THEN SINGS MY SOUL
What kind of music do you like? That question has been asked of me many times. My answer usually is: Hymns, Gospel Songs, Contemporary Christian songs, Big Band, etc. I like just about anything except Jazz, Hard Rock and Rap.
Music is such an important part of our lives. Fussy babies are soothed by it. Sports fans are excited by it. Lovers grow closer as they dance to it and Worshipers are brought into God’s presence as they sing and listen to it. On April 3-5 I had the wonderful privilege of helping to plan, prepare and co-lead our 4th annual Music City Father’s Retreat. It was a great deal of work, and not enough time together, but 25 men, song writers, producers, pastors, skilled artists of their craft and all “ministers” – in one way or another – joined together in singing, praying, listening to heartaches and struggles (along with a lot of laughter, friendships formed and renewed, and of course, plenty of good food.) Our retreat concluded with a “mini sadder” led by one of our Jewish Believer Brothers.
One of the songwriters who attended put it this way: Thank you for persevering in getting me to the Music City Father’s Retreat. Such a rich cross section of artists with so much to impart from their years of experiences. You know, you beep bop through your days resigned to the isolation of your craft, and then magically walk into a room where 25 other souls “know how you feel.” Woof! Now that’s “high cotton.” Thanks for arranging such a special treat.
I am reminded of what we read in Ephesians 5 – Be careful how you live……Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
Thank you for allowing me to do this meaningful ministry because of your prayers and generous
THEN SINGS MY SOUL!
Pray this month for our FishBowl Team: Len Sunukjian and Greg Rhodes in California Byron Burns in Akron, Ohio
Tom Norvell and myself in the Nashville area
A Tribute to Shiloh
I’m sure you are already asking, “Who is Shiloh?” I will get to that in a few moments. First, a bit of background – my sister and I grew up in a small town of 15,000 people in Indiana. Our Aunt Elva and Uncle Charlie lived on an 80-acre farm about 4 miles from our home. Since they had no children we become “their kids.” We spent many, many days on the farm helping to do the things that farmers do: milking cows, gathering eggs, learning to drive my uncle’s tractor at age 5 and his truck at age 7. One of the things we enjoyed were the farm animals, especially the dogs. Through the years my sister and I had many dogs because they would wander out onto the busy highway and, unfortunately, not return. My Uncle would dig a grave and bury the dog and soon we would have another “farm dog.” As my sister and I had our own families we had dogs and cats, but they were all inside pets not farm animals, and there is a difference.
Because I had so many farm dogs I think I became immune to them getting hit and passing away. I used to wonder why people were so sad when they had to say goodbye to a beloved pet. That changed a few weeks ago when our family had to say goodbye to a wonderful American Mastiff named Shiloh. Shiloh joined my daughter’s family almost 11 years ago. She had long legs with a slender body and a face that just made you want to love her. Even though she belonged to our daughter’s family, secretly she was “grandpa’s dog.” She loved to take walks with me and always had a friendly “dog smile” when I came to visit.
Now if I wanted to bring the “spiritual” side into this letter I would ask myself and you, “Do we love our human family members and those who do not know Jesus as much as we love our pets?” Perhaps that is a subject for another time but it is worth thinking about. This letter is simply sharing an emotional experience of saying goodbye to a faithful four-legged friend. I know many of you have gone through the same experience with your pets. Space does not allow me to get into the “theology” of whether our pets will be in Heaven. However, Psalm 36:6 says:
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, Your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
I will let you be the judge. Thank you for allowing me to share my “Shiloh moments” with you this month. And thank you for your prayerful and financial support of FishBowl Ministries. We could not do what we do without YOU!
What is PASSION? One dictionary gives this definition:
A strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.
I have a pastor friend who recently posted a short video to help his congregation prepare for his sermon series on “passion.” He shared in the video that he really did not like to unload the dishwasher. He really dislikes finding those separate compartments for the knives, forks and spoons. Simply put, he just has no passion for emptying the dishwasher. He referenced I Corinthians 10:31:
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do (like emptying the dishwasher, or cleaning the bathroom or changing the sheets on your bed) do it all for the glory of God.
Now I have to admit, that I believe I know how to sing for the glory of God, and I know how to preach for the glory of God and I know how to worship for the glory of God, but what about those mundane tasks of life? What about trials and suffering? How do I do all of that for The Glory of God?
Many of us have read “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. As a monk I am sure he had grand ideas of what it would mean to serve God in some great, dramatic fashion. However, he spent much of his time washing dishes. He learned that even in this menial task the presence of God in his life and duties helped him to do his work to the glory of God.
I realize that as I write this newsletter that I am asking more questions than I am giving answers and I am doing this intentionally because I want each of us to grapple with this idea of doing all that we do to the glory of God. Here are some ideas to get us started:
*When I empty the dishwasher or put clothes in the washing machine, I can be thankful that I have a dishwasher and washing machine…many people do not.
*When I go into my closet and try to figure out what to wear I could be thankful for all the clothes to choose from……….many people in the world are blessed to just have one shirt, pair of shoes and pants.
I think you get the idea. In all that we do, let’s attempt to do it for THE GLORY OF GOD and with passion!
Thank you for your continued prayers and faithful support!
A Personal Reflection January, 2018
The Holidays are over, and as I write this letter we are half way through the first month of 2018. Yikes! Through the years I have written on several subjects both to inform you and also to encourage you in your daily walk with God. There are a few personal things that I would like to share with you this month:
*A big THANK YOU to all of you who pray for us and give financially so that the work of FishBowl Ministries can continue. This past year, our year-end giving was more than twice the amount of our usual monthly income! This helps us to start 2018 with a small reserve to meet the needs of ministry.
*I am so blessed to lead our FishBowl team of Len Sunukjian, Byron Burns, Tom Norvell and Greg Rhodes. These are men of great integrity and compassionate hearts for those who serve in ministry. During the months of 2018 our team will take turns in posting a newsletter or other words of encouragement to pastors on our website.
Please take some time and visit: www.fishbowlministries.org.
*Your continued prayers are greatly needed and appreciated. Join with me this year as I pray that God will continue to increase our influence across the county and also bring to us new personnel who have a passion to minister to those in ministry.
*One a very personal note, Linda and I would greatly appreciate your prayers on behalf of her health. She is in her 13th year of living with Parkinson’s disease. Even though she is still as active as she can be, this disease is certainly taking its toll on her. I know, and my Board continues to affirm, that Linda is my first priority of ministry. So pray with us that I will be a faithful steward in leading Fishbowl Ministries, spending time with pastors, and giving time and care to Linda as we continue this journey together.
*Pray for our fourth Music City Father’s Retreat, April 3-5, 2018. This is a gathering of 15-20 Christian Musicians along with a few pastor types. This continues to be a time of great fellowship, personal sharing, lots of music and reflecting on our lives and ministries.
In a recent sermon I heard, I was reminded of Caleb. There are five verses in Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua where we discover why Caleb was so effective in his life. Those verses tell us that Caleb. WHOLE-HEARTEDLY FOLLOWED THE LORD. That is my prayer for myself and all of us as we navigate through 2018!
Blessings & Peace!
The 7 Cent Gift
I believe that almost everyone likes to receive gifts. Birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or a gift for no special reason at all, we all like gifts. By the time you read this letter, Thanksgiving Day will have come and gone and Christmas will be just around the corner. Sometimes the gifts we receive come in large packages, but often the smallest gifts are the most precious. A few weeks ago I was at Office Depot getting my October newsletter printed. There was an elderly woman in front of me trying to pay for her order. Her bill was $1.07. I seldom carry any change with me but that day I knew I had some in my pocket. I handed her 7 cents and said “Here is 7 cents so that you do not have to have all that change with you.” You would have thought that I had given her a diamond ring! She smiled and thanked me and moved on. (I have since wondered why I just didn’t pay for the whole thing. Next time I will be more sensitive.) It was a very small gift, but it made her smile. All that for just 7 cents. We never know what act of kindness will encourage someone who may need a lift that day. In my case all it took was 7 cents!
It is hard to believe that this year is almost gone. Fishbowl ministries is headed into its 6th year of praying for, encouraging and standing alongside all those in ministry. When a pastor says, “Thanks for stopping by” or “Thanks for praying with me”, or “Thanks for being my friend,” then we know why FishBowl Ministries is so important. I also know that Fishbowl ministries has been blessed with so many wonderful supporters who stand with us each month in prayer and generous financial gifts. We could not do this without you! Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:3-6 is my prayer for each of you:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
As you think about your year-end giving to your Church or favorite charity I hope that you will remember FishBowl Ministries. We want to end 2017 strong so that we can continue into the New Year, reaching out to pastors throughout the country. Maybe you can only give 7 cents or maybe you can give a large year-end gift. Either way, it will be greatly appreciated!
Blessings & Peace!