Last time I was talking about going from the Valley of Baca to places of blessing in our lives.   The Hebrew word Baca in the Old Testament of your Bible  seems to mean  dryness, desolation and depression.  Verse 6 of Psalm 84 talks of going through that difficult valley  to a place of springs and rain and growing and productivity.  Going from bleakness to blessedness… through knowing and serving and trusting in the Lord our God (verses 4,5 and 12).  Does that ring- a- bell in your experience?  Is there now a place of dryness in your life  that you’ld rather  see swimming in springs of living water?  Anything or anywhere or for anyone?  There were 18 years between pastorates for me.  A  period of self-examination and self-recrimination… and just a long trudge through  the Valley of Baca.  But in that valley, spiritual things were beginning to happen for  me. Even there and maybe because I was there.   Like reading the Bible every day so that I’d complete it within a year.  Never had done that before, I’m ashamed to say.  But now I was doing it just to find my way back home…to God. Not because I had to or I was paid or expected to. None of those except to finds some springs and rain and pools of blessing from the Lord I really did love and want to serve.    I found an old hymnal that I had and began leafing its pages and singing those wonderful songs that I used to sing as a new believer, at which time in my life I could not get enough of the things of the Lord. I would just sing all alone in my apartment.   I found myself turning to that hymnal more and more just to hear those words and the wonderful melodies that I always loved and hadn’t heard in so many years.  After marrying Sue, we decided to attend and then join an evangelical, Bible-believing church in town.  It felt so good and so right– where we needed to be.  It was there that I promised the Lord that we would never, ever join a church that did not lift up the name of Jesus, where the Bible was not preached as the inspired, inerrant Word of God.  In 1995, I was asked to give the prayer at the Baccaleaureate service for son Dave.  Introducing me was the manager of the local-access Christian TV station.  Before the service I complained to him that we needed more local programming from his TV station , and not just ladies with pink hair that looked like cotton-candy and eyelashes a foot long.  And he had the  nerve to say to me, who had such great ideas, that maybe I should do something about it!  What?  Little, old me?! Wise-guy!  But, as I thought about it, an idea germinated… my wife and I think our church friends  really thought I was bonkers. Well, who knows?!  TV–what experience have I had?  Well, I was on the Johnny Olson show in New York City when I was 8 years old,  where he, after the cartoons started,  made me eat his bologna sandwich and drink his milk, both of which I don’t like to this day!  Qualified–maybe overly-so!   For 5 years ‘Person-to-Person’ was on TV in our area…a testimony and music program.  What a blessing to hear every week the stories of how ordinary people, neighbors and friends, all came to know the same Jesus Christ.  No two stories were ever the same.  And then the guest would talk  about what differences Jesus  made in their lives.  What a blessing week-by-week.  But what nobody knew was that this show was restoring my calling to ministry through sharing the Lord in personal evangelism and mission.  God was taking me through the Valley of Baca to a place of great blessings.  That’s a journey He wants for all of us.  I have more to share but that’s for next time.  What I wonder, though, is what this means in your life?  That’s for you to chew on today and ask Him to open up some springs of life and love and service to our Lord Jesus Christ.  If it can happen for  me, it certainly can for you!

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