3 months since the accident… Time for a tribute and testimony!

IMG_1934.JPGIMG_1811.JPGWell today marks three months since the terrible car accident we were involved in south of Hugo, Colorado in which Sharon, my wife, experienced severe injuries (10 fractured ribs – several with multiple fractures, a fractured collarbone that required surgery, a punctured lung – days in ICU and the hospital, pain management challenges, therapy, and just a lot of adjustments and accommodations to the situation)!  Sharon has never complained or acted out of Christian character.  Her attitude has been positive, faith-filled, and filled with gratitude for all that care givers, wonderful friends, and sometimes mere acquaintances have done to help her!  Let me tell you, as her husband and chief caregiver, she is one incredible woman!  I’m proud of her.  Her battles are not over, as you can well imagine, but I’ve never loved her more or been more proud of anyone in my life!

Hey, it’s time for a tribute and testimony!  Just let me say this about Sharon Martha Bartel… She is a case study and living example of Philippians 4:11-13!!!

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me! … To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Hey, I adore you Sharon and my admiration for you is absolutely incredible!

A cultural “open sewer” exposed … but the Lord can transform lives, and cultures!

An open sewer

I don’t know how the revelations about sexual impropriety by politicians, actors, entertainers, and others of influence (even ministers) have impacted you.  I have to admit I’m almost afraid to turn on the television and watch the news!  Last night on the evening news there were reports of this kind of improper sexual behavior, back-to-back – one-after-another, for an extended period of time… and again when I checked my iPad this morning after “coffee with the Lord” there were new reports!  What an abuse of power!  What unbridled passions dominate our culture!  It’s as though any attempt to get the news exposes a person to an open sewer!

This morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord,” however, the Bible provided some helpful perspective…  Here are the inspired words and observations of “Qoheleth” providing helpful wisdom “under the sun” (or “this side of heaven”)…

“Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, EVEN THERE was wickedness!  And in the place of righteousness, EVEN THERE was wickedness!  I said in my heart, ‘God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work!’”  (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17 ESV)

So here’s the deal for me… I acknowledge the pervasive poisoning of our culture with unbridled passion and sin.  I’ll pray and work for a revival of authentic righteousness in our land – for life transformation in lives, through the gospel, “inside-out!”  I’ll depend on God to help me keep myself pure and practice personal vigilance.  And I’ll rest in the fact that ultimately God will judge “every matter and every work!”

In fact, the wonderful promise of Jude 24-25 comes to mind… “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time, and now, and forever!  Amen!”

Rejoicing Regardless! … Thanksgiving 2017

Just a week or so ago Habakkuk 3:17-19 was part of my Bible reading during “coffee with the Lord.” Thanksgiving Day was just around the corner and on my mind as I read it. So I jotted this note in the margin of my Bible… “I’m going to celebrate Thanksgiving this year with all my heart even after a very rough year!” Here’s what Habakkuk had to say…

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation! God, the Lord is my strength! He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places!”

Now in an agrarian society – if you’re a farmer – that describes a very rough year! It also describes a great godly resolve… and REJOICING REGARDLESS describes it pretty well!

I don’t know about your circumstances this year as you look back and reflect… It may have been a very rough year for you! In many respects it’s been a rough year for Sharon and me and some of the people we love… could go into the details but won’t. But through it all God has been so good! So faithful! So “there!” So loving! And His people? They are a mirror of His character! Don’t know what we would have done without them!

Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude and thanksgiving! Habakkuk’s word express it all for Sharon and me today… “YET we will rejoice in the Lord! We take joy in the God of our salvation! He is our strength… He’s the one that has made us stand strong through it all!” Thank you Lord! And thanks to all of you who have helped someone else make it through some rough places!

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