianapolis. At night the hallway lights dim and things get much quieter. Most patients sleep if they have their day and night times aligned! But the work of patient care goes on. I remember an overhead code being called that there was an emergency in the one of the patient rooms. It was amazing to see how quickly so many people came running from all corners of the hospital! There were doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacy carts, and someone from every discipline on the scene or nearby. It was incredible sight to see as help was rushed to the patient.

You and I probably have done a “night shift” or two along the way. There have been times when we can’t sleep, we are awake, we have “busy brain” and anxiety and worry become bedside companions. It’s at those times we give thanks that God is always awake and does not take sleep, does not rest! God sends a care team of angels to hold us, love us, heal us, and guide us.

Psalm 121 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains, my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth. Behold, God who does not sleep is your keeper, and the Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”

I once saw a quirky sign that said something like “If you can’t sleep at night, it’s probably God telling you to listen because God finally has your attention!” In other words, during the day we are often to rushed to listen, too busy to pray, and to harried in our own lives. As you sleep tonight let God be your keeper, and your guard and then anxiety, worry, etc. can’t get in!

A new National Spiritual Director has been elected and you are, or will be, receiving his devotional. If you would like to continue receiving something from Pr. Doug, please send your email address asap to him! (if you already have, you do not need to repeat). Thank you and congratulations to Pr. Mark Marxhausen, from Minnesota!  

Peace,

Pr. Doug

Chaplain