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Archive for October, 2011

Yesterday, I told you about James.  He is a man I had the blessing of visiting with on Monday afternoon.  We actually shared a ride to Levelland and as we did, I got to hear some of his story.  As I listened, there were a couple of things I noticed about him.  He was very perceptive in his outlook.  He understood the human condition better than most people with whom I come in contact.  That makes sense I suppose because of his choice in how he is living his life.  He walks everywhere he goes and he spends time along the way, talking to people.

We talked about his family and the jobs he has had since returning from Vietnam and serving in the Marine Corp.  As we talked, he talked politics and social reform but then I noticed a change in his demeanor and even in his voice.  He removed his cap and he began to talk about his faith.  He wanted me to know that he was not some mis-guided “bum” but rather a man of faith who had fallen on hard times and was doing the best he can to survive.  I was moved by his passion.

I dropped him at the motel, handed him a little money to get a meal later on and I headed home.  But as I drove away, I began to think about my encounter with James.  As I have processed our time together I have come away with two things (so far).

1.  Part of the reason James has such a good grasp on life is that his way of life moves at a much slower pace than mine.  He walks everywhere he goes.  He began this latest journey in Nebraska and has walked for nearly a month to get here.  When one spends that kind of time moving through different parts of the country, there are a lot of things that can be learned.  James had the grasp on reality because he took time to process what he saw and heard along the journey.  I could learn a lot from him in this area.

2.  The other reminder that I gleaned from James is that regardless of what is taken away from me and the lengths that I might be forced to go in order to survive, my faith can never be taken from me.

Just some things James the traveling teacher has taught me.

Be blessed today!

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My Story of James

James came to see me yesterday.  I had never met James but I was notified that he was here to see me.  I went and escorted him to my office.   He was a worn looking fellow – but clean.  He had tired blue eyes that caught my attention as he sat down in one of the chairs in my office.  I took the chair next to him as he began to tell of his day’s journey.

He had been walking for close to a month, starting in Nebraska and now ending up here.  He was on his way to a community about 2 hours south of here and so he just wanted a place to stay and a hot meal.  I told him that we had already helped two different gentlemen last week and I did not have the funds to put him up for the night but I would make a call to see what I could do.  I called a fellow pastor in town and he agreed to put James up in a local motel for the night.  As I returned to my conversation with James, I began to relate to him the location of the motel and how it would be easy then to get on to Lubbock from that location.  His eyes got big and he said, “Oh, no.  I don’t go through big cities.  It would not be a good idea to try and walk through a big town.”

I then asked how he planned to get to Snyder if he did not go through Lubbock (one of the highways that intersects Littlefield goes through Lubbock and straight on to Snyder).  He told me he was planning on traveling down Highway 385 and then cut across to Snyder – which would take him right through Levelland (where I am still living).  So at that point, I could not see putting him up here and then having him walk to Levelland when I would be driving to Levelland in another 45 minutes.  So I called a connection I still have there and got him a room in Levelland.

He made himself at home in my office while I finished up a few things and then we headed out.  As we drove, I asked him to tell me his story.  As I listened, I learned some things about this man and his life.

Check back tomorrow and I will tell you what I learned.

But for today, think about this:  As James told me his story, I realized that he was being written into mine.

As the story of your life unfolds, who is it that God is writing into your story?

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Open and Accepting

Yesterday, we had a great day at church.  The energy was high and our people were engaged.  We had a young guy in our service who came to lead worship so that the church could see if this was a worship leader they would like to call to be a permanent member of our staff.  He did a great job of leading our people to worship and everyone responded.  Overall, it was a wonderful Sunday morning.

But one of the best parts of the morning for me was not the service, but what happened afterwards.  You see, in our church, if someone comes to be a part of our family, we have a meet and greet time after the service concludes where just about every person in the service lines up to come by and shake hands and hug necks of the folks who have come to be a part of what God is doing in our church.

Yesterday was no exception.  The line went half way around the auditorium and it took about 30 minutes to get everyone through the line.  As I stood there watching our people file past this young couple, I was struck by the acceptance and openness our people offered.  It was a picture of what I believe God created us to be as the church.

I am proud of our church for striving to be open and accepting of others!

Where do you go to take refuge and be accepted for who you are?  If you don’t have a place – – our doors are always open!

Be blessed!

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A genius passed yesterday. It is no secret that I am an Apple fiend. You can find just about anything put out by Apple in my home. Today, I am writing this on my iPad 2. So today is a sad day. Steve Jobs, creator and innovator of Apple, passed away yesterday after several years of battling cancer. There are eulogies all over the internet this morning. But this is one you need to read.

Jim Dennison offers up a daily devotion and I make it a habit to read it each day. But today I wanted share it with you. You can link to it here.

Have a blessed day today – and think about how you can make your life count today.

 

 

 

 

 

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Trusting God in Trying Times

We all go through trying times.  In our region of the country, we are in the midst of a drought unlike anything I have seen in my lifetime.  There is talk of water rationing for the farmers and prices on all things escalating in the very near future.  In fact, we have already begun to see higher prices at the grocery store and other places.  I was in a meeting last week in which a speaker told the group that we could expect the cost of electricity in our homes to double as of January 1st, due to the fact that the EPA has passed a law that will prohibit the company from generating electricity by burning coal.

In our own community, the local government struggles daily to make ends meet.  There are a couple of big ticket items that are a constant drain on the budget and there is just no money to do some things that the city needs to do.  Things here in our small west Texas town look pretty bleak!

It would be easy to curl up in the fetal position and give up.  Things don’t look good.  In fact, if one continues to focus on these negative realities, hope can be lost.

But I ran across this passage this morning in Habakkuk.  Chapter 3 verses 17-19 say this:

17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, 
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, 
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

When faced with trying times, we need to remember the source of our strength and the joy.  If our focus is on our situation, we will always face the possibility that we will lose hope and joy because trying times come to all of us.  But if our focus is on God, we will have contact with the source of all joy and hope.

Be blessed today!

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Sometimes we need to stop and thank God for the beauty of creation.  This morning I got to the office a little early, so I did the unusual (which is not that unusual for me).  I took my coffee and climbed up on the roof of the church to see the sun come up.

A little extreme?  Maybe.  But I have found it inspiring not only to see God’s creation from that vantage point but also to see the community to which God has called me from that vantage point as well.

I wanted to share this sight with you from this morning.  God is good!  Stop today and take in what God has created and pause to give thanks!

Be blessed today!

 

 

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When God Seems Distant

Have you ever felt God was distant – that your prayers seem to get no farther than the ceiling?  Maybe you feel that way today.

Here are some things to remember at such times:

  1. It is not uncommon to feel this way
  2. God is not distant – God may be silent but never distant
  3. Typically when we feel God is distant it is because we have moved – not God.  We have taken our focus off of our relationship with God and turned it to something or someone else

We must never forget that God promised to be with us always – Deuteronomy 31:6 says,   Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

The thing we must always keep at the forefront of our minds is that God is always with us and God is completely trustworthy.  Jesus, on the cross felt abandoned.  God could not look on what was going on and for a moment, Jesus felt completely alone.  But he endured that loneliness because he understood the ultimate goal.

The result?  An empty tomb!

God can be trusted and God never leaves us.  Regardless of God’s silence, hold on to this promise today!

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