October 8, 2015
It’s a dreary fall day, coffee didn’t perk me up, so exercise will be the next attempt. How have we gotten ourselves so out of sorts…we work harder with less results, lower output, and no further ahead. Technology is suppose to help us better manage our lives but I think it has complicated our lives instead. I was watching the birds while I drank my coffee and I found myself envying them. They have clear purpose, plenty of food, sing a lot, communal, and there is team work. Wow! Thank you God for using the birds to remind me what you intended for us!!
May 18, 2015
There is a great commercial by Cadillac that says “Only those who dare drive the world forward.” I’ve done a lot of thinking about that phrase. I like the concept behind that when we dare in our thinking new creativity emerges, we move out of our thinking boxes, we dare to believe in the possibilities. Pentecost is this weekend, that story is the disciples daring to step out to share what they knew and experienced. If we step out sharing our faith experiences, we might change the world too!
September 11, 2014
“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” ~Yoda I ran across this quote recently and it struck. A comment that accompanied it said “You either accomplish what you set out to do or you don’t, there is no in between, no gray area called try.” I’ve thought about this for a couple of days and get it. ‘Try’ sets us up for not accomplishing anything before we even start by giving us an option to give up. When it gets difficult, as sometimes does, we begin to look for the way out. I love running but after a year of not running and starting up again, believe me, I’m looking for a reason to stop as I get myself back in shape. “I’m trying to get fit again” is what I say…allowing myself the out because it may get hard. Who will fault us, after all, we tried! There is no try in God’s vocabulary, only do!
July 7, 2014
Happy ‘Chocolate Day’ to all you chocolate lovers! It doesn’t cease to amaze me all the ‘holidays’ that exist. Are we so short on things to celebrate that we create large numbers of days with something to celebrate. Why don’t we celebrate everyday the gift of life that God breathed into our lungs. Why don’t we celebrate everyday the gift of newness of life that God gives to us in the form of grace. We need no reason to celebrate other than that God loves us, redeems us, transforms us, and uses us to His glory. I listened yesterday to an amazing story of transformation and how God is using someone to touch the world. I need no other reason to celebrate than that…oh, for you chocolate lovers…remember thank God for the gift of chocolate!!!
July 3, 2014
Today is the final day of battle in Gettysburg, PA in 1863, over 51000 troops will wounded, killed, or missing after this day ends. Lee returns south after today and tide of the Civil War begins to change. The town begins the task of cleaning up from the battle, life goes on. Every July 1-3, I think of this battle and the lives that changed there. One single event changing so many people. It makes one reflect on the who Christ is and the changed lives because of Him. So many are renewed, right now, because of Him and so many more are changed because of those that have walked before you. Are you one of the changed because of Christ?
June 6, 2014
Today is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion that changed the tide of World War II. Today, many men sacrificed their lives to free France and all the world from the tyranny of one man. Today, lives were cut short so that others many live long. We owe a great big thanks to our WWII vets as all veterans. Today, I am reminded of the sacrifice that God made so that we all could be in eternity. When I see those whose lives were cut short today, I sure will thank them for giving me such a great gift…
May 29, 2014
Have you ever wondered about evil. I had the beginnings of a conversation on Wednesday about it. Is God the cause of evil directly or indirectly? Is evil the cause of evil? Is God the cause/source of evil by complacency or choice? These are a few of the questions that has dominated the service. The conversation continues next week…we will see where is goes!!
March 12, 2014
I recently was watching the snow melt around the fringes of our parking lot and thinking how as each hour passes, the environment view changes as the piles of snow become smaller revealing long hidden ground. It is revealing all kinds of surprises of garbage, forgotten parking lot needs, lost items, clutter, grass, dirt, etc. The slow melting snow brings ever increasing excitement that Spring is here, or at least approaching, with dreams of warm temperatures, color returning to the landscape, choruses of bird songs, and lighter clothing to wear. Change brings freshness that we all yearn for and then unexpectedly we get news that more snow is coming. Spirits plummet at the prospect. Our pretty picture of how it is suppose to be is smudged! I was thinking how that is with our image/relationship with God. On the one hand, excitement builds with each passing moment with Him, there dances in our heads thoughts of who God is and what God is; on the other hand, something happens in our lives and our picture of God is tarnished. God becomes ‘smudged’ in our minds and hearts resulting in a broken relationship Our expectation of how God is suppose to be isn’t lived out therefore God isn’t real or doesn’t care. We spiral into complacency or disillusionment. God becomes a research project and not a relationship. We become cynical, sarcastic, spiritually numb or worse, dead. I challenge you to swim to the surface and take a breathe of life so that you may live again.
February 11, 2014
February is a month that is short and yet is packed with significance…St. Valentine’s Day (dates to the 5th century), Presidents Lincoln & Washington Birthdays, Groundhog Day, National African American History Month (formerly known as Black History Month.) I was curious about National African American History Month’s origins and was surprise to find that it dates back to 1915 when Carter Woodson, a Harvard trained historian and Jesse Moorland, a Congressional Minister & Director of the YMCA in the late 1800’s, founded the Association for the Study of Negro (now African American) Life and History. Both of these men have incredible histories of their own but their idea was to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black individuals to inspire others. In 1926, they picked the 2nd week of February (it coincided with Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass’ birthdays) to display what 11 years of researched showed them. This yearly emphasis is celebrated in Canada and the United Kingdom as well. The achievements of any individual or organization that makes our world/lives better should be held up no matter what time of year it is. We should not let anyone’s achievements, grand or not, go unnoticed. Who in your life has had an achievement in their life that should be celebrated? Take some time to celebrate them and with them, maybe they will be the next one who institutes a month long focus in the future.
January 15, 2014
The Fall and Christmas season flew by us all. We kept ourselves busy, to busy, this great liturgical season. Now we get to take a big deep breath before the Lenten season is upon us. Taking a big deep breath is something we all take for granted. So many rush through life at warp speed and miss the simple enjoyments of life…conversations with friends, family, acquaintances, strangers that enrich our lives; pausing to see the beauty of God’s creation; learning something new; just thinking & feeling! As this year is still new, why don’t you make the decision to stop, look, see what God is doing in your life that you are missing!
September 24, 2013
I was observing the moon last night and thinking about the light verses darkness thought. Paul tells us in Philippians that we are “to shine as lights in the world.” (Phil 2:15) This has me thinking that if Christ is the light of the world, Christ is in us, can there ever be darkness. The darkness might be our inability to see the light, but is it really dark. If I believe that Christ is the “light of the world,” then wherever Christ is, there is light. The thought I’m realizing is that we create the darkness from our own lack of faith/belief that Christ really is the “light of the world.” One can say that they believe, but what credit is that to them? “Even the demons believe and shudder.” (James 2:19)
September 9, 2013
I was observing, today, the onset of fall. Temperatures are cooler, leaves are in the early stages of changing, apple picking is in full swing. I couldn’t help to think of all the changes that are occurring around us, every season, every year and yet, I often hear words that express a dislike of change as something ugly, terrible, bad. What is it about us as human nature that says things have to stay the same, especially in the church. Why do we fight against anything different, new, exploratory as a personal affront rejecting any notion of trying a new idea to reach someone else. Why are we so tightfisted with our resources that we aren’t willing to endorse a new thought or concept to try and make a difference in someone else’s life. Human nature surprises and baffles me everyday. It fascinates me, puzzles me, makes me reflect, and challenges me to look at myself. Thank God that God is still in control and challenges us with changes to teach us how to adapt & adjust so that we learn flexibility. God is so good and has such a great sense of humor!
August 23, 2013
The summer is has flown by and here we are at the end of August, colleges are starting, school districts are gearing up, church programming is starting for the fall and holidays loom on the horizon. Life is so fluid and yet we try to solidify it in some feeble attempt to stop changes from occurring in our lives. Jesus tells us to “always be prepared” for we know not the time when He returns. That speaks to me of always being in a state of flux. Readiness is the preparation for everything as you know it to change direction at a moment’s notice. A fire drill makes us stop and change direction instantly; a siren makes us react immediately to something we weren’t expecting; a confrontation makes think differently and quickly; a doctor’s visit may make us re-evaluate our life with one sentence. Yet, we want everything to stay the same! I don’t know about you, but I think we all need to re-think how we live life and what is really important before it is gone from sight.
June 11, 2013
“By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.” That saying was on a church sign that I saw recently. It made me smile and think about how easy we give up on things. If we meet some kind of adversity, our first reaction (and sometimes only reaction) is to give up. Perseverance according to the dictionary is: adherence to a course of action, belief, or purpose without giving way; steadfastness. How fickle we are when sometime doesn’t go our way. Our first reaction – blame God (who we barely know), second reaction – get mad/angry at everyone (especially those who lives look perfect), third reaction – give up, don’t do anything but to stay in reaction one & two. By perseverance, the snail reached the ark! Wow, I can only pray to have the determination of a snail…
Monday, May 21, 2013
I spent today traveling through multiple weather systems. Some dumped rain on us while others looked like the heavens were going to open on us. Dark clouds hung in threatening anger warning us that danger is coming. The danger never happened and our trip was only challenged by some rain. I can’t help to wonder how those in Moore, Oklahoma must have felt. In a blink of the eye, lives have been changed forever. Homes have been destroyed, lives have ended, children aren’t going home, parents are devastated. Again tragedy has struck. How should we respond? Prayers…I hope that was the first thing all of us did; pack your car and head that way…they might not be ready for us; money…I’m sure it is needed but that is the easy thing to do; not forget that tragedy has struck our brothers & sisters in this community, absolutely! In a couple of days, when the news stops believing that this is news worthy, we run the danger of forgetting what just happened to this community and move on with life unaffected by what did occur. We are losing our communal nature…the understanding that “when on part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part rejoices, every part rejoices with it.” I Corinthians 12:26 With each tragedy, another part of us becomes more numbed and unaffected because it doesn’t directly touch me. We continue to put our belief and trust in the wrong things. We have lost our care for our fellow person we walk this world with and have put our trust in what serves me. The good thing in all of this is that there will be testimonies of the goodness and kindness some will show and they will be/should be inspirations to us all. We will see glimpses of God moving if we open our eyes and look.
Monday, May 13, 2013
I find human nature interesting to observe. The way we analyze what is important and what is not; what is a priority for the individual and what is not, is fascinating. Where do we get the evaluative tools that we use to decide the merits of activities and their importance. I can’t help but wonder if they are self-developed or taught; are they innate, based on some internal wiring that we get when born or culturally installed in our formative years? I wonder why God’s role is never treated with equality with other activities on a “level playing field?” What is it about the idea of God, a supreme being, that gives people the ‘jitters’ when deciding its importance. So many have told me that they don’t put value in it because they were ‘forced’ to go to church when younger. We were required to eat yet we still eat (we are an obese country); get dressed and we still wear clothes; go to school and many have a higher education degrees or expertise in a trade; we were required to talk & learn to walk and we still talk & walk, in fact, we pass these things on to the next generation. So I wonder why God is treated differently, why is our faith evaluated as to its merits for deserving our time based on a different scale. Human nature is interesting and I just found out that the world revolves around the sun! I thought it was the opposite, because that would help explain why we think the way we do. I pray that God forgives us…
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Each morning I wake early in the morning before light has emerged on the horizon. I am not an early riser, so this has been odd for me. What has amazed me is how quiet in the morning, just before dawn, it is outside. It seems like it is the quietest time of night and then you hear it. It reminds me of a scene in the movie “City of Angels,” the angels are all standing on a beach when one of them says, ‘Do you hear it?’ I feel like that scene each morning lately – listening for the first sounds. You hear a lone sound, I find myself straining to listen for it, then there it is. A sole bird chirps the first notes of the day and before long a chorus has erupted outside. All these creatures singing their praises to the God who created them. Jesus once said, when told to tell his followers to stop praising Him, that if they were silent, the stones would cry out. As I listen to this chorus outside my window I can’t help thinking that we all have something to learn about singing our praises to God on a daily basis. Instead of complaining about “all the racket” going on early in the morning, maybe we should join them. Its funny that when we raise our voices, they become quiet. God’s praise will be heard, I hope that we are the ones doing it, but if not, I’m glad that His creatures are.
Monday, May 6, 2013
A dear friend sent me one of Thomas Merton’s writings that comes from his preface to an edition of Christmas sermons of the twelfth-century Cistercian, Gueric of Ingy. It said “Here is the Gospel message in all its original simplicity: the message that men and women are really loved by God, that sins are really forgiven, and that the mercy of God, beyond all our comprehension, has come to drive out forever the bitterness of selfish hearts and fill us instead with the sweetness of His presence forever.”
What I like about this quote is that it causes us to pause and realize that what we yearn to know & hear is the same thing that was needed to be heard in the twelfth century. We are not so different from our brothers & sisters back then. With all of our technological advances, we still yearn for the simple message. We haven’t heard it in our churches enough to realize the truth of it, partly because the individual isn’t there to hear it and maybe it isn’t being said. But, it reminds me that the simplicity of the message is what God intended and we shouldn’t complicate it. Maybe we complicate it because we really aren’t sure if we believe it. There we have it: it’s all about believing it, believing that God means what God said. After all, Moses had to decide to believe God when God spoke to him and then go; Noah had to believe God enough to build the ark; Paul had to believe Jesus enough to be led into the unknown. So can you believe God and God’s promises to you? What makes it harder for you? Maybe it’s just YOU!
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
I was reading this morning that the Church (Big Church) is like a ship in a storm with no reference points by which to steer. What we are left with is the ‘internal guidance system’ to guide us – namely the Holy Spirit. I wonder if the modern church is all that unique. The early church had the same issue of many voices claiming peoples spiritual allegiance. Why do we think that somehow our era is different? The gift we have is the wisdom of our forerunners in the faith. We have so much to learn from them, and yet, we strike out on our own trying to “re-invent the wheel.” Why don’t we pay more attention to those who already forged a path for us. Are we so inward focused that we can’t see? I have a family member with Macular Degeneration, their eyesight is fading. Several months ago their eyesight in one eye (and the other eye isn’t good at all) suddenly disappeared. After a period of adjustment, they began to find other ways of doing things to maintain independence and vitality. Although some of their sight is returning, they see better now then ever. Their internal guidance system is helping them and they have learned to hear it, trust it, follow it. Maybe the Church today is experiencing a bit of macular degeneration and has to learn to trust our internal guidance system – the Holy Spirit. Maybe this is true of us all!
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Dr. Robert Pierce termed the phrase “God Room” which is when you see a need and it’s bigger than your human abilities to meet it. (Rebel With A Cause by Franklin Graham, pg 139) This is a concept that I find difficult to grasp in a practical way. I wrestle with the idea because it makes me question my faith. Can I trust God that much or am I like so many others that are okay trusting God with what we can control. I know about making room for God to work but that is great when you have the resources to back yourself up. What about when you don’t? Our human nature reacts contrary to that. I love the idea of “God Room” but I don’t want to be perceived as being irresponsible, isn’t that a ‘human nature’ response. Lord, help us all to trust beyond that which we can control…