Saturday, November 28, 2015

Death and dying

 have to admit I am very weary of all the killing. 

I don't think, in my entire life, there has been a moment of time when there has been peace on earth. 

We have mastered the art of killing one another. 

And, sadly, we are used to it. 

The killings in Syria, Colorado and other places noted in the morning news, are just a normal morning for us. 

I can't wait for Jesus to return, when death and dying will be no more. Sin has had a much higher price on our poor race than we will ever know!

My help

Who helps you when things get tough?  

Who is there to help when you are discouraged, depressed, lonely?  

Who helps you when you feel all alone?

I was thinking about this in the night.  As I thought about what I face, what others deal with, the pains of our world; the question came to my mind, "who is my helper? who will help me with the things I face? Who will help those who are broken by their loss?"

And then I remembered Psalm 121:1-2 (listed below).  It struck me that our country, my friends, people around the world are looking for help from man.  If we only get the right leader, the right person to govern, all will be well.....but it won't.  Man cannot help with these things.  Our help, real help, must come from somewhere else and so where do we go?  Who can really help us?  David wrote these words,

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Ps. 121:1-2

I wonder how long it will take me to really get this? To really believe and depend on the only one who can help me?  I still, like so many, look to the wrong places for help.  

It's easy to look to government for help (many in our country think it's the government’s job to care for them.)  

It's easy to trust your company to meet your needs, but that might change tomorrow.

We often look to the wrong things for help, the wrong those who really can't help us at all!

Only one calls himself "my helper" and it's God.  He is my help when I don't know where else to go, when I have no other.  My help comes from God, the one who made heaven and earth.  Why did the author add that commentary to the end of the verse?  Because we need to know he's big enough to help us when we have needs bigger than we are.

My help comes from God, the maker of heaven and earth.  

Where do you go for help when you are overwhelmed?  

Who is your helper?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thank you!

That's it.  That's all I wanted to say.  Thank you.  The list of reasons is more than life will allow, but all I have, all I am, all I will ever have is from your kind and loving hands.  Thank you.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Imitating God

All around me fear is the response to the events in the world.  Jesus told us this would happen.  He even told us men would respond in fear, but then he said, "Don't fear!" 

Fear is the response of people overwhelmed by the circumstances, people who have lost sight of the Lord.

This very thing happened to Peter as he walked on the water to Jesus.  Matthew 14 says about Peter,  "but seeing the wind he became afraid and beginning to sink he cried out."  And in the next moment Jesus reached out and caught him, he was that close.  Peter had taken his eyes off of Jesus and was focused on the storm around him.

All around me are Christians focused on the storm.  All around I hear the voices of fear.  Somehow they have lost sight of Jesus and are beginning to sink.  Instead of crying out for help they magnify their fears and create fear for others as well.

But God invites us to imitate him, to emulate his personality in the midst of a world out of control.  His men and women look completely different from the fear driven religious people all around us.

Here's the nature and personality of God lived out, 

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control

These are the very things that come out of a person allowing the Spirit of God to live through them.  They are described as God's "fruit".  The result of being connected to him.  This is the personality of God, the lifestyle of Jesus, the fruit of the Spirit of God in a life lived through him.

This is what should come out of a Christ follower.  And, to be honest, I don't see fear in there anywhere.  In fact, when Jesus caught Peter as he sank he asked, "Why were you afraid? Where's your faith?"

We need a community of people living by faith, living out the nature of God, imitating him.  We need people who are not afraid of the storms around them.  Men and women who know their God and trust him to live through them, to take care of them.

We don't need the perfect president, there isn't one.

We don't need to keep refugees out of our country for fear of what they might do, these are people who need Christ coming to our land for help.  

We need bold Christ followers allowing Christ to live through them, we need men and women imitating God in the midst of a lost world sinking in the storms of these last days.  

Fear should never be our response in these days.  We serve the king of glory, we are sons and daughters of the sovereign God.  Imitate Christ, allow him to live through you, be bold!  Christ is coming!



It's a time to be thankful for what God has given, the things and people of our lives

As I write this my house and life is full


This morning, as I look around our small abode, I see five grandchildren, a mother in law, daughter and her husband and three dogs

How do we experience so much wealth and poverty at the same time?

We have a wealth of people, smiles, laughter, tears, dogs barking, and conversations all around,

But a poverty of resources

When I look at the lives we touch, the people who clutter our home, I see a wealth of lives woven into ours.  I see people we love and care for, people who love us as well

And yet, like so many around the world, the bank account is empty, the savings are small but it doesn't seem to matter.

We are richer than we could ever imagine!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

42 years ago

42 years ago on this date was a Sunday.

I know that because one of the most important meetings of my life happened on that day.

42 years ago today I met a cute young lady in church as she came forward to trust Christ as her savior.

On that day, 42 years ago, she met Jesus and me.  Both of our lives were changed on that day.

Now, 42 years later, I'm honored to call this amazing lady my sweet wife, Joye.

You never know how the people you meet will change your life, but 42 years ago this morning is a day I will never forget.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Syrian refugees

We are called, as Christians, to love others and tell them about Christ because he is the only solution to our universal sin problem.  

Now, instead of going to Syria and all the dangers there, God has brought Syrians here!  

How exciting!  

Pray for them.  Pray for an opportunity to show them the love of Christ.  Pray that you can tell them about the Jesus who saved you.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday morning

It's Sunday morning.  

I'm reading, thinking, praying, getting ready for a day with the family of God,

But my thoughts are distracted with the events of the week.  Paris, Indonesia, and many other places on the globe are feeling the effects of Satan's work in the lives of evil men.  

Jesus said, "The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy."  

He's demonstrating his skills like never before.  Now, in our day, men and women all around the globe are willing to die for a lie. And in their dying they take the lives of many more.  This religion of fear and death is causing chaos on every continent.  

It's Sunday morning.  This morning I plan to join others to worship the one true God, the God who offers life, peace, joy, and hope.  But all around us others worship a god of death, fear, sorrow and despair.  These are difficult days indeed!

In these days of despair pray for the hurting, the dying, reach out to the lost, the fearful.  These are those days Jesus talked about.  The last days of fear.  But if you know Christ, if you have a hope, then these days cause us to look up.  The Lord is coming!  

Come, Lord Jesus! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Observation #3- Broken people

I am in the people business.  

I work with people all day and I love it. 

People are my object of care and study.  I watch, I listen, I care, I cry.

The third observation I want to make is this- everyone I meet is broken, scared and hurting.  We live in a world of broken people trying to survive, trying to act like they are doing well.

The bully, the actor, the boss....all of them are broken, struggling, hurting, lonely, wounded.  I have not yet, in 65 years, met a person who isn't broken and struggling to find health and help.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a dear friend, who told me of an encounter with a new coworker.  The new employee took a verbal "shot" at him for no reason.  My friend still struggles with the comment.  Why do we let other broken people hurt us?  They are hurting just like we are.  Can we see them as God does?

Last week a friend of my sister said a terribly cruel thing to her in a text.  I don't think I've read a crueler comment in years.  You couldn't hurt a person more if you stabbed them in the back.  I'm sure that's what it feels like to my sister.  More broken people showing how broken they are.

So what's the point?  No one has it all together. No one is doing great, healthy, and happy....not all the time....we are broken, hurting little children in need of our parent.  We throw temper tantrums, strike out at others, say mean things....all because of our brokenness.

Broken people need a healer, a helper.  That's what God offers. That's why a relationship with him is so important.  Without him all our broken bits remain a mess and hurt others around us.  With him the healing begins.  Broken lives are restored and we become what God designed us to be.

When you encounter a broken person, and you will today, don't be surprised at what they might say or do.  That's how broken people act.  Give them grace, pray for them, forgive them and know that you, apart from Christ working in you, are broken as well.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Observation #2- There is a designer

Is there a God or isn't there?  That debate rages around me, but in my mind it's the wrong question, the wrong debate.

It's obvious to anyone thinking that there is a grand designer, a creator....something or someone who made all of this.  It's simply too intricate and complicated to "just happen."  Chance is no explanation for the immense complexity of this Universe, of even our bodies.  

For all of this to exist there had to be a designer.  So, the real question we should be discussing is not his existence, but who is he? What's he like? How do we know him?

I use the masculine for this because this designer, whoever he is, is more brilliant than our greatest scientists, more artistic that our best artists, more musical that the most accomplished musician.  All of them reflect the attributes of the one who made us, who made everything. Everything about creation reflects personality, intelligence and creativity.

I won't go into great detail on my reasons for intelligent design, it should be obvious, but what I will do is name this grand designer.  I can tell you about him because I know him personally.  He's a friend of mine.  

This grand designer is the God of the Bible, Yahweh, Jehovah, Jesus Christ....he made everything.  

Observation #2- There is a designer and he is the God of the Bible.  

Yes, I know.  I'm taking great leaps in reason and logic.  But when you know someone personally and know what they have done you don't need a lengthy argument to tell about it.  He made everything.  

The challenge for us is not to get bogged down in the discussions of evolution and creation.  The very creation makes those arguments mute.  Of course there's a creator, so who is he?  What's he like? How do I get to know him? 

Those are the questions we need to be asking.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Observation #1- Programmed for eternity

Observation #1-

We are programmed for eternity.  The very idea of it is programmed into our brains, hard-wired into our DNA.  We KNOW we were meant for more than just this life.  We all know, deep inside, that this is not all there is.

We were programmed for eternity by an eternal one.  In each one of us is the longing for meaning, purpose, a reason to live.  We want meaning.  Somehow we all know we are more than mere animals....we were programmed for eternity.

The truth is that everyone I have ever met knows, really knows, there is more than just this world, this life.  We look for it, we long for it, we hope for it.  In spite of some denying the God who made us they still have a longing in their hearts they can't escape....they can't avoid.  The reality that we were meant for eternity is hard-wired into our very being.  

We were designed for eternity.  We all know it.  No one can avoid it.  You have heard it or thought it, haven't you?  "This can't be all there is!  There must be more..."  And out of our longing for eternity our questions rise.  This can't be all there is....there must be more.

We were programmed for eternity.  We can't escape it.  Although some may tell you this  life is all there is they know that's not true.  Deep inside we all rebel at those words....there is more we think.  We know this isn't the end.

Observation #1- We were programmed for eternity, designed to live beyond this life, made to live for more than life on planet earth.  
The obvious question will be the topic of our next observation- who programmed us?

Monday, November 09, 2015

Reflections after 65 years

I can't believe it...really I can't, but I'll be 65 this week.  

I never imagined I would be this age.  

Who does?  

Life passes so quickly, so suddenly and it's over.  

Inside, at times, I still feel 16, but I'm keenly aware that my body is aging.  The pains of age never let me forget that time is passing and I'm rushing through this life with an eternity looming.

And so, I thought I would post a series of observations after 65 years.  In the days ahead I'll post one per day.  These are things I've learned, seen, and discovered from study, watching great men around me.  These observations will be as distilled as I can make them.  Agree or not, these are truths observed from a life lived.  Here we go.....

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Divine encounters

I had a 10:00am coffee this morning with an old friend in town for a few days.  He called a bit ago and said he would be late.  

It struck me that I had enough time to run to the store for a few things before I met him. I got the items I needed, got in line for the cashier to check me out when she discovered she didn't have enough cash for my refund.

She paged the manager for some help and we wait.  In a few minutes Jodi showed up to take care of it.  

(Just so you know I always look at faces and I saw hers.  She was not doing well!)  

I asked, "Are you ok?"  Jodi replied, "No, my dad's in the hospital."

She finished her paperwork with the cashier and I waited.  

Then we talked. Her dad had an accident and had a bad back injury.  They found out yesterday he would be paralyzed.  And then her tears came.  

I listened. 

I asked, "Can I pray for you?" She nodded.  

And before we parted I asked, "Can I give you a hug?"  She nodded. 

And we parted.

Do you realize that each day there are divine encounters all around you?  Do you know God has a work for you to do at the grocery store, at the coffee shop, in every place where people gather?  Do you see the opportunities?  Do you see those around you hurting, struggling, facing life head on?  

Divine encounters are all around.  Don't miss them.  God is in the midst of your life for a care for, love and touch the lives of be part of his be Jesus in your place, in your day.

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

Friday, October 30, 2015

The key to everything

Christ is the key that unlocks the mystery of history.  

Poetic, isn't it? The quote above, in part, is from a German theologian.  After writing more than 17,000 pages on the Bible and Christ these are his concluding thoughts. 

The key to everything is Jesus Christ.  If you leave him out the box remains locked, the mystery still a mystery, the reason for our existence still uncertain.

Jesus himself told the religious leaders, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in theyou have eternal life; it is these that testify 
about Me;" That's either the most arrogant thing ever said or the most profound truth ever revealed.  

Your response to Christ is the most important decision you will ever make. 

Years ago I spent some time with the great Major Ian Thomas.  He was a wonderful man of God, crusty to be sure, but he loved the Lord.  Once, before he spoke, I made the mistake of asking him, "What are you going to talk about tonight?"

He replied, with a bit of irritation, "I'm going to talk about Jesus, what else is there to talk about?"

And he's right.  

In the last book of the bible these words begin the text, "The revelation of Jesus Christ."  In five words we get a hint to the theme of this last book, to the entire bible, and in this book revelations about Jesus are in nearly every chapter.  It's about him.  He's the key to everything!

Without Christ, without knowing him, life remains a mystery. Without him we have no purpose, no meaning, no reason for being.

Jesus Christ is the key to everything. Do you know him?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A kind word

There is a story I remember from years ago that I think of often and try to live out.  Whether it's true or not it speaks to the heart need of each of us.  The story was told that a first grade teacher had each student take out a piece of paper, write their name on the top and pass it around.  The assignment was for each student to write one nice thing about the person whose name was on the paper. Then the papers were returned to the children for them to keep.

The story goes that many years later they tracked down some of those students to see if they still had the paper and all of them still had them!  A man had his in his wallet, tattered and torn.  A woman had hers in her purse....even after all those years this piece of paper was important.

We are all needy, insecure, unsure of ourselves and in need of affirmation.  

We need a kind word!  

We need others to "see us," to affirm us, to encourage us.  In many ways we are like a growing plant that needs water and a bit of fertilizer once in a while.

As I watch people around me I have found that one of the best things I can do is leave them with a kind word from our tell them they are important, that God loves them, that I see them and care about them.

It was one of the things that made Jesus so magnetic.  He affirmed each one as being important to God.  He saw them. It's a small thing to do and most don't even try, but when we do...when we water the life of another they bloom!

Paul described it in this way,

Ephesians 4:29 Let no rotten word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

We all need encouragement, we all need grace.  Make it your goal to water the lives of everyone you meet with a small, simple, kind word.  You will be surprised at the response.