Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nearly halfway into James Herriot’s paperback titled, “All Creatures Great and Small,” I came across an interesting tidbit of creaturely wisdom. Food for thought. I’ll quote directly.

“In Darrowby, the name Mallock had a ring of doom. It was the graveyard of livestock, farmers ambition, a veterinary surgeon’s hopes. If ever an animal was very ill somebody was bound to say: ‘ I reckon she’ll be off to Mallocks afore long…” At this point sparing the gory details seems best, but only to say when you’ve got a moment or more this book is well worth the read.

Leaving out some of carnage of animal husbandry, the butchers meathooks, bloated beasts, bones, rotting flesh and etcetera for your future perusal. It’s here we rejoin Herriots story of the Dales of Darrowby, England 1931.

“Skulls and dry bones were piled to the roof in places and brown mounds of meat stood in the corners. The smell was bad at any time but when Jeff was boiling up the carcasses it was indescribable.

The Mallock family bungalow stood in the middle of the buildings and strangers could be pardoned if they expected a collection of wizened gnomes to dwell there.

But Jeff was a pink faced, cherubic man in his forties, his wife plump, smiling and comely. Their family ranged from a positively beautiful girl of nineteen to a robust five year old boy. There were eight young Mallocks and they spent their lifetimes playing among tuberous lungs and a vast spectrum of bacteria from Salmonella to Anthrax.”

The sagacity from this young country vet with clear investigative observation came to the unmistakable conclusion that, “They were the healthiest children in the district.” James, you just may be onto something here.

Now, to be thoroughly gracious to our modern medical advancement, maybe a few weeks stint at a country farmstead might be helpful. If not for a superabundance of biological immunities, but also for an injection of fresh resilience to the ever present and never ending microscopic fears of late. Or, maybe just to shed an irritable temperament fueled by the muzzle of city life.

For me, its been good to spend a little time ‘Down on Farm’ so to speak. Thank you Jim Herriot for the reprieve of life at its simplest forms.

But even more, thank you Jesus, the life Giver and Shepherd of our soul for Your restoring grace. The Creator of all creatures, great and small, especially those who follow Jesus are most assuredly heard by the Good Shepherd. And that we, His sheep of higher form, are now being led to the Dales of His eternal green pasture. Then, freed from the complex fears and morbidities of this life and in His fold forever.

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.””

John 10:14-18 ESV

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalm 23:1-6 ESV

The Promise

Posted: August 9, 2020 in Uncategorized

“I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭9:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A Providential Reminder

Posted: July 8, 2020 in Uncategorized

No one needs to remind our family of the significance of July 8. It was two years ago to the date, at exactly 5:28 PM, when our sovereign God suddenly welcomed three of our loved ones to His heavenly abode. We’ve been reminded often that our kid’s are better there in heaven than here with us. How true that is, yet our pain in enjoying their physical presence still gnaws deep.

No, we don’t need a reminder of our loss. Our memory is still fresh with reminders especially of their last visit.

One event stands out vividly. After traveling some 850 miles from Georgia to Michigan, Becky had recently finished her 12 hour shift in the ER. After our saludos, she walked out from our back porch door. Our grandchildren, ALL FIFTEEN at the time including her brood were enjoying the pool.

It was then, that Lauren, 15 years old caught sight of her mom who was looking down at the joyful mayhem taking place in the water. “Mamma,” she exclaimed! And, in mere seconds Lauren was out of the pool, embraced in her mom’s arms. (How many girls in their middle teens get that excited about seeing their mother after fourteen days of being away.) Jake, 10 was only a few steps behind and then squeezed into her other arm. What a sweet and wet welcome home!

Daniel, 13 on the verge of manhood, kept on in the pool with his older and cooler male cousins. A little while later and with equal welcome but much less fanfare, (and not in the presence of witnesses) he hugged his mom. She gave him his space. Threatened by his budding independence? No way! It was clear they all loved their momma and she loved them.

What once may have been a passing moment in the life of family soon forgotten, is now to us a fond memory. What a glorious welcome. This particular welcome now is regarded as a providential gift from God.

There are so many things that happened the next few weeks and months following their home going that the providence of God was evident in each incident. His timing was and still is impeccable. Still, God is not finished showing His cause making Hand. Once again God put His plan on display in a small way.

Becky was a crossword aficionado. The more difficult the better. She always enjoyed learning new words. So we weren’t surprised to find an unfinished book of crossword puzzles on her night stand when we were clearing out their things to sell their house. Back at our home, I kept it nearby and for a while would try to solve some of the unfinished pages for her, to little avail.

It had been a while since I last picked up the book to work on a word stumper. So today, July 8, I grabbed the book, thinking of her this evening. It was 7:15PM right about the time we first found out about the accident. I opened the book of puzzles to a random page and began looking for a word that I could use to begin filling in the blank squares. That’s when I saw the clue for 29 across.

Becky had a strong affinity for butterflies. To her, they signified freedom. I talk to butterflies in the yard now. It’s strange I know. However when one flitters by its presence brings a kind of mournful joy. God, in His providential care occasionally has one flutter by and I welcome it.

The clue to solve 29 across was very easy. “Butterflies _____ free.” Now when I saw that, I got pretty excited. Not because I knew the answer, but with God’s timing. He did it again. Most likely, I won’t finish the rest of the crossword. I don’t need the satisfaction of completing that puzzle. God does that. He’s always filling in the unknown blanks bringing it all to His intended end.

At that very moment, on this memorable day, when I needed something to remind me that God is still here working out every detail from beginning to the end, He extended His loving Hand in providential and glorious display. Thank you Father! Your mercy endures forever.

Police Save Lives

Posted: June 12, 2020 in Uncategorized

I’m having a difficult time staying silent as I watch our country deteriorate right before our eyes. Yet I ought not be surprised. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us the the human inner control system defaults that way naturally.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭17:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Knowing the truth of that in an experiential way, seeing it in the lives of everyone else, including myself, it still is difficult to watch the decline of law and order in our country. Having spent nearly 12 years saving lives in the streets and homes of people in the city of Detroit, and seeing how the profession is now belittled (that’s being kind) instills rage in this former policeman’s soul.

The link shared I believe exposes the heart of a vast majority of civil defenders of the populace, brown, red, yellow, black and white. They’re all precious in His sight. Jesus loves the “little” children of the world.

Sheet music

Living, Now And Then

Posted: March 14, 2020 in Uncategorized

Living, Now and Then

The worldwide concern for Coronavirus (COVID-19) and all of its effects has made us all think a little more about life. Not life without toilet paper, but life in particular. As far as I can tell, everybody wants to know two things at the end. First, “Did my life matter?” Secondly, and more importantly, when it’s over, “What’s next?” How about you?

Consider the title of this article. It may mean something like, “Sister (Brother), you’ve got to get out now and then!” Implying quality of life. Or, it could be understood as quantitative. “Friend, I’m offering you life, right now and then in the future.”

Remember the board game “Life?” Someone spins the dial clockwise and other players follow. Whoever has the highest number moves first. Each one in turn proceeds forward with the equivalent spaces spun, unless you reach a STOP space. Follow the directions on that space and your turn is over.

Throughout the game, players choose between starting a career or going to college, dealing with loans, stocks, buying a house, life events including marriage and having children, retirement, taxes and lastly, payday. This is quality. Living in the now.

Jesus says much about quality of life. “Don’t be anxious about your life, what you will eat or drink…nor about what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?“
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith!” ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Matthew 6:25-26, 28, 30, 33.

Are you dizzy yet? Jesus says get your priorities right. In the game you can hope for better spins next time around. Not so here and now. Everyone has one pass through. What then?

At the end of the game your debts are paid, life insurance is cashed in, house and stocks are sold and you put your game piece on either Millionaire Estates or Countryside Acres. Then wait for everyone else to finish and count your accumulated resources, Life tiles and wealth. Whoever has the most wins. Game over.

Not so in real life. You don’t cash in. Time has elapsed. Then comes the ‘Then’ part. “What comes next?”

Here’s one of the misconceptions people have about the Christian life. A lot of people have the idea that Jesus first and foremost came to this earth to encourage bad people to be good. Then they are rewarded in this life for good behavior. However consider this.

Jesus did not come primarily to make bad people into good people. Jesus came primarily to make dead people alive.

Listen to Jesus words. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd” John 10:10-14

Consider this, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:1-6

This is the beauty of “Living, Now and Then.” Life here today and hereafter. How? Follow the Good Shepherd. Come to Jesus, not with goods or deeds, but with only your wandering self. Receive His life for yours. Then live. He will guide you joyfully through life’s “Stops.” Then after, an eternity of happiness with Him.

Millions have this confidence. How about you? We at Pine Grove Bible Church would be honored to help you enter your eternal voyage through life. Join us in your journey. Let’s live now and then together and forever. You won’t be disappointed.

To Pine Grove Church Family,

I would like for all of you to know that I have been monitoring news reports and updates regarding the virus and for this week, we will continue with services as scheduled. With that being said, I want to make sure we are all considering a few important things regarding this virus. 

If you are feeling sick, please stay home. Whether you think it is something serious or not, if you are not feeling well, I would much rather you stay home, recover, and avoid the potential of catching something more serious or sharing your illness with someone else.

If you are worried about catching COVID-19, please do not feel pressured into attending. I realize we have members who have compromised immune systems currently and are at a greater risk of illness. Again, I would rather you miss and recover, rather than attend and have your condition get worse.

Make sure you are staying up to date on the current status of COVID-19. I realize there is a very wide spectrum of responses to this situation. One side of the spectrum is panic, but the other side is a minimizing the seriousness of this virus. Let us all monitor this and work to be informed. Let’s make sure we think wisely and act humbly in our interactions. Please avoid belittling people on either end of the spectrum.

Striving Together

Pastor Rob


Posted: January 21, 2020 in Uncategorized

“Ouch!” Now that’s an expression we are all too familiar with. At least to us English speaking folk. However, uttering, ‘Ouch!’ is not universal. Stub your toe in Paris it’s ‘Aie!’ Whack you’re thumb in Düsseldorf it’s ‘Autch.’ A poke in the eye in the language of Afrikaans, it’s ‘Eina,’ A bump their head in Jericho it’s ‘Akh,’ if one is of Palestinian lineage and ‘Oy,’ if Jewish. The utterances may differ but the resulting pain is the same. A little compassion here could sure go a long way.

However, a bystander watching the demise of a stranger is another thing. ‘Oooooh’ with a slight descending tone. That is universal and may be followed by the thought, “That HAD to have hurt!’ Remember, the third run of Slovenian ski jumper Vinko Bogataj in the 1970 Olympics? The weekly film clip showing him tumbling off the end of the ski jump on Wide World of Sports? Ahhhh the thrill of victory! Ooooh the agony of defeat! Our penchant for calamity in “Funniest Home Videos” is telling. ‘Ouch!’

It’s safe to say that everyone at some time has experienced trauma in a variety of ways. “Ouch! That really hurts!” Very often the injury isn’t perceptible to the naked eye. We’ve all been there. Sometimes we are bruised by none other than our own quirks. But often it’s the reckless deeds of someone else, the brutality of the human tongue or just having someone simply look away as if it didn’t really happen.

When those grievous times occur, it’s sure nice when someone comes along, lifts you up and takes you to a safe place. It may require a trip to the local clinic or a visit with the healer of hearts, Jesus. He is our help. He walks beside us. That’s where the church, His body on earth comes along side. Or, at least it should.

James, Jesus half brother, cautions his scattered flock,

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:14-17

The theological gist: A bonafide confession of faith in Christ must be proven by real compassion to people in dire straits. Speaking practically: Christian…get off your pew!

James learned this well from one of Jesus vivid stories. One day on the winding incline from Jericho, a fellow was far beyond ‘Ouch.’ Surrounded by thieves, he was beaten and robbed. He was hurt very badly, nearly unconscious and desperate for someone to step in and help.

Along came a religious man, devout in all ways…minus a heart of compassion. Edging closer to this helpless soul, he sees him on the side of the road, says “Ooooh! And hopefully thought, ‘Wow, that must really hurt!” But then the unthinkable happens, “I don’t have time for this. Anyway, he probably brought this all on himself. Oh well. I’ll just leave it in God’s hands.” Then keeping his distance he continues on his merry way without a morsel of mercy.

Now, right behind the first guy another man of the same religious stripe arrives only he’s more pious. But the results are the same. They have compounded the trauma by adding insult to injury. Things are not looking so good for this three time casualty victim.

But, a third fellow of a different social class is hiking past. He sizes up the situation. Rather than thinking, “I don’t have time for this,” he supplies him with some of his own provisions. He field dresses the wounds. He refreshes him with a drink from his pouch. He carefully helps him on his mule and then hurry’s for the nearest inn. He spends the rest of that day nursing this sufferers wounds. He gives the innkeeper enough funds to cover another two days stay. And then, if that were not enough, he offers to cover any extra costs the next time he passes through the town. Now that’s a good neighbor.

Jesus informs His followers that they are to love God with their entire body, soul and spirit. That love is proven by loving their neighbors to the same degree that they love themselves. To paraphrase James: A living faith in God is manifest by a life lived for our neighbor. In short, love like Jesus. At the end of the story, Jesus asks,

“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Luke 10:36) Hmmm…!

Physical hurts, destructive relationships, devastating trauma, hopeless despair and death, that’s life in a sin troubled world. God sent Jesus for that reason. Need help? Get to know Jesus. And, Church, let’s be about making Him known. But never forget, “People won’t care what you know until they know that you care for them.”

So, let’s prove that ‘like a good neighbor,’ Christ’s church is there. May Jesus compassion flow abundantly through His body, the church.

Find mercy and hope at Pine Grove Bible Church. We meet at the Lion’s Club on M-15 Sunday’s at 9:30


Posted: December 24, 2019 in Uncategorized

Where Are You

Posted: November 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

Occasionally, my cell phone “blings” and a new message appears on the screen. My beloved asks, “Where are you?” Now I know fully well what that means most of the time. So sending a screen shot of my GPS coordinates would not be very helpful and might elicit a loving response something like “Funny!” followed by an emoji that fits the appropriate mood to my warped sense of humor. What the original inquiry really meant? “Are you on your way home yet? I need to know where your at. I want to start dinner.” I would probably get away with the playful screenshot if I was at that moment pulling in our driveway.

“Where are you?” It’s a very good question and may be the first in a sequence of more. Certainly it can be used merely to determine your global locale. But it is usually followed by more, like, “Hey, where are you?” “I’m still at the store.” “How much longer?” “A few more minutes.” “Let me know when your in the car?” “Okay.”

But the question, “Where are you?” can also be applied to a whole host of other more serious scenarios. “Where are you? Are you okay, I’m concerned! Or, “Where are you? I need your help. Right now!” Or, “Where are you in your relationship with God” Where you are is important to those who have concern about your life. Especially with regard to our Creator.

Communing with the newly formed image bearers in His Garden, God assigns Adam and Eve the business of dominion over His creation. Thereafter, He leaves them to their work. In conformance with their holy nature they obey. Initially they comply with God’s mandate and delightfully begin their task.

Not long after, the Deceiving Serpent appears. He convinces them to wrongly think that God does not have their best interest at heart. They latch onto his lie and in rebellion do the one thing God had told them not to do. They eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This results in death, both spiritually and eventually physically to them and their descendants.

Satan, pleased with his dastardly plot, slithers nearby into the shadows post haste. Now, Adam and Eve, the apple of God’s eye, have their eyes opened to exactly what God said would happen. They now possess a corrupted awareness of things both good and evil. (Genesis 2:1-3:7)

Presently, God returns to them. And already knowing what they had done (God knows everything , all the time, past, present and future) He calls out to them, “Where are you?” Good question! Grim answers! “I heard You…I was afraid…I was ashamed…I hid.” God then continues with a sequence of follow up questions. “How do you know about shame?” “Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:11)

Answering their Maker, they confirm their new bent toward depravity. In response they resort to finger pointing and blame shifting. God, both holy and just, pronounces a curse on them and lovingly casts them from His garden. However before doing so, He makes a promise to them. From the seed of the woman, One man, a Messiah, a Deliverer would come Who would one day crush sin and deliver them from death. And so, here we are today. We’re left in this mess of a world to cope with. Now they and we ask of God, “Where are You? Are you going to return? Are you going to make all this wrong right?”

Fast forward a few millennia from Genesis 3 to a little town called Bethlehem. 31.7054° N, 35.2024° E, 2,543 ft above sea level. It is here in this place God’s promise is carried out. God’s unique Son is born to a virgin, laid in a manger, cattle lowing, angels singing, shepherds watching. The perfect Son of God, now forever incarnate, God made flesh has come to complete His mission. He has returned to redeem His people from their sin.

God, where are you we ask? Jesus answers,“For I have come down from heaven…everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:38, 40

Again Jesus declares, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live… Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

Do you believe this? How you answer is life or death.

Later Jesus prays,“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24

“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34

Jesus, where are You? “Behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of this book.” Revelation 22:6

The Beloved summons, where are you? Thats a good question.