Enough Said/Tuesday with Tom 4.25.17

Once in a while I find a time when scripture says more than I write or can affix a story. When that happens, I believe what I am to share are the verses alone and nothing more. It’s times like today when I often hear more feedback than usual. My prayer is that these ancient words speak to you or have you share with another.

“My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing. Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity. Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous. Accept whatever befalls you, and in time of humiliation be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation. Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him.

“You who feat the Lord, wait for his mercy; do not stray, or else you may fall. You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost. You who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy. Consider the generations of old and see: has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed? Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord and been forsaken? Or has anyone called upon him and been neglected? For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; he forgives sins and saves in time of distress.” —Ecclesiasticus 2:1-11(NRSV)

Tending the vineyard,

Tom Welch

 

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Faint-hearted- Just Dance/TWT for 4/18/17

“From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.” -PSALMS 61:2-4

In recent days I’ve heard from two children of God; both of whom are leaning again on that rock “that is higher than I” as they seek His will in their days. For some reason the words “and He loved them to the end” speaking of Jesus in his final two days on earth come to mind, banking them off the words above.

You know Jesus could have chosen to avoid Good Friday. He didn’t. He wanted us to know He’d go through hell for us so that those of us who call Him “Lord” would one day be with Him in Paradise. There are times when the enemy comes in the form of fear and anxiety to try and tear at the fabric of our souls. In those trying times, perhaps every day of our lives, Christ showed us the answer.

He hung on that cross, loving you and me “until the end” of that wretched day knowing He would tower over the enemy on Easter morning. Let’s dance with Him, taking our refuge in His love this Easter Season.

Tending the Vineyard, Tom Welch

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Sunday, Sunday; TWT for 4/11/17

“And it was about the 6th hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the 9th hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.’ And having said this, He breathed His last.” Luke 23:44-46(NKJV)

 Editorial Note: After 14 years of writing these, every now and then I repeat one. For Holy Week I share one written a couple of years ago. I think it’s worth repeating. At the conclusion enjoy Mississippi native Leontyne Price; one of the finest sopranos the world has ever known…… 

When my daughter was in the 5th grade she and I made our way to spend Easter Weekend with dear friends in Winchester, Virginia. It was a long drive. We were on no set schedule so we left the interstate a few times to see the communities interstates invite a driver to speed right by. On Good Friday we left the interstate minutes after we crossed the Tennessee/Virginia state line.

As we drove through one of the towns we approached a church whose sign announced a Good Friday Service at noon. “Daddy, we are here just in time! It’s 11:50. We have to go in.” We did just that. On the way in from the parking lot we walked by one fine Harley Davison motorcycle. When we entered the fairly small sanctuary there were about two dozen of us there. A few rows in front of us sat a guy who looked to be about 60, one of the roughest, biggest, most tattooed guys I’d ever seen. He looked like he belonged to a motor cycle gangThe service was nothing more than praying the “Stations of the Cross,” so I knew we’d be on our way in about 30 minutes. As we got to the portion in the Gospel story where Jesus fell a third time this gentleman began to cry quietly. When we got to the lines of the mallet striking the nails that pierced the hands and feet of Christ his cry became a little louder. As we were kneeling my daughter looked up to me and reached for my hand, clutching it tightly. When Christ was lifted in the air this guy wasn’t crying any more. He was wailing. Tears swelled in my daughter’s eyes. She whispered: “This was a really hard day for Jesus, wasn’t it Daddy?” I nodded in the affirmative as my eyes started leaking… (You know real men don’t cry. Ha!). As we were into those last three Stations, the wailing continued. The man’s shoulders were now shaking as he wailed. He just couldn’t stop crying. By now even the priest began to tear up. The whole room was in tears. I’ve never experienced anything like it before or since. Before we knew it, the service was over.

At its conclusion this precious child of God went up to this biker dude(also precious in His sight) and patted him on his arm as she looked up, said something to him and gave him a hug. He was clearly touched. This huge man gave her a big bear hug, lifting her up off the floor for a moment. I heard him say: “Thank you. Thank you so much. You’re absolutely right.” Aside from that conversation we all did as instructed, leaving quietly, got back in the car and left for the interstate again. After a few minutes I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to ask. “Sweetheart, what did you tell that man?” Her reply: “It was simple, Daddy. I told him it would be all better on Sunday.”

As you may struggle through Holy Week, as I often do, remember: Sunday, Sunday, oh glorious Sunday, for Christ our King lives again.

Tending the vineyard,

Tom Welch

 

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Sunday, Sunday/Tuesday with Tom for 4/11/17

“And it was about the 6th hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the 9th hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.’ And having said this, He breathed His last.” Luke 23:44-46(NKJV)

 Editorial Note: Over the last 14 years of writing these, this is one of my favorite to share. At the conclusion, enjoy Mississippi native Leontyne Price singing “Were You There?”

When my daughter was in the 5th grade she and I made our way to spend Easter Weekend with dear friends in Winchester, Virginia. It was a long drive. We were on no set schedule so we left the interstate a few times to see the communities interstates invite a driver to speed right by.

On Good Friday we left the interstate minutes after we crossed the Tennessee/Virginia state line. As we drove through one of the towns we approached a church whose sign announced a Good Friday Service at noon. “Daddy, we are here just in time! It’s 11:50. We have to go in.” We did just that. On the way in from the parking lot we walked by one fine Harley Davison motorcycle. When we entered the fairly small sanctuary there were about two dozen of us there. A few rows in front of us sat a guy who looked to be about 60, one of the roughest, biggest, most tattooed guys I’d ever seen. He looked like he belonged to a motor cycle gang.

The service was nothing more than praying the “Stations of the Cross,” so I knew we’d be on our way in about 30 minutes. As we got to the portion in the Gospel story where Jesus fell a third time this gentleman began to cry quietly. When we got to the lines of the mallet striking the nails that pierced the hands and feet of Christ his cry became a little louder. As we were kneeling my daughter looked up to me and reached for my hand, clutching it tightly. When Christ was lifted in the air this guy wasn’t crying any more. He was wailing. Tears swelled in my daughter’s eyes. She whispered: “This was a really hard day for Jesus, wasn’t it Daddy?” I nodded in the affirmative as my eyes started leaking… (You know real men don’t cry. Ha!). As we were into those last three Stations, the wailing continued. The man’s shoulders were now shaking as he wailed. He just couldn’t stop crying. By now even the priest began to tear up. The whole room was in tears. I’ve never experienced anything like it before or since. Before we knew it, the service was over.

At its conclusion this precious child of God went up to this biker dude(also precious in His sight) and patted him on his arm as she looked up, said something to him and gave him a hug. He was clearly touched. This huge man gave her a big bear hug, lifting her up off the floor for a moment. I heard him say: “Thank you. Thank you so much. You’re absolutely right.” Aside from that conversation we all did as instructed, leaving quietly, got back in the car and left for the interstate again. After a few minutes I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to ask. “Sweetheart, what did you tell that man?” Her reply: “It was simple, Daddy. I told him it would be all better on Sunday.”

As you may struggle through Holy Week, as I often do, remember: Sunday, Sunday, oh glorious Sunday, for Christ our King lives again.

Tending the vineyard, Tom Welch

 

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Dry Bones to Good Bones/TWT for 4.4.17

“…oh dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” –Ezekiel 37:5-6

This is one of the most remarkable stories that has become a favorite of mine. I remember a friend describing something or someplace very special as having “good bones.” Think about this story for a moment. Can you imagine what Ezekiel must have been thinking as he walked around that valley of dry bones? How on earth would they come to life?  God told him that at his word they would do just that.  Ezekiel he acted on faith as instructed and my, my what happened next.

Sometimes the dark, dry places in our lives seem like they might never end. It takes faith and patience and sometimes great doubt to see things through. Yet, like Ezekiel calling out to those dry bones, something more than he could have possibly imagined took place.

Do you have some dry bones? I bet when the breath of God is taken into your soul as you pray those old dry bones of yours become so good they start to dance.

https://youtu.be/8jLj8QMkNsI

Tending the vineyard,

Tom Welch

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Joy Rock Solid/TUESDAY WITH TOM for 3.28.17

“When I said “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.  Anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.” -Psalm 94:18,19 &22 (NIV)

The further along we get with the readings during Lent, the harder they become. In this Psalm for today’s reading while it speaks of conflict and dissolution it is laced with hope found in steadfastness. I have learned over the years, often by default, if we keep to a discipline of seeking our God to be present in our days lives change; both ours and those around us. Trust me on this.

“Trials and temptations, we should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness. Take it to the Lord in prayer.” Lines from an old hymn played as I wrote this today. Let me share them with you below.

Tending the Vineyard,

Tom Welch

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Well Water/Tuesday with Tom for 3.21.17

“….but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I will give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14(NIV)
I don’t know many places a person can go to get “well water” at a home any more. I remember having it only a couple of times way out in the country, far from my home in town. Oh my, the mystical nature of it; so cool and refreshing. In my mind it is still the best water I ever had.
In another translation the word “bubbles” replaces “welling.” In this story, a rather long one, Jesus reveals He knows everything about the Samaritan woman. In all that He knows about her, her past really doesn’t matter compared to her future in Christ, does it? I think what He sees/hopes for her is joy rather than happiness, those things eternal rather than temporal, those things that change the core of a soul.
Way back then she may have thought He might help shorten her trip or frequency to the well. Today I am reminded of the movie “The Shack” based very, very closely on the novel a few years back by the same name. In the book “Mac” has a meal with the Holy Trinity characters at the dinner table. As he finishes his beverage he says it was the best meal he ever had. Of course it was. Look who prepared it.
It brings me back to the well from which I drank out of a tin cup on the back porch of that relative’s home so long ago. That well water quenched my thirst like never before. To the Samaritan woman (and all of us) there is a Well Water beyond imagine just for the asking.

Tending the vineyard,
Tom Welch

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