Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

I was reading in Psalms the other day (actually I read this one quite a few days ago, but I’ve been thinking about it and revisiting it several times since). As Christians we hear a lot about Jesus’ Great Commission to us to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). This is a very clear directive intended for all Christ-followers to obey. Indeed, it has been in God’s plan all along for His people to reveal Him to their world through both words and actions. In the Old Testament, Moses told the Israelite nation “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-8

This brings me to Psalm 107. It is a psalm which very clearly calls God’s people to testify to the world about Him. I’ve broken the text down into its individual stanzas with a few thoughts listed after each one.

Psalm 107 (ESV)

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.

The psalm begins with a call for those God has redeemed (according to one dictionary this means to “gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment”) to verbalize this fact. Note that the all-inclusive compass directions indicate that this is a word to everyone across the planet who has been bought back by God and for God, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the sacrificial payment for our sins who was provided for us by (and as) God himself.

The next four stanzas identify several examples of what kinds of words and actions might constitute the “saying so” of the redeemed. They each follow a similar formula:

  • Identification of the needful condition or situation in which the redeemed might find him/her self.
  • Recognition of that condition and then acknowledgment to God of their need for salvation.
  • God’s action in bringing them out of (or through) their situation.
  • Their response to God in praise and gratitude for His redemption. Notice the recurring phrase encouraging both general praise – “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” – followed by more specific praise for what God has done in specific answer to the situation the redeemed was in.

Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

This is a depiction of those who were lost and searching for meaning. There are many people who recognize that something eternal exists beyond them (e.g. a city to dwell in). They seek answers in a variety of places but recognize that they haven’t found anything satisfying. God is faithful to reveal Himself to those who seek Him. In Romans 1:20, the apostle Paul assures us that God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Anyone who is seeking God will ultimately be able to find him. However, the seeking must lead to the obeying. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” This is not a general statement spoken to anyone, but specifically to those (the exiled Israelites) who seek God with desire and intent to follow and obey Him. Jesus made a similar statement in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7) when he said “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” This is not a general statement applicable to anyone anytime. It is in the context of Jesus talking about the importance of obedience and choosing the narrow obedient path, rather than the broad “easy” path that most people follow. This stanza of the psalm concludes with the indication that true satisfaction comes through obedience (following God down the straight way).

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

This stanza reflects the experience of one who once followed God, but rebelled against Him. They have suffered the consequences of their choices and have come to the end of their rope. They recognize how dependent they ultimately are upon God and seek Him to free them from the life of misery that they have incurred. This is very reminiscent of the story of the prodigal son told by Jesus in Luke 15. In it, the son rejects his Father’s house and demands to be given freedom (and his inheritance) to go off and do his own thing. When his life falls apart, he comes back in repentance and is welcomed home.

Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

This stanza seems similar to the previous one. Iniquity leads to suffering leads to despair leads to repentance. The big difference is found in the word “rebelled” (in the previous stanza) and the word “fools” in this stanza. One openly rebels against God and rejects His ways. The other simply does stupid stuff, still rejecting God’s way but perhaps claiming that “I’m fine. I’m a believer. God’ll take care of me.” Jesus told another parable which follows this line of reasoning in Matthew 21:28-31. He was speaking to religious leaders who thought they were fine with God and didn’t recognize their own sinfulness: “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” This is the danger with fools, as this Psalm points out. The fool has rebelled just as much as one who openly does so, but the fool doesn’t recognize (or acknowledge) their “hidden” rebellion, and therefore are often much more resistant to actual repentance, because they just don’t see the need to repent.

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

Some people just go about their daily lives without any thought of God at all. They see the world around them not as an outpouring of God’s creativity, but simply as something that just exists. However, when tragedy comes in whatever form, they are suddenly faced with the reality of their mortality and frailness and they don’t know where to turn. This opens a door for God to reveal himself to them in a mighty way. I find it interesting that this group seems to have more of a compulsion to tell others about God’s salvation (e.g. they extol him in the congregation…). It’s almost as if they discovered God and weren’t even looking for him, and hence the greater impulse to tell others what they’ve found.

He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish. When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow, he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks. The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

At this point the psalm takes a bit of a different direction. It talks generally about how God controls His creation and how this interacts with humanity. It reminds me a bit about Paul’s statement (Acts 14:15-17) to the residents of Lystra. Paul had just healed a man whose feet had been crippled from birth, and the people immediately assumed Paul and Barnabas were gods and started to worship them. Paul said, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Paul encouraged, as the psalmist does, that people need to consider the world and look for God’s work in it. However, as Paul found out, and as the psalmist notices, there are many, especially those who are prosperous and don’t see a need for God, who have contempt for God and refuse to humble themselves before him, but those who recognize and acknowledge their need for Him will certainly find him.

Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

The concluding statement is an admonition for us all. Be wise and consider God’s work and love for us. When you do so, you will find Him and desire to serve him. Then, let the redeemed of the Lord SAY SO!

 

 

Update for Week (-) 21

I haven’t written an update in a while mainly because there’s not much to report. We’re 21 weeks out (from retirement) and 5 weeks out from our upcoming Alaska land and sea adventure.countdown1

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Most of our recent activity has been focused on small preparations.

  • We signed a contract with a general contractor to remodel our kitchen and 2 bathrooms. Work will commence in mid-September.
  • We purchased several items to help with Watchmaker updates, including a Nikon DSLR camera, a GoPro Hero, and a good quality tripod.
  • We’ve also purchased a set of books called The Mountain Directories, which will aid us in route planning. We’ll use the electronic apps and maps, but these paper maps, along with a regular road atlas, will be useful for good overview planning. books
  • The digital scanning project continues as well. So far I’ve scanned over 4000 individual pictures, as well as over 2 dozen photo albums and about 100 travel books. More left to do! We want to keep all of these, but we don’t want to take the space and weight in our motorhome with them.
  • I’m in the process of preparing Watchmaker’s Pulse signature items. For example, I’ve registered the WMKRPLS license plate with the state of Colorado (for our motorhome). wmkrpls I’ve also redesigned a logo…  WPlogo3 and ordered business cards… bcdistributable stickers (4 inch diameter versions of the logo) and a decal (2 foot diameter) for the back of our motorhome. MHback_logo This is all for the purpose of establishing (hopefully) name and brand recognition while we’re on the road.

I’m also working on a “canned” or signature Bible study I’m tentatively calling the Watchmaker’s Story which is intended to outline the whole story of scripture in a relatively short sequence (1 or 2 hour version for Bible studies in campgrounds and other venues, 20 minute version for a video, etc.) The intent is to lay out the main elements of the Bible for those who have little to no exposure to it, and to demonstrate how the gospel fits within the whole message and theme of the Bible. In other words, similar to what Jesus did on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection.

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:13-27)

We’re headed out this weekend for our second “shakedown” excursion. I’ll have more to report after that. Pray for us!

Well, as Tigger would say, “TTFN”

Monthly Musing – Looking Back

Wow! It was a really good day at church today. We heard the chaplain from an active duty naval ship speak on the text from Genesis in which Jacob wrestled with God and survived, receiving a name change (Israel) to reflect the fact that he had been humbled and was now ready to be used by God to continue the promise of blessing given to Abraham to bless all nations of the earth (Jesus) (Genesis 32).

We also heard a powerful testimony in Sunday School from a man who has been rescued from substance abuse and financial destruction simply through God’s outpouring of love and discipline in his life, similar to the story Jesus told of the prodigal son (Luke 15).

Both of these stories tied in well with a topic that has been on my mind the last few weeks. In both cases, the stories depict people who, through the decisions they’ve made over the course of their lives, have been at odds with God, seeking to steer the course of their own lives. The navy chaplain used a pen as an illustration of this. We often try to “write our own story”, only giving token acknowledgement to God and even refusing to let Him have control of a part, or parts, of our life. The chaplain challenged us to hand the pen to God and let Him write our story from here on out. This is a beautiful picture that all of us should take to heart.

However, another friend of mine has correctly pointed out that it’s one thing to give the pen to God… and another thing still to actually take our hand off of it and truly let God take control. This is a struggle that is real for any human being seeking to live the life that God intends us to. We need to be honest about what it means to “keep hold of the pen”. John Piper has a sermon titled Christ’s Power is Made Perfect in Weakness, based on 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 in which Paul talks about his supplication to God to remove the “thorn in the flesh” that troubles Paul, and God responds by saying “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Piper points out that the weakness Paul is experiencing is NOT sin, but rather various forms of persecution and trials. We must be careful not to claim that God’s power is magnified through our sin. The truth is that our sin must be acknowledged and repented of and THEN God’s power will be revealed through His grace in our lives and manifested in miraculous ways.

Jacob had to acknowledge the fact that he had continually resisted God and tried to steer the course of his own life through deception and thievery. Hence God’s question to him… “Tell me your name”. Jacob’s name literally means “deceiver” and he had to own up to that fact and repent of his choices.

Likewise, the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable had to come to point of acknowledgement that he had sinned against his father. The man in our Sunday School had to acknowledge his own deceptiveness and reliance on substance for satisfaction before he could experience the miraculous forgiveness and healing that only God can provide.

This is the crux of all our sin, no matter what it is. Ultimately, our choice to rebel is the same one that Adam and Eve made originally – to choose our own desires and take action on them in spite of God’s clear commands. We make ourselves the god of our own life by holding on to that pen and writing our own story. We must let go and say “yes” to God and let Him direct the paths of our life story.

Throughout scripture, God continually invites His people to look back at the things He has done and be stirred to repentance for forgetting Him and rebelling. He reminds them of His acts of deliverance. He also reminds them of their acts of rebellion. It is important for us to maintain a perspective that similarly looks back at our own life blessings and rebellions in order to properly look forward to following God’s direction and control.

These last few weeks, as I’ve had time, I’ve been scanning old documents and pictures as part of our downsizing efforts and it’s served to remind me of the blessings God has given me. This in turn has reminded me also of the many choices I’ve made, both good and bad, that have framed my life story and served to encourage me to continue to rely on Him going forward. Here are a few things I’ve revisited lately:

  • I am grateful for the wife God has blessed me with. Proverbs 5:18-19 says “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.”  God prepared her for me (and me for her) from the outset.Darlene babyOwenspics20325Mothers Day 2015
  • I am grateful for her family for the daughter and household they produced. Her family reminds me of Joshua’s family in the Old Testament. As Joshua neared the end of his life as Moses’ successor and leader of the Israelites, he challenged them with these words (Joshua 24:14-15) – Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Darlene’s family have been faithful servants of God.                                                                           Darlene baby0096.jpg2017-07-02_16-28-14
  • I am grateful for my parents and siblings (but I haven’t scanned many of those pictures yet). One of God’s commandments is to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). I remember my Dad telling me once, “Son, I am grateful that you have never been a rebellious son”. This was on the occasion of having done something that hurt him very deeply and had caused some tension between us, but we were mending things and re-affirming our love for each other. It meant a lot to me.

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  • I’m grateful for my children. Psalm 127:3-5 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior

    are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” I look back at my children (and at them presently today) and I am immensely proud of the young men they have become. Owenspics20297.jpg

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All of this is to say that as we move forward with our plan to downsize and live/travel full-time in our motorhome, we are determined to let God lead us in the direction(s) we should go. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. That’s a commitment that you don’t just make once. It has to be a daily/continual choice.

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Week (-) 27 Update – Roughing it (not so) Smoothly

(YouTube video is at the end of this post. Please consider subscribing to my channel on YouTube.)

Tiffin Motorhomes has a byline they place on the emblem they use for their motorhomes. It reads “Tiffin Motorhomes – Roughing it Smoothly”.

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Well, our maiden voyage was a bit less than smooth! We took our motorhome up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a few days of camping at Moraine Park Campground. We’ve camped there before in a tent and in our older Class C, but it’s been a few years. It’s really a beautiful campground, but things didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped:

  • We drove without incident up highway 36 to Estes Park, but chose to avoid downtown Estes by taking highway 34 to the Fall River Entrance. Next time I’ll remember to use the lane that’s NOT constrained between two buildings. I didn’t hit anything, but it sure was a tight fit!Narrow Entrances
  • The Fall River Entrance road must not be used by large motorhomes as much because I hit an overhanging branch that apparently hadn’t been clipped before.Tree Branch
  • Our site (26A) at the campground was pretty, but while it is listed as appropriate for a rig our size, it was NOWHERE NEAR level. I had to fully extend the hydraulic stabilizers to raise the front wheels off the ground and it still wasn’t level… also leaving us with a HUGE step up/down at the doorway. highstep
  • We have a residential refrigerator (110V) and thus a power inverter to convert the four 6-V DC house batteries to 110V AC. I need to research this set up a bit more to understand it. Basically, things were fine the first 24-hours. We ran the generator for an hour after that to top off the batteries, but they went down overnight the second night so that we woke up without sufficient power for the furnace (it was 53 degrees in the coach that morning) or even to start the generator. We started the engine and then started the generator and ran it for about an hour and a half to recharge things.
  • The BIG problem occurred after noon on that second day. We had arrived with only a partial tank of fresh water and partially full waste tanks, because I wanted to also try out the filling/dumping process. We drove down to the campground dump station and did all that without any problem. The problem came when I needed to return to our campsite. To turn around, I needed to make a left turn to go around a campground loop to head the other direction. You can see in the picture below the dump station on the left. I needed to head out of there straight across to where I’m standing taking this picture, then swing left to go up the loop road. Note the orange cones. They aren’t just cones. The one on the right is actually sitting on a protruding PVC pipe (for underground wiring). My exhaust pipe caught that cone and got pulled off its bracket and onto the ground. The rear wheel caught on the exhaust pipe and I was stuck. I couldn’t lift the pipe and couldn’t go forward. A ranger and another camper helped me (along with a bit of rope) to keep the pipe elevated enough to make it out the exit and onto the side of the road.20170614_095222.jpg20170614_100900
  • I called Tiffin’s wonderful roadside assistance and they arranged for a tow truck (semi-size) to come up. Unfortunately, the tow driver got called to an emergency semi roll-over before he got to us and was unable to come that night. Se we packed everything we needed in the convertible and went home (an 90 minute drive away). We returned the next morning to meet the tow driver (Kevin from Reliable Towing in Longmont). He was absolutely wonderful. He looked at the pipe and told us he thought he could fix it and save us (and him) the stress of getting towed. He took the exhaust pipe off, straightened it, removed the bent bracket, and wired it solidly back into place for us. He then followed us down Highway 36 to Lyons at which point we parted company.

We decided that since we were so close to Loveland, and we had seen a nice RV park in Loveland on the way home the previous night, we would call to see if they had any openings. They did and enabled a wonderful two-night stay for us to finish out our first excursion and try out camping in a park with hookups. The folks at Loveland RV Resort were very helpful with “first-timers” and made us feel very much at home and successful with our first RV park stay in our new home. Some of the park sites are a bit close together, but there are lots of shady cottonwood trees, the park is very clean and well-kept, and the staff is unbelievably friendly.

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We also got to visit the Benson sculpture garden in Loveland. It is a fabulous “walk in the park” featuring over 150 sculptures.

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As this week comes to a close, I’ve thought a bit about all the events that transpired. In the moment, several of them seemed almost overwhelming, but in retrospect, we were always safe, we were surrounded by friendly helpful people, and we were able to accomplish our goal for the week, which was to learn what we don’t know about our motorhome. We met a very nice retired couple from Aurora (but originally from Illinois) who had some great stories and advice (in Moraine Park CG). We had a very nice lunch with my sister and brother-in-law, who came up to visit on our first full day. We met a very nice couple in Loveland who are from Albuquerque. The rangers, campground host, Tiffin customer service, tow driver, insurance agent, RV Park hosts – all served as reminders that God does not leave us alone but surrounds us with the help we need in the time that we need it.

When Jesus sent the twelve apostles out in Matthew 10, he said,

“Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13” href=”https://www.esv.org/Matthew+10/#f4-“>cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

This reminds me that I need to be willing to (1) receive help from those we encounter, (2) always treat them with gratefulness, honor and respect, and (3) make sure that every action and word of mine allows the peace and kingdom of God to be revealed. These people would not have crossed my path had not all the events of this week transpired exactly as they did! Thank you, God, for the opportunities you gave me, and forgive me, Lord, for the opportunities I missed! Help me to be aware, and make others aware, of your awesome glory!

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Weekly Update (-) 29 – a Monthly Musing

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Well, tomorrow my retirement countdown clock drops below 200 days. I don’t have much to update from this week, other than the fact that we finalized the purchase of our motorhome and will accept delivery of it this Wednesday. We’re taking it for its “shakedown cruise” next week to Rocky Mountain National Park, in which we’ll try to learn what we need to learn about living in the RV.

This is the first update of the month, so time for a Monthly Musing. There is no accompanying video for this week. My intent for Monthly Musings are to spend some time reflecting on where our current “journey” has brought us and how it seems to related to scripture.

The thing that is probably most on my mind this Saturday evening as I write this is the fact that I’m not putting finishing touches on a Sunday School lesson for tomorrow. Last week was the last lesson that I taught as a regular Sunday School teacher at Applewood Baptist Church. I’ve been teaching a coed adult Bible Study class there since 2004, so it feels really weird not preparing a lesson for tomorrow and knowing that I won’t be for the coming weeks either.

Giving up my Sunday School class is a decision I made several months ago as we solidified our plans for full-time RVing and for Watchmaker’s Pulse activities. As the launch date approaches, downsizing is going to include not only physical stuff, but responsibilities as well.

For this month’s musing, here’s the text of the farewell message I sent to both past and present Sunday School class members.

I wanted to take this opportunity to say farewell, even though the longer-term farewell won’t be happening until around Christmas time. I’ve included both present and past members of my Sunday School class, along with assorted others at Applewood Baptist Church, both present and formerly. I concur with Paul’s beginning to Philippians: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
It has been such a joy to be a Sunday School teacher at Applewood since 2004. Today was my last as a full-time Sunday School teacher and it was a bittersweet ending. The ending is of my own choice as I slowly give up responsibilities and plan on this next phase of our life. To reiterate, or for those who don’t know, I am retiring from Drillinginfo, a job that I’ve held now for 4 years since my initial retirement from my 30-year education career. My actual retirement date is December 21, 2017. I’ve even requested to go part-time with my company until that date arrives. Darlene and I are preparing our house for sale and planning to move full-time into our new motorhome, which will be our home for the next foreseeable future.

We still plan to be around until then, but are going to be very busy remodeling our house and downsizing our stuff.
For our current Sunday School class members: As I have told you several times in class over the past few months, I strongly encourage you to quickly find a new class and immerse yourself in it, sharing your lives and talents as you have done so faithfully with us. I recommend that you visit some of the following classes:
  • [I took out the class recommendation list]
For all recipients of this email: I hope this finds you well. I have appreciated working with each of you in various facets in the past and look forward to staying in touch as we travel. Our plan is to head out as soon after my retirement date as possible (or maybe even sooner if the house gets sold – but we are nowhere near close that yet!) As several people have pointed out, my plan is not to retire FROM something, but rather to retire TO something. We plan to join the ranks of full-time RVers and travel across North America, probably numerous times, seeing lots of places that we’ve always wanted to see.
A large (and possibly bigger) part of that, though, is what to do while we see these things. This is really where I feel God is leading us to go in our next phase of ministry. I don’t have full clarity on everything yet, but I have begun plans for a ministry I’m calling The Watchmaker’s Pulse. It comes from the old William Paley analogy (Calvin has referred to it several times) in which a finder of a watch in the field would never assume that watch to have just been there for all time. It has the earmarks of being designed by a Watchmaker and begs investigation into the details of who that Watchmaker might be. 
I’m finding that as we research and learn from others (there are about currently 500,000 full-time RVers in the U.S.) about this lifestyle, we see that a majority of people who are “public” with their travels via YouTube, podcasts, and websites, spend lots of time talking about their travels and tips for others, but give very little acknowledgement or credit to their Creator for the life and wonders they encounter. Hence my new “mission” field.
What you can do?:
  • Send us. By that I simply mean in the sense that Paul and Barnabas were sent by the church in Antioch. In Acts 26, Paul recounts his “call” for King Agrippa: “I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Paul was called first, and then sent by the local church, on his missionary journey. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not claiming any special “vision” other than that I feel strongly about this next opportunity for ministry that I think is being laid out for us. We have all been sent, and just as I’ve been (or tried to be) faithful through my life in my church and in my places of employment to be a strong witness for Jesus, so I wish to be in this next phase of our life. As we travel, we wish to be able to still call Applewood our home church.
  • Pray for us. Pray specifically for the following for now, and then I’ll keep you updated, if interested, later about further prayer needs:
    • Pray for our downsizing. We’ve been in our house for 31 years, and have accumulated much, along with having lost both sets of parents and inherited much of their stuff as well. We are completely giving up a “stick-and-brick” residence and will only be storing stuff equivalent to a small 2-bedroom apartment, in the event that we choose to only do this RV life for a shorter term. It is a huge effort to sort through things and decide what needs to be kept and what can be parted with. There are a lot of memories attached!
    • Pray for the preparation of and sale of our house. We are remodeling our house, which was built in the 60s and in need of quite a few updates. Pray that those updates will go smoothly and not be too costly to us. Also pray that when the house goes on the market (probably in October) that it will sell in a timely and profitable fashion.
    • Pray for our finances. We have a plan and feel that we are financially able to do this. However, until we hit the road and actually experience the costs of travel along with the maintenance of vehicles, healthcare, etc., the actual working out of the details is still a bit uncertain.
    • Pray for our children. We have two wonderful sons who are adults and quite independent, but we also are very close and have not been living outside of regional proximity with them. Pray that they will feel God’s hand of leadership on their career and relational choices and that our family will continue to thrive in the future as it does now. 
    • Pray for our travels. We have it in our sights to visit all 49 states (unless I can figure out how to drive to Hawaii) and every province in Canada. Mexico… still to be determined. There is a lot to see in North America. Even though we’ve traveled quite a bit, 2-week vacations just don’t immerse you in the culture and surroundings that same as a slower pace will allow. Pray for safety and special abilities to deal with the inevitable mishaps which are an innate part of this lifestyle.
    • Pray for the churches we visit. One of our goals as we travel is to make corporate worship a priority. I have in mind something of a project (not clear on that yet) in documenting the state of worship across America. We are looking forward, especially in smaller towns, to visiting churches and engaging with the people in them to worship our God and fellowship with other believers whom we’ve never met before.
    • On a related note, pray for our people/social skills. It won’t come as much of a surprise to most of you, but neither Darlene nor I are very extroverted. We are perfectly content to quietly sit in the corner and try not to be noticed. Even though it may seem quite easy for me to stand up and teach a class or publicly speak, because that’s what I’ve done all my life, I still get nervous, especially in a new situation. This choice that we’re making in this new lifestyle is to be constantly in a new situation!
    • Pray for the Watchmaker’s Pulse ministry. See below.
  • Follow us. The Watchmaker’s Pulse is the framework under which we’ll be documenting our travels and managing our ministry efforts. The primary website from which all other content can be accessed is watchmakerspulse.com. As I’ve built this out, I’ve emphasized that it’s really not “off the ground” until 2018, but I’m trying out some things and making plans for the ministry concept. Some things I’m considering and exploring are:
    • Maintaining a regular blog about a variety of topics as we travel. This will be organized by theme, such as National Parks, churches, RV life, etc. It is my goal to, as I blog, make sure that I link scripture and acknowledgments of God’s work in each entry, thus the idea of looking for the pulse (or evidence of existence) of the Watchmaker.
    • Maintaining a video library on YouTube about our adventure, again trying to link our activity with God’s activity. The videos I currently have posted are not very good, but I’m using them to try out things about videography, sound, composition, theming, editing, software, etc.
    • As stated earlier, I’d like to do some sort of documentary?? about worship and churches across America.
    • I also have envisioned a home-school or interest-based set of courses in a Watchmaker’s Pulse Academy
    • I’ve noticed that the full-time RVers tend to keep track of each other through various social networks and blogging. I sense an opportunity to join this community and hopefully form connections which might hold ministry opportunities including bible studies, gospel-sharing, campground ministries, public speaking engagements, who knows?
It would be a HUGE help if you would simply FOLLOW us via the interweb. This will serve two purposes: to allow you to keep track of and communicate with us, but also to help grow the channels. Please, if you’re willing, follow and subscribe as shown below. I haven’t started promoting these yet beyond family and friends, but the more “followers” I have when I do, the more successful they’ll be at reaching new people.
Look on the right side of the page for the “Follow” button and enter your email. This will send an email to you anytime I create a new blog entry.
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On YouTube:
Click the Subscribe button on the right.
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It also helps generate “views” if you watch the videos, even just starting them and stopping them counts as a “view”. They’re not great yet, but I promise they’ll get better over time. Give them a thumbs-up as well.
On Facebook:
Search for the Watchmaker’s Pulse page. Click the “Like” and “Follow” buttons.
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Lastly, my Twitter account is @watchmakerspuls (NOTE that this is without the final “e” because the name was too long by Twitter standards). You can also follow that if you would.
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If you are down here, I thank you for reading this far, or even if you just scrolled to the end, I still thank you. Darlene and I have been at Applewood a long time (since 1974 and 1983 respectively) and will miss you when we depart around Christmas time. For those of you that live elsewhere now, we look forward to seeing people we’ve known as we travel and will try to keep tabs with you wherever we are. We love you all!

 

Weekly Update (-) 30

Happy (belated) Memorial Day!

All these updates are covered in the YouTube video linked at the end of this post. This week we had our second donation pickup from ARC. We were able to offload a number of larger items, as shown below.

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We also paid a visit to the graves of our four parents. Shown below is Golden cemetery, with the graves of David and Marlene DeCamp.

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J.D. and Adelaide Owens are buried at Crown Hill cemetery in Wheat Ridge.

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I’ve always had mixed feelings about visiting a cemetery specifically to leave flowers, etc. at the graves of loved ones. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but it always seems a bit pointless to me. They aren’t there. It feels like leaving flowers on the doorstep of someone who you know is not home and won’t be there to get them. However, visiting the graves does give me a chance to reflect on things and here’s what I thought about during these visits.

  1. Visiting and decorating the graves of your parents, really, is a way of continuing fulfillment of the 5th commandment, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). This is not a time-bound commandment, but is God’s expectation of us for all time and in all circumstances. Whatever your relationship is with your parents, you are still expected to honor them in a God-honoring manner. If you think about it, the first 4 commandments are about our relationship to God, and the last 6 are about our relationship to other people in a manner that continues to focus on God and honoring Him. Hence our motivation is not to just not commit adultery, steal, etc. but to do so because that’s God’s expectation of us and to obey those commandments is to give the honor and glory that is due to Him.
  2. Another thing I thought about during these visits was the story in Ezekiel 37.  Ezekiel was a prophet in Israel during the time of their Babylonian exile. He wrote, “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord (vss. 1-4).” Ezekiel obeyed and prophesied (spoke the word of God) over the bones, and they began to re-articulate themselves, growing flesh and skin. Then God said, “’Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’ So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army” (vss. 9-10).

This story is a beautiful picture, as God further explains to Ezekiel in that chapter, of God’s salvation of His people. All of us are sinners and unable/unworthy to dwell with God in heaven in our current state. The Bible reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). Our justification (forgiveness) comes because Jesus paid the price (redemption) demanded by our sin (for the wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23a), and those who trust their lives to Jesus are forgiven their indebtedness (but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. –  Romans 6:23b).

That is the gospel that Christians bear testimony to. We prophesy (preach God’s Word) to a people (all of humanity) who are indebted to God for their sinfulness and have earned their wages of death. We preach God’s Word so that hearers can have the breath of God revive them and give them eternal life. Watch my video below and you’ll see/hear Lauren Daigle’s wonderful song about Dry Bones.

Retirement

Week (-) 32 and (-) 31 Update

The last two weeks have been very busy for me, mostly because of job-related tasks. As far as downsizing work goes, here’s what’s been going on:

  • We completed the refinance of our house. This will help to free up some monthly cash for further remodeling expenses and some debt reduction.
  • Our city had a free day at the local landfill, so I loaded up the van. I pulled all of the doors that I plan to replace and hauled them out, along with sundry other items. trash
  • We purchased replacement doors, but they still need to be painted before being ready to hang.Doors
  • The big news is that we made a down payment and committed to purchasing our new future home – a 2017 Tiffin Allegro Open Road 34PA. We should be able to take possession of it in another week or so.allegro-34PA1122523_Detail1122538_Detail1122557_Detail

As I was reading my Bible this week, I read Psalm 65, and it made me think about where we are in our plans for this new phase of life. In the psalm, David follows two trains of thought. First, he praises God simply because He deserves his praise.

Psalm 65 (ESV)

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come.

When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
I reflected on the great privilege that we have to worship God and bring our gifts of praise to him each week. This is something I intend to continue even as we head out on the road of adventure. We will not forsake gathering with God’s people in worship!
The last part of this psalm focuses on the physical world that God has created and offers appreciation and praise simply for the marvelous beauty and everyday presence of God in His creation.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.
All of creation sings of the praises and glory of God. This is the other part of our adventure that I look forward to. We will be treasuring and appreciating the wonder of God’s creation and joyfully sharing it with those whose paths we cross. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! 

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