Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Still more was to turn Christmas into a truly Joy-filled holiday - Part 2

Yesterday I shared some of the “432 things to do for yourself and others that just might make this the best Christmas ever” from the book, “The Little Book of Christmas Joys” by H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Rosemary Brown, and Kathy Peel. I hope that some of the things I shared got all of us thinking about how we can celebrate Christmas with more meaning and purpose.

Today, I want to add to that list – there are just so many good ideas and thoughts that it is hard to pick and choose which ones to share. There are some that I have edited or inserted my own.

· Begin a family Christmas journal. Write down memories your family shares: events you attend, presents you give and receive, and the inevitable crises that occur. Give this journal of Christmas memories as a gift and then add a page each year.
· Give an anonymous gift of money to someone who has been laid off.
· Start a special collection of Christmas ornaments each year for your children and grandchildren. Add a new one every year.
· Help an elderly neighbor decorate his or her home.
· Remember that the more a toy costs, the more likely kids will want to play with the box it came in.
· At least once in your life, visit New York and take in the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show and enjoy the skaters and the huge Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza.
· Put something Christmassy in every room of your home … including the bathroom.
· Sing at one verse of your family’s favorite Christmas carol between opening each present.
· Keep Christmas music going in the background at home, in the car and at the office. Before too long you will be singing along, enjoying the holidays and lifting the spirit of those around you.
· When you don’t know what to give, give a book. Inscribe it with your name, the occasion, and the date.
· Want to rediscover the child in yourself … then walk through the toy section at one or more of the stores and remember when you played with some of those toys or when you gave some of those toys to your children.
· Be creative with gift-wrapping. Use old maps, the funny papers, posters, the yellow pages.
· Some time during the holidays, go through your closets and box up clothing you haven’t worn in two years. Give away items that are still in good condition.
· Always record the names and addresses in your address book as you receive Christmas cards. That way your list will always be current.
· Take an evening to drive around to see all the decorated houses. Take a thermos of hot chocolate and some special Christmas cookies to enjoy during the drive.
· Create a special Christmas morning breakfast menu and serve it every year.
· Give a “Love Gift” to the special people in your life. A “Love Gift” is something that you will do for them during the next year.
· Help your child or grandchild make red and green paper chains from construction paper. Hang them all over their bedroom as their special decorations for Christmas.
· Reserve a night for the entire family to make homemade ornaments for your tree.
· Park as far away as possible at your local Mall. You need the exercise.
· Save the fronts of your Christ cards and then glue/paste them together the following year to cover one of your doors as a decoration.
· Offer to baby-sit for new parents to give them a chance to do some shopping or just enjoy one of the new movie releases.
· When decorating the tree, nestle photos of past Christmas morning experiences in the branches.
· Walk up to people standing in lines at the Mall and say, “Repeat after me, ‘I’m having fun, I’m having fun …’” and watch their faces and posture change.
· Take some time out to sit in the mall and watch youngsters having their pictures made with Santa while you sip a holiday blend of coffee.

Well, I hope some of these make your Christmas a little more merry and meaningful … one that is filled with joy. The sharing of these ideas will continue tomorrow!

Quote for today: It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. ~W.T. Ellis

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sharing a little of the Christmas Joys in many and varied ways

Today’s blog is a “re-run” from last year. As I wrote last year, I’ve really been taken by this little book and the multiple things that anyone can do to spread a little of the Christmas joy to others, but I am beginning to see these suggestions from a different perspective as I work on Sunday’s sermon which deals somewhat with the life of John the Baptist. In Luke 1:14 (NIV) it states, about his pending birth: “He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth.” Which got me thinking, do others rejoice because of my birth? How about your birth? Oh, people were rejoicing when we were born, but then we grew up. Maybe, just maybe, if we start to share the joy of Christmas in many and various ways the rejoicing just might come with the sharing. Here is what I wrote last year:

Among the various Christmas books that are pulled out of the bookshelf each year is a small volume titled, “The Little Book of Christmas Joys.” It is authored by H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Rosemary Brown, and Kathy Peel. It lists “432 things to do for yourself and others that just might make this the best Christmas ever.” While I won’t share all 432 of them here, there are a few that just jump off the pages. I’m sure that one or more of these suggestions will mean something to you and yours.

· Buy a pair of red flannel pajamas that you wear only on Christmas Eve.
· Don’t count calories from December 15th through January 2nd.
· Mend a broken relationship with a friend or relative during the holidays.
· Be nice to sales personnel. They’re often wearier than you are.
· Take a holiday family photograph each year in the same spot. In years to come, you’ll have a wonderful record of the growth of your family.
· Place your children’s stuffed animals under the Christmas tree as a welcoming committee for Santa.
· Let go of a problem you can’t solve. Enjoy the season.
· Hang a favorite Christmas tree ornament from your car’s rear-view mirror.
· Take a basket of Christmas goodies to your local fire and police stations.
· Take along your address book when Christmas shopping so that you can ship out-of-town purchases directly from the store.
· Have a special place to display the Christmas card from the farthest distance away.
· Try at least one new recipe and one new decorating idea.
· Hire high school or college students to help with your holiday decorating and/or holiday entertaining.
· Wrap your gifts as you purchase them instead of all at one time.
· Sit in front of the lighted Christmas tree and with only candles glowing in the background read the Christmas story in Luke, chapter 2. Then join hands and sing “Silent Night.”
· When you think you have enough lights on your tree or house, add two more strands.
· Instead of the usual bedtime stories, read to your children about the Christmas customs in other countries.
· Enjoy a couple of meals illuminated only by the Christmas tree. If you can make it work, even sit on the floor together and tell favorite stories from Christmas’ past.
· During the year, collect inexpensive antique napkins at flea markets and yard sales. Use them to line baskets of Christmas goodies.
· Always take a picture of your decorated home and add them to your picture books. The collection will bring back many memories in later years.
· Try to finish your Christmas shopping by December 10th.
· Before going to bed every night of the Christmas season, ask yourself, “Whose life did I make brighter today?” (Not a bad idea to do every night of the year)
· Remind newlyweds to save an item from their wedding ceremony to use as a treasured Christmas ornament.
· A few don’ts … don’t give anyone a fruitcake; don’t give a child underwear; and don’t give your spouse a bathroom scale.
· Call a nursing home and get the names of five people who don’t often receive mail. Send each one a beautiful Christmas card and sign it, “from Santa.”
· Wear outrageous Christmas socks.
· Give new friends who have just moved to town a newspaper subscription from their old hometown.
· Never refuse a holiday dessert.
· Offer to run Christmas errands fro an elderly friend or relative.
· Change your answering machine greeting to a cheerful Christmas one.
· Learn to say Merry Christmas in several languages.

Well, those are just a few from the first 100. Maybe I will do another blog and include some other suggestions from the little book.

The one thing that I would add to their list is – make sure that you have fun every day, laugh a lot, drink a little eggnog and make sure you get yourself a good quantity of hugs every day.

Quote for today: Only a life lived for others is a life worth while. ~Albert Einstein

Friday, November 25, 2011

Two Thanksgiving Proclamations made by Abraham Lincoln in 1863

Two 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamations which are said to be by Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln's
Thanksgiving Proclamation
of 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

Abraham Lincoln's
Thanksgiving Proclamation
of 1863

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choisest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Story of Gratitude as told by Paul Aurandt about Captain Eddie Rickenbacker

A Story for Thanksgiving Day

It is a story that has been shared by many authors - Paul Aurandt, "The Old Man and the Gulls", Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story, and in Heaven Bound Living, by Knofel Stanton. I first heard in when Paul Harvey told it on one of his, “The Rest of the Story,” radio programs. It touched me then and it touches me now. Gratitude is such a deep emotion. We each should find ways to express the gratitude of our lives to those who have assisted us on our journey. And now, for the rest of the story …

It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.

Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean...For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark...ten feet long.

But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred. In Captain Eddie's own words, "Cherry," that was the B- 17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, "read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off."

Now this is still Captian Rickenbacker talking..."Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don't know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food...if I could catch it."

And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice. You know that Captain Eddie made it.

And now you also know...that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a manna in the wilderness.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The positive influences in our lives, Colossians 3:23-24 with a story from the life of Carl Rowan

SCRIPTURE: Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

In his autobiography, Breaking Barriers, syndicated columnist Carl Rowan tells about a teacher who greatly influenced his life. Rowan relates: Miss Thompson reached into her desk drawer and pulled out a piece of paper containing a quote attributed to Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. I listened intently as she read: "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans, aim high in hope and work. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us."

More than 30 years later, I gave a speech in which I said that Frances Thompson had given me a desperately needed belief in myself. A newspaper printed the story, and someone mailed the clipping to my beloved teacher. She wrote me: "You have no idea what that newspaper story meant to me. For years, I endured my brother's arguments that I had wasted my life. That I should have married and had a family. When I read that you gave me credit for helping to launch a marvelous career, I put the clipping in front of my brother. After he'd read it, I said, 'You see, I didn't really waste my life, did I?'"

“Whatever (we) do” do it well. Reminds of a statement that was heard often in our home: “If it is worth doing it is worth doing well.” Don’t waste time or effort in just doing something half-heartily. We should throw ourselves into the task at hand is if God is summoned us to that particular task at that particular moment among these particular people. It simply changes the perspective of what is before us … doesn’t it?

And then there are the people who positively influenced our decisions to be doing what we are doing it in the first place. Who are they? Where are they? And, even better, whom have we shared their influence with lately. This Thanksgiving besides thanking God for all of his blessings, praise him for putting people in our lives who made a positive impact and influenced the path our feet have trod. Who are the “Frances Thompson” in our lives?

Our lives have been filled with important people. Gracious God, all too often we have simply taken those people for granted and moved on, but during this particular season cause us to pause and remember with a thankful heart those individuals who have had a positive influence in our life. Help us to do this in the name of Jesus who calls us into our present reality to do whatever we are called to do well. Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A crisis of leadership, Matthew 15:14 with a story/insight about and from Sonny Jurgenson

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 15:14 (The Message)
Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch.

A STORY as shared by Chuck Swindoll:
In typical fashion, when George Allen moved to Washington, D.C., as head coach of the Redskins, he promised the nation's capital the moon. He told them it would be just a few seasons before he would develop the Redskins into a championship football team. He promised them the Super Bowl by the second season. The team had a brilliant preseason that first year. Then, early in the regular season, they won several amazing victories. It appeared the Redskins were to be lifted from their common role of loser to the uncommon role of winner. As time passed, however, the inevitable occurred. They began to lose and lose and lose. The blame fell, at least in part, not on Coach George Allen, but on a quarterback named Sonny Jurgenson, in my opinion one of the most gifted and effective quarterbacks to ever play the game. Jurgenson possesses a quality I deeply admire: personal security. It seems as though no one can intimidate Sonny Jurgenson.

One day after another defeat, Sonny was getting ready to take a shower and go home. A sportswriter leaned over to him in the locker room and said, "Say, Sonny, be honest now. Don't all these off-the-wall remarks we write and all this public flack disturb you? Doesn't it make you want to quit when people throw things at you from the stands and when you get those dirty letters?"

Sonny just leaned back, gave a big, toothless grin, and sighed, "No, not really, I don't want to quit. I've been in this game long enough to know that every quarterback, every week of the season, spends his time either in the penthouse or in the outhouse."

Sonny's comment points out an important fact. It is true that if you are a leader, you spend your time either on the top or on the bottom. You seldom know what it's like to be in between. You are either the hero or the villain. You are respected or you are virtually hated. People in leadership must live on the yo-yo of public opinion, under the gun of verbal jabs as well as on the crest of great admiration. Being "in the outhouse" is a lot more difficult than those choice times "in the penthouse." It's when we are under verbal attack of the intimidating public that we show our colors.

I have discovered, after a number of years in the ministry, that this is true even in the spiritual realm. You commit yourself to a life of faith, you declare before God and man that you are going to walk with Him regardless, and suddenly, it happens! The enemy turns every gun he can upon you to blast you out of the saddle, to make you finish your season in defeat, to have you think that it's really not worth it after all.

Ever have a crisis of leadership? It is not a good feeling especially when the discovery is made that certain key leaders began to work behind your back to defeat a decision simply because they disagreed with the decision. That is not a good feeling. A vote was taken and they were on the side that did not prevail … so, the worked behind the scenes to make sure that it wouldn’t be carried out. It is hard to lead when few are following.

Then the thought begin to surface … is it worth the time and effort? Oh, there is a high value placed on spiritual, biblical teaching, but not corporate leadership … thus, the crisis of leadership. Commitments were called for, but few responded. Give us a good experience on Sunday, but don’t expect too much from us during the week. It is a crisis of leadership.

Then a person of high integrity steps forward and shares his process, his feelings, his insights. He doesn’t talk behind your back nor make phone calls, but comes directly to you with his decision. There is high praise for such leadership with integrity and it is deeply appreciated. For that I am thankful.

Sonny Jurgenson’s words are good words for today because the feeling of being on the bottom is not a good feeling. Doubt and frustration dominate ones life. Empty praise is just that empty if individuals do not back it up with integrity and commitment. The failure to be captured by God’s vision is a failure of trust or simply, the blind leading the blind.

Oh, give the church and its people men and women of integrity and a willingness to be captured by God’s vision. It is scary to God-size ones vision – it means going where no one else is willing to go, to spend money before you know that God will provide, and doing what others are reluctant to do. Now that is leadership!

We pray for men and women who are willing to forward and become God captured leaders – individuals of integrity and conviction – who are not afraid of the future and the unknown. Give us those men and women today. May each of us become such an individual. Amen.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving thanks with a grateful heart, Hebrews 13:5-6 with an Erma Bombeck story

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 13:5-6 (The Message)
Don't be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, "I'll never let you down, never walk off and leave you," we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I'm fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?

A STORY by Erma Bombeck
An estimated 1.5 million people are living today after bouts with breast cancer. Every time I forget to feel grateful to be among them, I hear the voice of an eight-year-old named Christina, who had cancer of the nervous system. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she thought long and hard and finally said, "I don't know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything!" The kid is right.

What would it take to make us happy? I mean, really, really, dance-around-the-block, hug-your-enemy, sing-out-loud-in-a-crowded-store, exhaustive-celebration happy? What would it take?

Winning the lottery? Finding a long lost relative? Being reconciled with a family member? Being free of pain? Immeasurable success?

Wasn’t it John D. Rockefeller who said, “Success is having a little bit more than what you have”? In other words, we never get to the point of complete success or total happiness. Our lives are destined for constant achieving, striving, work so that we can grab hold of that elusive “golden ring” ... unless our souls are grasped by something larger … say, the Kingdom of God.

The kid got it right! It is the simple things that bring about contentment and a grateful heart as she “relaxed with what she had.”

That’s my challenge this Thanksgiving … is it yours?

Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.

And now let the weak say, "I am strong,"
Let the poor say, "I am rich,"
Because of what the Lord has done for us.

Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.
Give thanks, give thanks.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

With a full heart, Psalm 9:1 with a story from the 1860s and a lesson from a shut-in

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 9:1 (The Message)
I'm thanking you, God, from a full heart, I'm writing the book on your wonders.

Thankfulness seems to be a lost art today. Warren Wiersby illustrated this problem in his commentary on Colossians. He told about a ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a life-saving squad. In 1860, a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process, his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.

The Psalmist expresses his continued thanks realize that everything that is a part of his life is from God … everything! In fact, I am taken by the idea of a “writing the book” about all the wonders that God has and is doing. Our life is just one marvelous act of God – one after another – and like the 17 people in the story, we take it all for granted.

Expressions of a thankful heart are becoming more rare in this day and time. Oh, maybe a quick e-mail note is sent, but little else. Our minds probably thought of offering an expression of gratitude, but we live such busy lives that seldom do we follow through on those thoughts.

Least of all to God for all the marvelous and wonderful things he does.

While visiting a shut-in once I noticed that by her bed was a note pad on which were a long list of penciled in items. She noticed that my eyes had fallen on her pad. She smiled, “Thanks my ‘thank you’ list to God. I’ve been keeping it for years. I started the day I got married over 60 years ago now. Whenever I get a little depressed or start worrying about this or about that, I just pick up my list and remind myself what God has done for me throughout my life. It sure makes living a lot more joyous!” And, this comes from a lady who can never leave her bed or her bedroom. And, she never knows a waking moment without pain.

She had a full heart and was writing her book.

May we never take you for granted God nor just assume that what is happening in our life is just “normal”. May our hearts always be filled with thanks. Amen.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What God has promised and what God has not promised, John 14:27 with a story by Berit Kjos about the perfect picture of peace

SCRIPTURE: John 14:27 (NLT)
"I am leaving you with a gift -- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid.”

A STORY as told by Berit Kjos in his book, A Wardrobe from the King:

Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally the great day of revelation arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered.

The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled.

As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd.

A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner.

The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself, and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace?

A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel its cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-gray clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power.

A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.

The one thing that is heard repeatedly during any particular day is, “I just want my life to be peaceful”. Speaks to my heart, doesn’t it yours?

Layer upon layer upon layer of expectations, demands, other people’s agendas, pressure, self-esteem issues, roles to be fulfilled, assumptions, miscommunications … and the list continues forever … places our life at the pressure point of breaking. Filled with worry and heartache. And, all the while all any of us ever want is peace – in the midst of the trouble that life brings our way, peace – harmony – hope – possibilities – happiness … PEACE!

I love this story told above. If any of us were challenged to paint a picture of peace it would probably be the first picture and yet, the ability to build a nest in the midst of the threatening conditions indicated in the second picture is more to the point of our reality.

Jesus calls the peace he offers “beyond the understanding of the world” – as in something that the world cannot offer because it doesn’t understand it. It could just possibly be a reality for each of us, “this peace that passes all understanding,” if we only trust God to do in our life what we cannot get accomplished via any other means.

Some years ago I came across a poem. The first verse and chorus I carried for years in my wallet. It brought peace to the soul in the midst of troubled times and I offer it today as the prayer for peace in your life and mine:

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Fear not" are good words to hear in the middle of life coming from he who is the first and last - Revelation 1:17

SCRIPTURE: Revelation 1:17 (NIV)
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety. George Muller Massena, one of Napoleon's generals, suddenly appeared with 18,000 soldiers before an Austrian town which had no means of defending itself. The town council met, certain that capitulation was the only answer. The old dean of the church reminded the council that it was Easter, and begged them to hold services as usual and to leave the trouble in God's hands. They followed his advice. The dean went to the church and rang the bells to announce the service. The French soldiers heard the church bells ring and concluded that the Austrian army had come to rescue the town. They broke camp, and before the bells had ceased ringing, vanished.

“Do not be afraid” or “Fear not” appear repeatedly through holy writ and yet, our life is in the constant grip of fear of one kind or another. Is it because we do not have enough faith or is it because the things we fear are so many or is it simply another issue totally?

The words from scripture are a constant reassurance that God is in control and that we have nothing to fear. And, so, as the town was surrounded by a deadly army on the verge of destroying the Austrian town the pastor said, “But first we worship” and he rang the bells. What a story. In the face of danger, we peal out the glorious news that Jesus is alive. In the face of certain death, we ring out the tremendous news that death has been defeated. In the face of pending doom, we ring out the unbelievable news that God is still in charge and we have nothing to fear.

And at the sound of this Good News the evil flees. It has always been the case and it will continue to be the case. And, so the reassurance of God’s word, “Do not be afraid” for truly he is the first and last and everything in life answers to him! When God is on our side who or what can stand against us? … NOTHING!

May the good and glorious news that you are the first and last ever peal from our heart so that all fear will be gone and we can live a triumphal life of victory. Through Jesus Christ the first and the last, amen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turning our worries into prayers, Philippians 4:6 with a neat idea about a schedule weekly day to worry and the creation of a worry box

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 4:6 (The Message)
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.

J. Arthur Rank, an English executive, decided to do all his worrying on one day each week. He chose Wednesdays. When anything happened that gave him anxiety and annoyed his ulcer, he would write it down and put it in his worry box and forget about it until next Wednesday. The interesting thing was that on the following Wednesday when he opened his worry box, he found that most of the things that had disturbed him the past six days were already settled. It would have been useless to have worried about them.

It is probably the largest understatement that has ever been written namely, worry is a waste of time … a glorious, huge, time consuming, mind boggling waste of time. And then I came across J. Arthur Rank’s idea of creating a “Worry Box” and a day dedicated to worrying.

What a marvelous thought and a creative way to get rid of those pesky little annoyances that we label “worry”.

As the sermon was coming together for this week the thought came surfacing – why do we worry so much? Could it be that we do not believe that we matter enough to God that he would be bothered with our simple little mundane worries … or, just the opposite, namely that the worry is too large for even God to deal with.

And then the mind went down the path as to just how big is our God? Bigger than any situation that we might find ourselves dealing with. Bigger than any problem that threatens to undo us. Bigger than the problem that causes us to stumble and lose our spiritual balance.

As the one quote goes, as the person was wakened at night with a huge worry, “Go back to sleep, I got this one,” God shares. So the person rolls over in bed, goes back to sleep and sleeps through the night. Or, as the scripture shares, allowing those things that bother the stuffing out of us to become the very vehicle for our prayers and petitions. May they bring us closer to God! Amen to that … wouldn’t you agree!

May we each learn this lesson for today … especially me! Help us each to give the night shift to you and discover the peace that can only come through you. In the name of Jesus Christ, our problem solver. Amen

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Worry is interest paid on a loan never taken out ... Matthew 6:25 with a story from the life of Connie Mack, an observation, a little lighter look at worry and a prayer

SCRIPTUE: Matthew 6:25 (NIV)
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”

Connie Mack was one of the greatest managers in the history of baseball. One of the secrets of his success was that he knew how to lead and inspire men. He knew that people were individuals. Once, when his team had clinched the pennant well before the season ended, he gave his two best pitchers the last ten days off so that they could rest up for the World Series. One pitcher spent his ten days off at the ballpark; the other went fishing. Both performed brilliantly in the World Series. Mack never criticized a player in front of anyone else. He learned to wait 24 hours before discussing mistakes with players. Otherwise, he said, he dealt with the goofs too emotionally.

In the first three years as a major league baseball manager, Connie Mack's teams finished sixth, seventh, and eighth. He took the blame and demoted himself to the minor leagues to give himself time to learn how to handle men. When he came back to the major leagues again, he handled his players so successfully that he developed the best teams the world had ever known up to that time.

Mack had another secret of good management: he didn't worry. "I discovered," he explained, "that worry was threatening to wreck my career as a baseball manager. I saw how foolish it was and I forced myself to get so busy preparing to win games that I had no time left to worry over the ones that were already lost. You can't grind grain with water that has already gone down the creek."

So much of our living is consumed by worry about something that will never happen. Who was it that stated: Today Is the Tomorrow You Worried About Yesterday. As as another unknown author has stated this truth: Worry is wasting today's time to clutter up tomorrow's opportunities with yesterday's troubles.

Bottom line – what a glorious waste of time and energy this foolish habit of ours.

Can we really change our health by worrying about it? Yes … we can make it worse! Can we really change our financial situation by worrying about it? Yes … we can make it worse! Can we really change our future by worrying about it? Yes … we can make it worse by fretting way the time that we could be doing something constructive about our future.

Next week is Thanksgiving. Isn’t it a wiser use of our time and energy giving God the praise and glory for everything … living in the moment … sharing the journey with others … enjoying the sunshine and the rain? Somewhere along our journey to adulthood we have lost the joy of playing in the rain … actually, dancing in the rain … and then the thrill of curling up in a warm blanket after getting all wet.

Enjoy the moment because it will soon pass on and then there will be another moment coming down the pathway of life. Experiences are all around us and we simply miss so much of life by worry about something that will never happen.

A LIGHTER SIDE OF WORRY Just had to share this one because it is better to laugh than to cry at life:
How you can tell when it's going to be a rotten day:
You wake up face down on the pavement.
You call Suicide Prevention and they put you on hold.
You see a “60 Minutes” news team waiting in your office.
Your birthday cake collapses from the weight of the candles.
You turn on the news and they’re showing emergency routes out of the city.
Your twin sister forgot your birthday.
Your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a group of Hell’s Angels on the freeway.
Your boss tells you not to bother to take off your coat.
The bird singing outside your window is a buzzard.
You wake up and your braces are locked together.
You call your answering service and they tell you it’s none of your business.
Your income tax check bounces.
You put both contact lenses in the same eye.
Your wife says, “Good morning, Bill”, and your name is George.

Help us to see life as you see it, gracious God, and then guide us so that we will learn to trust you in all circumstances through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Be a faithful witness to your faith, with a story about a preacher who almost compromised his for 25-cents

SCRIPTURE: Acts 1:8 (The Message)
"What you'll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world."

THE STORY and the OBSERVATION came to me via an e-mail written by an unknown author:

A Christian

Several years ago, a preacher from out-of-state accepted a call to a church in Houston, Texas . Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, 'You'd better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.' Then he thought, 'Oh, forget it, it's only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a 'gift from God' and keep quiet.'

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, 'Here, you gave me too much change.'

The driver, with a smile, replied, 'Aren't you the new preacher in town?'

'Yes' he replied.

'Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I'll see you at church on Sunday.'

When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, 'Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter.'

Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. This is a really scary example of how much people watch us as Christians, and will put us to the test! Always be on guard -- and remember -- You carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself 'Christian.'

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
W atch your actions; they become habits..
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

It is our prayer today that in all that we do or say, we will reflect your glory and be a faithful witness to your kingdom to all those we meet. In the name of one we witness for, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Is our normal response in all situations to kneel in prayer? Ephesians 3:14 with a story from British Parliament and an observation and a prayer

SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 3:14 (The Message)
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father

Neil Marten, a member of the British Parliament, was once giving a group of his constituents a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. During the course of the visit, the group happened to meet Lord Hailsham, then lord chancellor, wearing all the regalia of his office. Hailsham recognized Marten among the group and cried, "Neil!" Not daring to question or disobey the "command," the entire band of visitors promptly fell to their knees!

There are amble examples in scripture of kneeling before the Lord in prayer and supplications. There are numerous instructions through the church that when we bow in prayer we should kneel as well. A number of denominations include this practice as a regular part of their worship experience. When serving churches that had an altar rail I have regularly invited people forward during the morning prayer to kneel with me as we go to God in prayer. Kneeling in prayer is a part and partial of the spiritual disciplines.

This past week I was surprised by the comic strip, CURTIS by Ray Billingsley when it referred to the father being witnessed by his oldest son kneeling in the evening for prayer. I was surprised on two fronts – one that the father did that and by his own testimony in later strips, did it regularly, and two that since it was a “regular” habit that one of his sons wouldn’t have known that. Curtis, the oldest son, later observed that he didn’t think adults had any difficulties in life that should cause them to kneel in prayer as if that is the only reason one would pray.

Thus my question – why do we have a tendency to pray only when there is a problem and, depending on the magnitude of the problem, only kneel when it is a BIG problem? Paul’s general response to all situations was to kneel in prayer as indicated in the one I used from Ephesians. I am taken by the word, “response” – it was Paul’s general, regular, normal response in all situations to kneel in prayer. Now I confess that arthritic knees do not always permit me to kneel, or at least that is the excuse I use. If we were to do a time management of our daily activities how much of it would we discover is dedicated to prayer or is most of our prayer time a “catch-as-catch-can” kind of situation? Maybe if we would set aside a time to kneel for prayer we would be more discipline in our active prayer life.

Guide us in the path of the spiritual disciplines, especially in those rich opportunities to speak with you as a child speaks with their parent. Guide us down this path and may our spiritual disciplines begin to reflect our relationship with you. In Christ’s precious name, Amen.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrances on this Veterans Day with song lyrics by Willie Dixon

Whenever I think of Veterans Day the first thought that comes to mind is my oldest brother Ronnie who got called up during the Korean Conflict. Mom was a nervous wreck. She just knew that he would be shipped off to Korea. Well, while in basic training they discovered that Ronnie could paint large murals and pitch fastball softball. So for three years he spent painting those large insignias on the buildings and pitching for the Army Softball team. Hard duty, but somebody has to pull it.

I also remember that Mom was putting together a “care” package of cookies and other necessities. One item she included was a can of shaving cream. The aerosol can had just hit the market. None of us ever used one before. Dad still used the brush and soap method. So, there she was in the dinning room packing the box when she said, as she picked up the can of shaving cream, “I wonder how this works?” At that point she pushed down on the dispensing button and shaving cream started to shoot out the little spout, as she got excited, pressing even harder, exclaiming, “How do you shut this thing off?” She nearly emptied the entire can before one of us grabbed the can from her. What a mess! There was shaving cream all over the dinning room. We all pitched in to help clean it up and poor Mom; she had to go get another can of shaving cream. This time she was careful not to push any buttons.

I also think of the family that was on Ralph’s (my other brother) paper route. Their son had fought in WWII and was anticipated home just days before Christmas, Instead, what they received was the knock at the door and the news that their son had lost his life just a day before he was to return to the states. What was sad was that the Christmas tree was still standing in the corner of their living room, now without any needles still on it. All of the presents were still wrapped waiting for his return that wasn’t ever going to take place. Oh, they took the morning paper and kept up with the latest news. They both continued to go off to work every day … but their life had stopped that fateful Christmas so many years ago. Theirs, like so many was a personal lose so deep that they just couldn’t move past it.

My thoughts also take in the Viet Nam era and how close I came to being called up myself. I was in school in Nashville, TN. One Tuesday I called home to just check in. I asked if there was any mail. Mom, bless her heart, said, “Well, not very much, but there is this letter from the Selective Service. I didn’t open it. It probably isn’t important.” Well, at my bequest she opened it and discovered that I was to report for active duty in Miami that Thursday. So, first thing Wednesday morning, I was in President D. D. Holt’s office laying out my problem with Selective Service. I’m glad that he was a long time friend … anyway; Dr. Holt got on the phone to my Selective Service board and informed them that I was a full time ministerial student in good standing. He dictated a letter and I sighed a sigh of relief.

Tommy Gregory did go off to serve during the Viet Nam War. Tommy was one of the leaders of our youth group. He was always pulling off a practical joke – like getting a number of us to pick up our Young Adult counselors little Morris Minor vehicle and put it into the narthex of our church one Sunday evening. He was always good for a great laugh and ready for lots of fun. Tommy also played a mean piano. What a talented, fun loving great guy. Well, when he returned from Viet Nam the laughter was gone, he didn’t really care about music. The person who came back from the war was super serious … he was a changed man.

I also think about Lt. William Calley. Bill was in my homeroom at Miami Edison High School. While we weren’t friends I still knew him and felt that he got a raw deal ... as some of the present veterans of our ongoing war. They simply become the scapegoat for other officers.

My heart goes out to those families that have lost a loved one during the various conflicts and wars we have been involved in, as well as those men and women who have returned less than the person they were when they entered military service. There is an emotional toll that is taken out on them, as well as their families. The physical toll we can see and attempt to do our best in providing the medical and rehab therapy that is required, but the emotional and mental toll often goes unnoticed. The other concern I have is for their families. I served a church in Jacksonville, FL, which is home to a naval base. I counseled a large number of domestic abuse situations during those years. We just never know the ultimate cost our men and women and their families pay.

We too often take their service for granted, but they really should be at the top of our prayer list. We give great mouth service to “thanking them for protecting us,” etc., but the real support that could come from a top notch VA, the real support for medical and counseling assistance … for years to come, the real support of helping them readjust to civilian life, the real support of making jobs available as they return … the real support just isn’t there. Too many times they go off to fight a war and then return to fight the VA and our government for adequate and sustaining care. It just isn’t fair!

Let us remember our Veterans by stepping up to hold the VA accountable for doing what is right and proper for those who have given more than their fair share of sacrifice for our country.

Quote for today: "I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” ~Eve Merriam

And then you have this song Willie Dixon, “Study War No More” ~

Won't that be one mighty day
When we hear world leaders say
"We don't have to cry no more"
"We're givin' it up, we gonna let it all go"

Ain't gonna study, study war no more
Ain't gonna think, think war no more
Ain't gonna fight, fight war no more
We're givin' it up, we gonna let it go
We're givin' it up, we gonna let it go

We will take gun powder to have fun
Then get rid of the atom bomb
Something else that we can do
Get rid of all those rockets too


The money spent on bombs alone
Can build poor people a happy home
Something good we can do
You treat me like I treat you

No more starving in the nation
Everybody gets an education
Everytime a baby is born
We know he'll have him a happy home


No more sleeping in the street
We all happy whoever we meet
Then we all will shake their hand
And make this world a promised land.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A little redneck insight as we approach Veterans Day, as well as my own reflections on what it means to live in America

As we approach Veterans Day (Friday), even this pacifist is grateful for those who serve in uniform and have sacrificed so much for so many. As I pause to give thanks I came across an e-mail that I felt was appropriate to post in honor of country and all that we stand for. The one thing that I fully embrace and constantly defend is our freedom to think differently than everyone else. We are America – we all don’t have to speak the same language – from the very beginning our forefathers and foremothers never did why should we insist on it now? We are America – we all don’t worship the same God – from the very beginning neither did our founders and those who followed them why should we insist on it now? We are America – we have never been concerned with only our country why should we change now? Are times tough? Yes. Have they been tough before? Yes. Have we gotten through bigger challenges than those we are facing now? Yes. How? By pulling together – all people, all religions, all nationalities, all languages, all political parties, all people … regardless … coming together, standing together, defending everybody’s right to be who they are … AND THINKING POSITIVELY about our future, working for the betterment of everyone … regardless!

We have enjoyed the redneck jokes for years. It's time to take a reflective look at the core beliefs of a culture that values home, family, country and God – recognizing the “God” means different things to different people.

You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to be offended by the phrase, 'One nation, under God.'

You might be a redneck if: You've never protested about seeing the 10 Commandments posted in public places.

You might be a redneck if: You still say ' Christmas' instead of 'Winter Festival.'

You might be a redneck if: You bow your head when someone prays.

You might be a redneck if: You stand and place your hand over your heart when they play the National Anthem.

You might be a redneck if: You treat our armed forces veterans with great respect, and always have.

You might be a redneck if: You've never burned an American flag, nor intend to.

You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe and you aren't afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.

You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and raised your kids to do the same.

You might be a redneck if: You'd give your last dollar to a friend.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wisely dealing with every opportunity that comes our way - Colossians 4:5 with a story of Belleek china, an observation and a prayer

SCRIPTURE: Colossians 4:5 (NIV)
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”

The Irish Potato Famine (1846-1851) resulted in a 30 percent drop in the population of the west of Ireland. The prolonged suffering of the Irish peasantry had broken the survivors in body and spirit.

John Bloomfield, the owner of Castle Caldwell in County Fermanagh, was working on the recovery of his estate when he noticed that the exteriors of his tenant farmers' small cottages had a vivid white finish. He was informed that there was a clay deposit on his property of unusually fine quality. To generate revenue and provide employment on his estate, he built a pottery at the village of Belleek in 1857. The unusually fine clay yielded a porcelain china that was translucent with a glass-like finish. It was worked into traditional Irish designs and was an immediate success.

Today, Belleek's delicate strength and its iridescent pearlized glaze is enthusiastically purchased the world over. This multimillion-dollar industry arose from innovative thinking during some very anxious times.

The scripture lesson speaks of taking advantage of every opportunity. Sometimes it is hard to see the opportunities when they are housed in disappointments or during difficult times. But, opportunities are there nevertheless.

When those opportunities involve people it is sad when they are missed because they might, or should I usually won’t, come our way again. A chance encounter is seldom realized a second time.

The scripture instructions about “outsiders” are interesting because, if I have read the complete passage correctly, the outsiders are the non-believers, those outside the fellowship of believers. Those opportunities are extremely rare and should be handled wisely, carefully and a true sense of a fear of God.

If we handle it carefully, wisely and within the context of our relationship with God then something fine could develop … as fine as Belleek china.

Make us sensitive to those around us and to each opportunity that comes our way. Help us to approach them with the wisdom of God and in the fellowship of all the saints so that something beautiful and priceless may grow. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

God's speaks about our worth in Luke 12:7

SCRIPTURE: Luke 12:7 (larger context 12:1-12) – The Message
And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail - even numbering the hairs on your head! So don't be intimidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries.

A STORY with two bonus quotes:
When Irving S. Olds was chairman of the U.S. Steel Corporation, he arrived for a stockholders' meeting and was confronted by a woman who asked, "Exactly who are you and what do you do?" Without batting an eye, Olds replied, "I am your chairman. Of course, you know the duties of a chairman--that's someone who is roughly the equivalent of parsley on a platter of fish."

Quote #1: People who matter are most aware that everyone else does too. Malcolm S. Forbes

Quote #2: Not everything that counts can be counted. Not everything that can be counted counts. Charles Garfield

There is so much in this world that belittles us, diminishes us, bullies us, and generally makes us feel of little importance.

Jesus shared a warning that we would be under consent attack. The world is filled with individuals and groups who would rejoice with our destruction. But, his words are words of encouragement. Never fear or think of ourselves less than how God thinks of us.

Our real worth is measured in God language. If we matter to God what else matters?

Help us gracious God to see ourselves with the same eyes that you see us with. Help us understand that we have a place of value within your kingdom. Help us, Lord, help us today! Amen.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Who do you call when you are sick? James 5:14 with a story, an observation and a prayer

SCRIPTURE: James 5:14 (KJV)
Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

A STORY by Edward Livingston Trudeau in “An Autobiography”:
“As I look back on my life tuberculosis looms up as an ever-present and relentless foe. It robbed me of my dear ones and brought me my first great sorrows. It shattered my health when I was young and strong, and relegated me to this remote region (in the Adirondacks) where ever since I have seen its withering blight laid on those about me. And yet the struggle with tuberculosis has brought me experiences and left me recollections which I would not exchange for the wealth of the Indies.”

As those who read this blog regularly have noticed I haven’t posted anything for over a week. The reason … the computer was hit with 96 viruses at one time. After taking it through numerous functions in “safe mode” to find and destroy those little nasty things, there were still two minor issues hiding from the search-n-destroy programs. As long as they stayed around the computer would get to a particular point and just freeze up.

When it comes to computers I have hopelessly lost. Maybe that is why God has given me two son-in-loves who are very computer savvy. Actually they both make a living dealing with computer problems, instillations, networking and all that other stuff that I completely and totally do not understand when they get together and talk! Each time there is a problem I actually end up learning a little bit more about the computer, how it works and what I can do to solve the problem(s) … But this latest situation did get me to thinking …

When we are sick whom do we call? Computers? Well, it is either a relative with knowledge or a Geek who knows what they are doing. Body? Doctors are normally on the first-to-call list. Teeth? Our local dentist comes to mind. Auto? Our favorite mechanic. Well, you get the picture.

But what about when the soul is troubled? When our spirit seems lost? When our mind is hung up on a divine issue? Who do we call? Normally, no one is the answer. The parallel to this is, we don’t mind signing a “pledge” to a mortgage company for our home or a “pledge” to a bank for a car loan or a “pledge” to some lending institute for a college loan or, every time we use one of credit cards we are “pledging” to the financial institute that backs the card that we will faithfully pay the borrowed amount, but when it comes to the church we state, “I don’t believe in pledging!”

And yet, the church and all its resources stand ready to respond to our spiritual needs whenever we feel the need to call on them. Scripture actually states that the elders of the church should be the first individuals we call when we are not feeling well. If we did we probably would be richer for it, spiritually at least!

Help us to rely on your presence and the support of your church, O Lord, help us to learn the valuable lesson that is only in your presence that we are made whole. Amen.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Communion with All the Saints - Romans 1:7 with an image from a movie and a story from a book

SCRIPTURE: Romans 1:7 (NIV)
To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

A SPECIAL TEACHING by Frederic and Mary Brussat – taken off their web site: - I couldn’t have said it better, so I share their words:


The 1984 movie Places in the Heart is set in the Depression. Recently widowed Edna (Sally Field) is trying to support her two young children and pay her mortgage by growing cotton on a small farm. She has two helpers, a black itinerant worker (Danny Glover) and a blind boarder (John Malkovich). Together they weather a sea of troubles, including a disastrous tornado, that teach them the meaning of friendship and family.
The closing scene in the film takes place in a church. As the camera slowly pans the congregation receiving communion, we recognize all the characters — those living and dead and departed for other places. This is a beautiful image of the communion of saints.

In God in the Moment: Making Every Day a Prayer, Kathy Coffey comments on a similar image:

"Geddes MacGregor in The Rhythm of God tells of a priest who, when asked, 'How many people were at the early celebration of the Eucharist last Wednesday morning?' replied, 'There were three old ladies, the janitor, several thousand archangels, a large number of seraphim, and several million of the triumphant saints of God.' Such a 'cloud of witnesses' answers a deep human urge to be part of something larger, to not stand alone, to give our little lives meaning. One drop of water, left alone, evaporates quickly. But one drop of water in the immense sea endures."