Saturday, February 24, 2018

The best part......

"God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble."
Psalm 46:1

Today I attended a funeral.  (I'm doing that a lot lately.)  The pastor, in his message for the funeral, used this verse.  He spoke more than 30 minutes on just these 12 words!

He said, "This is a wonderful promise. It's a great promise for his children but that's not the best part...."

"Even better than that is its permanence. This is a present tense promise.  God IS our refuge.  It's a present tense reality for every generation." And then he said, "but that's not the best part..."

And he continued,  "This promise speaks of a place of refuge, a place of safety and that place is a person!  God is the refuge for his people.  He is the safe place for his children to run to.  But it's not a refuge from the battle, it's a refuge in the battle. A safe place in the middle of your trials. But that's not the best part..."

(This is getting exciting....and as he talked my thoughts unpacked this verse even more...but back to the sermon.)

As he continued, with his rich deep voice he said, "This is a promise with a permanence in a place promised by a PERSON.  The best part is this...the person who promised it is God himself!"

And with that final piece of the puzzle the funeral audience was standing and praising God for this amazing promise. 

A promise, a present tense reality for every generation, a place of safety all promised by a person who is able to make it true for each one who trusts him.

"But that's not the best part..." will be words we will hear in heaven over and over again.  How sweet to catch a glimpse of it now.

I met a man this week....

I met a man this week who wanted nothing to do with God, religion or me.  He's dying. I really liked this guy right away. He was honest, angry and direct.  

I do wish we could have visited more, but he would have none of it!  I will be praying for him.  Although he doesn't believe in God, I do. 

The moment he told me what he thought of me, faith and God I knew he had been wounded somewhere in the past. It's sad how we so often blame the only one who can help us for the wounds we have encountered at the hands of others.

I will be praying for this man because I know God loves him. God's amazing grace and mercy are wonderful to watch. I will keep you updated.  I can't wait to see what God does in the life of this dear man.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


In Luke 18, as we follow Jesus through the days of Luke's narrative, he finds himself going through Jericho.  As he and the crowds walk along they pass a blind man sitting by the road.  This man is doing the only thing he can to survive.  He's begging.  He's stuck.  There is nothing else he can do, no place else he can go.  

Like many of us he found himself with few options.  He was probably bitter and discouraged. He may have given up hope.  But he still had to eat, so there he sat with hat in hand, begging for mercy, a gift, a kindness.

When the crowd passes, something that I am sure rarely happened on that road, he asked what was happening.  When he was told Jesus was in the crowd the blind man begged for the one thing he needed most, God's mercy. 

He cried out, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!" I'm sure, if we had heard it, it would have been a desperate cry for help.  The crowds told him to hush, be quiet, don't bother Jesus, but that only made him more desperate, "JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!" 

Jesus heard him, told the crowd to bring him forward and in this simple story we see the plea of each of our's this-  Lord, see me.  See my needs. Listen to my prayer. Stop for a moment and help me.

In the midst of this encounter is a question that made me smile.  Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"  I'm sure Jesus was smiling too as he asked it.  The blind man blurted out, "I want to see!"  And in the moment that followed his blindness was gone.  The crowd, who only moments before had told him to hush, now welcomed him to their ranks as they followed Jesus together.

He was stuck.  He needed help.  The crowds took no pity on him, but he wasn't in need of pity, he needed mercy and so he cried out.  There is much more to say about the depth of this story, but for these thoughts I would invite you into this simple story as a blind man yourself, stuck on the side of the road, without hope and purpose.  Some might give you a little pity with a coin, but what you need is mercy and only one can give that.

Andre Crouch had a wonderful song with these lyrics, "Mercy's what we need, in times like these. Won't you have Mercy please?" If you find yourself stuck today maybe what you need most is a bit of God's sweet mercy.  All you have to do is ask.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A different congregation

I apologize for not writing in a while.  

I find myself with a new congregation.  One that looks much different than the last.

As part of a church staff our church family was fit, able and mobile.  They drove to church, had good jobs, were articulate, able body and able to share their thoughts with you.

Now my congregation is much smaller.  They are the cast aways, the forgotten, the dying.  Many cannot speak, some are wheelchair bound, others bed bound, most needing help with eating and daily functions.

It's a humbling role I find myself in.  A pastor to the dying.  One dear lady, in bed and dying, replied when I came in this week, "You mean I get my very own chaplain?" as her eyes lit up with joy.  It's most humbling.

These dear ones are facing eternity.  Some are excited to go and see their Lord. Others have no idea what's ahead and fear death.  All know it is near.  

I never imagined I would say to someone, "You will probably die this week, isn't it exciting?"  And yet, this week I heard myself say those words to one man who loves God and is finishing this life in terrible pain.  

It's a new congregation, but what a wonderful band of broken and dying.  I look forward to what God will do in these dear lives each day.  It seems, when we are on the edge of life and death, we finally become honest, clear headed and willing to deal with the real issues of life.

And so here I go, off to care for his sheep.  The wounded, dying and forgotten.