Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Do You Have What It Takes?

The following quotation was sent to me recently. I did not know who Hamilton Wright Mabie was but I liked his sentiment. 

The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had means, time, influence and educational advantages; the question is what he will do with the things he has. The moment a young man ceases to dream or to bemoan his lack of opportunities and resolutely looks his conditions in the face, and resolves to change them, he lays the corner-stone of a solid and honorable success.       Hamilton Wright Mabie 

Jesus said something similar when the disciples bemoaned that he had asked them to do the impossible (in their minds.)  Here is my much abbreviated translation of Mark’s version of the feeding of the 5,000. If you want the real thing, look here 

Jesus: “You give them something to eat.”
Disciples (whining): “Are you out of your mind? Where are we going to get that kind of money?
Jesus: “Why don’t you see what you have first.”
Disciples (exasperated): “Where’s what we’ve got.”
Jesus: “Fine, that’s enough.”

We can do a lot more than we think we can. Our problem is that, too often, we compare with others (and pine and whine) rather than take inventory of what we really have in the way of abilities and resources. Too often, we forget that we are to carry out life depending on Jesus Christ.

Too, often we leave Christ out of our day and out of the equation.

What impossible things are you equipped to do today? When was the last time you invited Christ into your challenges? You’ve got what it takes!

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Man of His Word

My dad taught me that a man keeps his promise no matter what the cost or what better turns up. I assume that there may have been extenuating (I mean really extenuating) circumstances where a man may request to bow out of a promise. A handshake was sacred. I further assume that he meant this for a woman as well.

My dad lived this out. I remember a certain eccentric wildcatter of a man from Grants, New Mexico who paid in cash (lots of it) in the oil patch and who always keep his word. Nothing had to be in writing. He was good for it.

These people of honor I find are rarer these days. Sad. Social currency erodes. Who do we believe, trust or can we count on?

“I promise” often means (or is interpreted to mean)

    • I will (unless something better comes along)
    • I will (but not if it poses an inconvenience)
    • I will (but I won’t look you in the eye if I am going to reneg)
    • I will (but you don’t really expect me to uphold this, do you?)
    • I will (but you will have to continually remind, if not nag, me)
    • I will (but I will “mail it in”)

What will you do today to be a woman or man of integrity, a woman or man of her/his word? Pray that I will as well.

Jesus said, “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
Matthew 21:28-32 (NIV)

Thursday, January 24, 2013


           Celebrant          Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the
                                    dignity of every human being?
          People               I will, with God’s help.    (Episcopal Baptismal Vows)

            Dignity: the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed (Webster)

One of the sad things about Facebook and Twitter is seeing firsthand the disrespect shown to people who hold differing opinions. This is especially painful when the person showing the disrespect is a friend or church member. I am not talking about disagreeing. I am talking about shaming, name-calling, questioning motives, and writing off people as idiots.

I will admit that it is difficult sometimes to find the image of Christ in some people. I strain looking for it and, I am sure, some strain to find it in me. But the truth is that each person has an inherent dignity and I promised at baptism (mine and those of others) to look for it.

But if we claim to follow (or even want to follow) Christ, we have to make that effort. That means we have to, on occasion, just keep our mouths shut. We have to try to see things from a different perspective. We have to question our own infallibility. We must remind ourselves that God steadfastly loves us even in our rebellions.

Ask yourself this day, “Who do I have the hardest time bestowing dignity upon and what am I going to do about it?”

            Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12 (NIV)

            Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 (NIV)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Gandalf: “I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”
Bilbo: “I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" 
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Someone asked Jesus, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them,  “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’    
                                                                                 Luke 13:23-25 (NIV)

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?                                   Mark 8:34-37 (Message)

What Adventure is Jesus calling you to that you are resisting, preferring to play it safe?