Sunday, January 14, 2018

Can anyone see it?

"This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

So, how's that going for you?

Can anyone see it?

The one sign Jesus gave us that we are his disciples is love for one another.  That's it.  Not our great theology, wonderful preachers and beautiful buildings....just this one thing....love.

But we have lost sight of the most important thing. We have become judgmental, arrogant, self-righteous and critical.  We have repelled the world around us from their only cure- Jesus Christ.

The only task we had to do well was love one another and we failed, at least in this time, in this place...and now the world wants nothing to do with their only solution for sin, death and eternity away from God.

How do we recapture the one thing we were told to do? 

We have to do that one person at a time. We, I must commit myself to a focus on this one thing- loving others as Christ has told me to do.

What if they are "wrong?"

Right now, that's not my problem. My job is simple. Love.

If I do that maybe one day we can talk about truth and lies, but for now loving others well is my job.

I pray for a few who have a passion for the main thing, the one thing that will change lives. I pray for my own heart to be willing to love those I have avoided in the past.

What about truth? What about Jesus? What about all the important stuff?  

We will get to that....but first let's love well.  The time for the rest will come.

Love one another as Christ has loved you.

That's your only job right now.


Monday, January 01, 2018

A new year

This morning the sun rises on a frigid morning in Texas.  It's cold!  The dogs have to go out shortly for their morning "walk" but I know it will take 30 seconds before they are ready to retreat to the warmth of the house again.  I watched the morning change from black to a hazy gray.  Now, shortly, the sun will rise for the first time after many days of gray gloom.  It's frigid all over the country as people try to stay warm.  But on this first day of a new year I'm thinking about a year ahead and how I can live it out for the glory of God.  Each encounter, each task I have I pray, "Lord, glorify your name in this."  and then I do the next thing.  It seems simple, maybe too simple, but God wants to work through the little things, the encounters, the relationships of our lives and show himself to those around us.  Now, as the spiritual lights of the world dim, as it grows ever darker,  it seems the light of Christ has a chance to shine brighter than it ever has.  Lord, in this new year, shine through me.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Perhaps today

This is the last day of 2017.  One year ends and another begins in just a few hours.  We celebrate the end of one year and welcome the new, but isn't it just another day?

New years resolutions will be made and quickly broken.  Diets started and abandoned. Promises made and broken.  But aren't we simply talking about today?

The real focus at the end of a year, at the end of each day is this- perhaps today the Lord will return.  

Am I living in such a way that I welcome his soon return or dread it?  Am I loving others as he asked me or using them? If today was the last day how would others celebrate my life or welcome my death?  

Perhaps today is your last.  Perhaps today the Lord will return.  Perhaps today the world will end.  I'm not being fatalistic, I'm simply inviting a proper response to the God who will come to judge the living and the dead.

Perhaps today.  Whatever the new year, the next day holds am I living in such a way that pleases my Father?  That's the only question that matters.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Changes


Life is full of changes.  Daily we deal with new things that we each have to adjust to.  One old sage said, "the only thing that never changes is change."  It's a funny saying, but profound.

For me change has happened a lot in the last year.  We have sold our home and moved into a much smaller apartment.  It seems it was time for this change.

We gave away a lot of our possessions as we downsized and felt lighter for the task.  It was cleansing, the release of a weight to rid our lives of so many things.  Now our lives fit into three rooms.  We have found great joy in the simplicity of living with little.

I am also finding a change in what I have been doing.  I've left the pastoral work and after a time of searching found a wonderful company where I serve as a hospice chaplain.  It's a great fit for my gifts.  Now, on a daily basis, I'm dealing with real changes in the lives of others as they pass from this life to the next.

Now change is part of every moment of my life.  

I'm aware, more than I ever have been, of how loosely we must hold this life.  We are only here for moments and then life is over.  As I meet with those finishing life and visit with the ones they leave behind I'm brought face to face with our mortality.  Life is short!

And that reality changes something else for me.  It makes me look at my life differently.  My goals don't really matter.  My dreams are all just illusions. My accomplishments, whatever they may be, add up to little.  All that really matters in the end is this-  do you know the one who made you?

In a life full of change I'm discovering how important it is to have one thing, one person who never changes and that's the Lord of creation.  As the world changes around me with a speed that takes my breath away I can look to one who never changes and find my center, my hope, my "true north" and stabilize my chaos.

Changes are part of life.  In the midst of the changes all around me I am more keenly aware of my wonderful and faithful God who never changes.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Present

Today I prayed with a man dying of cancer.  

He has come home, in his last days.  

He was asleep on a bed that had been brought into the living room.  

He and his family love the Lord and have lived out their faith for years.  

Today, as his son in law and I prayed for him I gently put my hand on his leg.  When each of us had prayed our "patient" took his turn and prayed.  He was "all there" even though we assumed he was asleep.  He finished our little threesome with an amen.  

I couldn't help smiling.

He was fully present, even in his pain, in his last days and he didn't miss a chance to pray to his wonderful God.


Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas

It's Christmas morning
The sun is just creeping over the horizon
I've been up for hours
reading
thinking
praying
wondering

How great is this love
we celebrate today
that God would
give his son for us

How amazing it is
that he would love us
to such a sacrifice

Sadly I take it too lightly
at times

I celebrate the day
with family
friends
food 
and gifts

But I forget
the love
that should
overwhelm me
with joy
amazement
and worship

How amazing is the God
who loved us so much

I wonder if I will ever
really understand
how great his love really is


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Revelation Day

There is a day in history that tells us more than any other.  It's a day that reveals how God feels about us. A day when he shows us what he is willing to do to fix our dilemma.  It's a day when we see, really for the first time, how magnificent the love of God really is!

We call it Christmas, Jesus' birthday, but it's really revelation day- the day when God reveals the great depth of his love for us. How much he really cares...and his love is much more than we could have ever imagined!

So, I want to wish you a very merry and special Christmas...or as it should be called...Revelation Day.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosover believes in him will never perish but will have everlasting life."  John 3:16




Friday, December 15, 2017

My Servant


One of the great compliments of scripture for any man or woman is when God calls them, "my servant."  It's a rare title, few have earned it, but it's one of highest praise by God.

My servant.  It seems so contrary to the goals of our culture, our world.  Both elements of it go against our pride and independence.  

My- I'm "owned" by someone, I am accountable to someone, report to them and respond to them.  I belong. I have an authority I say "yes" to. 

Servant- It's a title and role we rebel against because it's the lowest, most unknown role.  It kicks against our pride and desire for fame and success.  It means being unknown and being ok with that.  It means I aspire for only one thing....

....pleasing my master.

But God takes great pride in announcing a man or woman who has become "my servant."  We look for titles of power and prominence, but God looks for servants.

With a bowl and towel Jesus showed us what this looked like and invites us, rather commands us, to follow his example.  

I'm on that odyssey now...the odyssey of being no one, being nothing but a servant.  It is assaulting my pride, my ego and my sense of what success looks like, but....

....if I can be called by God "my servant" I will be thrilled!


Monday, December 11, 2017

Thirsty people

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
Proverbs 11


All around you are thirsty people

thirsty for attention
thirsty for encouragement
thirsty for approval
thirsty for friendship

All around you are thirsty people

you can water them with a word
a smile
a listening ear
a pat on the back
a hug

All around you are thirsty people

starving for a little water
water you can give

it's so easy
and
it will revive a weary soul

Yours



Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Finding a place to stand in the earthquake


"The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion's treasure."
Isaiah 33:5-6

As I read those words this morning one portion stopped me, caught my attention and made me read it over and over again...."he will be the stibility of your times."

We live in a world shaking with people looking for stability.  Many look for it in wealth. If I have enough money I will be safe.  

Others look for it in their job.  If I can secure my position I will find stability, safety.

I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea.  We are looking for stability in things, position, wealth, and a hundred other things....

...but God tells me HE will be the stability of my times.  He is the one foundation that will not shake.  In him alone can I find ground that will not make me fearful.

Looking for a bit of stability in these troubled times?  It's not in things or people, but in God alone.  He will be your stability and he never changes.

Lord, today I come to you and trust you to be my stability. I cannot find it anywhere else and so I come and rest in you.  The one who offers to be my stability in these troubled days.  Even in the earthquake of these days I can stand firm in you.  Thank you.  


Friday, December 01, 2017

Eternal things

The only eternal things
you will ever encounter
in your life
are the people
you meet
each day

Everything else
will
rot
or
rust
or
fade

Only people
will last forever

Focus your life
on the eternal things

Use the things
that will fade
but never
ever make
things
the main
thing

Here is the conclusion...

As a young man 
I remember the words
that impacted me

Significance

Impact

Legacy

Make a difference

But as I age
as I near the end
of this grand race of life

I'm reminded
of words from scripture,

"Why, you do not even know 
what will happen tomorrow
What is your life? 
You are a mist, a vapor
 that appears for a little while 
and then vanishes."


And now I begin to see
that scripture is right


I've made very little impact
done nothing significant
and leave no real legacy


My life
like every other
is just a vapor
a mist
that disappears
when the sun rises


More clearly than ever
I realize that 
Solomon had it right
as he closed his final book
and wrote,


"Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
 including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil."





Sunday, November 26, 2017

The monoploy

Years ago there was a merchant who was the only source for a much valued product.  Everyone wanted it, but he was the only merchant that had it.

Some complained.  "It's unfair" they said.  

Other merchants protested.  They demanded access to the product so they might sell it as well.

But the little merchant who had the monopoly on this amazing product ignored the complaints and protests.  

You see he wasn't selling his one of a kind product, he was giving it away, but you had to come to his shop to get it.

Some said it wasn't fair and refused to go to him for this valuable and rare gift.  They demanded all merchants have access to it.

And some merchants made copies and sold them.  The copies were not nearly as beautiful, valuable or special, but people bought them even though the original product was absolutely free for anyone who would come to the old merchant and simply ask for it.

We are such strange creatures.  In spite of this wonderful product being free, in spite of everyone wanting it, most simply wouldn't humble themselves to get this gift on the merchants terms.

But many did.  They came, they saw the treasure and with a pause asked, "May I buy one?"  The merchant would always smile and reply, "No, but you can have it for free simply for asking."  

Those who had it were different, happy, at peace.  In spite of this strange series of events- a merchant with a monopoly on a valuable product given to anyone who would ask, most simply refused to go to the merchant to get it.

Most refused to agree to the merchant's terms.  Pride does funny things to us.

And yet, his doors were always open, the only source of the most precious gift anyone could possess.  

How strange, most simply walked past and missed the greatest gift of any life.


“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

Revelation 7

The little shop keeper is God, the great gift of humanity is salvation and he is the only source. 

It belongs to Him!  

If you want it you have to get it on his terms.  

But don't forget...it's free!  All you have to do is ask!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Charles Manson

Charles Manson died.

I've read many jeering and cruel comments on media sites celebrating his death and wishing him well in hell.

I grieve.

Sin has destroyed so much, it's sad when it destroys our humanity as well.

As a Christian I am sad to know of anyone's death without Christ.  

I know, from reading scripture, that God grieves as well.

He says,"I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die."

There is a God who rules the heavens and eternity.  There is a judgment coming. There is a heaven and hell.  I don't claim to understand the justice of all of it, but I do know God is good and I trust him to be more than "fair" with each of us.

Charles Manson now faces eternity.  For a few years on earth he destroyed and ridiculed.  Now he faces eternity.

I grieve.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

in 1,000,000 years

Today you worry about so much. You're distracted by fears, worry, anxiety, concerns over money, the economy, the government, the future....

...But in 1,000,000 years what will be your thoughts about these things?  Will you even remember this moment of anxiety and fear?  Will you be embarrassed by your lack of trust in God?  

Moments seem overwhelming, but when you bring God into the moment everything changes.  Yes, it might be hard right now.  Yes, there may be pain, suffering, loss, doubt and sadness....but we aren't done yet.  All of this is part of a grand plan by a glorious God.

You see, the God of creation is in charge and the outcome will surprise you.  Take a moment, yes, this moment you are so worried about and turn it over to the God of eternity.  Did you forget about him?  Did you think he didn't care?

He's waiting to walk with you, to help you, to meet you in this moment, no matter what the pain may be.  God loves you and he is working on something amazing.