Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
There's a great movie from the past called "City Slickers." In it the character Curly Washburn, played by Jack Palance, advises the "City Slicker" played by Billy Crystal, to face his problems: by concentrating on the "one thing" that is most important in his life. It's a fun story of boys becoming men....even in mid-life. Curly's advice is still appropriate for a world of men and women who have never focused on the "one thing", the main thing that is most important.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
We all get stuck. Stuck at points of our life that cripple us in the days ahead. From that "stuck place" we find that we now "walk with a limp." Something happened, we were hurt, wounded, broken, abused, sinned against. A parent died, a wife left, a child became ill, and we got stuck at that terrible event...at that moment in our life.
I'm finding that the problems in people's lives are often the result of their stuck places. From that wound, that death, that divorce we are emotionally stuck and cannot go further, cannot grow, cannot walk away from the wound and so we carry our woundedness with us and sadly create stuck places for others we encounter. We are the walking wounded, the mass of humanity stuck in the past hurts and wounds of our lives that have affected us and now affect those around us.
Stuck places...places we remember vividly because of what they have done to us, moments in time we have recorded in our brains we can replay in high definition detail. We are stuck because of what happened, because of what someone said, what they did to us, how they hurt us. We remember every detail, every moment. We are stuck.
This morning I was visiting with a friend and described my thoughts on this topic. He knew immediately his stuck place and described it in fine detail, as if it had happened yesterday, but in fact it was decades ago. It was life changing for him, he's never forgotten it, he knew exactly when, where and how he got stuck. It's changed him, it changed his family and his life.
Another man I visited with has struggled with alcohol and drugs for more than 20 years. I asked him when he started drinking, doing drugs. He replied, "I started drinking when I was 12." My next question changed everything in our visit. I asked, "what happened when you were 12 that made you look for something to dull the pain?" He lowered his head, he was quiet for a moment, and then he replied, "my baseball coach sodomized me....." There was silence for a moment, but I knew right away that he was stuck at that event in his history. It had affected his life, his family and his path. He was stuck! I told him, "It's not your fault." He broke down and wept, broken, stuck, wanting out, but stuck at 12 years of age.
I know this may not fit with all the counseling models I read about, but I also know that I am seeing this more clearly in each visit I have with someone who is having a difficult time in life, something happened and they got stuck.
Another man I know grew up in a horrible home situation and ran away from the abuse and brutality of his family at the age of 13. Imagine things being so bad that you run away from home at 13. Now, even as an adult, when things get difficult, conflict happens in his life, relationships are hard, he runs away. He's stuck at the tender age of 13 and doesn't know how to resolve his brokenness, his stuckness in the pain of his past and so he lives it out in how he makes choices today, more than 30 years later.
Imagine this multiplied by 6 billion. The whole of humanity stuck in the pain and hurt, rejection and abuse of their pasts. Imagine the wounds that are still open, still tender, still bleeding from what has happened in our pasts. Imagine what can happen when even one person brings all their mess, all their stuckness to God to resolve.
My friend who was sodomized at 12 is doing much better, he's no longer a broken hurting 12 year old boy. He's a man beginning to recover. It's available to everyone, no matter what happened, no matter where you got stuck, Jesus came to dissolve the glue of our past, erase the pain of our wounds, heal the scars of our encounters and make us new.
Paul described it this way, 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation (something brand new!) has come: The old has gone, the new is here (present tense)! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. (getting us "unstuck") And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Monday, September 26, 2011
In the midst of death important things become very clear. What is most clear, if only for a moment, is what really matters. We are busy living for food, cars, houses and things, but in death we see....if only briefly....that the only important things around us are the people. You see, the only eternal things you will ever encounter (other than God himself) are people. All the cars, houses, things and stuff will rot, rust, decay or be thrown out, but people...they last forever! Even in a funeral service, when it appears there is an end, we all know that person lives on still. There is built into each of us the awareness of our eternity ahead. The woman I will speak for today chose the right things to invest in...she chose people. She had little, but was wealthy beyond measure because she invested in eternal things....the people who will be at the service today.
It reminds me once more that the only important things, the only eternal things, are people. It reminds me to check my priorities. How am I investing my life? What's important to me? Each one you meet will live forever! Don't pass by too quickly, don't dismiss them, don't abuse them. Every one is created by God to live forever, prize each one as a precious jewel...because they are.
Friday, September 23, 2011
As I read through the Old Testament I'm fascinated with all the names, all the lives described. Most are not major players in the story, but they are an important part of the story. They are part of history. As my imagination races back to these individuals living their lives thousands of years ago I wonder if they had a thought about their part in history, in the story of God. I wonder if they knew what God was doing beyond their task for that moment, for those days. I wonder if they had a concept (and who could have imagined such a thing) of their place in the story of God.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
I'm so glad that my salvation has nothing to do with my worth! I'm so glad that another, a worthy one...Jesus Christ....came when I was most unworthy and died for me. Thank you, Lord, that I am not worthy. It makes grace that much more amazing....but that's another song.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Yesterday was our granddaughter's 11th birthday. I am amazed at how quickly she has grown up. It's really a little scary how fast time is moving as we celebrate another year with our sweet Lucy. It's hard being the first-born, but she handles it all pretty well. I'm thankful for this sweet girl. She is a beautiful young lady who is, even at 11, making good choices. It will be exciting to see what God does in her life in the years ahead.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Image: dougtone via flickr
Unemployment: up 2.2%
Employment: down 2.1%
Gross Metropolitan Product: up 6.7%
Home prices: down 7.9%
Monday, September 19, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Luke 1 tells the story of the gospel from the beginning. Luke did a wonderful job describing details of the gospel we don't see in the other books. As I read chapter one this morning I was captivated by the prophetic words of John's father, Zacharias, as he spoke about the birth of his son and the events that would follow. Here are his closing words, spoken through the Holy Spirit's inspiration,
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
There is nothing like family. Grandchildren are one of our rich blessings in life. As one man told me, "grandchildren are the reward for not killing your kids while they were growing up." Family gives us great joy in our lives. I have friends who have moved from wonderful parts of the country to be near grandchildren. We give up a lot for them and do it gladly. What a blessing they are, and here's one of our great blessings. Thanks, George, for being such an awesome guy!
Monday, September 12, 2011
The attacks from the enemy rarely come from our line of sight. You rarely see them coming when they hit. They are almost always "out of left field." As we studied Genesis 20 last night in our home group it struck me that this was an attack from the enemy that for Abraham was "out of left field." He didn't see it coming, he didn't know what to do about it, he basically was out at home and would have failed if God had not intervened.
In the passage are the two most wonderful words in the bible, but they only appear when all else has failed...they are these, "But God..." and with those words the creator of the universe steps into the story to turn an "out at home" into a home run. I love it when God steps into the game and changes everything to bring about his plans and keep his promises.
Abraham was out at home in Genesis 20. He failed. He almost destroyed God's plan and promise because the attack from the enemy was "out of left field" and caught him off guard. I wonder, when the ball beats you to home plate, and seems to come "out of left field" in your life do you give up or trust God to accomplish his great plans in your life? Just because the umpire says you're out doesn't mean the game is over. Just because the enemy blind sided you from left field doesn't mean you failed. There is this amazing thing that happens as God gets involved....our apparent failures are turned into a home run and a winning score for the home team.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Friday, September 09, 2011
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
As I went on my own quest for this theme of a seeker it was all through the bible! To be a seeker is natural, to be invited by God to be a seeker fits well with how we are made, but to help us he gave us clues about what to seek.
We are, by nature, seekers of things. God invites us to be seekers of relationship. We search out external happiness. God invites us to seek internal happiness. We make our search about US. God invites us to seek HIM.
Seek Him. In our quest for happiness, peace, comfort, joy, and a hundred other things we find ourselves exhausted with our quest. It's simply not enough to fill our empty hearts, but God invites a much simpler search...a search for him, and in that quest for him we find everything else we were seeking after. It is, finally and ultimately, all about him.
Seek Him, and in that quest you will find everything else as well.
Friday, September 02, 2011
Now, I know many have given up. The walk of faith is wonderfully easy, but it's also very difficult. It demands a commitment to keep going even when it gets tough. It is a walk that must be done with God's help. Many that I meet are bitter, angry and disillusioned with God and faith, They have come to a difficult time in their life and simply given up. They may have prayed and not seen the answer they wanted. They might think this shouldn't be this hard. But, for whatever reason there are some who have surrendered. There are many who have given up. They are the battle wounded of the faith all around us.
So, what do we do?
There are two tasks for us,
1. Make a personal commitment to walk with God and grow in faith, and
2. Stop along the way and help those have have stumbled and lost their way. Tim Allen, throughout the film, understands that as the captain of his team he's responsible to help everyone get through the battles together. This thing called Christianity is a team sport. We can't, we shouldn't do it alone.
As I thought about Tim's battle cry, "Never give up, never surrender!" my mind raced through scripture to find similar rally cries and realized there are many.
To Joshua both God and Moses said, "Be strong and courageous!"
To the people of Judah Jehoshaphat said, "Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed."
To Gideon God said, "Go in the strength of the Lord."
To us Jesus said, "Go, make disciples of all men and I am with you always."
There are many more challenges to endure in scripture. As you read the bible watch for them. They are everywhere. The rally cry for the church, as we live through these difficult days, is at the very end of the book. Jesus says, "Surely I am coming soon." And the reply from the reader is this, "Amen, come Lord Jesus!" There is a day, it's coming closer each day, when King Jesus will return and reign. It will happen. It's not a dream or illusion. It's not fantasy or the silly words of crazy men. It's the sure future of us all. Jesus is coming, it could be today. Our response? "Come, Lord Jesus!" Even saying that out loud makes you aware of this soon realized event.
And so, Tim's words from a silly movie give direction as we look to that day, "Never give up, never surrender!" Why? because the king is coming!
The challenge from Jesus as we approach that day? "Watch, be ready!" (Never give up, never surrender!") It might be today.
(Read Matthew 25 for more on this theme of endurance from Jesus.)