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Archive for June, 2013

The door was closed when I got to the room early this morning.  The nurse was at the desk in the hall adjacent to the door.  I gave him a smile and then put my ear to the door to try and determine if it was safe to enter.  I heard all kinds of voices so I hesitated.  I have opened more than one hospital room door to things I can never un-see.

I knocked and heard her familiar voice say, “Come on in.”  I opened the door to a party of family members gathered around her bed.  There was a warmth in the room – and not just because the thermostat was set to 83 degrees.  It was obvious that this room was filled with joy – even in the midst of facing heart surgery.

Beverly shared with me that her daily reading this morning came out of Isaiah 40 and it brought peace to the room.  The passage says, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

There is no denying that Beverly’s hope is in the Lord.  She had a glow about her – even in the face of major surgery.  I hadn’t been there long when another knock came from the door.  The transport nurse stuck his head in and ushered us outside into the hall – where the party continued.  There was a bed waiting there to be wheeled into the room in order to serve as Beverly’s chariot to the OR.  But she wanted a minute with her sons.

So the transport nurse and the rest of the group waited outside in the hall.  In just a few minutes, the door opened and I expected one of the sons to stick his head out and tell the nurse she was ready.  But no, it was Beverly, out of bed and strolling out to crawl up in the transport bed.  Only Beverly!

There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that she was ready and no doubt where she gets her peace.  She was clear in pointing out to all who could hear her, God is in control.  That’s where she and the whole family find peace.  That is where she and the whole family find joy – real joy – even in the face of trials.

Thanks Beverly for reminding me that God has this!

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Last night we kicked off our Vacation Bible School.  This is one of the biggest events we host each year as an outreach to the children and families of our community.  This year’s theme is built around an amusement park – Colossal Coaster.

As the kids entered the sanctuary to close last night, we had a video playing with one of the songs for the week playing as background music.  But the video was shot from the inside of a huge roller coaster.  In other words, as we sat and watched the video, it was as if we were riding the coaster.

I sat in the back of the group so that I could see all that was happening.  After about a minute, one of our adult leaders decided to act like he was on the coaster.  So as the coaster crested the top of a drop, he would raise his hands and scream as the coaster plummeted to the bottom.  As the coaster came to a turn, he would raise his hands and lean into it.

What happened next was a very interesting display of human nature.  Slowly, kids started joining in.  Within seconds, all 90 plus kids were into it – raised hands, leaning into every turn and screaming with all the air their little lungs could push out.

I sat and watched and pondered.  Isn’t it amazing how just one person can have such impact.  What a responsibility!  What a blessing!  What a challenge!

How will you influence the people around you today?  Don’t ever think you have no impact.

Be blessed!

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Do you ever feel like its you against the world?  You, all alone, no one else?  Maybe even abandoned?  “No one could possibly understand how I feel.  No one knows what I am going through.”

These are the thoughts of a lonely person.  We all go through periods on this journey when we feel we are the only ones making the trip.  That is normal and dare I say . . . healthy.

You see, it is in our lonely times that we really meet God.  Our tendency is to stay busy – to stay occupied.  We try to fill ourselves with media, friends, work, stuff – but none of that satisfies.  It is when we are truly alone and there is no one or no thing to turn to that we can fully connect with God.  And that is the essence of our existence in the first place.

Aren’t we simple creatures!

Our lives are meant to be simple – keep our focus off of ourselves and on God – everything else falls into place.

So remember – when you feel lonely – you are never truly alone.  God is there and it is in those lonely times you can really connect – really find the savior who loves you.

Take heart – you are not alone!

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There is a note that I carry with me in my computer bag.  It’s a series of questions that I look at each time I run across it.  I don’t even know where I picked up the idea or when I started carrying the note.  But it helps to keep me grounded.

The note says this:

Lord, show me what you see in my heart.  What evidence is there that you are increasingly the center of my life?  Where do I consciously need to seek to exalt you and not myself?  Am I answering your call to spend time with you in scripture and prayer?  Are my core relationships characterized by honesty, forgiveness and intimacy?  Don’t let me take these questions lightly.

The very first sentence is an amazing request.  A petition for God to show me what he sees in my heart – in me.  Think about that request for a second.  What does God see in you?  What prize do you possess that God would value?

The answer?  You are everything to God.  God loves each of us so much that he died for us.  What specific value do you possess?  I don’t know.  You will need to search yourself to answer that but I can tell you without doubt that God sees you as worth dying for so know that you are special.

Once you have pondered this idea, ask yourself the questions that are listed above and don’t take them lightly.

God deserves our very best.  The best of our energy, the best of your time, the best of our passion.

May God find us faithful today!

Be a blessing!

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Not Another One Like Her

I had a dear friend take leave of this world yesterday.  She was 90 years old, in fact, just a few days away from turning 91.  The last year has been difficult for her, but if you met her prior to becoming so sick, you would have not guessed her age by her actions.  She was always going – always doing – always being.

The first time I met Butch we clicked right off the bat.  She was sitting in a Bible study on Sunday morning and I was being introduced to the class as a potential for the new associate pastor for the church.  She wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on and had a frown on her face about something.  Neither before meeting her nor since have I ever done this but for whatever reason, I walked over to her and said playfully, “This is what you look like.”   And then I made a sour face at her.  Instead of clocking me with her purse, we became lasting friends.

Not many people come along in your life who have a real impact and truly win your heart.  But Butch was that kind of person for me.

I will miss her but I will never forget.  She had dedicated her life to helping people and she inspires me still to this day to try and do the same.

What a character!  What a lady!  What a friend!

See ya’ on the other side Butch!

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This morning I am thinking about the kingdom of God.  There are 75 places in the New Testament that use the words “Kingdom of God.”  And as one looks over those verses, it becomes apparent that a clear definition of what is meant by these words is not all that easy to understand.

On the one hand, we see references to a “coming Kingdom.” giving us the idea that God’s Kingdom has not yet arrived but is a distant goal to set our sights on so that some day, when we die, we can enter into that Kingdom.  I believe that is an accurate understanding of what is meant by the Kingdom of God.

But I also read passages that say, the “Kingdom of God has come near,” or “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  When we see the concept of the kingdom used in this way, we realize that the New Testament understanding is bigger than just another name for heaven.

I have heard people much more versed in scripture than myself explain the concept of the Kingdom of God being synonymous with the “will of God.’  I think this idea sheds some light on the subject as well.

But maybe one way we can understand the Kingdom of God is simply “getting it” – grasping, at least in a small way, the love and grace and plan of God through Jesus.

When I think of the times I glimpse the grandeur and mystery of God; or I see someone truly show the love of Christ to someone else; I think God might be saying, “The Kingdom of God has come near.”

Something to think about today.

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A CD of Silence

Yesterday, I read a very interesting article.  It wasn’t really an article, more like a news spot.  The subject was a CD that has been recorded by a church in England.  St. Peter’s Church in Sussex, England has put together a CD to sell and it has created quite a stir.

Why the stir?  Because the CD contains silence.  Yes, you read that right.  The sound technician set a microphone in the sanctuary and turned on a recorder to capture the sounds of an empty room.

noise

The article said there is a recorded introduction at the beginning and some closing remarks.  But in between, there are 28 minutes of nothing – just ambient noise from the church – foot steps, traffic noise from outside the building and voices on occasion.

While this endeavor is enough to get my attention, what fascinates me most about this report is that the church stated that people from all over the world are buying the CD.

As I have pondered this article, one thing keeps surfacing in my thoughts.  The reason people are buying this CD is because they long for silence – for stillness.  Our world is full of noise and distraction and we all need to have time in our lives regularly in which we disconnect and just sit and reflect.

Isn’t it interesting that the fourth commandment is the longest commandment in the list of ten.   (You can read it here). There are more words of instruction associated with this one commandment than any of the others.  Why, you may ask?

Because God created us to need rest.  We are wired to need to take time away from our regular activity, slow down and delight in the wonder that is God.

Sabbath was created for us and not us for the Sabbath.  We need to take time to disconnect from our regular grind and fully reconnect with God.  And we need to do it regularly.  In fact, according to the commandment, it should happen once per week.

I don’t know if you need to buy a CD of nothing in order to experience God, but if that is what it takes maybe we need to start there.

Be blessed today.

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