Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Two days ago the rapture was supposed to least that's what some suggested.  It's so funny that these predictions never happen and yet men continue to set dates ignoring what scripture says about it.

I don't want to talk about the rapture as much as discuss this idea imbedded in the Christian mindset of escape...escape from the world.  But the world is what we were sent to redeem!  Why are we so anxious to get out of the very place God put us to serve him?

Are we trying to escape the pain? the problems?  Whatever the reason, and I'm sure there are many, have we forgotten we were put here to serve God and tell the world what Christ has done for them?  Have we forgotten that job isn't done yet?  Why do we want to avoid the very thing God asked us to do?

I'm not so sure God is pleased with this mindset.  We are called to love, share Christ, help the widow, visit the prisoner and yes, suffer for Christ.  Let's not look for an easy escape until we have done our job.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Are you not?

One of my favorite stories of the Old Testament comes from 2 Chronicles 20.  In that chapter king Jehoshaphat is faced with news of a coming army and in response he gathers all Israel at the temple to pray.  His prayer is brilliant, if not given in a bit of panic.  The prayer has 3 questions in it that frame a wonderful model for prayer.  Here they are-  1. Are you not? 2. Did you not? and 3. Will you not?

Are you not?

The king begins with the most important thing- who are we praying to.  If we start with a God big enough to help our prayers become bigger and bolder.  That's what he does.  He begins with the character of God, 'are you not?'  And as he prays about who he is talking to you can see his faith growing.

Then he moves to his second question- 

Did you not?  

In this question he reflects on what God has done in the past, how he has cared for and provided for Israel.  Remembering and reflecting on God's great works in the past is always faith affirming.

And finally, he moves to what is important to them, the request-

Will you not?

In this third question he makes his request.  When you remember who God is and what he has already done it makes your prayers for today bold and vibrant, alive with the reality of a big, active and loving Father.

So, try it.  Outline your prayers as this godly king did with three questions-

Are you not?
Did you not?
Will you not?

Perhaps, for you, as it has done for me, there will come a new excitement and growing faith as you approach the wonderful throne of grace.  He is a wonderful and loving Father and waiting for us to call.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The basics

A few thoughts on scripture and the world:

1. Don't try to change the world until you change yourself.

2. Good deeds are only defined by a good God.  Get to know him so you know what those deeds look like.

3. Never let angry words cross your lips.  They will always be words you regret.

4. Love others.  That means spending time with them, helping them, seeing them...really seeing them, listening to them, caring about their heart.  Love means giving your time and attention to the heart and life of another.

5. Clean something.  Take out the trash, do the dishes, pick up that piece of paper.  You are a steward.  Steward the world around you well.

6. Smile at other people.  There aren't enough smiles.  People are struggling and a smile will distract them from their worries.

7. There are rude and cruel people in this world.  Don't let their abuse affect you.  It speaks more about them than it does about you.  Only small people would be cruel to another.  Ignore it, pray for them.  They are hurting more than  you know.

8. Greet everyone you meet.  You never know the appointments God has in place for you.  You might just run into someone who really needs you today.

9. Find a way to serve someone every day.  A good deed, a card, a text a kind word. Serve others and let them know you care.  There is far too little of this happening in our world today.

10.  Once each month read these two passages:  John 13:34-35  and  Luke 6:27-38.  These two passages will give you a wonderful plumb line for your encounters each day.

Those are the basics.  Simple, aren't they?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Thoughts today

Hopefully this will not be profound or amazing.  I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts as the day  moves quickly ahead.  Lately I have been thinking about my place in the kingdom.  God as placed me in this body, in this place, in this time and given me gifts and passions to use for him.  I know I will never be famous or applauded. I'm really good with that.  The applause of men has never excited me.  And, to be honest, I will find I have lived a life insignificant to most in the world, but so do most of fact I would guess this is the fate of 99% of us who live our lives here.  Being seen and known isn't really that important.  Besides, it only lasts for a moment.  What does the media say?  15 minutes of fame?  That's about all we get for all our efforts.  We have to constantly revisit our purpose and reasons for living.  If we live for the applause of men we most likely will be disappointed, but if we simply live for the smile of God we will find rich and wonderful joy.  I am a watcher of people.  I watch how they interact, how they dress, how they present themselves, how they hope I will see them and realize I do that too!  I'm constantly reminded of the power of pride and my offended ego when others don't "see" me.  My pride is my great enemy.  How wonderful it would be to be free of it's power.  I recently read a book (for the third time) titled "Embracing Obscurity."  It's a wonderful book dealing with these issues.  I guess I need to read it again.  Today I'm dealing with people again, both good and frustrating encounters.  I find that most of us are just children in adult bodies.  In the last few days I have talked to several who are in the last third of their lives, but still acting like children in their emotions, still pouting when offended.  I'm not shocked or surprised because I know my own heart, but I there anyone who has really grown up, really become mature or are we all just children trying to find Father?

Monday, April 09, 2018

Me and Hitler

Strange title, isn't it?

I agree, but I wanted to use the one name we use in villainy more than any other (and it's not mine!).  But it could be.  The name "Hitler" has become a synonym for evil.  As I thought about my own thought life and the natural way I could and would go if it weren't for God's grace I realize I could be just as bad.

You want details, don't you? But it's the same with you.  We are each messed up, desperately wicked and able to live out the worse fears of anyone we know.

And yet, God changed all of that through a terrible cross...the very thing we would do to each other if we could get away with it in our most terrible moments.

When we claim we have lived good lives and deserve to go to heaven we ignore the reality of what we would have done if no one was watching....what we really wanted to do but were too afraid of punishment.  And with that all our claims of a good life turn to vapor and disappear.

As I reflect on my heart and the way I would live without God I am more thankful for his grace than I can even describe.  If God can change a heart like mine he can change any heart.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Lingering at the Finish Line

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus..."
Hebrews 12:1-2

I find my vocation, at this stage of life, as one lingering at the finish line of the race.  I am there to help those running their race.   I'm there to help them finish.  I'm there to cheer them on, to encourage them and be with them as they cross the tape.  

There are times of applause as they cross the line well, smiles and cheers of celebration.  There are times when my role is to encourage, to let them know they are not alone in their race.

Once in a while I find I'm helping them cross the line, helping them get to the finish line well.  Not everyone will get there with arms raised high.  Some will just barely crawl across the line and collapse. 

Everyone will finish.  My job, as support staff at the finish line, is to help them.

The finish line is an amazing place.  It's a place of smiles and applause, of tears and weeping, of pain and exhaustion.  Every emotion you have ever had will come together at the finish line.  Family will come to celebrate your finish or to weep at the way you ran.  Either way the tape comes for all of us.

Working on the finish line crew is challenging and wonderful.  What an honor!  

Today I bought a bird feeder for one of our ladies nearing the tape.  She likes to look out the window and loves birds so I got a feeder to attach to the window.  She's having a tough time finishing well.  I came into the house to see what she thought. She said, "that looks terrible!"  then she stuck out her tongue at me and told me to go away.  I smiled, said "you are welcome" and left.

Sometimes nearing the finish line is messy.  Sometimes it's funny.

Difficult days

 "You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.  They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!"

This morning, as I read, I once more came to this amazing passage.  It has always fascinated me and I slow down as I read it.  In this passage to Timothy Paul tells him that in the last days difficult times will come, but when we think of difficult times we think of famine, disease, plague or natural disaster...maybe even war.  That is not at all what Paul sees.  When he sees difficult times it's connected to how people live out their lives.  

The days will be difficult because of how people live, how they treat one another, how they act.  They will be difficult because love for others will be missing, because we will be surrounded by narcissists who only care for themselves, because the veneer of civility, of people treating one another kindly will be gone.  The people around us will only care for themselves, like hungry wild beasts they will tear one another apart.

Welcome to difficult days.  Here we are, they have come.  Read Paul's words carefully.  You will see all of it fulfilled on the nightly news, in traffic as you go to work, in relationships as divorce increases, in schools as children continue to kill one another.  The days are difficult because evil is unrestrained and people vent every vile emotion they have on anyone who gets in their way.

Welcome to the fulfillment of Paul's words, the difficult days, the last days.  

So, how should we live in the midst of this?  How do we respond?  The only response to those in chaos around us comes from Jesus' own lips and it's in two passages.  I won't post the text here because I want you to read his words.  Our response is this:  John 13:34-35 and Luke 6:27-38.

Those verses encapsulate the Christian response to difficult days.  That's how we live in the midst of difficult days.