Aug 30, 2012

Long, long way from home

When I am on a long road trip, I like to get to where I am going with no delays. The idea of stopping to use the restrooms or look at the roadside attractions usually doesn’t fit into my travel plans.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the journey; I really do. I enjoy seeing new places and faces and am one of those people who like to read road signs along the way. When I travel, I like to use the time to listen to teaching tapes, or music, or get into a great conversation with a friend; not stop at every place that crosses my path.

I enjoy sitting with uninterrupted time; it was one of the things I enjoyed doing with my father-in-law when he was alive. The two of us spent many hours in a vehicle back and forth to the family cabin while it was under construction.

But, when I am on a long road trip, I like to get to where I am going with no delays. This sprang up for me recently; I had been on a lot of road trips for family, vacation, and ministry. “We are leaving in five minutes”; I will tell fellow traveling companions. “Use the bathroom now because we aren’t stopping until we get there!” The goal has been set; get to the destination.

And, with each trip, the goal was still the same; get to wherever I needed to get in the shortest amount of time. And yet, with each trip there were “delays” such as a flat tire on a friend’s trailer, as well as traveling with people who needed to use the restroom or to fill their vehicle up with gasoline. Really; you would think that with all of our technology they could make a 16-passenger van that could drive over 400 miles and not have to stop for gas and that people could “hold-it” for six to seven hours while consuming large amounts of beverages!

There is something in me that is not content with being in between where I am at and where I am going; something that reminds me that I am not there yet. This has always been true for my life and I know that it may drive some people a little nuts.

This is especially true when I am heading back home. I long to be at the place where I am supposed to be; “home”. Simply put, I am a long, long way from my home and I won’t be fully content until I arrive. I find myself maneuvering a vehicle over and through all obstacles like an Indy 500 driver racing towards the checkered flag at the end of a long race.

I think that part of the reason that I long for home when I am on the road is because I really long to be with those whom I love; especially Cathy if I am traveling without her. I also very much miss hearing and seeing all of my children and grandchildren.

I think that part of the reason that I long for home when I am on the road is because eternity has been set in my heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11a). Simply put, I am a long, long way from my home and I won’t be fully content until I arrive. I've been a pilgrim on this earth since the day of my birth. I'm a long, long way from my home...

The Apostle Paul reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20)

Aug 23, 2012

Make my life a prayer

I recently spent a week in a very bad area of a major city in the USA. Prior to arriving the Lord led me to Micah 6:8 in the Bible; “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" It was a week filled with opportunities to meet some wonderful people who seemed so very out of place.

I sat with a family of five; a dad, a mom, and three young children, all of whom had radiant smiles that drew me to them. I was impressed at how well behaved they were; almost shocked considering that they were homeless and lived in one of the worst crime filled part of a major city in the USA. I was awakened to my ignorance of people. I told the parents (in front of the children) what a great job they had done raising their children. A smile came to their faces.

A retired couple lost all that they had in a fire that destroyed the building in which they were living. The heart break wasn’t just that they had lost all of their possessions, but the callousness of a landlord who tossed them out into homelessness as he chose to not make repairs to the building ravaged by the fire.

A young boy held out his tennis ball looking for someone to play with. It was his smile that caught my attention; he couldn’t have been more than eight years old. I had seen the police bring him and his mom and all of their belongings to the shelter the day before. All of their possessions fit into the rear seat of the police vehicle! His face looked so out of place in the dining hall of the Community Center of the homeless shelter I was in and saw where his mom had carved out an area for a cot and her belongings as she waited several days for a room to open up in the shelter. I played catch with him and held back tears that such innocence should be in such a bad area of the city.

A family of three; a dad and two young children all of whom had radiant smiles that drew me to them. The oldest girl reached out and tried to get my attention as she played “peek-a-boo” behind a pillar. I walked out of the building with the dad and listened to him share his story as to how he came to be where he now was. In the alley where we walked I had seen seven people arrested within a four hour span of time. He told me that one year before he had been living in his own house making a very good living. He lost it all after he was laid off due to budget cuts at a company at which he had worked for years. Eventually, he was unable to make his house payments and became homeless; he and his children and came to the shelter to find rest, and food, and some hope. I said goodbye and turned to go back to the shelter as I pushed back the tears welling up with in me.

Back inside the building, she was a young, maybe twenty or so; her hair was red and her face and arms were covered with red freckles. She was wearing the same clothes that I had seen her in the day before. She held the handle of a baby stroller as she stood in line waiting to get a meal. Her baby couldn’t have been more than one month old and brought life to the homeless shelter. She reminded me of one of my own daughters who had a baby the same age and my heart was touched.

And I lost it and had to leave the room. I went into a bathroom and sat down on the toilet and cried my eyes out. The song “Make my life a prayer” by Keith Green came to mind. I was filled with gratefulness for how the Lord has provided for me, and filled with contriteness at not being more grateful in the past.

I don’t claim to understand all that I see in this world. There is so much pain and sorrow, so much injustice. There seems to be such a gap between those who have and those who don’t. There are situations that I find myself in that I can’t explain who God is and what He is doing. It is in those situations that I simply remember that He is in control and I once again surrender to Him and make my life a prayer to Him.

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

Keith Green - Make My Life a Prayer to You

Aug 16, 2012


…Grab a SNICKERS®; packed with roasted peanuts, nougats, caramel, and milk chocolate. Mars Incorporated tells us that it will handle our hunger so that we can handle just about anything.

While I admit that eating a SNICKERS® candy bar will help in the short term to get 35 grams of carbs and 4 grams of protein into your system for quick energy when you are hungry; a SNICKERS® candy bar is not a substitute for a healthy meal (nor do they claim to be…just a really tasty snack that makes us smile when we eat it). 

Real hunger should be satisfied by eating real food that has the best potential nutrients to do your body good. And this takes time to prepare, and then to eat and savor every moment.

The same is true for your spiritual hunger. You could try to grab some quick fix of spiritual sound bites or short scripture verse to feed your hungry soul. But to be truly satisfied and fed, you need to go to the source of life and spend time with Him.

And this takes time to prepare, and then to eat and savor every moment. 

If you are hungry deep in your soul today looking and longing for life, come to the True source of Life; Jesus Christ

         “And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never
          hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35)

          “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come,
           buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do
           you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy?
           Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in
           abundance.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

Not sure where to start? Call 1-800-NEED-HIM; someone is waiting to talk with you right now.

New King James Version "Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

SNICKERS® Brand is a product of © 2012 Mars, Incorporated and it's Affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

Aug 9, 2012

Fail … big-time fail.

That’s what my local paper put as a headline for sports writer Bill Plaschke’s article on Michael Phelps. The local paper used the word “dismal” to describe Phelps’ fourth place finish. Fourth place “In the world”! He was competing in the Olympics! That is “dismal” and “failure”; really? 

The irony is that prior to the race, no one in the history of the Olympics has won more gold medals than Michael Phelps. Prior to the race, he had already won fourteen gold medals; thirteen of which he won in thirteen consecutive events! Four years ago he went eight for eight. And, if that weren’t enough to consider him a huge success story, prior to the race his 16 overall medals were two short of the Olympic record.

Three days later, Phelps won medals in two races and became the most decorated Olympian EVER by surpassing the former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina as the person with the most Olympic medals.

One week after the article was written, in the final race of his Olympic career, Phelps collected his eighteenth Olympic gold medal. His total for these Olympic Games was four golds and two silvers; which was more medals than any other swimmer; bringing the grand total of all of his Olympic metals to twenty two!

Immediately following the podium ceremony, Michael was honored with a special individual ceremony at which FINA president Julio Maglione presented Phelps with a silver trophy to recognize his achievements.

Not bad for a guy who one week earlier was considered to be a “dismal failure”. I wonder what the newspaper people thought one week later…

In light of this, what does it take to be successful? Do we have to win EVERYTHING that we enter? Does that mean we will win every contest, every drawing, every job application, and every test that we enter? Otherwise what will the next Michael Phelps have to do to be able to lose a race and still be considered great?

I think that we should applaud the fact that so many people give it their best and still don’t win. By showing up, they still did better than all of the “couch-potatoes” who are watching the events and complaining. Fans boo when a judge on “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent” gives them a less than stellar remark.

Don’t get me wrong: I LIKE TO WIN! I have to guard my emotions when my team loses. This includes teams that I am cheering for as well as teams I am playing on. And I am NOT one of those people who believe that EVERYONE should get a “participation trophy”.

But something is wrong with setting up standards that define success as ‘everyone MUST win EVERYTHING they enter’; something we know is impossible! Can anyone (including Michael Phelps) really live up to that kind of standard? Can you imagine working each day under that kind of scrutiny? Most of us would be fired; or at least forced to quit as we failed to “bring home the gold” on every task given to us by our boss and our name is dragged through the media.

Even worse than that, it seems as though God’s job-security is sometimes determined by how well He comes through when we call out to Him. Does that mean God only keeps His job (as God) by answering ALL of our prayers immediately when we pray them and gives us exactly whatever we ask of Him? Does God need to “bring home the gold” on every task that we give to Him to do for us?

Could it be that maybe the world doesn’t run by our standards? Could it be that (perhaps) we are not in control of all that we see and we don’t have the final story? In other words you may be judging what God is doing “one-week” early as you journal to your world how things turn out when you prayed..

Psalm 115:3 says that; “But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases”.

Psalm 135:5-6 “For I know that the Lord is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places.”

Some things we just need to leave in God’s hands and trust that He will come through for us; even if it is one week later. After all, it was on the third day that He rose from the dead; and that turned out pretty great for those who will believe!

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received:  that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”     (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

Aug 2, 2012

The Real Tragedy of the Titanic

The Titanic was a ship that initially earned fame as the largest and most luxurious ocean liner ever constructed. However, she instead came to be remembered throughout history for the tragedy that destroyed the ship.

On April 10th, 1912, the Titanic left on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England with the intent of arriving in New York seven days later.

Instead, four days later, on April 14th, 1912, disaster would strike. Earlier in the day, ships in the area reported that there were numerous large ice masses in the ocean and warned that ships should proceed with caution. However, the captain of the Titanic ignored the warnings and plowed ahead on the voyage, believing that his ship was unsinkable because it had been so well constructed and able to sustain any amount of damage.

Several hours later, the Titanic struck a massive iceberg, causing the entire ship to sink. Approximately three hours later, on April 15, 1912 at 2:45 in the morning, the Titanic came to her final resting place on the Atlantic Ocean floor just south of Newfoundland, Canada.

As the Titanic was sinking, many of the passengers were able to put on a life jacket, but they could not find an available lifeboat. On the Titanic, there were only twenty lifeboats aboard; enough to hold around 1,178 people which is about half of what was required to fully evacuate the 2,228 people on the ship. Most of the lifeboats when lowered into the ocean were only partially full; some were actually half-empty!

The passengers jumped or fell into the ocean, left floating in the frigid waters, crying into the night for help. Instructions had been given that the women and children were to board the lifeboats first; however they were ignored as the men shoved them aside to secure their own safety.

Again, there was room in the lifeboats for hundreds of them! That is why their fate is perhaps the most shocking human tragedy of that heart rending night when over 1,500 people died. Equally tragic, a large number of men were reported as survivors while a large number of women and children perished in the disaster.

Though those in the water continued to cry out for someone to rescue them, the people in the lifeboats just kept rowing away. They thought the rescue was too risky. So out of twenty lifeboats, only one finally turned back, in time to save only six passengers.

Three days later when the funeral ships arrived from Nova Scotia, they were greeted by a ghostly sight; 306 life jacketed men, women, and children floating in the water, frozen to death.

And why did they die? Not because the Titanic sank, but because the people who were already saved would not go back for the people who were not.

Jesus said; Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16 NKJV)