Thursday, February 23, 2017

Asleep in the storm



You never know what a day may bring.  Each day holds the seeds of joy or disaster.  Here is how our week has unfolded.

“Hey, why don't we celebrate our Presidents? What a great idea! Oh, and let's have it on a Monday. We'll close the schools, banks and post office. What a great idea! Today, on this President's day a single mom living two stories above us goes to work and leaves her girls at home alone. As luck would have it one of the girls had a great idea....let's make donuts! And so she did. She got out the oil, put it in a pan and turned it on high. Much to her surprise the grease caught on fire so she ran to the sink to get water. She thought water would put out the fire but it only made everything even worse. The sprinklers go off, the fire alarms roar, fire trucks arrive, and we all wait. The water from the sprinklers floods the third floor apartment putting out the fire, and it floods the second floor apartment, collapsing the ceiling. We are on the first floor. Now, on this wonderful President's day when a single mom leaves her girls home alone we find ourselves homeless. Murphy couldn't have written a better script. We can't wait for the next chapter in this story of President's day. I'm sure we will see the amazing grace and provision of a good God.”

Now, two days later, as I deal with all the insurance companies, moving companies, and a myriad of others I find, in the middle of it all, I’m at rest.  It’s strange, but in a time when chaos overwhelmed our lives Joye and I find we are homeless but wonderfully blessed by friends, the love of the church and the sweet peace and rest of God.

It’s interesting, as I write about it, that in the midst of a storm I can be at rest inside.  During the night last night, as I thought about the events we were thrown into, it was wonderful to rest in the peace, love and care of God.  Rest isn’t a beach somewhere with a margarita; it’s sleeping in the boat while the storms rage all around us.


In the midst of this storm I’m enjoying the rest that only comes because of God’s great love and provision....even in a storm.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Son of the Sovereign

It's easy to feel insecure, fearful, uncertain about the events around us.  It's easy to worry, to panic as we see things that seem out of control....

.....but do you know if you are a Christian you are a son (daughter) of the Sovereign of everything!  The one who made everything, the one who holds it all together, the only God is your Father.  He rules everything!  Relax.  He's in charge and he loves you.

You are a son of the Sovereign and nothing is out of his control.  Relax.

Friday, February 17, 2017

He knows you


Do you ever feel lost in the crowd?  Ever wonder if God even knows you are here, what problems you are having, how hard things are for you?  Ever feel a bit invisible to God with so much going on in the world?

We all have!  And yet, this morning, I began 1 Chronicles in my reading.  It's chapters of names and places.  In the middle of chapter one is this verse,


"Eber, Peleg, Reu,"
1 Chronicles 1:25

Who were these people? What did they do? How did God remember every one, every name and then write them all down for us to read thousands of years later? Here's what these three names tell me- God sees me (and you), he knows us, he cares, he knows us by name....we are not invisible and our names mean something to him! He loves each one.

If you want to see how serious God is about this read Psalms 139. In that chapter, in amazing detail, God tells us he sees us, he knows us and we are not invisible! We are precious, important to him!

Ever feel lost, invisible? God not only knows your name he designed you! He made you, as Paul describes it, his work of art. Go out there and enjoy being one of God's masterpieces.

Now, have a great day.




Monday, February 13, 2017

A world without grace



I have been watching, reading and listening to the changes coming in our world. The winds of change are brewing, and they whisper of a world ahead without grace. It's evident in the culture around us. It's a culture completely lacking grace. The contrast between the secular world and Christianity is dramatic, and it's very evident in this one area- grace. The God of the bible demonstrated his grace and love for man by becoming one of us, revealing himself to us, dying for us, and offering us forgiveness of all our sins...simply because we ask in faith!

There is nothing else like it. A faith based on the grace and love of God, full of promise and hope. All the work is done by God, not by us.

But we are in a time, in many parts of the world, where the grace of God is denied, ridiculed and suppressed...it's no longer the iron curtain we deal with, it's the graceless curtain of secular anger and rage. But God is amazing. He is penetrating that curtain with his grace and love. Man's best attempts at keeping him out look like children trying to dam a mighty river....their efforts are hopeless, the river will win and sweep them away. And in this battle between the world and the grace of God...God will win....he always does.

How amazing that, in a world where God's riches and grace are free, so many want to rage against the grace and love of God. This is spiritual warfare at the highest levels. It's our opportunity to shine the light on God's wonderful grace in a world where many are without God's grace, and have no idea of how much he loves them.


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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Death

I didn't decide to be a pastor.  
It just happened.
I'm not sure when it
became part of my identity
but it did
Now, after all these years,
I can't imagine any other
career

But there are parts
of this job
that I never anticipated
Tasks I've always dreaded
Painful days
Difficult words
Tear filled moments

For you see
in my job
death is part
of my work

Today I will
be part of a memorial
for a member of
our church, a friend

It's always hard
because
we avoid death
we don't want to deal 
with it
think about it
experience it
but
we all
WILL

And so
today
once more
I will
be part of the story
of one who 
died

Family and friends will gather
tears will be shed
laughter will happen
but will feel odd and uncomfortable
Memories will be shared
hugs exchanged

And then
tomorrow
we
all go back to our "normal" lives
and as quickly as possible
put death out of our minds

But we will each meet our end
we each will face death
we each will come to the end of our days

And then we will meet God
The question today is this-

Will you meet him as Father
or
as judge?

It's your choice

Death will find you one day and the very next
thing on your calendar will be
your appointment
with God

Are you ready?


Saturday, January 28, 2017

It's your choice


It's your choice
You get to make it each morning
Each moment
In each event of life

You get to choose
whether you will be 
happy,
angry,
grumpy,
mean or
at peace

It's your choice

You need to know
that the choices
you make soon
become habits
soon become YOU

It doesn't take long
It's not hard to do
It only takes a few choices
to imbed
happy,
grumpy
or 
angry
into your face
and heart

It's your choice

But know each choice
forms you
molds you
into
the YOU
you will be in 
20 years

Choose happy!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Creating an upside down, inside out world

These are words from the master of how to live in a world of broken and hurting people. In these simple instructions he turns everything upside down, inside out and offers us a vision of life that would change the world. I wonder...what would happen if a few of us tried it? What would happen if you really lived them out?  Why don’t we try it and see….


“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, gift-wrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”  -Jesus

Monday, January 23, 2017

What can I do?

In days like this I ask simple questions.  

I ask myself, "What can I do?"  What can one person do that will make a difference?  I know many are going to Facebook and other social media to proclaim the solutions we all must believe, but that really solves nothing!

So what can I do?  In my world, in the place God has put me, what can I do?  As I think about that it becomes rather simple...at least it seemed simple as I worked through these thoughts at 4AM this morning.  I can do one thing well, but it demands I do something else first.

Jesus described it this way when asked what is the most important thing to do.  He made the one thing into two because you can't do the second until you do the first. Here are his two things that will change the world-  1. Love God, and 2. Love others.

Some will tell me they can love others without God, but Jesus would tell them you can't even understand loving others correctly until you love God first!  Love for others must flow out of a love for God. It's the overflow of loving and being loved by the God who made you.

Only after you have done the first can you do the second well.  And, to be honest, we are loving one another badly these days. I could outline the list of things we aren't doing, but that would only produce more guilt and I'm sure you have enough to deal with. Instead, let me suggest you daily pray a simple prayer and begin to live out the results of it in your world.

Here it is-  Lord, help me to love you with all my heart, soul and will.  Show me your love for me as well. I need that!  And would you give me someone each day to love as you have loved me.

It means a phone call to a lonely person, a meal for a homeless person, a kind word for a weary waitress, it means a smile for a mom dealing with kids out of control.  It means seeing others with the eyes of love.

What can I do?  I can love others.  So can you.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Today's bumper sticker


On my drive back to church this afternoon I saw this bumper sticker on the car in front of me.

It made me wonder.....

....how do they know that?

Normality

"Normality for a human being is when God can be seen by anything and everything which that person does and says and is." -Major Ian Thomas

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Thoughts on a Wednesday morning

I must admit I'm finding it hard to write these days.  My thoughts wander and I struggle to find my passions.  Before I began these thoughts this morning I stopped by Facebook.  It seems thoughtful discussions, photos of babies and stories of good things are gone. Now all I read are words of fear, anger, hatred. What happened?  Were those thoughts and feelings always there and just now erupting?  I think that is probably the truth of it.  In days past these were thoughts reserved for a personal journal, but now they are vomited on Facebook for the world to read.  I do wish the false words of "we must love one another" were really lived out, but I fear few even know what that would look like in our day today.  What would it look like for me to love well? It sure wouldn't include angry words or thoughts that cause fear. It would be an intentional desire to encourage, help and support others.  But I find that in few places in our culture.  It seems we use the words "love one another" but have no idea what that looks like lived out.  It makes me reflect on Jesus' profound question,  "When the son of man returns will he find faith on the earth?"  It seems we are quickly losing the very threads that have woven us together as a human race!  With fear dominating our culture love and faith fade.  Next stop?  Anarchy.  I guess it's time for more prayer.  May I be one person who looks for ways to love and care for others well. May I, as Paul invited us all, be an imitator of Christ and walk in love.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Once upon a time


Once upon a time
in days
distant future
I woke
to realize
the world had changed

In 2017 I never imagined
it would be so
wonderful

We talked about these
days back then
but
we had no idea

How could we?

But now
here we are
in this amazing
time
this amazing eternity

Long ago we stopped
counting days
and years
days and nights

Long ago we stopped
dealing with 
pain
sickness
sorrow and death

Hospitals are gone
we don't need them

Police don't exist anymore
They aren't necessary

Everything is so different
so amazing
so peaceful

People stop on
the sidewalk to visit
and linger
for an hour

There's no hurry
No watches anymore
No need for a schedule
a calendar

So much has changed
So much of what we needed
in the old days was
needed to deal with
the results of sin

But now
that's all gone

Now sin
sickness
tears
sorrow
pain
and death
are distant memories

Most of us can't even remember
those days

It's as if the pain and tears of the past
The sorrows and grief
of bitter days
bad decisions
broken promises
are all gone

As if they have all been wiped away

Now
we know one another
we care for one another
no need for jealousy
competition
fame
money
success

All that is gone
and
none of us miss it at all

Now
our dreams
of
Once upon a time
have all come true

Now
the fairy tale
of the old days is
the reality 
of eternity

Now
it is
as it
was always meant to
be
and it's wonderful!