Monday, March 30, 2015

The gift of everything

This morning, in a men's group I'm part of, we worked through a chapter of C.S. Lewis' book "The Screwtape Letters."  It was a profound and yet simple idea of how we claim ownership of so time, my car, my house, my job, my wife....and on the list goes.  "Mine!" is probably the most used word in our language as we lay claim to portions of creation.

And yet, as we talked about it, I suddenly realized that nothing is mine!  Everything, literally everything is a gift from the hand of life, my day, my time, my talents, my job, my house....everything comes from him.  Everything belongs to him because he made it all....including me!

When I change the descriptive word "mine" to "his" it changes how I view the things I think are mine to own, to control, to be angry about if lost.  So much of my life is fretting over "mine."

I know this stuff.  Perhaps you do as well. But once more I am made aware that everything, literally everything is a gift from God's wonderful gracious hand.

It creates amazing opportunities to give thanks that I ignored before, when it was "mine."  Now, because it's really his, given as a gift for my use, my time is now free to give away because it's really his time and he can use it as he wishes.  And when I have a moment to sit and think, to rest and relax, I can thank him for that sweet gift.

When I wake up to a new day I can thank him for the gift of the day ahead, the moments to enjoy more of his gracious hand.  When I drive "my" car to work I thank him for the gift of transportation.  But you might say, "but didn't you pay for the car yourself?"  And I have to smile when I tell you, "yes, and who gave me the job and the money to pay for the car?"

Everything is a gift from God's gracious hand.  As you go through your day take moments and thank him for letting you have and use his things, his good blessing, his flowers, his air, his sunshine. Everything is a gift from God.

Being a recipient of the gift of everything takes "mine" out of my vocabulary and actually gives me a freedom I didn't realize I could have.  If it's all his I can open my hands, share his things with others and enjoy the next moment when his grace gives me more to enjoy.

How wonderful to be a recipient of the gift of everything!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lives past

My thoughts this morning wander to lives past.  

I'm reading 1 Chronicles in the Old Testament and in those first 10 chapters are page after page of names.  Names of lives lived, families born, hopes and dreams, smiles and tears.  Here are just a couple verses from the thousands mentioned, 

The descendants of Elkanah:
Amasai, Ahimoth,
Elkanah his son, Zophai his son,
Nahath his son, Eliab his son,
Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son
and Samuel his son.

Page after page the names continue. Names and lives recorder nowhere else.  Families, stories, histories all lost except for their names.  And yet there is one who knows every story, every laugh, every smile, every tear.  The God who recorded their names knows each story, every hope, every dream.

The great God who recorded their names knows my name and yours.  Although we may be lost in the records of history, if history continues on, we are known and remembered by one. 

Our culture talks a lot about significance and legacy, but frankly it's just illusion.  We all will be quickly forgotten after our grandchildren are gone.  And yet, there is one who knows us and loves us. It seems appropriate that we live for his approval and not for an imaginary legacy of men who will quickly forget we ever lived.

As I read these many names I wonder, who were they? What did they do? What did they hope for, worry about? What did they dream of? But all of that is lost to all but one...the one who knows each one of us.

Living for an audience of one, and not for the applause of men seems to be the wisest choice I can make because 15 minutes of fame in a world that will quickly forget me is nothing compared to one who knows and loves me for eternity.

Friday, March 27, 2015

New Every Morning

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
Lamentations 3

You might have noticed I've changed the name of this blog a couple times recently.  It's come in part because of changes in how I view my life and walk with God.  For nearly 10 years the blog was called "Finishing Well" and then, on a whim, I changed it to "Beginning Well".  But neither of those really spoke to where I'm at in my walk.  Both look ahead to a future day instead of focusing on today, living a vital Christian life in the moment.  

So, now, thanks to my friend Tim I have the name.  It's perfect!  It speaks to my walk and relationship with God right now.  And, I hope it will speak to you more clearly in your walk each day.  Thanks for your patience as I tried to figure out how to communicate this change in focus in my life. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thought for the day

As I read Mark 13 this morning and Jesus' explanation of the end days he told the disciples several times "don't be afraid."  Fear seems to be our common response to anything that threatens us.  So how can we not fear when the world around us crashes?  How can we not surrender to the panic others will voice on Facebook and Internet?  It demands a focus on the one who is in charge of our lives.  Fear comes from looking around, taking our eyes off of God. Faith is a focus on God in spite of the circumstances.

Do you remember the story of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14?  As he walked toward Jesus these words are written, "but when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sin, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" Fear always comes when we look at the circumstances around us and take our eyes off of God.

Are you afraid? Look up.  Our sovereign God is ruler of everything and he loves us!  In the midst of any story a child of God can rest in his matter what!

Friday, March 20, 2015


This morning my son and I were talking over breakfast about his business move.  They had a change in lease where his retail store is located and they have to find a new location.  It's a crazy series of permits and approvals.  Frankly, he's overwhelmed.  Who wouldn't be?  He has only a few weeks and still feels he's nowhere close to getting moved.

I asked him this morning, "What's really necessary? What's the least you can do to get into the new location?"  I think we often get overwhelmed with the vast amount of information coming at us these days so my goal was to ask this....what's least thing, the most necessary thing you can do right now?  Then, do the next thing.

Overwhelmed is a reality for many of us.  We have so much we feel we must do, that has to be done "today" and so we throw our hands up in defeat.  But could we do the necessary things?  Could we do what must be done and set aside all the noise for a moment?

When you are overwhelmed stop for a moment and ask, "But what is really necessary?"  Then do that...and then do the next thing.  For all the media about multitasking we can honestly still do only one thing at a time.  Start there. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Faith has feet

James 2:14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

Faith, real faith, has feet.  It does something.  Faith is a verb, an action, not a noun.  It isn't a monument to an event, but an event that moves us to love and action.  If your faith doesn't have feet...
what good is it?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Words from James

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats."  -James 3

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Today is a day I will never forget!  One of the young men I have been mentoring for a while called and said, "I need to be baptized today!"  He had been reading in the gospel of John and been thinking about it for a while, but today was the day.  Of course I said yes and so an hour ago we met at his home, went to the pool in the back yard and got into 42 degree water to baptize him.  IT WAS COLD!   I'm sure he will never forget it.  I know I won't.  

(The photo is not from our day, but felt like it!)

Mundane Faithfulness

Lately I've been following the last journals of Kara Tippetts and her husband, Jason, at Mundane Faithfulness.  It's a blessing, a grief, a joy, a sorrow....even though I don't know them personally they have opened their hearts and lives as she has neared her own death from cancer.  

The reality of death and its heavy hand on each of us makes us focus on what is really important.  Kara and Jason are doing that.  There is nothing that sobers and focuses our lives like the end of it.  I know thousands have been encouraged by Kara and Jason's words and faith.  

Her life and death models what a walk with God should look like....trusting him even in the hard days.  If you haven't followed her story I encourage you to do so.  It will help you in your own walk with God.  You can find her story here.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Quote of the day

"It's amazing how we not only convince ourselves that God doesn't recognize what we tell Him as lies, but that He also believes them."  -Darren Mabrey

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The little red light

Years ago, when I was a teenager, I attended a church in another town for a service. I can't remember why we were there and I don't remember the message, but I do remember the mission board at the back of the church. It was a world map with the locations of all the missionaries they supported.

There was another thing on the map that caught my was a little red flashing light. This little light was on the mission board with these words below it- "Each time this light flashes another soul passes into eternity without Christ."

My first thought was, "Oh, that's a neat thing." But, after taking my seat in the service it started to bother me. Often, during the service, I would look back at the light and it was still blinking. It started to bother me…a lot! My thoughts ran from, "I wish that would stop!" to "What if I just unscrew the bulb?" and "how can these people ignore that light and just sit here?"

What seemed like a neat idea at first started to really bother me. It has bothered me for many decades since. That little red flashing light, meant to communicate the need for missions, has been an ever-flashing light in my life to remind me of the crisis of humanity.

As Penn Jillette said, "If you really believe this stuff and don't tell me about it then you must really hate me a lot!" So, today, once more, maybe for the 10,000th time, I'm thinking of that little flashing light that has been flashing in my mind for these many decades. My prayer is that I would be part of God's plan to help many I meet not be one of those eternal flashes.

The Parable of the Life Saving Station

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little life saving station. The building was just a hut and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea. Ships often smashed up against the rocks and many were tossed overboard with no hope. With no thought for themselves the members of the life saving station went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost.

Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so much so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding areas, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time, money, and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little life saving station grew.

Some of the new members of the life saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.

They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in an enlarged building. Now the life saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they redecorated it beautifully and furnished it as a sort of club. The members began to hang out there frequently and enjoy their new club.

Less of the members were now interested in going to sea on life saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.

The mission of life saving was still given lip service but most were too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to take part in the life saving activities personally.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.

They were dirty and sick. Some of them were different and spoke a strange language. The beautiful new club quickly became dirty and full of those who needed help. The property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal activities of the club. But some members insisted that life saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life saving station, not a club. The devote life saving members were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life saving station down the coast.

So they did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet another life saving station was founded down the coast.

If you visit this seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, but now most of the people drown.