Monday, May 25, 2015

ambiguity vs certainty

We American Christians like to be in control.  We like to be certain.  Some Christians quote scripture to lock God in a box.  They are certain about everything.

The problem with this is that God will not be contained by any human.  If we are honest with each other, there is always going to be a bit of ambiguity or a lack of clarity about many things related to God.

God is bigger than we are.  He is beyond our control.  Worship is not boiling him down to 20 points of doctrine.  Worship is falling headlong into the arms of the God who is indescribable, uncontainable and beyond our management.



On This memorial day let us take time to thank God for the lives of those who have gone before us.  Where would we be without them?  And particularly for those who suffered and sacrificed so that we could be free.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Work, part 2

Someone made a very true comment on yesterday's post.  They said that the worst companies are the ones where no dissent is allowed and the boss is always right.

I agree.  I am all for gracious dissent.  I have just seen too many people who go from one job to the next and are never happy.  The point I was trying to make was not that dissent is bad, but that things always go better at work when we work as unto the Lord.

My post and the comment are another example of how difficult it is to deal with an issue in a few paragraphs.  There are always many pieces of truth that I end up neglecting.

On a personal note, my dear wife is in town this weekend and then begins her travel blitz.  Her sites have been assigned:  New York, Boston, Miami, Houston and Columbus Ohio.  It has been really really nice to have her here.  Never take your loved ones for granted.  They are a blessing and a gift.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

work

100 people applied for a job.  There was one question on the application.  The question was, "what is 2x2?"  99 people answered "4."  None of them got the job.  The person that got the job said that 2 times 2 is whatever the boss says.

Now I hope you have a good boss and I want to be a good boss, but every job has its moments.  I have lots of bosses and I don't always agree with them, but they would never know it.  Great employees understand that they are there to move their employer's agenda forward.  We don't deserve a job, we work hard to keep a job.  As my Dad said, "make yourself indispensable to the company."

Don't complain about your boss or your work or anything else or you will become known as a complainer.  In a downsizing, those are the first people to go.

Hard work is a joy.  Work is a 4 letter word.  Anything that my boss asks of me, if it is in my power to make it happen, I will.  The Bible encourages us to work as if we are working for the Lord. 

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, May 22, 2015

I'm sorry

I posted something the other day that hurt some one's feelings.  I wasn't thinking.  I am sorry.

Sometimes you can say something that you think is true, but it can still be misconstrued or hurtful.  It is indeed my intention in this life to keep John Wesley's three rules:

1.  do all the good you can
2.  do no harm
3.  stay in love with God

I apologize because I hurt someone.  May we all limit the ouches that we deliver to others.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

ANGRY

I have a friend who is never angry.  I have told her on numerous occasions how amazed I am at her temperament.

Well the other day I ran into her at church and she was mad!  Pot boiling mad!  It was kind of fun to watch.

Well, what ever was bothering her all settled out and she is fine now.  Know this about people:  just because they don't show you something, does not mean that it is not there.  Every one laughs, everyone cries,  let your friends and acquaintances be who they are.  Not every body is wired like you are wired.  God made many temperaments and it is all good.

Grace is letting people be themselves without trying to make them turn into you.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

FIRE!

We had a fire alarm at church on Sunday.  The 10:10 service is our largest hour and we had just started service.  The welcome was over, we were showing the spotlight on ministry video, when that nasty aching piercing noise filled the entire building.

Brian led the north section of the Sanctuary out via the choir door.  The band led the south section out the front side door.  The middle sections exited via the back.

The entire church was evacuated in less than 10 minutes.  I was very very proud of our staff and hospitality teams.  Everyone knew what to do and they acted with such order and calm.

The good news is that there was no fire!  After about 10 minutes, the fire truck arrived and gave us the green light to re-enter the building.  We had a new welcome, a song, a sermon and grace alone.

Although it was very unnerving at the time, it all worked out very well.  I thank all of you for following the directions of those who where trying to clear the building.  I also thank you for hanging around and staying for the 10:27 service.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, May 18, 2015

investments

When we hear the word investment, we usually think of money.  You put a little bit in, add some along the way, and after a while there is a return on your investment.

The most important investments that we make in this life, are not investments in stocks or bonds, but investments in people.  All around you are folks that can benefit from you.  Whether you buy them lunch, give them advice, give them a ride, or simply smile and say hello, every encounter with another person is a chance to invest in them.

We feel good when we invest in others.  It is part of why we are here on this earth.  Don't miss a chance to reach out to others.  You just might make some one's day.  You just might influence their life for the better.  And how cool is that?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

faith

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Hebrews 11:1

Here is my tiny new tomato plant, looking up at a giant cage.  Will it ever fill it?

Faith is believing for more.  Faith is knowing that you are not alone. Faith is pursuing your potential.  Faith is knowing that everything is ok, even when the odds look overwhelming.  Faith is knowing that your DNA will fill the cage.  Faith is knowing that God made you to grow.

What are you facing?  What is the best attitude that you can bring to the table?  Great things have been done by those with just a small amount of faith.  Don't shy away, hang in there.  You are not in this alone.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

God is Love

I am hanging one of my theological hats on 1 John 4:8 "God is Love."

When you listen to preachers and teachers, stop and ask yourself, what are they hanging their theological hats on?   It is a very enlightening question to ask... what are they basing their teachings on?

God is good with love, but that is not the point.  God likes love, of course.  God is glad when we love of course.   God is like love, for sure.  But what the scripture actually says is this:

God is love.

This messes with my brain.  This makes me crazy, until I remember that God is not an old man with a beard, God is not a human.  God is a spirit.  Love is a spirit.  God is love.

So, whenever you encounter love, you have encountered God.  God is love.  That still messes with my brain, but I am falling for this God that is bigger than my ideas about him.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, May 15, 2015

subtraction

I keep thinking about this, so I am going to keep writing about it.

American Christians think that becoming more spiritual means learning more.  Learn more, know more, add more.

What if spirituality is first discovered by unlearning what we mislearned in the past.  Our minds are so filled with junk that is irrelevant to spirituality.  For us to begin again, we must subtract some things that were drilled into us as kids.  We must come to faith with an open mind, as a child.

What if every denomination subtracted all of the particulars that they fight about?  What if all we had left was the simple message: God so loved the world?  We have made it so complicated - and it is so simple. 

Subtract the dogma and we end up with love.  There is nothing else.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

jokes

Yesterday's post reminded me of a joke line.

Did you hear about the fire at the shoe factory?  It was terrible.  100 soles were lost.

I bet it was started by some heel.

Did you hear about the fire at the circus?

It was in tents.

Ok, that's all folks.  A little smile is a gift to any day.
And it is a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

too much talking

Ok, I find it pretty annoying when someone talks too much.  Maybe they think that their opinion is the only one that matters.  Usually they are a bit loud.  The introvert within me is repelled in such situations.

And last night that person was me.  Yikes.  I was on a panel discussion and I know I talked way too much.  Talking too much can make you feel like a heel. 

Today is a new day.  I promise to offer fewer words and more kindness.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I'm Back.....

I have been gone for a week.  I give my heartfelt thanks to Lions Den Man and Ami for posting for me while I was gone.  I also thank you many generous and kind friends who helped us load the truck.

Monday morning a week ago, we closed on our house here and started the long drive to Florida in a 26' Penske truck and a 16' truck.  Turns out we had more junk than we thought.  Off we went down I-70-  Columbia, St. Louis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Macon, Orlando, and finally Vero Beach.  We made it in two days and arrived about 7pm on Tuesday.

When we got there, we were locked out.  We had the garage door code, but someone had locked the door from the garage to the house.  When we finally got in, the AC wasn't working.  It was fixed the next day at a cost of $200.

Wednesday we unloaded the truck.  The movers were late, but they did good work and we got all of the junk off loaded and into the house.  We spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday unpacking boxes and going to the store to add more stuff to the stuff that we just unloaded.

Today, Scott and I flew home.  It was bitter sweet leaving my wife in Florida, but she will be in town in a couple of weeks.

I know that many of you were praying for safe travels, and we made it safely home.  Our new Lee's Summit address is 1229 NE Deerbrook Circle, 64086.

The cats are glad to see me, and I will see you on Sunday if not before.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Quotes

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" - Maya Angelou




"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose" - Dr. Seuss




"Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art" - Elenor Roosevelt



And last but certainly not least (I love this one) :-)




You deserve flowers on your doorstep and coffee in the morning.  You deserve notes left on your dashboard and ice cream sundaes at 3am.  You deserve honesty everyday and to be kissed every hour.  You deserve to be reminded how beautiful you are.


Peace and love to you my friends.
Always,
Ami

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

The first love of your life is generally your Mother. She is the one without whom you could be delivered into this world. She is the one who usually teaches and corrects you throughout your childhood years. When you are really blessed, she is the one who goes from being your Mama to your coach and eventually to one of your best friends. Other than Jesus, a mother is the one whom we see the Bible gives most glory and honor.


A Note from a Mother
I gave birth to you but you came with no instructions.  All I knew was that I loved you long before I saw you.  I know I made some mistakes and I am sorry, but I was doing the best I could with what I knew.  Everything I did for you, I did from love.  You are my child, my life, and my dreams for tomorrow.  I will always love you and there is nothing that could ever destroy my love for you.



Please be certain to hug your Mother's extra tight today if you can.  And say "thank you"!  While many of us aren't perfect.  Please know that we really are trying our best and love, love, love you with all that we are.

Happy Mother's Day my Friends!
Peace and Love to you always,
Ami

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Love

1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV
"Love is Kind"


One translation of today's verse says, "love looks for a way to be constructive."  In other words, love looks for ways to improve someone else's life.  Love brings out the best in other people.  Don't just get up in the morning thinking about yourself or how you can make your life better.  Think about how you can make someone else's life better.  Ask yourself, "Who can I encourage today?"  "Who can I build up?"  Someone in your life needs your encouragement.  Someone in your life needs to know that you believe in them.  I believe God will hold us responsible for the people He's put in our lives.  He's counting on us to bring out the best in our family and friends.
Are you improving the lives of those around you?  Are you giving them confidence?  Ask the Lord to give you creative ways to invest in those around you.  As you sow seeds of encouragement and bring out the best in others, God will send people along your path that will build you up too, and help you move forward into the blessing He has in store for you!
Father, thank you for loving me.  Thank you for believing in me and always building me up.  I ask that You show me creative ways to encourage and build up the people around me.  Help me to be an example of our love today and always in Jesus name.  Amen.
Peace and love to you my friends always,
Ami

Friday, May 8, 2015

the enemy


A story to share.  "A brother was restless in the community and often moved to anger. So he said: 'I will go and live somewhere by myself. And since I shall be able to talk or listen to no one, I shall be tranquil, and my passionate anger will cease.' He went out and lived alone in a cave. But one day he filled his jug with water and put it on the ground. It happened suddenly to fall over. He filled it again, and again it fell. And this happened a third time. And in a rage he snatched up the jug and broke it. Returning to his right mind, he knew that the demon of anger had mocked him, and he said: 'Here am I by myself, and he has beaten me. I will return to the community. Wherever you live, you need effort and patience and above all God's help.' And he rose up, and went back.”

I liked this because as I read it, it reminded me of someone I knew and then when I re-read it, it reminded me of myself. Sometimes (maybe all the time) we need to just sit back and look at ourselves and see that the origin of our struggles are simply within.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Thursday, May 7, 2015

stuff

Many years back a family we knew moved away. Before the packing began they made a decision to go through all the things they had collected through the years and remove from their possession all that was not needed. A few years later I ran into the husband who had returned for a visit. During our catch up time he mentioned how freeing that experience had been for all of them. This made me think about the things we collect and surround ourselves with in regard to the way we think about God. Years and years of stuff get piled around and on top of us. Before we know it we aren't free and all the things that Christ wanted us to see about ourselves, others and Him have somehow been lost in the layers of stuff. The message was pure and simple and perfect. Love.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

the spiritual life

Thomas Merton wrote, "Love, in fact, is the spiritual life, and without it all the other exercises of the spirit, however lofty, are emptied of content and become mere illusions. The more lofty they are, the more dangerous the illusion."

Most of us search for where it is or when or if it (a filling of the spirit) will happen….I believe it will happen not through prayer, not through study (although both good) but through Love.

So back again to yesterday’s post. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”...and,  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”

Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

three rules


John Wesley had three simple rules that he lived by. 
  1. Do no harm. 
  2. Do good. 
  3. Stay in Love with God.

They seem pretty simple to follow or are they easier to fall away from?

Harm. Forget about the big harm like killing what about everyday stuff like getting angry at someone? Doing good. For me some days are better than others. And, the third rule, stay in love with God. 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Maybe a focus first on the third rule would make ability to do #1 and #2 much easier….

Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Monday, May 4, 2015

quote

From my friend Barbara Bass-

Be careful how you make sense of your life.
What looks like a disaster may in fact be grace.
What looks like the end may be the beginning.
What looks hopeless may be god's instrument to give you real and lasting hope.
Your Father is committed to taking what seems so bad and turning it into something that is very, very good. 

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

love

True love is indiscriminate.  It is given freely to all.  We don't give it to those we like and withhold it from those we don't know or don't like.  That is not love.

Like the shade of a tree goes out to all, true love is indiscriminate.  Don't hold it back.  Let it well up inside of you and pour out to everyone that you meet.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

fear

"Fear is simply a state of not knowing.  Those uneasy feelings can just as easily be turned into useful energy.  Gather your facts, surround yourself with good people, anticipate the naysayers and stay the course.  Keep your eye on the goal and your heart focused on the power of what is possible."
                                                                                   Julie Battle

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, May 1, 2015

bad things just happen sometimes


This is an old story, told in many versions, in many books about life and it's difficulties.

The story is about a little boy walking along the bank of a river. He sees a crocodile who is trapped in a net. The crocodile says, "Would you have pity on me and release me? I may look ugly, but it isn't my fault, you know. I was made this way. But whatever my external appearance, I have a mother's heart. I came this morning in search of food for my young ones and got caught in this trap!"

So the boy says, "Ah, if I were to help you out of that trap, you'd grab me and kill me."

The crocodile asks, "Do you think I would do that to my benefactor and liberator?"

So the boy is persuaded to take the net off and the crocodile grabs him.

As he is being forced between the jaws of the crocodile, he says, "So this is what I get for my good actions." And the crocodile says, "Well, don't take it personally, son, this is the way the world is, this is the law of life."

The boy disputes this, so the crocodile says, "Do you want to ask someone if it isn't so?"

The boy sees a bird sitting on a branch and says, "Bird, is what the crocodile says right?" The bird says, "The crocodile is right. Look at me. I was coming home one day with food for my fledglings. Imagine my horror to see a snake crawling up the tree, making straight for my nest. I was totally helpless. It kept devouring my young ones, one after the other. I kept screaming and shouting, but it was useless. The crocodile is right, this is the law of life, this is the way the world is."

"See," says the crocodile. But the boy says, "Let me ask someone else." So the crocodile says, "Well, all right, go ahead."

There was an old donkey passing by on the bank of the river. "Donkey," says the boy, "this is what the crocodile says. Is the crocodile right?"

The donkey says, "The crocodile is quite right. Look at me. I've worked and slaved for my master all my life and he barely gave me enough to eat. Now that I'm old and useless, he has turned me loose, and here I am wandering in the jungle, waiting for some wild beast to pounce on me and put an end to my life. The crocodile is right, this is the law of life, this is the way the world is."

"See," says the crocodile. "Let's go!"

The boy says, "Give me one more chance, one last chance. Let me ask one other being. Remember how good I was to you?" So the crocodile says, "All right, your last chance."

The boy sees a rabbit passing by, and he says, "Rabbit, is the crocodile right?"

The rabbit sits on his haunches and says to the crocodile, "Did you say that to that boy? The crocodile says, "Yes, I did." "Wait a minute," says the rabbit. "We've got to discuss this." "Yes," says the crocodile. But the rabbit says, "How can we discuss it when you've got that boy in your mouth? Release him; he's got to take part in the discussion, too." The crocodile says, "You're a clever one, you are. The moment I release him, he'll run away." The rabbit says, "I thought you had more sense than that. If he attempted to run away, one slash of your tail would kill him."

"Fair enough," says the crocodile, and he released the boy. The moment the boy is released, the rabbit says, "Run!" And the boy runs and escapes. Then the rabbit says to the boy, "Don't you enjoy crocodile flesh? Wouldn't the people in your village like a good meal? You didn't really release that crocodile; most of his body is still caught in that net. Why don't you go to the village and bring everybody and have a banquet."

That's exactly what the boy does. He goes to the village and calls all the men folk. They come with their axes and staves and spears and kill the crocodile. The boy's dog comes, too, and when the dog sees the rabbit, he gives chase, catches hold of the rabbit, and throttles him. The boy comes on the scene too late, and as he watches the rabbit die, he says, "The crocodile was right, this is the way the world is, this is the law of life.
"

There is no explanation you can give that would explain away all the sufferings and evil and torture and destruction and hunger in the world! You'll never explain it. You can try gamely with your formulas, religious and otherwise, but you'll never explain it. Because life is a mystery, which means your thinking mind cannot make sense out of it.

We want to resist a story like this because we prefer certainty over ambiguity.  We want a God that makes sense instead of a God that we have to trust.  We want a God that we can control instead of a God that is in control.  We want circumstances to go our way.  Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't.  It is the way of the world.  Trust God anyway.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

compassion

This quote showed up in my mailbox at church.  I don't know who it is from, but I liked it.

To recognize need, and to respond, one must not only see with eyes, but also with heart.
The capability to help, absent the comprehension  of and the compassion to the plight and the commitment to betterment, is a sad waste of capability.

Compassion, empathy, tolerance, optimism, dedication, capability, etc. grow and strengthen each time employed.
To see need and not respond is a lost opportunity to warm and grow all hearts.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

who affects who

Who acts upon whom?  Who affects who?

Most people measure their position in the life by how the world affects them, by how various events affect them.

Great people see the world differently.  They wake up in the morning and look for a way to touch their world.  They are not the pawns of chance or circumstance.  They are an active force, seeking to affect the world and make it a better place.

Those who choose the former are doomed to a life of struggle and complaint.  Those who choose the latter are amazing people.  They are a force of nature.  They are indeed great people.

Every day we wake up, we have a chance to make a choice about which kind of person we will be.  Which do you choose?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

in between

Someone mentioned that they were in between the great moments of life.  Just coming off of one great experience, now they were in a lull or a rut until the next.

I disagree.

To those who are awake, this is impossible.  There are no mundane days.  Every moment is a glorious great one.  Every opportunity is enormous.  Every breath is divine.

Are you anxiously waiting for a person you love to land at the airport?  Don't waste these moments waiting for the next one.  Strike up a conversation with someone near you.  Make a new friend.  Extend kindness to the janitor.

There are no in between moments for those who understand missional living.  Life is here for you today.  You may not have tomorrow.  Take it up.  Grip the opportunity.  The amazingness of today is there, just waiting to be noticed by you.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Holy Spirit

Many people have tried to control and explain the Holy Spirit.  They try to confine him to their doctrinal box.  The problem with this is that in Scripture, and in life, the Spirit is seen working in so many different ways.  No doctrinal box can confine him.

Maybe instead of trying to control the Spirit, we should relax, release, and relent and allow the Spirit to control us.  That is the way God designed it to work.  We are not leading the dog, the dog is leading us.  We are not leading or controlling the God, the God is leading us.

When we finally come to the place where we realize that God is bigger than we are, we can find the joy of just living with him.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

depression

After her death, we learned that Mother Teresa struggled with bouts of depression.  Some people were shocked.

Why were they shocked?  Because we have this silly notion that truly spiritual people do not have problems.  That is silly.  We are all human.  Being spiritual is not being problem free, being spiritual is finding the Shepherd in your dark valleys.

Never feel embarrassed because you have a problem.   We all have them.  Open your heart to God and throw yourself upon Him.  Let the consolation of the Holy Spirit comfort you.  It is ok to be broken.  You don't have to be perfect.  You can't be perfect.

God loves you anyway.  There is no need to pretend.  Fall into his loving arms.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mother Teresa 2

Why do we revere Mother Teresa?

Some religious people insist that you do it their way.  She did not.
Some religious people make all sorts of moral absolutes and force them on others.  She did not.
Some religious people judge and condemn others.  She did not.
Some religious people read lots of books and learn all of the theology.  She did not.
Some religious people cover their cars with bumper stickers.  She did not.

Study is important.  Witness is important.  Values are important.  But there is a more excellent way.  The greatest gift is love.  If we don't love others, nothing else matters.  If we do not love others, we are missing the boat.  You can think you are totally right and actually be totally wrong. 

We revere Mother Teresa because she was an example of selfless love.  Her example inspires any who watch, to follow in her path, which is the path of Jesus Christ.

There are two roads in life.  Those who choose the path of love are always glad that they did.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.