Monday, March 27, 2017

Detours...a fact of life

Going forward doesn't mean you're facing forward all the time.

After I had begun following Christ, I took on some different activities. I was attending church. I got involved in a men's bible study. I also began  a routine of spending 15-20 minutes in the morning reading my bible and praying.  I also gave up my after work activities with the boys. Getting stoned and catching the alcohol and pot buzz wasn't important anymore. And that, of course, made the boys ask questions.

Now my activities of 'change' didn't necessarily mean I was totally free from their grip. Let me tell you about one occasion where I caved in. This wasn't the only one, but it's the only one I'm going to tell you about for now.

We lived in this beautiful mountain village in Colorado. We had purchased a home there on the hillside near the hospital and it overlooked the town. What a great place to live. The Elk roamed freely through our yard and raided our garden...regularly. It seemed like Saturday night was always their night for a raid. A friend of mine, from back east, had come to visit. But really, we were just a stopover for them. This friend and a friend of his came with their van and a trailer. They both had motorcycles strapped to the trailer. They stayed with us a couple days and then headed to California on their bikes.

We had been motorcycle and pot smoking buddies in the past. And so we had a conversation about the use of drugs. I told them that wasn't part of my life any longer. I was following Christ and that was more important to me. Well, just before they headed out to California, he told me that if I wanted, there was some stuff in the glove box.

Well, they left. A few days later, while all alone at the house, I began to think "would it feel as good to get high as I remember it?" And so, I went out to their van and instead of looking in the glove box I looked in the ash tray. There I found a partially smoked joint (marijuana cigarette). I sat in the van and I smoked that joint. In just a few moments I was higher than a kite. I began to pray "God, help me to come down from this." God did not instantly lower me back down to an un-stoned condition. It wore off as a result of it's normal wear off time. But what that felt like for me was a literal wall coming up between me and my God. And I did not enjoy feeling separated from Him. I had come to want, more than anything, the realization that God was close to me.

Has anybody ever gotten detoured and then realize the foolishness of getting off track? Or, am I the only one?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fully Forward --

Some 35 years or so ago, I began on a journey that continues still today.

I was sitting on a hillside overlooking a beautiful valley town in the Rocky Mountains. There was a party about to begin at the home where the rock I was sitting on. While sitting there and drinking my favorite Colorado beer, I began to talk to myself. It was in the form of, what I can now say was, a prayer. I said something like, "I do not even know if you exist, but if there is a God I would like you to come and make some changes in my life. Things are not going so well for me at this time. I am a fairly new father and my wife isn't so happy with my continual smoking pot and drinking." I had smoked marijuana at least once a day since I'd been discharged from the military, and that was at least five years before. I had quit spending my money on pot. Instead I'd become quite successful at growing my own. I can honestly say it was 'pretty darn good stuff'. "But I need and I want some changes in my life. And I don't even know if you exist - God."

That about summed up my conversation with myself. 

For the next 6 months there was nothing much different. But then we went to a move with a neighbor couple. The movie was called "A Thief in the Night". It's was a 1970's movie dramatizing what it might be like when Christ returns for his people. One spouse will be laying in bed and the other will be taken up (by the Lord). And the movie presented what Luke 17:34 might look like.

After the movie, we were standing out front of the theater and the wife of the other couple said "I can't believe God would leave one behind on earth and take the other spouse with him". I responded with "Why wouldn't God do this? It's not like this is a surprise attack. He has warned us about that happening from the very beginning." Well this conversation ended up in me getting a bible and I began to read the gospel of John "In the beginning was the word. And the word was with God. And the word was God." It was almost like light bulbs went off inside of my mind. I began to see that it was Jesus who was all that I had looked for in all of the wrong places.

That was how I began on this journey that still carries me fully forward. Do any of you have a story to tell of how you began on your journey? And are you still going fully forward?

Monday, March 20, 2017

A day for a ride!

This is a video going up through the Sheds Curves on Rt. 13. It was back in May of 2015. It seemed appropriate for the first day of spring to put up something like this. After all, we've got to get past this snow and realize that there is life beyond winter. Spring is in the air....and, of course, on the calendar.

I'm feeling a bit frisky today and thought this made sense.

Happy Spring everyone!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Want your feedback...No Need your feedback

How do you consider who it is you are talking to? Especially, how do you do this when you write a blog? Anyone and everyone can read it. Not everyone does read it, but you don't know who reads it unless they respond back to you. Otherwise you just look at the numbers and mostly have no clue who those numbers represent. That makes this so very difficult for me. I like to look people in the eye and hear their voice - see their eye movements - watch their body language. In general, I prefer a face to face conversation. But here I am writing a blog. Oh well!

Before I can go very far with this conversation I'm going to ask you all something. Would you please respond back? I need feedback to know if this is worthwhile or not. I'm not good at speaking into an empty room. I'm not addicted to hearing my own voice (or rather seeing my own words). Also, when you respond back could you tell me some of the topics / issues / concerns you think might be the most helpful.

I have this crazy notion that this ought to be helpful and not just another thing on the internet. Who needs just another thing. There ought to be SOMETHING of worth here.

Okay, so I'm going to send this out now and hope to hear back from some of you. I need to know.

Friday, March 10, 2017

So, where did I leave off? Oh yes, I was talking about wisdom and all that sort of stuff. One of my favorite authors is Eugene Peterson. He wrote a translation of the bible which puts it in more palatable language. I can use palatable. Anyway, he said these words as an introduction to the book of Proverbs:
Wisdom has to do with becoming skillful in honoring our parents and raising our children, handling our money and conducting our sexual lives, going to work and exercising leadership, using words well and treating friends kindly, eating and drinking healthily, cultivating emotions within ourselves and attitudes toward others that make for peace. Threaded through all these items is the insistence that the way we think of and respond to God is the most practical thing we do. In matters of everyday practicality, nothing, absolutely nothing, takes precedence over God. 

We are living in some very tumultuous days and everybody feels they just have to state their opinion and they use the excuse "I have strong opinions about this." Well who of us doesn't? But what is really important? How are we doing with our relationships: our parents, our spouse, our children, our neighbors? What about with ourselves?

Here are the words from Proverbs 1 verses 8 - 19, according to Eugene Peterson:

8Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you;
  never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.
9Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair,
  like rings on your fingers.
10Dear friend, if bad companions tempt you,
  don’t go along with them.
11If they say—“Let’s go out and raise some hell.
  Let’s beat up some old man, mug some old woman.
12Let’s pick them clean
  and get them ready for their funerals.
13We’ll load up on top-quality loot.
  We’ll haul it home by the truckload.
14Join us for the time of your life!
  With us, it’s share and share alike!”—
15Oh, friend, don’t give them a second look;
   don’t listen to them for a minute.
16They’re racing to a very bad end,
  hurrying to ruin everything they lay hands on.
17Nobody robs a bank
  with everyone watching,
18Yet that’s what these people are doing—
  they’re doing themselves in.
19When you grab all you can get, that’s what happens:
  the more you get, the less you are.

Now you see, there is enough in just these few verses to cause us to think for quite some time. I'm a slow thinker, so it might take me longer to think on these things than some of you. Oh well, I've got time to work on this and so I'm gonna start on it right now.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Starting out...

Let me introduce myself. I am Vern Groves and I pastor a church in a small rural community in the northeast United States. I have wanted to have a format where I can offer something to the improvement of our culture and our world. Also I have wanted to somehow give some of God's perspective on things. And so, I am beginning a blog to, in part, do that.

This blog is beginning with assistance from the ancient book of the Hebrews known as the book of Proverbs. Proverbs was written by King David's Son, Solomon. And Solomon desired one thing from God: "wisdom and knowledge" for the purpose of governing God's people (2nd Chronicles 1:11ff). How did God respond to this request? He gave Solomon the wisdom and knowledge he requested but some other things -- as a bonus: money, wealth and fame.

It seems to me that today there is a lot of energy and time spent on pursuing what God gave as a bonus to Solomon: $, wealth and fame. And yet so many haven't pursued what God deemed as of primary of importance. So many aren't asking God for wisdom and knowledge. And I've discovered that I have not because I ask not. Or I ask with wrong motives.

One last note for today. The book of Proverbs is not only for the 'simple' but it is also for those who already consider themselves 'wise'. It is for anyone who realizes that he has to continue growing and maturing. That sounds like a lifetime to me. Are you one of those who desires to continue growing and maturing?