Friday, March 27, 2015

New Every Morning




Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
Lamentations 3

You might have noticed I've changed the name of this blog a couple times recently.  It's come in part because of changes in how I view my life and walk with God.  For nearly 10 years the blog was called "Finishing Well" and then, on a whim, I changed it to "Beginning Well".  But neither of those really spoke to where I'm at in my walk.  Both look ahead to a future day instead of focusing on today, living a vital Christian life in the moment.  


So, now, thanks to my friend Tim I have the name.  It's perfect!  It speaks to my walk and relationship with God right now.  And, I hope it will speak to you more clearly in your walk each day.  Thanks for your patience as I tried to figure out how to communicate this change in focus in my life. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thought for the day

As I read Mark 13 this morning and Jesus' explanation of the end days he told the disciples several times "don't be afraid."  Fear seems to be our common response to anything that threatens us.  So how can we not fear when the world around us crashes?  How can we not surrender to the panic others will voice on Facebook and Internet?  It demands a focus on the one who is in charge of our lives.  Fear comes from looking around, taking our eyes off of God. Faith is a focus on God in spite of the circumstances.

Do you remember the story of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14?  As he walked toward Jesus these words are written, "but when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sin, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" Fear always comes when we look at the circumstances around us and take our eyes off of God.

Are you afraid? Look up.  Our sovereign God is ruler of everything and he loves us!  In the midst of any story a child of God can rest in his care....no matter what!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Overwhelmed!

This morning my son and I were talking over breakfast about his business move.  They had a change in lease where his retail store is located and they have to find a new location.  It's a crazy series of permits and approvals.  Frankly, he's overwhelmed.  Who wouldn't be?  He has only a few weeks and still feels he's nowhere close to getting moved.

I asked him this morning, "What's really necessary? What's the least you can do to get into the new location?"  I think we often get overwhelmed with the vast amount of information coming at us these days so my goal was to ask this....what's least thing, the most necessary thing you can do right now?  Then, do the next thing.

Overwhelmed is a reality for many of us.  We have so much we feel we must do, that has to be done "today" and so we throw our hands up in defeat.  But could we do the necessary things?  Could we do what must be done and set aside all the noise for a moment?

When you are overwhelmed stop for a moment and ask, "But what is really necessary?"  Then do that...and then do the next thing.  For all the media about multitasking we can honestly still do only one thing at a time.  Start there. 


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Faith has feet


James 2:14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

Faith, real faith, has feet.  It does something.  Faith is a verb, an action, not a noun.  It isn't a monument to an event, but an event that moves us to love and action.  If your faith doesn't have feet...
what good is it?



Monday, March 16, 2015

Words from James

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats."  -James 3

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Today

Today is a day I will never forget!  One of the young men I have been mentoring for a while called and said, "I need to be baptized today!"  He had been reading in the gospel of John and been thinking about it for a while, but today was the day.  Of course I said yes and so an hour ago we met at his home, went to the pool in the back yard and got into 42 degree water to baptize him.  IT WAS COLD!   I'm sure he will never forget it.  I know I won't.  

(The photo is not from our day, but felt like it!)

Mundane Faithfulness

Lately I've been following the last journals of Kara Tippetts and her husband, Jason, at Mundane Faithfulness.  It's a blessing, a grief, a joy, a sorrow....even though I don't know them personally they have opened their hearts and lives as she has neared her own death from cancer.  

The reality of death and its heavy hand on each of us makes us focus on what is really important.  Kara and Jason are doing that.  There is nothing that sobers and focuses our lives like the end of it.  I know thousands have been encouraged by Kara and Jason's words and faith.  

Her life and death models what a walk with God should look like....trusting him even in the hard days.  If you haven't followed her story I encourage you to do so.  It will help you in your own walk with God.  You can find her story here.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Quote of the day

"It's amazing how we not only convince ourselves that God doesn't recognize what we tell Him as lies, but that He also believes them."  -Darren Mabrey

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The little red light



Years ago, when I was a teenager, I attended a church in another town for a service. I can't remember why we were there and I don't remember the message, but I do remember the mission board at the back of the church. It was a world map with the locations of all the missionaries they supported.

There was another thing on the map that caught my attention...it was a little red flashing light. This little light was on the mission board with these words below it- "Each time this light flashes another soul passes into eternity without Christ."

My first thought was, "Oh, that's a neat thing." But, after taking my seat in the service it started to bother me. Often, during the service, I would look back at the light and it was still blinking. It started to bother me…a lot! My thoughts ran from, "I wish that would stop!" to "What if I just unscrew the bulb?" and "how can these people ignore that light and just sit here?"

What seemed like a neat idea at first started to really bother me. It has bothered me for many decades since. That little red flashing light, meant to communicate the need for missions, has been an ever-flashing light in my life to remind me of the crisis of humanity.

As Penn Jillette said, "If you really believe this stuff and don't tell me about it then you must really hate me a lot!" So, today, once more, maybe for the 10,000th time, I'm thinking of that little flashing light that has been flashing in my mind for these many decades. My prayer is that I would be part of God's plan to help many I meet not be one of those eternal flashes.


The Parable of the Life Saving Station


On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little life saving station. The building was just a hut and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea. Ships often smashed up against the rocks and many were tossed overboard with no hope. With no thought for themselves the members of the life saving station went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost.

Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so much so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding areas, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time, money, and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little life saving station grew.

Some of the new members of the life saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.

They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in an enlarged building. Now the life saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they redecorated it beautifully and furnished it as a sort of club. The members began to hang out there frequently and enjoy their new club.

Less of the members were now interested in going to sea on life saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.

The mission of life saving was still given lip service but most were too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to take part in the life saving activities personally.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.

They were dirty and sick. Some of them were different and spoke a strange language. The beautiful new club quickly became dirty and full of those who needed help. The property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal activities of the club. But some members insisted that life saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life saving station, not a club. The devote life saving members were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life saving station down the coast.

So they did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet another life saving station was founded down the coast.


If you visit this seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, but now most of the people drown.



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Are you ready?



This afternoon I went to hospital to visit with a man dying of cancer.  He told me he knows he's dying and he's scared!

I asked him what he was afraid of and he told me he has no idea what's ahead!  He's afraid of dying.

We had a great talk. We talked about what God is like, how he can have hope, how he can know what's next.  He asked a lot of questions, had a lot of ideas about what is ahead and a lot of fears of the unknown.

We all fear death even though we all know it faces each of us.  No one will escape without death at the end.  

My question to my new friend was this, "Are you ready?"  He admitted he's not and wants to get ready, but faith is so hard for him.  His family experience made it difficult to believe in a good God.  All he knew was an angry God, vengeful, mean, ready to punish.  When I told him that's not the God of the bible it surprised him.

I think we will have several more visits.  I hope he will discover the answer to the most important question, "Are you ready?"

Are you?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Life under the cloud


This site has been a place for my thoughts, devotions and personal journaling for almost 10 years.  I find this discipline helpful to me and I hope it helps others as well.  It's not my goal to bare my soul here, but to share what God is doing with me and what I know he will do in any life.  

There are times that all of us live under a cloud of depression for a time.  When we find ourselves under the cloud we all sense that our lives are a waste, much too difficult, that "God is playing a cruel joke on us" as one friend wrote to me yesterday, but in those days when the gloom settles over us we need the Lord and his presence more than ever.  

In my own life I've been "under the cloud" of depression for quite a while.  It's shown in my lack of presence here.  Who wants to read the ramblings of a depressed old man as he works through his thoughts and struggles, but there are days when that voice needs to be heard.  

Depression does feel like a dark cloud keeping the sun away, but it also brings rain, shade and new life. In the moments and days when depression comes we fail to see the shade, enjoy the rain and celebrate the life, but they are all part of the cloud. 

For Israel in the desert the cloud gave them shade and I'm sure it gave rain as well.  What seems a sign of depression to us is most often really a wonderful provision of God.  He's not punishing us when depression comes, he's not withholding his presence...quite the contrary...he's more present in those moments than we could ever know. 

But the cloud over us seems to only bring darkness, depression and doubt of whether God really cares for us at all.  And yet, the cloud is the evidence of his care more than anything else we could experience.  It's a sign of his provision, his presence when all seems lost and we see no  hope.

My favorite depressed person in the bible is David.  He, like Elijah, struggled with depression in significant ways, but they dealt with it quite differently.  

Elijah quit.  

But David sought God.  And in his seeking we find words like this,


Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
Psalm 43

David looked up, he sought God, he hoped in the only one who could lift his cloud.  In the passage above did you notice that when we are in despair, when we are depressed, we don't praise God?  David wrote, "I shall again praise Him" meaning that in that moment he wasn't.  He didn't "use" praise as a way out, but instead he thought through the truth that depression isn't forever and when the cloud passes he would once more praise God. 

Life under the cloud is difficult.  Just ask anyone who lives in Seattle, but with the cloud comes the reality that God is with you.  He never leaves and soon, sooner than you know, the cloud will lift and you will praise him again.  While you're under the cloud rest in Him, enjoy the cool of the shade, celebrate the rain and know that joy will come again.