Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday's Inspirational Story - The Little Boy, author unknown

The Little Boy – author unknown

Sally jumped up as soon as she saw the surgeon come out of the operating room. She said: “How is my little boy? Is he going to be all right? When can I see him?”
The surgeon said, “I’m sorry. We did all we could, but your boy didn’t make it.”
Sally said, “Why do little children get cancer? Doesn’t God care any more? Where were you, God, when my son needed you?”
The surgeon asked, “Would you like some time alone with your son? One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes, before he’s transported to the university.”
Sally asked the nurse to stay with her while she said good-bye to son. She ran her fingers lovingly through his thick red curly hair.
“Would you like a lock of his hair?” the nurse asked.
Sally nodded yes. The nurse cut a lock of the boy’s hair, put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Sally. The mother said, “It was Jimmy’s idea to donate his body to the university for study. He said it might help somebody else. “I said no at first, but Jimmy said, ‘Mom, I won’t be using it after I die. Maybe it will help some other little boy spend one more day with his Mom.” She went on, “My Jimmy had a heart of gold. Always thinking of someone else. Always wanting to help others if he could.”
Sally walked out of Children’s mercy Hospital for the last time, after spending most of the last six months there. She put the bag with Jimmy’s belongings on the seat beside her in the car. The drive home was difficult. It was even harder to enter the empty house. She carried Jimmy’s belongings, and the plastic bag with the lock of his hair to her son’s room. She started placing the model cars and other personal things back in his room exactly where he had always kept them. She laid down across his bed and, hugging his pillow, cried herself to sleep.
It was around midnight when Sally awoke. Laying beside her on the bed was a folded letter. The letter said:
“Dear Mom,
I know you’re going to miss me; but don’t think that I will ever forget you, or stop loving you, just ’cause I’m not around to say I LOVE YOU. I will always love you, Mom, even more with each day. Someday we will see each other again. Until then, if you want to adopt a little boy so you won’t be so lonely, that’s okay with me. He can have my room and old stuff to play with. But, if you decide to get a girl instead, she probably wouldn’t like the same things us boys do. You’ll have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like, you know. Don’t be sad thinking about me. This really is a neat place. Grandma and Grandpa met me as soon as I got here and showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything. The angels are so cool. I love to watch them fly. And, you know what? Jesus doesn’t look like any of his pictures. Yet, when I saw Him, I knew it was Him. Jesus himself took me to see GOD! And guess what, Mom? I got to sit on God’s knee and talk to Him, like I was somebody important. That’s when I told Him that I wanted to write you a letter, to tell you good-bye and everything. But I already knew that wasn’t allowed. Well, you know what Mom? God handed me some paper and His own personal pen to write you this letter. I think Gabriel is the name of the angel who is going to drop this letter off to you. God said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him ‘Where was He when I needed him?’ “God said He was in the same place with me, as when His son Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as He always is with all His children.
Oh, by the way, Mom, no one else can see what I’ve written except you. To everyone else this is just a blank piece of paper. Isn’t that cool? I have to give God His pen back now. He needs it to write some more names in the Book of Life. Tonight I get to sit at the table with Jesus for supper. I’m, sure the food will be great.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I don’t hurt anymore. The cancer is all gone. I’m glad because I couldn’t stand that pain anymore and God couldn’t stand to see me hurt so much, either. That’s when He sent The Angel of Mercy to come get me. The Angel said I was a Special Delivery! How about that?

Signed with Love from: God, Jesus & Me.”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

And the church was silent: a reflection on Ferguson (John 12:21)

SCRIPTURE: John 12:21 (CEB) – larger reading John 12:20-36
They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and made a request: "Sir, we want to see Jesus."

“the greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what he saw in a plain way,” said John Ruskin in Modern Painters. “Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion – all in one.”

Ferguson is being torn apart. A reporter for MSNBC interviewed its mayor. He held to the belief that there isn’t a racial divided in his city. Clearly he doesn’t see what he wishes not to believe. It is sad.

And the church is silent. Who is on the scene to show them Jesus?

A black man is dead. At this particular point no one knows the full story. Protesters and agitators and opportunists have descended on the city each seeing the situation through their own filters. They believe what they want to believe and are acting accordingly.

And the church is silent. Who is on the scene to show them Jesus?

The full story is slowly coming forward, investigations are starting to take place, some reporters are seeking to unearth the truth, while other reporters, with their cameras rolling, simply fan the flames of anger. People see what they want to see. It is a sad saga in the city of Ferguson.

And the church is silent. Who is on the scene to show them Jesus?

Seeing the truth is going to be difficult. Held positions will have to be released or ignored, but better to be faced and dealt with. A community will need to heal and move on. Calm will return to Ferguson as those who are there simply there to protest or agitate or loot finally move on to wait for another situation avails itself for their form of justice.

Will the church continue to remain silent? Will no one come forward to show them Jesus?

As the news media finally tires of the story and moves on to another injustice or turns their attention to other news that grabs the headlines... As the body of Michael Brown is buried and his family’s grief begins to subside… As the riot gear is stored away and the military vehicles are returned to the cities motor pool… As the streets clear of the protestors and it is safe once again to walk down the sidewalk… the question still will remain, will the church continue to remain silent and will no one show them Jesus?

Though my city hasn’t erupted with racial unrest and no headline-grabbing event has caused the national news media outlets to descend upon my city am I showing them Jesus? Am I silent? Does my church speak up against the racial injustice? Or am I waiting for someone else to do it for me?


My silence is deafening. My inaction disturbs me. The request to show them Jesus goes unanswered. Show me the way Lord show me the way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Finding our divine purpose (Colossians 1:16)

SCRIPTURE: Colossians 1:16 (TM) – larger reading Colossians 1:15-23
For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels - everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.

“The strange thing about Jesus,” said a Japanese student, “is that you can never get away from him.”

Many things demand to be central in our lives – money, career, security, family, home, cars, friends, leisure, hobbies, etc. These require time and energy… and precious resources. And here is the kicker: There is nothing wrong with any of these things – nothing, absolutely nothing – if placed in proper place on our priority list.

Addictive behavior requires each of us to “feed” the addiction. Breaking that craving is tough at best. The addiction, whatever it might be, brings about a physical and/or emotional response that is very satisfying, but it becomes a negative force because it robs us of our true personhood.

Paul, writing to the church, speaks of the reality of Christ in the same way we might speak of addictions. But, instead of robbing us of our true personhood, he defines and gives our personhood purpose and direction.

Instead of aimlessly wandering through life looking for our next “fix” we are shaped and molded into a new reality – God’s reality – God’s divine purpose finds a home in us.

That list of central things in our lives pales next to Christ. God through Christ can actually make everything on that precious list has a good purpose in us. And so, here we are, facing another day, facing what will define us, shape us, mold us, make us, lift us up, direct us. It is our choice.


God, as the day starts may we give ourselves more completely over to you and find our purpose in you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who is in control? Who do we trust? (John 14:1)

SCRIPTURE: John 14:1 (NIV) - larger reading John 14:1-11
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

Samuel Rutherford: "Duties are ours, events are God's; When our faith goes to meddle with events, and to hold account upon God's Providence, and beginneth to say, 'How wilt Thou do this or that?' we lose ground; we have nothing to do there; it is our part to let the Almighty exercise His own office, and steer His own helm; there is nothing left for us, but to see how we may be approved of Him, and how we roll the weight of our weak souls upon Him who is God omnipotent, and when we thus essay miscarrieth, it shall be neither our sin nor our cross." 
Do you remember the TV program, “Who do you trust?” It aired from 1957-63 and ultimately put together Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon. “Whom do you trust” is the ultimate question at all levels of life. Cannot run away from it or qualify it with a disclaimer here or there. It is just right out there – this trust issue is tough.

Remember trust walks? Being led blindly through some unfamiliar area simply by holding on to the arm of another person? At some point, in this activity, (usually a youth activity at a retreat or camp) the “blind” person peeked or at least tried to. Walking blindly into the unknown is scary stuff.

Remember our feeble attempts at crossing our arms and falling (or at least attempting to) backwards hoping (crossing fingers) to be caught by the person standing behind you? This has proven to be great in marriage and/or premarital counseling. Do you really trust your partner well enough to catch you? Cannot remember when or where, but I believe it was during a pre-martial counseling session that I pulled this on a couple who failed miserably and after further discussion decided that they better not get married.

Trust is hard at best. It was the challenge on Jesus’ lips – trust God… then trust me. Mr. Rutherford got it right, even if we want to argue with him on some minor points. We want to “meddle”, we desire a “say”, we are not always willing to allow the Almighty One to exercise his authority. We want control! After it is our life isn’t it?

Therein lies the rub: It is easy to hold on to our belief systems and be in control. It is impossible to hold on to faith without relinquishing control. Faith is nothing more and nothing less than trusting God at every point. An acrostic, that I’ve shared before, says it all: Forsaking All I Trust Him.

Trusting God with our addictions is hard. Trusting God with our sexual orientation is hard. Trusting God with our politics is hard. Trusting God with our future is hard. Trusting God with our future is hard. Trusting God with our relationships is hard. Trusting God with our ideas and thoughts is hard. Trusting God at any point in our life’s journey is hard. Trusting God with all things spiritual is hard.

Letting God steer the helm is hard. Faith and Trust are control issue. Whom will we trust? Who will allow to have control over and in our life?


But God I want control! I want to do it my way! I want to steer the ship of my life? And yet, as I do, my heart is troubled and peace does not rule the day.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Building lasting monuments and a huge spiritual legacy (John 1:26)

SCRIPTURE: John 1:26 (TM) – larger reading John 1:19-28
John answered, "I only baptize using water. A person you don't recognize has taken his stand in your midst.

Washington -- Graffiti from the 1800s discovered by workers renovating the Washington Monument has quite a different tone from that usually found today on the sides of buildings and subway cars.
"Whoever is the human instrument under God in the conversion of one soul, erects a monument to his own memory more lofty and enduing (sic) than this," reads the inscription which can now be viewed by visitors to the monument.
It is signed BFB. No one knows who that is, or who left the small drawings and 19th century dates on other walls.
The markings in the lobby of the monument were covered over when it was decorated at the turn of the century. They were found when workers removed marble wainscoting as part of a yearlong $500,000 renovation which was just completed.

Sometimes our monuments are just that, buildings, edifices of various proportions and materials. Sometimes our monuments are family – children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Sometimes these monuments are built with the intent of leaving a legacy for others so that we will be remembered while at other times they have grown out of an attitude of love.

One way to think about John the Baptist is to think of the heritage he left in the wake of his life. He came preaching and baptizing not to bring attention to himself, but to prepare the way for the one who was to follow him. John was building a worthy monument to his life’s work because it led to something and someone greater.

Haven’t given it much thought over the years of ministry – how will I be remembered, but every now and again the thought has occurred to me. It is usually quickly dismissed because it is not important to be remembered… nice but not important. Oh, ones children will remember for their entire life. Grandchildren might depending on the length of time spent with them during their formative years. The rest of the people we touch, we will be but a passing thought like so much chafe in the wind.

But the legacy of those who come to know Jesus because we came their way and bore testimony to the Good News which changes life itself… that is a monument which will be long remembered well into eternity. The angels will mention our names for the impact in changed lives we have made. That is a monument larger than the Washington Monument and will remain standing long after that piece of granite in Washington D.C. has crumbled to the ground.

John the Baptist pointed to the centrality of Christ in all he said and did. We are called to follow suit… that is our legacy… that is our monument.


May our life so impact those around us that the host of believers will be enlarged a thousand fold because we had come their way.