Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Every act..."

“What you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are—strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself—accomplishing something that will become in due course part of God’s new world. Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support… and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world—all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.”  -N.T. Wright

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rest


One thing I most need right now is rest.  You see I'm still suffering jet-lag from our trip back from Africa.  The lack of sleep, the need for rest is like hunger...it captures all your attention and screams, "I NEED SLEEP!"

Rest.  What a great word that is.  We were made to need it, to enjoy it, but few of us really experience it.  When I say that I don't mean rest for the body.  Often we can achieve that and wake refreshed.  

What I'm speaking of is the rest of soul, the rest of desire, of passion, longing...a rest from self criticism, a rest of contentment.  Few, if any, find a place of rest where the weary soul can truly find peace...peace with itself.  

For me it comes in waves in the night when I most need rest for the soul and body.  Waves of inadequacy, waves of failure, a splash of regret, a drenching of wishful thinking....I wish I could have,  I wish I would have...and rest is gone, and I'm soaking in mental, spiritual and emotional exhaustion.

Oh for a place where I can rest and be 'ok' with me, with where I'm at, with what I have, with who I am.  What I'm describing is truly the struggle of everyone of us.  We all suffer from a soul insomnia, a lack of rest in who we are, what we have achieved or haven't achieved.

Oh for a way to find a rest of soul. A rest from trying, from being, from feeling like we aren't enough.  There is a place like that...it's a place that finds us in the presence of the very one who made us and offers the rest we need.

You see he knows we are broken, wounded, never happy, never content, never at rest....because all of those things can only be found in HIM.  He is the key that unlocks the puzzles we are.  Without him we find ourselves on an endless quest for rest of soul...never finding it.

But when we finally weary, give up and admit, "I can't do this! I'm so tired, please help me."  We finally come to the rest we so desperately need and want.

"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;  for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.  Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest..."  Hebrews 4

It available and it's in his presence.  The author of Hebrews describes the acquisition of this rest as we come to the one who made us, the only one who can give it.  If you are weary, tired of soul, come to him.  Rest is available, rest is waiting...he freely gives it to anyone who asks.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Playing the fool




There is a term in theatre and music that I want to borrow for my thoughts this morning.  It's an old term, but one rarely used as I will try here.  It's the term to "play the fool."  The dictionary defines it this way,  

play/act the fool-
1. to act in an irresponsible or foolish manner.
2. to behave in a playful or comical manner.

The fool is one who doesn't deal with truth or reality in a reasonable or rational way.  The idea of playing to fool is meant to describe someone acting silly, stupid when they aren't.  I find that term often describes me.  Let me explain.

There is a verse that I have often heard quoted in reference to a non-theist.  It's a verse we "use" to put them in their place and we are piously content to do so, but as I thought about it.....as I reflected...I realized this verse is really all about me!

Here it is,

The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.” Ps. 14:1

And suddenly I realized this verse is not about a non-theist, although it does describe their choices, it's about me too.  
Here's what I mean,

When I worry about something I 'play the fool' and act like there is no God so I have to take things into my own hands. Worry will fix it all, won't it?  But there is a God who says, "don't worry about anything" and when I worry I'm really saying, in my heart, THERE IS NO GOD! so I have to fix the problem myself!

When I get angry about something I 'play the fool' and act like there is no God who will give me justice so I have to correct the injustice, fix the problem myself.  Anger will fix it, won't it?  But there is a God who says, "don't be angry" and when I'm angry I'm really saying, in my heart, THERE IS NO GOD! I have to deal with this wrong myself!

I've played this scenario out in a hundred ways in my mind and it all comes down to this-  when I sin, when I choose to do things my own way, I 'play the fool' and say to the world around me there is no God.  If I don't fix it no one will.

This verse is a dagger in the heart of my godless religion.  It forces me to deal with my foolishness and live like there really is a god in heaven fully able to care for me, deal with my problems, answer my prayers and soothe my wounds.

Frankly, as a Christian, the last thing I want to do is be the fool and say to a watching world "There is no God!" by how I live and respond.  Either he's there or he isn't and if he is really there the wisest thing I can do is defer to him, trust his love, rely on his ability to care for me in everything.....or I can play the fool.


Vivid choice, don't you think?


Monday, December 15, 2014

Hallelujah!

Dorcas


One of the sweet children in Kenya I get to see each time I go is Dorcas.  She's about 7 or 8 and the sweetest girl I've met there.  I'm praying for her....praying that she would find all that God has for her.  I took this photo on our last day to make sure I never forget to pray for this wonderful sweet little girl.

Reflections

Good morning.

I'm just up after returning from Kenya.  It was our final week with these pastors and then graduation.  What a week!  I think it was hotter than I had ever experienced there, but what a great week with these men and women!

We finished the week with graduation and then the long flights home.

This morning, reflecting on the trip and the four years, I am excited to see what God does with these men and women as they serve God in eastern Kenya.  I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with the men and women we took over there to teach and share.  It was an expensive, difficult, and challenging four years, but I think we will see great fruit from our time with these pastors.

And yet, I know, after we leave, just as Paul told the churches he met with, wolves will come in to divide, bring error and undermine the work....and yet, it's God's work.  I look forward to the day when we see what he has done with the little bit we have offered....but for now....for me....rest and some coffee.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The shortest chapter


This evening we had dinner with friends before out trip back to Kenya tomorrow.  It's always great to eat and visit with close friends, but tonight we got on the topic of life and its brevity.  My friend said, "Life is so short."  And with that we began to discuss David's words in Psalms where he described our lives as a vapor, a mist that's only here for a moment.

It feels, if we are honest, as if life is far too short and then quickly over, but the comment came up, as we visited, that this life for the Christian is simply the shortest chapter in the story of our lives.  Our lives continue for many chapters to follow...it's just that this first chapter will take very few pages in the book compared to the chapters that follow.

And yet, as surprising as it sounds...what we do, what we decide in this shortest chapter of our lives will determine how the rest of the story unfolds.  All of life, all of eternity will flow from our very shortest chapter.

It would seem then that we would see the bigger picture of a life and its decisions that extend far into eternity, but most of us only live for the first chapter...as if this shortest of all chapters is all there is.

How sad that we, the authors of an amazing story would think that it's only a one chapter book.  

Life here is short, it is the shortest chapter in lives that will stretch far into eternity, and it does affect all the chapters that follow, but never imagine that life is only a one chapter book.  It's simply true that how we live out this chapter affects all that follow.....


Quote of the day

Secular culture says the meaning of life is happiness. 

If that's the meaning of life then suffering destroys your 

meaning.  -Tim Keller

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Seeing things as they really are

This is why I'm not an atheist: I believe in the truth of the 

Universe as it really is...an amazing creation by a brilliant 

creator. To believe in the delusion of a Universe without a 

creator is neither satisfying or reassuring.




Quote of the day

 "I realize that I have only one life to live and that it will be a life covering a period of history of which I not only am a part but which I also helped to shape." -Henri Nouwen

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A day at the park

Yesterday, with fall ending and winter nearing in Texas, we went to the Japanese Gardens near us.  Here are a few of the photos from our excursion.  


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Peace, peace...oh for peace

 The world we live in is filled with anger, rage, violence and pain.  

We look for peace, long for peace, but fail to find it.  

We call for tolerance, but it eludes us. 

How can we find that one thing we all want, desire and need....peace?

As I've watched the events in my own country in the last weeks I grieve over lost lives, broken hearts and bitterness of soul that has made peace, forgiveness and love more elusive than ever.

But, there is a passage of scripture that offers the solution to all of this.  It's a difficult passage, in fact it's impossible.  It means we have to set our own desires, our own wishes aside and put others ahead of ourselves.  It's impossible without the help of God.  

It's impossible unless we humble ourselves and put others first.  

Here's how Jesus described this life that can change everything,

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.  "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Can you imagine how our world would change if we treated each other in this way?  But it goes against all that is in us.  We each put ourselves first, we each want "our rights"...we all want what's fair, but this  is an invitation to a way of life that sets all that aside and says that you are more important than I am.  

Without God's help that's impossible,  but imagine a world where this is the way everyone lives.....

.....I think you might call it heaven.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Responding to the new attacks on Scripture

If you have an hour this video will be important to your faith and understanding of God's word.  The simple truth of the Bible is vital to a strong Christian faith. I'm grateful for men like Dr. David Farnell.  May his tribe increase!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful


.....Life!  I'm thankful I get to be part of God's wonderful creation!

.....family.  It is so great to have family!  I'm thankful for a wonderful family.

.....love!  I am so grateful to know and experience love.  The love of a wonderful wife.  The love of God for me even when I'm less than I should be.  The love I can give to others.  It's the very heart and passion of God....love.

.....purpose.  That  sounds strange, doesn't it?  But I'm thankful I am here for a reason, I have a purpose.  I'm not just an animal without a purpose....I'm made by God to be part of his great plan for time and eternity!

......friends.  Oh how wonderful that is!  I celebrate the wonderful and amazing friends I know, love and care for.  How sweet it is to have people who I can call friends.

.....hunger.  I'm thankful for hunger of body and soul.  The pangs of the stomach, the longing to know are hungers that make life exciting.  I'm thankful that something as simple as hunger is a wonderful blessing of God.

.....and on the list goes.  There is so much.  As I begin to think about all I have been given I have to humbly say to God, "Thank you.  You are most kind to bless me so richly.  I deserve none of it! Thank you."