Wednesday, August 30, 2017

For Nancy

I am wonderfully blessed by amazing people all around me.  I can't tell you how many dear ones I cherish and claim as friends, for they really are!  One is Nancy.  She is a member of the church family I have been part of.  She reads these posts and constantly encourages me.  I am more grateful for her than she knows.  

As I read Paul's words to the church I thought of her.  Much of this passage is reflected in how Nancy lives, but I know she's not alone.  There are millions who live out these words and change their worlds because of it.

Here are Paul's words to us,

"Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”"

 I can't even imagine what our world would be like if these were our instructions for life and we actually did them!  Many do take these words seriously and it's noticable, others see it.  

People like Nancy do it every day.  Might we each live out our faith in a way that changes the lives of those we encounter.  May we live like Christ in these dark days in history.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Random thoughts

This morning my thoughts wander a bit.  I'm thinking and praying for the hurricane victims in Houston and south Texas.  I'm thinking of a world filled with tension, strife and anger.  My mind wanders to those who have lost loved ones.  And then I think of the millions who suffer daily from hunger, lack of housing, who are hurting physically...the list could go on for pages.....

This is a sad world full of sin, sickness and death.  There are moments to celebrate, but for the most part this is a hard place to live.  No one gets out alive!  So how could we believe in a good God with a world like this?  How could anyone think he loves us as we look around?

That's a question that haunts us as we see the world and its residents suffer and die.  Where's God in all of this?  Where is this great God who says he loves us?

For me those hard questions are answered in one person- Jesus.  He was and is God and came into our world to not only show us God's love, but to provide the final solution to the problems we see.  No, he didn't eliminate them all just yet, but that is coming and it was made possible because he came to planet earth and lived out the plan of God.

In him the love of God had full flow to a world needing it.  I think of the the leper who came to him on day in violation of the law and falling down in front of him said, "if you are willing  you can make me clean."  In response God (I'm speaking of Jesus here, but want you to get the impact of this) reached out his hand and touched this man full of leperousy!  God not only healed his body, but extended the ultimate demonstration of love in touching him when he was at his worse, most deplorable, most rejected and said with that touch, "I love you!"

He is still doing that today.  He never forces it upon us, but for anyone who comes to him and says, "if you are willing...." he responds.  He always has.  He always will.

It seems that the world is growing darker, moment by moment. The sun is setting on this planet and our time here is short.  As the darkness grows the love of God becomes even brighter, even more visible to a world asking, "where is God?"

And he replies,  "I'm here and I love you.  Will you trust me?"

Monday, August 28, 2017

The testimony of a wicked king

"King Nebuchadnezzar to everyone, everywhere—every race, color, and creed: “Peace and prosperity to all! It is my privilege to report to you the gracious miracles that the High God has done for me.
“His miracles are staggering,
    his wonders are surprising.
His kingdom lasts and lasts,
    his sovereign rule goes on forever."

As I read those words I thought,  “if God can do that with him what can he do with me?”  Do I speak of God as he did?  Do I celebrate him in such wonderful words? Do I praise him so well?

This was a pagan king, but his praise of God in the end is that of a true God worshipper.  Oh might we who say we are his children praise him half as well!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Settling for less

I wonder how often I settle for less than God wanted to give.  I wonder how much I have missed of God's provision because I want so little or simply want less than he had planned to give me.

I wonder that because of a passage in Acts 3 I read this morning.  I wonder that about my own life as I watch a man looking for a hand out who got more than he ever imagined.

Here is part of his story,

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.  Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.  When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.  Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”  So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

How often I settle for less than God wanted to give.  As I read this story I imagine myself the beggar looking for a few coins, a few pennies to buy food and Peter stops to give me something from God I never had, never imagined I could have.  This man had been lame from birth.  He never knew the feeling of his legs under him, carrying him, of running, going anywhere he wished.  He had never walked!  But now, in a moment, he is on his feet...feet that were completely new and restored...and he was walking, leaping, running!  I imagine he threw the few coins in his purse in the air in celebration.  I can almost hear his laughter, his praise, his joy at walking for the first time.

He never imagined he would ever walk but now he's leaping!

How often and easily we settle for less than God wants for us. 

I wonder....why do we settle for a few coins when God offers us life?

Why do we look for things instead of HIM?  Often, in my own life, I have found that God had much more planned for me than I could have ever imagined.  I so regret settling for less, for settling for things instead of seeking him.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


My sweet wife and I ran away from home.  We hopped a plane and are on the west coast of Florida enjoying the sound of the waves and the gulf breeze.  Sometimes we need to get away to rest, recharge and disconnect.  This week we plan to do that.  Ocean waves, sea breezes and God's voice are what I plan to tune in for the next seven days.  I'll let you know what I discover as I still my voice to hear his.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Would it be enough?


....if all you could accomplish today
was to listen to the heart of someone in need

would it be enough?

if all you could accomplish today was to give a lonely person
a hug and a smile

would it be enough?

if all you could accomplish today was to love
someone by sending them a card, a text, a note
just to tell them  you are thinking about them

would it be enough?

IF all you did today was look for one person to listen to, 
care about, 
call and visit, 
make a hot meal, 
give a ride, 
share your time...

would it be enough?

Do you realize that these are the things that really matter?
If our list of things that give us value and purpose
is different than this
they will never be enough

Monday, August 21, 2017

Trust God and do good

Some of the best instructions in the Bible come from the pen of David.  As God worked in his life and spoke to his heart he wrote.  His words have inspired millions and comforted millions more.  As I read a portion of his words this morning I came to Psalm 37.  It is a vivid and clear manual for living in the middle of difficult times.

What I wanted to focus on is just one small part of the chapter and here it is,

"Trust in the Lord and do good...."

In that short phrase is a rich treasure for any situation.  It has two parts, the first is trust in God, and the second is a response.  It's nearly impossible to do good well without first trusting in the Lord. In other words your "good" will be driven by the wrong things if you don't begin with God.  Trusting God first means you aren't looking for an outcome, hoping to change anyone, trying to fix a problem...all that you are turning over to God.  The next step is easy- do good.  It's the right response for someone trusting God.  It leaves all the results in his hands and allows you to do good for those around you expecting nothing in return.  It liberates you to do good for no reason at all because you have already trusted God to take care of all the outcomes.

Trust God and do good.  Pretty simple, isn't it?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Vanity, vanity...

This morning I'm beginning Ecclesiastes once more.  I love it!  It's a wonderful reminder of the way the world really is.  I often get caught up in the activities of "being busy" and "making a difference" that I forget the basic truths of these words. 

Here are Solomon's words to start the day and a video to illustrate them,

Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.]

    There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke.

What’s there to show for a lifetime of work,
    a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
    but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old
        planet earth.
The sun comes up and the sun goes down,
    then does it again, and again—the same old round.
The wind blows south, the wind blows north.
    Around and around and around it blows,
    blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
    but the sea never fills up.
The rivers keep flowing to the same old place,
    and then start all over and do it again.
Everything’s boring, utterly boring—
    no one can find any meaning in it.
Boring to the eye,
    boring to the ear.
What was will be again,
    what happened will happen again.
There’s nothing new on this earth.
    Year after year it’s the same old thing.
Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”?
    Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
    And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody’ll remember them either.
    Don’t count on being remembered.

Sunday morning

It's Sunday morning.  My first Sunday in 27 years when my choice on where to go to church is uncertain.  For these last 27 years we have been part of a wonderful fellowship and family and have loved every moment, but today.....

Today I move on to the next part of God's plan for me, for us.  Today we are going to another church with friends as "secret shoppers" to see what the experience of going to this church is like. That very idea seems strange because church isn't supposed to be a shopping experience.

Anyway, off we go.  I have no idea what's next, but will share it all with you as we take this next step.

I'm confident of this one thing though,  the amazing God who got me into all of this will complete it all till the day Christ returns.  There's more to do so off we go.....

Friday, August 18, 2017

Faithless, heartless, ruthless...

These are difficult days. Days that weary the best of us and discourage the rest of us.  They are days when fears rumble in our bellies and tempers flare from every side.  They are uncertain days, days that make us wonder what is going to happen next. It's as if an earthquake is about to erupt and we all feel the tremors.

These days were talked about by Paul and others as they wrote of the heart of man given full liberty to do his worst.

Paul, the apostle, wrote these words in the beginning chapter of Romans as he talked about the heart of man, every man, given full liberty to rebel against God and the outcome for the world,

"They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless."

When we live out our rebellion against God its outcome is always felt by others.  When I do whatever I want the one hurt most is me, but also those around me.  In anger, pride and strife I wound, lash out and hurt those within my reach.

The outcome of a life lived in rebellion to God is that we ultimately steal from, kill and destroy others and in the process destroy ourselves.

I think that's why Paul wrote these profound words just before the passage I quoted, "thinking they were becoming wise they actually became fools."  

The rumblings have begun, the ground is beginning to shake and what can be the outcome but chaos among men and the coming return of the King who will make all things new.

It all makes me think of  friends who have died of cancer.  As the cancer grew worse their desire to hold on to this life diminished.  Their desire to stay fell away and their desire for the new life grew.  The cancer of our culture is growing, my desire to stay is waning.  

I look forward to the day when we will say, "Welcome Jesus!  You are the King we have longed to see!"

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Red and yellow, black and white...

In the beginning God made everything

....and it was good.

Nowhere in the Bible does the God who made us ever pick favorites based on the color of our skin.

 He made us the colors we are!  

When we claim our skin color gives us favor with God we are saying that what God made is evil.  

We are shaming God, not the person whose skin color is different than mine.

BUT GOD has chosen to create a wonderful and colorful planet, including our skin.  

You didn't choose your race, it's part of who GOD made you.  

It no more defines you as acceptable to God than your language or nation of origin does.

In fact, Christ came to save mankind regardless of our color, language or nation.

It's not my color that gives me value, it's God who made me and Christ who saved me....

and when the Bible declares,

"After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

He makes it clear that He loves all of us regardless of our skin.

Christ came to save all mankind! 

It’s not my skin that’s the problem.  It’s my heart.

When Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you” he made no color distinction because it’s not about our skin,

It’s about our hearts.

Racism is sin and shames the God who made us, not the person whose skin offends me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Grand Quest

Four men met in a bar one late afternoon for drinks and time to reflect after a tough day at work.  They were each successful in their fields but none were happy, fulfilled or satisfied with where they were in life. After a couple drinks the discussion became a bit more serious and they talked of what is most important, what really matters.

Quickly they discovered each disagreed with his friends on what was the most important thing in life and so they decided on a quest.  Each would pursue the thing they thought most important, the thing they valued above all.

The first declared, "My quest is for wisdom.  There can't be anything higher!  If I can attain that I will have succeeded and found meaning for my life. If I have wisdom I can help change the world and make it a better place."

The second reflected for a moment and said, "I think, for me, the quest is for power.  If I can become someone in authority, someone who can change the course of world events I will have succeeded and found real meaning.  My quest is for power."

The third smiled and said, "Gentlemen, if I had money I could buy all of those things!  I'm after money.  If I had money I could change the course of history, help millions and really make a difference.  That's my quest."

The fourth was silent for a while and soon the other three looked to him for his reply, what was he going to pursue?  Slowly he began, "You know, all of those goals can make a difference and I wish you each success, but I think what I most want is to find God.  I know, it sounds so selfish that my quest is for me, but I really don't know why I'm here and yet I know I'm not here by accident.  My quest is to find and know God.  If I can do that I think I too can make a difference."

And so the four shook hands, downed their drinks and began the quest, the grand quest for the thing that would change everything. In the years that followed they would meet often to compare notes.  Their stories and successes would fill volumes for indeed they each achieved their quest, each reached the mountaintop they were climbing, but the final commentary comes from another source, another who watched the lives and quests they pursued.  Here is his commentary on the quest and perhaps it will help you as you decide what is most important in your life.

“Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 9