Monday, March 31, 2008

Passions and Pearls

I've been thinking about our passions lately. Now most would immediately think about physical passions when the word passion comes to mind, but that's not what I'm referring to here at all. When I speak of passions I'm speaking of those things that drive us and give our lives purpose. It's a passion for health that will make one person diet and workout to create that perfect body. It's a passion for success that will drive another to work long hours to climb the corporate ladder and find wealth.
Passions often direct a whole host of decisions. If you know what a man will die for you will know what his passions are and what he's really living for. But I find that we are in a time and culture when few have a passion for anything. Few will invest their lives for a noble cause, for a goal beyond this life. Jesus told a very short parable that describes passions. In his series of parables in Matthew he said this,
Mat 13:45-46 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Here is a man who found something that changed his life. He found one pearl worth everything. It was of such value to him that he sold EVERYTHING to buy it. Do you realize what a passion this one pearl created in this man? He literally changed his life to possess this pearl. He gave up everything to own this prize. Now that's passion!
I've been thinking about this parable and another man's passion I will mention in a moment. I've been thinking about it because I don't see passion of this kind in my world anymore. I don't see men or women so passioned by something that they will give everything to own it. But there is one man who modeled this. There is one man who voiced this same passion and lived it out. Here are his words,
Php 3:7-8 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
His name was Paul. His passion changed the Gentile world of the first century as he shared his faith in Christ and his passion to know Christ with everyone he met. His passion was to know Christ. He pursued it with such zeal that he literally exchanged everything he had to get this one great pearl- a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. His passion changed the world.
So all of this has been swirling around in my head for days now and I wonder.....what am I passionate about? What will I give everything to have? Does anyone know what I'm passionate about?
I know what pearl I have given it all to purchase, but do those around me know? I have literally passed up millions of dollars in business to follow Christ and don't regret it at all. I have that great pearl worth it all.
So the discussion today is what are you passionate about? What pearl will you "sell it all" to own? Do you even know what your passion is? Just a few thoughts from another man who wants to know Christ.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Quote of the day

"Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done..."

- C. S. Lewis from a letter "To Mrs. L." (50)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday's cartoon

I love the title of this cartoon so I thought I would make it the 'toon of the day. It's a great theme for a Saturday. Have a great day and drink some good coffee!

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Victim Treats His Mugger Right

Julio Diaz

Here's a great story. It is exactly the way we should respond in a situation like this. The article doesn't tell anything about Julio's faith, but I really like this guy and would love to meet him. -Mike

NPR Morning Edition, March 28, 2008 · Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'"

Diaz replied: "If you're willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me ... hey, you're more than welcome.

"You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help," Diaz says.

Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.

"The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi," Diaz says. "The kid was like, 'You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'"

"No, I just eat here a lot," Diaz says he told the teen. "He says, 'But you're even nice to the dishwasher.'"

Diaz replied, "Well, haven't you been taught you should be nice to everybody?"

"Yea, but I didn't think people actually behaved that way," the teen said.

Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. "He just had almost a sad face," Diaz says.

The teen couldn't answer Diaz — or he didn't want to.

When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, "Look, I guess you're going to have to pay for this bill 'cause you have my money and I can't pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I'll gladly treat you."

The teen "didn't even think about it" and returned the wallet, Diaz says. "I gave him $20 ... I figure maybe it'll help him. I don't know."

Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen's knife — "and he gave it to me."

Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, "You're the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch."

"I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It's as simple as it gets in this complicated world."

Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.

Monkey taunts tigers

Ok, I know I've been far too serious lately. Time for some fun. Here's something to make you smile. Have a great weekend.

The purpose of storms

In my reading today I came to a chapter that always fascinates me. It's one of those chapters that you could skip over easily if you didn't intentionally slow down and look at what is happening in the story. It's Acts 27. In this chapter the whole story deals with a boat ride. It's the story of Paul's trip to Rome. I almost always ask myself, when I come to this chapter, why is this in the bible. What purpose does it have? What can I get out of it? And every time I come away with more insight into the way that God often works in our lives. At the beginning of the chapter they set sail with a boat full of cargo, supplies, passengers, and all that is needed for a trip across the Mediterranean sea to Rome. By the end of the chapter they have thrown everything overboard and come to shore with nothing but the wet clothes on their backs.

It's a wonderful picture of the odyssey we take in our lives from all we trust in to the abandonment of it all to a trust in Christ alone. The chapter unfolds in a fascinating way- a storm comes and they are driven by the storm. As days pass they gradually throw overboard more and more of what they brought with them- the tackle, the grain, the anchors, etc. Soon, the story says "they lost all hope of surviving." It's funny when we, in our own lives, lose all hope of doing things our way that's when the Lord can provide an island. For us that island is Christ. For them it was an island that saved them literally! What always humors me is their attempts to hold onto something, but ultimately they came to shore with nothing. That's the way it is with our faith in Christ. We bring nothing with us. We offer him nothing but ourselves, but when we do come to him empty and simply offer him our lives we find safety, salvation, and rescue from death.

It's funny what you can see in the bible if you are looking. The whole story of the bible is a story of redemption and each time you see God's redemptive hand in the lives of people it's always a wonderful picture of our lives as well. When you have time read through Acts 27 and watch as those on the boat gradually abandon everything and come to salvation wet and empty handed. The stories that sometimes make us wonder why they are in the bible are often the ones most vivid with imagery of God's redemptive work in our lives.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back to basics

Psalm 100:5 For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting.

It's good for me to revisit the basics often. It helps me keep balance. With one leg in a cast balance is important to me right now. The balance I'm talking about is a focus on who God is and what he is like. He must be the primary focus of my life so that I can deal with everything else. If I lose sight of who he is and what he's doing then the events of life will soon confuse and crush me.

Today I just want to mention one that is always foundational for's this- God is good. This is a simple truth, but it works out in amazing ways.....the acting out of this, the wheel that make this work in the real world is his lovingkindness. In other words God is good and the way we see it in our lives is his lovingkindness demonstrated in our days and our lives.

The bible is rich with lovingkindness verses....the ways God demonstrates his goodness. If you have time today read through Psalm 136. You will get the idea quickly about what the author is focused on. Today rest in the truth that whatever happens in your life God is good and his lovingkindness is everlasting, working in your life for his glory and your good.

Now, repeat after me, "God is good and his lovingkindness is EVERLASTING!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dealing with downdrafts

Every pilot knows that one of the things they have to watch for is a downdraft. I'm not a pilot, but know from experience that a downdraft can be unnerving. You can't see them coming, you can't anticipate them, but they will hit us all at times. It's a time when the lift suddenly disappears from beneath your wings and the plane begins to fall. Your stomach is in your throat and you wonder if you will literally fall from the sky.

In the last day or so I came upon a downdraft and suddenly began to fall. It's always a surprise when this happens. You don't have to do anything wrong for them to happen to you, but they will. Suddenly, without warning, you are sinking....all lift has gone. Despair follows.

David experienced this in his own life when he wrote, Psalm 42:5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. For several chapters David repeats this refrain and works his way through his own downdraft.

What we need most at downdraft time is lift! We need air under our wings. Then it comes....just as suddenly as the downdraft, lift is back and we are flying again. I know that we take the "lift" for granted, but I will tell you what I think it is. I think the lift we need comes from an intimate relationship with God- time in his word and time with him in prayer. We will also find lift from our relationships with other believers and their encouragement when all the lift has been taken from us.

Last night, as I was in the middle of my own downdraft, my wife came home from a meeting at the church with a prayer quilt that the ladies of the church had made for ME. They made the quilt and tied prayer knots in the quilt. Each knot indicates the prayers of the one who tied it. Prayers for me.....I begin to feel the lift under that wing....hope is returning, despair is quieting.

Then, this morning, as I am reading the word, I realize that it's the word and my time in it that has kept me in the air. It's God's word that keeps me up, and without it I would sink into utter despair. I'm so grateful for the lift both the body of Christ and the Lord provide through the fellowship we share.

We all need one another when the downdrafts come. When you have downdrafts happen in your life don't go hide, get in the middle of the body of Christ, get in the word and you will feel the wind under your wings begin to lift you up again.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday's cartoon

Everything has changed!

It's funny that on this Monday after Easter I come to 1 Corinthians 15 in my reading. This is a wonderful chapter about what we celebrated yesterday, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. As I read it I thought about the impact of that first Easter morning. When Christ rose from the dead that morning he changed everything!

With his resurrection he defeated death once and for all. Now there is hope, now there is new life, now there is promise, now there is salvation. We often miss the impact of this day...all that happened when Christ rose, but in this chapter Paul writes a little about what happened on that amazing day....

1Co 15:19-28- If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we're a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries. There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ. But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first, then those with him at his Coming, the grand consummation when, after crushing the opposition, he hands over his kingdom to God the Father. He won't let up until the last enemy is down-- and the very last enemy is death! As the psalmist said, "He laid them low, one and all; he walked all over them." When Scripture says that "he walked all over them," it's obvious that he couldn't at the same time be walked on. When everything and everyone is finally under God's rule, the Son will step down, taking his place with everyone else, showing that God's rule is absolutely comprehensive--a perfect ending!
A perfect ending indeed! On that first Easter, as the son rose, everything changed for the bright light of eternity ahead brings us hope and joy instead of fear and dread. A perfect ending indeed.....or should I say what a wonderful beginning to eternity....

Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's Easter!

Isa 53 Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought GOD's saving power would look like this? The servant grew up before God--a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried-- our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him--our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him. He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off-- and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he'd never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn't true. Still, it's what GOD had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it--life, life, and more life.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I was just thinking of that first Saturday after the Crucifixion. I wonder what the disciples thought as they woke from this horrible nightmare....

This can't be real.

We really thought he was the Messiah.

He failed.

What do we do now?

The cross and its results spelled defeat to everyone. It was clear that Jesus was not the Messiah because he was dead. Now what do they do? Where do they go? Who can they trust? Should they hide?

This day began with great clarity- DEFEATED! I was thinking about these 11 men who had given their lives to follow Jesus for those 3 years. They saw him raise the dead, feed thousands, do miracles...they believed in him. But now he's could they have been so wrong? Who can they trust now? What do they do? They gave their lives to this man and his message....all hope is crushed.

How often in our own lives will we wake up to a day like this that introduces itself with great clarity- DEFEATED! Everything has gone wrong. It seems that God has failed us. All hope is gone. Where do we go now? What do we do now that failure has clearly declared its victory?

I can't imagine the disciples thoughts, their confusion, their utter hopelessness....everything had turned sour, all hope was gone. It was over. Now what do they do?

What they don't know yet is that God isn't finished. This is all part of the plan. He meant for this to happen. Just wait....just wait until morning. Tomorrow you will see. Tomorrow your hope will find new fuel to ignite it. Tomorrow will change everything. Wait until tomorrow. Just won't believe what God will do.

Your day of greatest defeat will find its greatest victory in what God will do in the morning...just wait. God isn't done yet. Just wait......

Friday, March 21, 2008

Being served

I have talked about lawn mowing several times on my blog. The lawn mower war of last summer was a funny series with my neighbor and I competing to mow each others lawn. It got very comical, but I lost the war to their persistent mowing and my busy schedule.

Today I sit in my living room with my broken heel, a cast on my foot, listening to friends from the church rake and mow my lawn. I am humbled, blessed and not sure what to let someone else serve ME is really hard. Serving has always been my job, but today, unable to do anything about it, I am forced to let them "wash my feet" by caring for my lawn.

I am blessed, and very humbled. These are all dear friends who love us, and are glad to be here helping us. There is nothing I can do but receive from them. Often that is the case in our lives. We need someone to help us. We must allow others to serve us and share their love for us by their deeds. It's such a blessing. It's the Christian community lived out. It's the church as it was meant to be. Thank you, Lord, for these dear wonderful friends. Thank you for the church living out the Christian life together.

Prophesies fulfilled

Good Friday?

We call today "Good Friday" but the first Good Friday wasn't good at all. It was a horrible day of death for the Messiah of Israel, Jesus Christ. The whole story started before creation ever happened (1 Peter 1:20). Before God made anything he crafted this amazing way to redeem the human race. At just the right time in history (Galatians 4:4) Jesus was born and came to this Friday by the divine plan of God. This day was planned. This plan was a divine one...a plan intended to show God as not only just but the justifier of man (Romans 3:26). The perfect man, the sinless one, the God man died for us to forgive our sin and give us his life.

It's the story that has changed history and the human race. Some say it never happened, but there is more historical proof for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus than most historical events we do accept. The reason many discount this event of history is because of its implications. If Jesus really was God who became man to die for our sins then we have to make a decision about Jesus in our own lives. It's an eternal decision.

In my own life this decision came at the age of 14. The evening of December 8, 1964 my mom took us to a church service. The purpose of these services was to present this wonderful gospel message and invite those attending to respond. On that evening, when the invitation was given, my mom pushed me into the isle...too embarrassed to retreat I went forward. (Her version of the story is a little different, but this is what I remember.) That night a wonderful elderly pastor, Reverend Bach, shared the story of Jesus with me and I trusted Christ to be my savior, forgive my sins and give me his life. More happened in that moment than I knew at the time, but my eternity was changed as was my life.

The most important decision any of us will ever make is what we believe about Jesus Christ. The bible is clear that he was God, came to become man, die for our sins, rise from the dead and give us new life. He is risen and seated at the right hand of God and will come again to get his children and judge the world. My hearts desire for you is that you will trust Jesus as your savior, that you will believe in him for salvation. It's a decision that will change your eternity. It's the most important decision you will ever make.

If you would like to know more I invite you to read about this GOOD NEWS.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

His last hours

Today is the day before good Friday. It's the time we remember what Jesus Christ did for us when he died in our place and paid our sin debt. For the human race it's one of the most important days in history.

On this day, Thursday, he ate the passover meal with his disciples. We have a detailed account of this meal in John 13-17. It's an amazing passage that should be studied by every believer. Some of the final teachings of Jesus at that supper are foundational instructions for us today- his example as the ultimate servant when he washed the feet of the disciples, his instructions about loving one another, his teaching about the future home he is going to prepare, his promise to return, the keys to living the Christian life in John 15, details about the Holy Spirit revealed at this dinner that we didn't know before, his prayer for the disciples and for US.

It's amazing to me that the creator of the universe became a man, lived a sinless life, loved the world with such a love that he went to the cross to pay our sin debt, then rose again to give us new life. It's the most amazing event of all time, and has literally changed the world and the lives of millions who have put their faith in him as savior.

A friend of mine, David Shibley, wrote these words in a newsletter he sent to me today and I thought I would close with his thoughts on this day....

"When we place our faith in Christ’s atoning work for us, we begin an eternity with God – we “have eternal life.” Not only does this mean we will live with God forever. It also means we have the very life of God; what the original Greek language calls zoe life. Jesus said, “I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

So, in this Holy Week, remember, rejoice, and worship the conquering Christ."


I'm blessed that his life, death and resurrection has changed my eternity! -Mike

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A new life verse for 2008

My friend, Mike, suggested this as my life verse for the new year-

Psalm 51:8 Cause me to hear joy and gladness; the bones You have crushed will rejoice.

It's a good verse, but I really hate to blame God for my own blunder....the bones that were crushed were my fault, not Gods.

I wonder how often I blame God for my mistakes?

Looking back at the last few years is an interesting exercise for me. I thought 2006 was a really hard year for a number of reasons. 2007 was equally difficult, and now 2008 is hard for a whole lot of other reasons. It's funny how many ways we make life difficult.

As I look at the last few years I do realize that God has been working in my life to accomplish a lot. He's been molding, shaping, conform me to the image of Christ. I just didn't know I needed this much work. There are days when I ask, "when will these tests be over?" The truth is that they will not end until life is finished or Christ comes back. God is in the business of conforming us into his image, and that's a difficult's often painful.

So, although my friend's verse is good I think I will use this verse for the new year. It is more in keeping with my long term goals-

1Co 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

His unseen work

Deut. 29:29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. ............................................................ My son in law showed me this photo from a few days ago here in Dallas. This is just one of the series from an office in downtown Dallas, Texas. If you have never seen downtown Dallas I need to tell you that there are dozens of buildings, not just these few. What you see in this photo are buildings that are over 30 stories tall. Everything else is hidden by the fog.
My thoughts were immediately of all the buildings you can't see, all the people who are moving in the streets below. There is a lot more going on than you can see here....and that's true in our lives as well. We only see a little bit of what God is doing. Below the surface is a lot more going on than we even know. We only see a little bit of what God is working on...we only see what he reveals to us.
How much more is he doing in my life that I can't see? Through these last few weeks I have been occupied with my own health and recovery from an accident and surgery. But what I can't see now is what other things God is working on, what other things he has been doing. Soon the fog will clear and I will be surprised at all the Lord did that I couldn't see before.
All that we see now is but a small part of God's amazing work in our lives. One day the fog will clear and his plan and work will be revealed. If you could see all the other buildings hidden in the fog you would realize that you missed most of Dallas. You weren't able to see all that was going on below because the fog hid it from your view. This is true in your life today. God is working....even if you can't see all that he's doing right now. Know that there is much yet to be seen and one day the fog will clear and you will be surprised at all he has done. He's an amazing artist.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The walk ahead

Some thoughts on a Monday morning.....

I got to go back to church yesterday. It was great to see everyone. I've been recovering from surgery for a couple weeks, and to see people again was great.

I was thinking this morning that the walk ahead of me will be hard. I have 6 months of recovery before I can really begin to walk again, then a lot of rehab. I've been told it will be a year before I'm back to "normal". It seems like a hard walk ahead, but I must cross this bridge...there is no other way to the other side.

I had some great time in the word today, but am not getting a lot out of it. Right now I'm just reading....yes, I always find something new, and grow from my time in the word, but there are times when I read a passage and it "hits a chord" with me. It connects..... I haven't had that for a while.

Yesterday I read Psalm 27 again where David is invited to seek God's face. His reply is "Yes, I want to do that!" Each time I read that I reply with David, "Yes, I want to do that..." But then I think, HOW do I do that? How do I seek God's face? What would that "look" like? I'm working on that, I'll let you know.

This morning I was also reading about Paul & Silas in jail singing hymns after being beaten. I wonder about that. They were beaten, in pain, in jail, it's dark...midnight in fact, and they are singing. I wish I could talk to Paul about that. "How did you do that?" There was a real joy for them in their suffering that came out in song. I haven't been singing much through these last few weeks...I can't sing...but I have been listening to some great worship music, does that count?

One common note that all of my observations point to today is the photo....sometimes our walk with God is difficult. There are days when we wonder how we will ever get to the other side. It seems so impossible, but in my life I am often drawn back to an amazing passage in Proverbs. It's life directions for difficult walks....

Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
Pro 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday's cartoon

I really like this cartoon. It made me smile because we seem to complain about the funniest things. Here's a guy who survived the flood of all times, and is complaining anyway. We each find ourselves doing this same thing....complaining in the midst of amazing blessings. The Jewish nation did this very thing in the wilderness when God provided manna. Their response? "Can he provide meat too?" Never content, never thankful, never happy....I think one of the side effects of the curse is our lack of contentment with God's provisions. I must admit that I have to fight against this very thing in my life as I recover from my own small trial.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A smile for Friday

I saw this photo and thought.....I needed that. It took my mind off of my bum foot. This is a species of monkey I had never seen before, and his profile made me smile. I hope it helped your day as well. He does have a great haircut though. That does help his overall look.

He is big enough

This morning I got some time to read, pray a bit, and have been listening to some worship music- FFH, Bart Millard, Chris Rice, Sara Groves, Chris Tomlin, and Gateway worship. Worship music is a great way to get your focus on the Lord, and spend time just thinking. There is some great worship music available and often I will put on the ipod and just sit back to rest for a bit with some of this great worship music playing. They don't do as well as the birds in choir the other morning, but it's close.

Here's a song that really stood out (sung by FFH) this morning. It's great theology and quite dogmatic in a time of religious correctness. It's great that the only God who is has found us, loves us and invites us to worship him. So that's what's I'm doing this morning.....worshiping the God who is big enough for any problem I have.

You are God alone
by Phillips Craig and Dean

You are not a god
Created by human hands
You are not a god
Dependant on any mortal man
You are not a god
In need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that's just the way it is

You are God alone
From before time began
You were on Your throne
Your are God alone
And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne

You are God alone

You're the only God
Whose power none can contend
You're the only God
Whose name and praise will never end
You're the only God
Who's worthy of everything we can give
You are God
And that's just the way it is

Repeat Chorus

That's what You are

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stopping places

Psalm 46:10 "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything."

We will all find ourselves at "stopping places" in our lives. I'm at one now. God's stopping places on our walks with him are not punishments. They are times of rest, refreshing, reflection. It's a time to step back from the rush and spend time with God. It's a chance to realign your life with what God wants.....

I don't do well at stop signs....the ones at the corner or the ones God creates. I find myself in such a hurry to go somewhere I often forget to ask God, "where am I going?" This stopping place for me has been hard because I find that I must let other people help me do things. I can't do everything myself. That's lose independence and mobility is hard. It's an imposed stopping place in my life that has me thinking- Why the stop? What do I need to learn? Where should I go from here? What can I take from this to help others? How should my life change because of this time of rest and reflection?

I know for sure that this time is a life changing event in my life. I don't know yet what parts of me have been changed....that will be revealed as the days ahead unfold, but I am excited to see what God does with me when the light again turns green.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Broken Open

Here's Jude's new poem. It's always great to see her new work.

The choir in the trees

Psalm 104:12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; They lift up their voices among the branches.

It's still about an hour till dawn, but as I sit here in the dark waiting for the new day I find that I'm entertained by one of the best choirs I have ever heard. Outside in the trees the birds are celebrating the new day in song. It's an amazing choir. First from the tree near my window I hear one bird sing, and then from a distance another replies....and then a third from somewhere else and soon we begin the chorus again from the bird closest to me. Each of them has such a different song. Each telling a different story. Each has memorized his part well and waits to fit it in with the grand choir around me. I am really enjoying my free concert this morning....what a treat to have such an amazing choir to start my day....the choir in the trees.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I knew this day was coming....the day when boredom would set in. Healing doesn't come as quickly as boredom does. I'm ready for this time to be over....time to be better...NOW!

I have read a lot, watched too much TV, I'm tired of the Internet, it's so bad that when Joye went to the store the other day I asked her to get some Ovaltine. I haven't had that since I was a kid. Where did that come from? Way too much TV....that's where.

I have also discovered that even with hundreds of channels on TV there is nothing to watch. And I'm completely tired of the news programs. Did you ever notice that there is never anything new on the news? The only difference is the names, the news is always the same. Suddenly today I realized, I've seen this news before! And I'll see it Solomon said, "there is nothing new under the sun."

I'm also tired of politics. Talk about corruption, pride and arrogance! It's amazing to watch, and in a recent politician's demise I really felt bad for his wife. I can't imagine how she felt standing there with him after what he had done. What a very sad situation.

I knew this would come....boredom....but I didn't expect it after only a few weeks. Since I have never been forced to rest and heal like this before I had no idea that this would be so hard. I will tell you one thing- after this I don't ever intend to retire!

Good news? To be bored I must be feeling better...

Monday, March 10, 2008


Photo by Martin Liebermann, (C) by

It's been 10 days since I had surgery for a crushed heel. I never planned on being here, but here I am. My plans were taking me in another direction. I didn't intend to take this road. I didn't plan on this in my life, but here I am....

I'm reminded of a great verse in Proverbs which talks about this:

Pro 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

And so I find that the Lord has made a turn in my steps....he has changed my direction and added crutches. If I'm wise I will only complain for a moment about the new direction and then quickly seek God's reason for the change- where are we going now? what is the new plan? who am I to meet on this road? why am I here?

God wastes nothing. Even my course change, surgery, recovery time, and all that comes from this has a purpose. One of the amazing stories in the bible is a story told in the book of Acts in which Phillip is taken from a very successful ministry and sent to a desert road leading to Africa to talk to just one man. The change in direction changed this man's life and the history of Ethiopia. But I wonder if Phillip didn't ask, "why am I leaving such a great ministry to talk to just one man?"

So I ask, as anyone would, "Lord, where are we going? What are you doing with me? What do you want me to learn? What's down this new road?" I know his plan is better than mine, but I do wonder where this will all lead. And like Phillip on the desert road, I will go where he sends me even if I don't see what he's doing right now.

You know it's a bad day when....

Monday's cartoon

I'm so glad that being part of God's family is based on faith alone.....

Sunday, March 09, 2008


There's a fearful word being used by all the news sources with great's the "R" word....RECESSION!

Chicken Little has returned shouting, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" The media is making sure that no one listening to their monologues gets away without a healthy dose of fear. They are so good at their fatal forecasts that many are looking up just to see if the sky really is falling. I'm not advocating that their concerns are not valid, but what I want to address is how we respond to the temptation to fear difficult times.

Just for fun let me contrast some of the things being said in the media with a few words of encouragement-

-"Friday's employment report strongly suggests that an official recession has arrived," wrote David Rosenberg, North American economist for Merrill, in a note this week entitled "Recession a reality."

-"Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?'…. for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” –Jesus

-"There are people out there, amazingly enough, who say that we have not yet had any hard evidence to support the U.S. is in recession, I mean, hello? I think we've had more than enough evidence," said Jeremy Batstone-Carr, head of private client research at Charles Stanley.

-“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” -Paul

-“The U.S. economy is heading for a recession in 2008, according to a poll conducted on behalf of CPA firm Rothstein Kass by Russ Prince, a leading authority on private wealth. Over 61% of hedge fund industry principals surveyed indicated that a recession in 2008 is a “very likely” scenario.”
-Hedge Funds Anticipate Recession in 2008 Yahoo Finance

-“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Paul

-“Over the past half century, every U.S. housing downturn as sharp as the current one has translated into a U.S. recession. U.S. house prices are falling at an annual rate of nearly 4% — an event not seen since the Great Depression — and the downward trend is accelerating. The credit crunch that has emerged since late July is a clear signal of a move closer to recession. Tighter credit conditions mean that the drag on the U.S. economy will soon spread beyond the housing sector to affect consumption and investment decisions.”
-Recession 2008?
Wall Street Journal

-“Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.” -Habakkuk

These are indeed difficult times....times of war, worry, financial distress, change.....there are real reasons to be tempted to fear. Our challenge, as Christians, is to not let the "winds" of fear take our eyes off of the Lord and his promise of care. Throughout the bible God uses the prophets to remind us of how he has taken care of his children in the he provided water in the desert for 2 million escaping slaves, how he fed them with manna in the wilderness, how he met their needs as they trusted him.

Difficult times may be coming this year and it will give us great opportunity to trust the Lord and see him care for us. The God who created the worlds can care for our needs in the midst of difficult days. Trust him to do what he has done many times in the him as Habakkuk did when he said,

“Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Saturday's cartoon

I'm so glad he took care of this one, but even more excited that he took care of all of them. Because of what Jesus did all my sins are forgiven. That's why Paul could boldly say in Romans 8:1- Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

One author describes it this way- because of what Jesus did on my behalf on the cross God not only considers me just but he treats me that way too. How amazing, justified by God for God....we are blessed and amazingly forgiven if we have trusted Christ for salvation.

Jesus, thanks for not only getting this one, but for getting them all.

Friday, March 07, 2008


It's been a week since surgery. I'm healing, but I know that healing takes time. It takes time physically and emotionally. For my injury I'm looking at a year to recover, but I have known people who were wounded emotionally who are still trying to heal after decades. Their scars aren't as visible, their wounds may not be evident, but they are handicapped by them. Healing takes time and it takes the right solution to the problem. My injury was a crushed heel, but if the doctor had suggested that I just needed some rest without fixing the problem I would be no better.
Being a resident of a broken, fallen world is to live with the reality that we each have been wounded and need healing. What was clear from the beginning for me was that I needed the right doctor....a fix my broken heel. He had to be someone who knew what to do, how to fix what was wrong. He needed to be someone who had studied the best way to fix broken feet. He needed to be someone who had done it before. I was blessed to find a great specialist in our area who knew exactly how to fix me, and he did a great job.
For those with wounds that can't be seen there is still a need for a specialist, one who knows what's wrong, one who knows how to fix it, one who has fixed others before. His office is always open, he knows what to do, he's done it before....he knows exactly how to fix what's broken in our lives.... "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." -Jesus

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Get it?

My friend, Heidi, sent me this video that posted on Youtube. It's well worth a few minutes to watch. I wish I could post it here, but it's not available in that format. Click on the's very thought provoking.

As for my recovery- I'm doing much better each day. Getting rest, reading, less pain, starting to get stir crazy so I know I'm getting better. Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Feeling left out

Today I'm beginning to feel a lot better, but still in need of rest and pain relief. I'm also aware that the world is moving on quite well without me. A step away from the pace makes me aware that I'm not as necessary as I would like, but that is life. Everything continues on just fine whether I'm involved or not. It's a strange realization that we aren't necessary for the world to function. It does quite a number on our egos, but it's true that with just a few adjustments all will continue on whether you or I are here or not.
Today I'm reading a very interesting story in Acts 3. This guy was probably thought of as the ultimate "unnecessary individual." He knew from an early age that he was a burden on society, and as you read the story I want to share some other things about him that will make your world seem great, no matter how hard it looks today. Here's his story-
Act 3:1- One day at three o'clock in the afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the Temple for prayer meeting. At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up. Every day he was set down at the Temple gate, the one named Beautiful, to beg from those going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he asked for a handout. Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye and said, "Look here." He looked up, expecting to get something from them. Peter said, "I don't have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!" He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked. The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God. Everybody there saw him walking around and praising God. They recognized him as the one who sat begging at the Temple's Gate Beautiful and rubbed their eyes, astonished, scarcely believing what they were seeing.
The man threw his arms around Peter and John, ecstatic. All the people ran up to where they were at Solomon's Porch to see it for themselves.

This man was born lame. In the Jewish society of the day he was considered a sinner. He was so handicapped that others brought him to the gate of the temple each day to beg. He made his living asking for money from others. He watched them as they entered the temple, day by day. He had never been in the temple, the law forbade it, but he watched the flow of people coming and going daily and he begged for money. He saw Jesus enter the temple a number of times. He watched as the merchants scattered when Jesus made the whip and drove them out. I'm sure that was an entertaining day in a boring life. He watched as the blind man, maybe a beggar friend of earlier days, came into the temple to tell them how Jesus had healed him. He watched, he begged, but was always left out.
Then the worse possible thing happened....Jesus, his only hope for healing, was crucified. I wonder why Jesus never stopped to heal this man, but it's obvious from the story that Jesus had decided to leave this one for Peter after the resurrection. If you could visit with this guy after Calvary he had to be thinking that all hope was gone. He was doomed to be a broken, handicapped beggar for the rest of his life. He had missed his only chance....then comes Peter into the temple and this man's life is changed forever.
Most of us feel that we have been left out of God's care at one time or another. We may feel that he has passed us by, that he didn't notice our need, that he took care of everyone else....but I was left out. Nothing could be further from the truth.
God has a wonderful plan for each of our lives and each of our lives is designed to give him glory. We have been created for his special purpose, and in that purpose is his timing. He has a plan that will bless us and glorify him, but you may feel, as you wait for him, that you missed it....that you were left out. You may feel that all hope is gone.
You need to know that God has designed your life to glorify him if you will let him do so. It means trust, rest, peace in him and his timing, knowing you haven't "missed it," knowing that he didn't forget you. He's madly in love with each one of us, and has our very best in mind because if we have trusted Christ as our savior we are his precious children. We are the dear ones he died to save. He loves us. So relax. Rest. Trust. Don't worry, you aren't left out of his wonderful love and care.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Recovering from surgery is hard! Yes, there is the pain, but the hardest part is just sitting around, resting, recovering...I don't do that well. I'm finding that it's really good for me though. I think I could handle all of this better if I could read and study, but the meds I'm on for pain make my brain a bowl of mush! It's really hard to focus. No, I'm not fact I'm very blessed....I'm just not "me" yet. I guess I have to be patient.
One of my readers sent me an e-mail and said, "you're starting to act like a retired person....not blogging until mid-day....sleeping in..." And he's right. In fact last night I slept for 12 hours! I have never done that before. I feel pretty good, so I might try it again. All that to say that I'm really doing well....just trying to get the fog out of my head so I can study and write, but I know that will come.
One thing I have been spending a lot of time in is the book of Romans. In fact, right now, I'm reading through Romans twice a month. It is one of the most important theological works in the bible, and I want to make sure I understand it well. Overarching this whole book is the theme of God's grace. Grace that does for me what I can't do myself. I find that the more I read Romans the more clearly I understand the gospel and the grace of God. Today I took some time to read Romans 8. It's an amazing chapter that is a review of the first 7 chapters. It's a chapter rich with some of the most amazing things I have ever read. Here is just one of them-
Rom 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
If God is for us who is against us? If the sovereign creator, ruler of heaven and earth is on your side who could stand against you? In my mind I see the school yard when I was a kid as we picked teams for a sporting event. We take turns picking our teammates. I get my turn and I pick God. I am so excited. When the other team realized what I have done they refuse to even play. How could they have a chance against me and God? The game never happens because the outcome is already known.....I win! If God is for me....who is against me? And the silence of response makes it clear that everyone knows.......I have already won!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Different economies

Today I'm beginning to feel a little better. It sure takes a while! During a time of recovery there is also all the mood swings that go with something like this. It's a great time for me to realign my thinking with the way God looks at things, and I hope to do that through the week. Here are just a few verses that I'm starting with-

Isa 55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.

1Co 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Luk 16:15 And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

1Pe 2:4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,

Pro 8:11 "For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her.

God's economic system is so different than ours. He values things the world doesn't. He looks at things differently than we do, so this week I want to take some time and begin to get my economies straightened out....I would like to get my values aligned with what God thinks is important....that and recovery from surgery would be a great week!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Home recovering

I am home recovering.

First, let me thank you all for your prayers.

I will try to quickly write down all that God has done in these days, but let me say first of all that God is a wonderful loving Father! He has graciously provided in every way through these days and has shown me his smiling face in the midst of this difficult time. God is good!

As I'm able, I will tell you what I have learned, what I have seen God do, what he has done through's amazing how much you can see of God's wonderful work if you will only look.

Again, thank you all so much for your care, concern and prayers for me. I want to assure you that God answered your prayers!

Time for a nap........