Friday, November 6, 2009

Marching

Jesuit Father Luis Espinal was assassinated in La Paz, Bolivia on March 22, 1980. Shortly before his death he wrote: “There are Christians who have hysterical reactions, as if the world would have slipped out of God’s hands... But we believe in history; the world is not a roll of the dice going toward chaos. A new world has begun to happen since Christ has risen… Jesus…Your sorrow has now passed. Your enemies have now failed. You are a definitive smile for humankind… We march behind you, on the road to the future. You are with us and you are our immortality!” Take away the sadness from our faces. We are not in a game of chance…You have the last word!"
Amen and amen. “When you want to get hysterical, keep marching.” We do not live in fear because we live in the presence of the risen Lord Jesus Christ who keeps saying, “Do not be afraid. Do not fear. Let not your hearts be troubled. I am with you; I will not leave you desolate. Follow me.” We do not live in scarcity but in abundance because we live in the presence of Christ and all of God is available through Him. As a friend of mine said the other day, I believe in God and He is the same God who stood by Moses and said, “What’s the problem? There’s sea in front of you? Watch this!” And the rest is history! This is the same God who is present in Jesus. So when the moments of fear, panic, stress - and fragilization – well up within you, look back only long enough to see how faithful God has been, and to see how far He has brought us. Then turn back around and look forward, and keep marching into God’s future. “When you want to get hysterical, keep marching.” It may be more satisfying at the moment to get hysterical – after all, we all love moments of hysteria that relive our stress for a while – but the long term relief comes from marching behind Jesus. “When you want to get hysterical, keep marching.” As the Zulu Christians sing (“Siyahamba”) “We are marching in the light of God.” May Jesus be your definitive smile as you march behind Him into the future He has planned.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Staying in the Sunlight


The words of the Lord are the seed sown by the sower. Into our hearts they must fall that they may grow. Meditation and prayer water them, and obedience keep them in the sunlight. Thus they will bear fruit for the Lord’s gathering.” (from ‘Life Essential’ by George Mac Donald) Once again I am struck by the need for obedience – without it the words planted become mere memories. Lord, help me to follow through with obedience – not just some of the time but all the time. Amen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

For All Seasons

Here in Michigan the seasons change frequently - more than four times a year. Sometimes they change back and forth within the cycle of a season. Sometimes it's sunny and then it's cloudy; sometimes it's warm and then it's cold; sometimes it's dry and then it's wet. Sometimes it's October and the forecast calls for snow. One thing I've learned while living most of my life in Michigan is that it does no good to complain. In fact, it's best if I can learn to find enjoyment in each as it comes.

Similarly, the seasons of life change frequently as well. And there is no pattern or forecast to follow. The seasons come and go as they will. And as with Michigan weather, I'm learning that it does no good to complain. I cannot say that I need to find the joy in each season of life - sometimes there is little - but I am learning to reamin less affected by each. Someone wrote, "When you can reckon the sound of abundant rain and the hot blowing of a dry spell exactly the same, then you will be nearing the land of maturity."

Lord, help me grow into a man for all seasons.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Overflow

PRINCIPLE: “When you need paper towels, thank God for the overflow.”

It happened again a few weeks ago. I was pouring from a pitcher into my drinking glass and wasn’t paying attention - and before I knew it the overflow was on the countertop. So I grabbed a ‘quick picker upper’ and wiped it up. I then gave myself the usual brow beating for being so careless.

It’s amazing how God works. Since then I have been preparing messages on blessings and giving, and have been making the presentations for the campaign group meetings. My personal focus has been Malachi 3 and 2 Corinthians 8 & 9. The both deal with abundance and overflow of blessings. Today my mind returned to my recent brow beating exercise – and I realized that rather than berate myself I should have stopped and offered a prayer of thanksgiving. After all, I had enough supply of drink that I had more than enough, more than I needed; I had an excess. It should have reminded me of the many times God’s rich abundance has overflowed in my life. Thus the principle, “When you need paper towels, thank God for the overflow.”

As I ponder this I am taken back to my files to retrieve the following poem.

I’ve never made a fortune
And I’ll never make one now,
But it really doesn’t matter
Cause I’m happy anyhow.

As I go along my journey
I’m reaping better than I sow.
I’m drinking from the saucer
Cause my cup has overflowed.

I don’t have a lot of riches
And sometimes the going’s tough,
But when I’ve got my kids to love me
I think I’m rich enough.

I’ll just thank God for the blessings
That his mercy has bestowed,
I’m drinking from the saucer
Cause my cup has overflowed.

If you give me strength and courage
When the way grows steep and rough
I’ll not ask for other blessings,
I’m already blessed enough.

May I never be too busy
To help another with his load,
Then I’ll be drinking from the saucer
Cause my cup has overflowed.

“When you need paper towels, thank God for the overflow.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Filling the Tank

I fight so often against the urges of the flesh. When I know that some particular temptation will be strong, or that it will be a difficult week filled with potential pitfalls, I try to ‘steel up my strength’ and get ready to ward off any intrusion to my devotion to Christ. Such was my thinking this morning when I read, “Only by a stronger passion can evil passions be expelled, and…a soul unoccupied by a positive devotion is sure to be occupied by spiritual demons…When Ulysses passed the isle of Sirens, he has himself tied to the mast and had his ears stopped with wax, that he might no t hear the sirens singing – a picture of many a man’s pitiful attempts after negative goodness. But when Orpheus passed the Isle of Sirens, he sat on the deck, indifferent, for he too was a musician and could make melody so much more beautiful than the sirens, that their alluring songs were to him discords.”

Once again my Lord has brought me to attention. I had not been faithful recently with spending daily time in His presence; if I had been, I would have been much more relaxed to begin this day, and probably have slept better in recent nights as well. Paul had it right, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”The Holy Spirit is waiting to fill my mind, but I must give Him the opportunity to do so. Much like putting gas in my car, the gas is ready to flow into the tank, but I must connect the hose and my tank. So it is up to me to connect with the Spirit. Lord, make me diligent in doing so.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Making the Connection

Jesus (Jn 15) said that whatever I ask in His name would be given to me. Really? Has that been my experience? I’ve never been quite sure what that phrase really means. In diagnosing and dissecting it I may have talked myself into disbelieving it. However I notice it’s connected to bearing fruit – “I chose you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last – so that whatever you ask in my name…” Maybe I’m not experiencing the promise because I’m not living the premise – maybe I’m not bearing fruit and obeying as Jesus commands. So today I make a new commitment: to boldly pray and believe that what I ask for has been given, to act as if it has been given – and to keep praying until it is a visible, verifiable reality. And in that process God can confirm my asking, chastise me for it, or correct it until I am in agreement with his will. “Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.” Meanwhile I’ll try to be more concerned with bearing fruit than with how to get what I ask.

Lord, keep me alert to the opportunities you put before me this day. Amen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What God Offers

In the Prayer Guide a while ago – which I had sinfully been neglecting – I read that thought that God most often appears in weakness – even Jesus resisted the temptation to come with more power. Why is this an important insight? “This is why, if we keep clamouring for things we want from God, we may find ourselves disappointed, because we have forgotten the weakness of God …We had thought of God as the dispenser of all the good things we would possibly desire; but in a very real sense, God has nothing to offer except himself.”

I’d been praying for so long that God would send someone with a major gift to help the General Fund and the Building Fund – to do the miracle; even promising that He would certainly receive the glory. But maybe God wants to work another way. Just maybe He doesn’t want to do the big public miracle but, rather, wants to move behind the scenes in the hearts of people. Maybe my prayer from here on needs to be for people to open their hearts to God’s Spirit and for the Spirit to transform hearts; would that not lead to great – even miraculous – things?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

You're Only As Good As...

There's an old saying in sports that you're only as good as your last game. As unfair as it seems it is quite true. Oh, past performances might lead to a better paycheck but they do not help today's performance be good. Last year's game or performance, last week's, or even yesterday's does not help today one iota. I think Paul had the same idea in mind. He wrote his second letter to the Corinthian Church to defend his credentials against those who sought to discredit him. He then states that he could go on trumpeting his goodness and quality but "I refrain,so that no one will think more highly of me than is warranted by what I do or say."

Paul understood that no matter what his past credentials or reputation, what was important was how he behaved in th
e present. He wanted to be judged by his current 'performance', not his past. "Think only as highly of me as my speech and action warrant." I find this to be a great daily reminder for myself - today is what counts. What I say and do today will be tomorrow's 'last game.' Live every moment for the Lord. I'm only as good as what I do in this moment.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sarah Revisited

So I'm skimming through a magazine. Seldom do I read the ads but this one caught my eye, "If you had chicken pox as a child, you could get Shingles now." Since I know a fairly large number of people who have had Shingles, I read the ad. It would have qualified for Jay Leno's old headline segment. Here's the two key lines: "Once you reach the age 60, the sooner you get vaccinated, the better your chances of protecting yourself from Shingles...You should not take Zostavax if you are...pregnant." I don't know about you but I don't know too many pregnant 60 year old women! But then, with the cautions medical companies need to take these days because of possible law suits, they are probably just making sure old Sarah isn't still alive. I wonder if the ad was written by some guy named Abraham?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When Will I Ever Learn?

It's been over a year since I last mused on Comcast's lack of communication. Well, I'm back. 31/2 months ago we sent to their offices the modem we had been renting - we bought our own. We are still being billed the monthly rental fee (only $3.00 but that's not the point.) I know they received it because I tracked it online. So two nights ago I decided to call the number listed on their bill; I waited for 25 minutes on hold. Of course, during that time I heard several invitations to contact them online. So finally I resorted to that. I went to their website and used it to email my complaint. It states there that the sender will hear most likely in a few hours. I checked last night and they had responded - by saying that for security reasons they would not discuss personal items via email and that I should call the number listed below where there are agents available 24/7. So I called - after working my way the myriad of options on their menu, I finally got through to the department I needed, only to hear "the office is closed..." Hmm... So I sent them another email of very frim complaint and was again told that I would hear most likely within a few hours. It's 24 hours later and still no response. Why did I ever think contacting them would be easy? When will I ever learn?