Thursday, November 29, 2012

Endurance




My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4 (NRSV)

Too often, we mistake growing old for growing up. Growing old has mostly fringe drawbacks once we get past the age of 21. Growing up can continue to amaze and embolden us regardless of our age or condition. Our default position is to grow old, laziness being our original sin. Growing up is the preferred path. But it must be chosen.

We live in a society that begs us to escape, compartmentalize and ignore. None of these has a happy ending, death being what it is.

God offers another track through life; to grow up, to perfect, and to mature. He says that there are inherent rewards in “sticking with it.”

We cheer those who, through great sacrifice, perform inhuman feats on stage, in the area, or on the field. What we don’t see is their sacrificial investment into their life.

What if we cheered those who prevail when everything says to give in? What if we trusted in God enough to try it ourselves? What would change?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

If Only




The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV)

I hear the words “if only” at least once a day. Once in a while, I say it to myself. Most times, someone in pain utters it.
·      If only… (s)he would
·      If only… I won the lottery
·      If only… I get a job
·      If only… _____________ had won/lost the election
·      If only… (s)he would notice me
·      If only… my grades were better
·      If only… I had listened
·      If only… the coach, director, team, job, spouse force me
·      If only… I was better
·      If only… it was _____________ ( a past year/era)
·      If only… we had more money
·      If only… I wasn’t so busy
·      If only… my job didn’t suck
·      If only… God would tell me what to do
·      If only… I would have done_________
·      If only… __________________ (you fill it in)

In most of these cases, we are bemoaning the fact that we have little current control over things AND we set a trajectory previously in life that got us where we are.

When we let God run the show we are doing this.

  • Admitting that our efforts to control are often futile.  If only’s give way to a contented clarity of thought and heart.
  • We realign our If only, out-of-control life to God’s trajectory, which is life in abundance. Abundance not because we have-it-all.  Rather, a life of contentment because God has it all.

“Father,” Jesus said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36 (NIV)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hospitality




I came across this the other day. Maybe you did, too. Originally posted in Pinterest, Barbara Bunchuk tells of her granddaughter’s encounter with a security guard at The Magic Kingdom. The guard asked for the autograph of the granddaughter who was dressed as a princess. No brainer, princesses are famous. The girl was thrilled, if not surprised. The book contained other such autographs.

You may think this is cheesy. I think it is God-breathed. 

What if we were to treat every person as if she or he were someone really special? The guard was not fueled by a paycheck or fame. His real, agapic love came from within. This was natural.

How will you treat others, especially those who challenge you or who cannot repay you, today?

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13 (NIV)

Change the world with the next person you encounter.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving




39 years ago, I spent Thanksgiving in Bryce Canyon National Park. The park was closed for the winter. I was part of crew on a drill rig there. We had been called out of our sleep 6 days earlier to drive 400 miles in the snow (12 hours) to work on the rig. In the days of no cell phones, I did not know that the drill pipe was stuck and we would be stuck for days.

They opened up a closed motel for us to crash. We made many trips an hour away to the nearest cafĂ© and convenience store. We played cards, talked and slept a lot. No TV there. When it looked like we would all be there over Thanksgiving, the owner opened up the restaurant kitchen. We decided to see what we could pull off. 

The tool pusher was a former Army mess cook. A bunch of the crew had fish they had caught at Lake Powell. We had our own makeshift Thanksgiving, except with crappie as the main course. One big happy family. Three days later, we abandoned the well and went home. It was the one Thanksgiving that I did not spend with Christine.

A youth here has five barley loaves and two fish. 
But what good is that for a crowd like this?
John 6:9 (CEV)

On Thanksgiving, we want everything perfect. We want all the right food and right people to make a great memory. How much time do we spend thanking the One who perfects all things?

Our attempts to make thing perfect will always butt up against a cosmos that randomly wrecks plans. Even while embracing those people and things around us, we need to embrace God as well, a God who does not fight for a place at our table.

A God who can feed 5,000 on a limited budget, wants to perfect those plans we make and those we make a mess of. It starts in community but we each, individually, must make a community with Him as well. Make room for Him.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reality


Your house should look like this.  
In reality, it looks like this.

Most folks don’t like visitors to visit their home because they are embarrassed that the reality does not match some stupid, BS of an ideal. My house is a mess!

Sadly, we too often transfer that thinking to ourselves. I am a mess. Again, a stupid, BS of an ideal. Therefore, I can’t let you in. I cannot let you see the real me. Community suffers. We feel alone and isolated because we think we don’t measure up. Or else, we get super busy so no one will stop long enough to notice.

Here’s the truth. God looks beyond the mess and sees his beloved. You. Don’t waste your time with those who nit-pick your mess (they’ve got a lot of house cleaning the have ignored themselves.) Hang around those who see you for who you are and you can trust them with that. Church should be a place for that. So should family.

Sure, clean up your act if it is needed but, always, always, always, know God has a place for you. It’s in his heart. After all, God made you and thought you were just right.