Friday, March 6, 2015

be nice

Every now and then I just want to say it.  "Just be nice."  Stop the hatefulness.  Stop the demeaning looks.  Stop the anger.  Stop the condescension.  Just be nice.

Our mom's said it, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

Don't spoil this beautiful day or any other beautiful day by being mean or sour.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, stop making yourself and everyone else miserable.  Just learn to see the good!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

dreams


What are your dreams?

"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral."  Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What challenges do you face today?  How will you approach them?  What do you see in the future?  A pile of rocks or a cathedral?

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Parade Day

It is parade day again.  Are you going?


What parade you say?  Today is the day when all of the high school bands line up downtown and march fourth.


[this was my grandmother's joke, passed down to my mother, and then to me, and now to you.]


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

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

truth

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  Let me say a word about truth:  Jesus is the truth.  No longer a man in a human body, Jesus is Spirit, he is God, he is truth.


So, if I find a truth in my denomination, Jesus is there.  If I find a truth in your denomination, Jesus is there.  If I find a truth in creation, Jesus is there.  If I find a truth in a denomination that I don't particularly like, then Jesus is there too.  Where ever truth is, Jesus is, because he is the truth.


"A person who is a good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature."  St.  Augustine


Paul the Apostle read secular books and acknowledged the truth in them.  He was familiar with Greek poets and philosophers and quoted them in Acts 17 in his speech on Mars Hill.


Jesus is the truth.  Where ever you find it.  He is there.  He is bigger than my brain, bigger than our church and bigger than our ideas about him.


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



Monday, March 2, 2015

suffering

I read somewhere that most American Christians want to pray away the difficulty in our lives.  As if life should have no difficulty.

If life is 20% difficult, and we choose to hate that part, then we are opting out of 20% of life.  If life is 40% difficult, and we choose to hate that portion, then we are giving up on 40% of life.

The Apostle Paul suggested that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him.  Life is wonderful, even with its difficulties.  To bear up under them and still see the good, this is living.  Don't give up on any part of your life.  Don't throw out any part of your life.

It may be difficult, but count it all joy, and live.

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

Sunday, March 1, 2015

conversion

Some Christians are converted to religion.  Some are converted to Christ.  What is the difference?

Those converted to religion are filled with judgment.  They are concerned about doctrine.  They are always saying who is in and who is out.  They insist that their denomination, their church is right and yours is wrong.

Those who are converted to Jesus Christ do none of the above.  They focus their lives on love.  They work on allowing the Holy Spirit inside to grow the fruit of the spirit within them.  They are kind and forgiving.  They understand that we do not know it all.  They trust in the mystery of almighty God and simply love all.

What are you converted to?

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

heyday

Are your best days before you or behind you?  Do you remember the great days as the years that pastor so and so was at the church?  Or, are your best days now, or are your best days just around the corner.

I believe it was William Bridges that wrote about an organizations heyday.  A heyday is defined a s the period of one's greatest popularity, vigor, or prosperity.  The author made an interesting statement, something along the lines of this:  The heyday of an organization is not the time when it is thriving and the motor is running on all cylinders.  The heyday really is the time when difficult decisions were made that set up the organization, staff or family to thrive.

So its not the joy of greatness that is truly great, but the joy of the hard work and the fortitude shown along the way that are the times to be celebrated.  Those difficult moments are the real heyday.

A couple has saved enough to retire comfortably.  Is the heyday now, or when they made tough decisions along the way to be frugal?  A baseball team is in the playoffs.  Is the heyday now, or when the decisions were made to cut players and practice hard?

What you do today matters.  Your hard decisions today can set up your future.  Don't pine for the heyday to come.  Reach down inside of yourself and make the difficult decisions that shape tomorrow's greatness.

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

tortise and the hare

The tortoise and the hare is a story of long term goals vs. short term gratification.  I remember the first time I heard the phrase "delayed gratification."

When our life is based on what is easy, what comes quick and what works for me now, we can end up making decisions that are very detrimental in the long haul.  If a two year old gets everything that they want, whoa - watch out for the adult that they will become.

Nothing in life is easy or free.  Great moments come from hard work.  Work first, play second.  The hare ran ahead and then took a nap.  He stopped along the road to play.  The tortoise just kept going.  Hour after hour, day after day, he pursued his goal and came out on top.

How will my actions today effect the outcomes of tomorrow?

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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

to agree or not

I have an opinion.  You have an opinion.  If we only talk to people that agree with us, then we never grow, we never learn and we never change.  If I only surround myself with those who agree with me, then I am shaping a cocoon of comfort for my opinion.

The problem with that, is that sometimes I am wrong.  Sometimes I am wrong and I don't know that I am wrong. 

The most valuable people to have in our lives sometimes are those who do not agree with us.  Those who see the world differently than we do can play a very important role in helping us to live a healthy life.

When I listen to those who don't agree with me, even if they are shouting at me, when I really listen to them, I can find out why they hold the position that they do.  I can begin to understand the other side.  Usually when we understand both sides of a situation, we make better decisions.  And we understand people as people instead of measuring them as for or against me.

Don't worry that someone disagrees with you.  Different religion?  Different politics?  No problem.  They are still people.  Don't take it personally that they disagree with you.  Don't lean away from what they say, lean in to what they say.  We learn so much more from those who see the world differently than we do.

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Greatness

To achieve something great in this life, a person must have drive.  They must have a goal.  They must see what they hope to become and go after it.  There is no substitute for vision and determination.

"Great minds have purposes, others have wishes."  Washington Irving

What do you hope to accomplish in this life?  How will you get there?  Never give up.  Pursue your goal with gusto!  Work as if working for the Lord.

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Richard Rohr

Some of you know that Richard Rohr is one of my favorite authors.  This is from one of his recent devotionals:


The biblical tradition hopes to reveal that whenever the prophetic function is lacking in any group or religion, such a group will very soon be self-serving, self-maintaining, self-perpetuating, and self- promoting. When the prophets are kicked out of any group, it's a very short time until that group is circling the wagons around itself, and all sense of mission and message is lost. I am afraid this is the natural movement of any institution. Establishments of any kind usually move toward their own self-perpetuation, rather than "What are we doing for others?" In fact, the question is not even asked because self-perpetuation is presumed to be a high level necessity. Thus the prophetic and Pauline words for institutions were "thrones or dominions or principalities or powers" (Colossians 1:16). They consider themselves "too big to fail," usually because they are protecting their own privilege--which is too important to question.

......Prophets step in to disrupt the usual social consensus--"How wonderful our group is!"--and say, "It's just not entirely true!" So you see why the prophets are all killed (Matthew 23:29-39). Prophets expose and topple each group's idols and blind spots, very often showing that we make things into absolutes that are not absolutes in God's eyes, and we relativize what in fact is central and important. As Jesus so cleverly puts it, "You strain out gnats and you swallow camels" (Matthew 23:24).

  This tendency in religion to "absolutize" things comes from a deep psychological need for some solid ground to stand on, and I understand that. But what the prophets keep saying is, "God is the only absolute!" Don't make the fingers pointing to the moon into the moon itself, as it were. Jeremiah said, "The Temple, the Temple, the Temple of Yahweh! Don't you recognize it has become a robber's den?" (7:1-11) and this is the very line that Jesus quotes (Mark 11:17). But of course he was talking about Jerusalem, and surely not our parish church, Salt Lake City, [Lee's Summit,] Washington, DC, or much less, St. Peter's in Rome.

With that, perhaps we are ready to begin Lent.

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

 







Monday, February 23, 2015

Dad

I was working in the garage and I opened a little box of sockets that had been my fathers.  Tucked away in a corner of the box was a small plastic bag.  It was discolored from years of laying around oily tools, so I could not see the contents.  It felt like washers, or parts, or coins.  Definitely metallic.

I tried to open the self seal but the bag was so old that the top ripped off.  I had to cut it open with scissors.  I poured out the contents and to my surprise the bag held quarters.  $2 worth.  They fell into my hand and I had the most interesting and wonderful sensation - the last person to touch these would have been my father.

My did he save them?  Why $2?  Why were they in his sockets?  I will never know.  But for a moment, I touched my father again.  My dad was always thinking, always planning, always ready for what ever life would bring.

I still love him and miss him.  Hug those you love while you can.  Nothing lasts forever but the memories.

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

Sunday, February 22, 2015

skipping church

Do you ever want to skip church?  Ha ha.  Its human nature.  Even preachers want to skip church sometimes.

Here is the problem with skipping- What ever happened that morning at church, you have missed it forever.  A joyful moment, a learning point in Sunday School, the hug of a friend, a song that was a blessing, those moments for that day, are gone forever.  We traded them for more sleep, some TV, a project, or who knows what else.

I think all of us have forced ourselves to go to church when we didn't want to, and then we were glad later that we had gone.  Sometimes all we need to do to find a blessing, is to put ourselves in the path of the Holy Spirit.

I do a lot of things that I don't feel like doing.  Usually I am better off in the end because I did.  If you don't feel like going to church, that's ok.  Go anyway.  I bet you will be glad that you did.

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

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cathy's Dad

Yesterday we witnessed the passing of Cathy's Dad, Bill Belcher.  He was a loving father to three daughters and a dedicated husband.  He checked out, scrutinized, then approved and loved the three men that would become his sons in law.

20 years ago he had a debilitating stroke.  He struggled with the effects of that for the rest of his life, yet he never complained.

He was a strong believer in Jesus and a student of the Bible.  He will be missed.

Visitation is Wednesday Feb 25 from 9-11 at Penwell Gable Funeral home in Olathe. Service to follow at 11am.

He is no longer in pain.  To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

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

Friday, February 20, 2015

work

I thought of a friend who works like a dog.  I admire people who work hard.  Nothing worthwhile in this life is accomplished without hard work.

I have watched people work at their job 50-60 hours per week,  take kids to baseball practice, take their wife to dinner, mow the grass, change the brakes on their car, balance the checkbook, help someone move, and show up at the car wash to help kids make money for their mission trip - all in the same week.

My dad had an old saying, which I now have officially adopted.  "Work first- play second."  Akin to this is a bit of advice that I love.  "Don't let your problems get in the way of success in life.  Get a job and hold a job.  Make a living and pay your bills.  You can then work on solving your problems on the nights and weekends."

To work and bring home a paycheck provides a person with a sense of accomplishment.  So, here's a toast to those who work.  To those who work hard.  You made us sweat and you made us sore, but we sure feel good at the end of the day.  Thanks for the meaning that you taught us.

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

packing

"We ain't going anywhere!"
We are downsizing as you may know.  Our house is going on the market in two weeks.  There is so much to do!  And where did all of this stuff come from?  Painting, fixing, packing, taking stuff to storage, donating things to Hillcrest.  It is a crazy time.

Oh, and did I mention that the cats do not want to move?  They are regularly holding sit ins on the pile of packing paper.

Everyone has lots of friends until it is time to move.  Do you want to help me move?  Ha ha.  Do you want a couple of cats?

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday.  It is the first day of Lent.  Lent is 40 days before Easter, set aside to consider the sufferings of Jesus Christ.  I guess the early church felt that Good Friday alone was not enough time to think of Jesus' suffering, so we have the season of Lent.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.  The palms from last year's Palm Sunday are burned.  The ashes are placed on the foreheads of the faithful in the shape of a cross.  Palms to ashes.  Joy to mourning.  Lent is here.

Today is a most significant day to me.  I think it all centers around the question that is asked when the ashes are put on my forehead:
      Are you willing to repent of your sin and follow the way of the cross?
     [yes]
      Then the sign of the cross upon your forehead marks you as a disciple of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The significance of this question to me is not based so much on the fact that I will ask it of many worshippers tonight, but that someone will ask it of me.

If you are not doing anything tonight, drop by the church between 6 and 730 for the soup supper and a time of prayer, ashes and Holy Communion.

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Who gets in?



Who gets in?

People ask me all the time, “who gets into heaven?”  The idea is if someone doesn’t believe it just like we do, will God let them into heaven?

Well, who has it just right?  Orthodox Christians do not believe the trinity as we do.  They believe that the Son and the Spirit proceed from the father.  Do they get to go to heaven? 

I have heard people say that Jews don’t get in because they do not believe in Jesus, yet Jesus referred to several of the patriarchs as being in heaven.

James indicates that belief is not enough, that one must live in a way that shows their faith.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said that not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom.

I tend to think that those who act like they know the most about who is getting in, actually know the least.  I think many will be surprised about who has joined them at the banquet table in heaven.

Anyway, I am glad that I am not in charge of who gets in.  Only God will say to a person, “well done, good and faithful  servant.”

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

known or experienced



Known or Experienced

There is a Christianity that can be known, and there is a Christianity that is experienced.  To think about grace is one thing.  To experience grace is something else altogether.

It is difficult to explain to someone who only knows the principles of the faith, what it means to experience the Christ.  You can’t explain dry land to a fish.  They have no paradigm for it.  They will consider you to be crazy.

But friends, there is an experience of Christ.  Paul met him on the road to Damascus.  A woman met him at the well.  Meeting Jesus and experiencing him has been the most significant event of my life.

I pray that the spirit would touch you this day, and make the risen Christ real.

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

Sunday, February 15, 2015

to live

To live, to really live is to -

Awake each morning with a thankful heart.
To see each person as a blessed loved child of God.
To be aware of my actions and how they affect others.

To live, to really live is to -

Show kindness to all.
It is to use our resources in ways that are healthy.
It is to appreciate the beauty of the earth.

To live, to really live is to -

Allow God to define me, not others.
Forgive and release others.
To live, to really live is to see the good.

What am I leaving out?

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

Saturday, February 14, 2015

war

A song from the sixties shouted:  "War.  What is it good for?  Absolutely nothing, say it again."

Personally, I am tired of wars.  We have been in way too many of them in my lifetime.  Almost every time, we are not told the entire story by our leaders.  The end result is civilians killed, soldiers killed and because our battlefield medicine is so good, many wounded  warriors.

I hear on the news that we are talking about doing more in Ukraine.  That means that we probably already are doing something in Ukraine.  These stories always start out with a bang and then fizzle along the way.  Did you know that the United States is the world's largest supplier of weapons?

I remember watching the casualty reports from Vietnam on the nightly news.  Pictures of the young men who died in a far away land, liberating the world from communism.  Lost.  Gone for ever, lives snuffed out before their time.

Why cant we just get along?  When Jesus returns, he will turn the the swords into plows and there will be no more war.

Now, lets apply this to our family and friends for a moment.  Why hate?  Why argue?  So what if they are different than I am?  Live and let live.  Everyone does not have to be like me and we can't fix everything.

When I stop trying to fix everything I finally have a chance to really live in God's world.

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

Friday, February 13, 2015

Oil change

I got up early to get my oil changed.  I was there 4 minutes before the place opened.  No one was there.  I wondered if I got the opening time wrong.

Finally at 7:02 a man came out and told me that they would not be opening on time because employees were late to work.  So I sat in the car for ten minutes.

When I was ushered inside, I was told that there was no coffee made yet, and that all the magazines had disappeared.  I said, "no problem."

The employees all seemed to be unhappy and discouraged.  When it was time to pay, I stepped up to the counter and noticed the music coming through in the waiting room.  It was Matt's Redmond's 10,000 reasons- they were listening to Christian music.  Late, discouraged, no time to make coffee, they were listening to Christian music.

I am not sure what to make of that.  I hope they were having an off day.  Surely if there are 10,000 reasons to bless the Lord, then we can take some of the joy into such mundane places as the work place.

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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

bad sermons

Sometimes the sermons are not that great.  I know that.  Every pastor knows that.

When mine are bad, it is because our cat is lonely.  She won't allow me to do anything except scratch her back.  If I spend too much time on the computer working on the sermon, she jumps up and lays down on the keyboard.  She is a big cat and it is hard to get anything done.

So, that is my excuse, anytime the sermon is off.  The cat sat fat on the keyboard.

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

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

victim

Look what is happening to me.  Look how unfair it is.  This isn't right.  I didn't get a fair shake.  Everyone else gets the goodies.  I am always left out.  It's not fair.


This is the voice of the victim.  In this life, each of us must decide if we will be the victim or the victor.  We must decide if we will work to overcome, or be overcome by circumstances.  It is your choice.  No one can do it for you.  Blame the world, or face the world, its your choice.


Here is one of my favorite quotes-


This is the true joy in life,
the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one;
the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap…  
and being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod
of ailments and grievance,
complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
                                               George Bernard Shaw

It's my choice, and it's your choice.


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

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

why we don't have altar calls

Someone asked the other day, so I thought I would put this out there again.

The answer to this question comes as a bit of a surprise to those who were raised on altar calls.
First of all, we don't have altar calls because Jesus didn't have altar calls. If you read Jesus interactions with people, he was very laid back. As the people sat and listened, He told wonderful stories about the kingdom. Jesus allowed the information to sink in to the minds of hearts of each person listening. When he was preaching and teaching, he never pressed the people for decisions.

Secondly, we don't have altar calls because the church existed for hundreds of years without them. Altar calls first made their appearance in the 1830's under the ministry of Charles Finney. Billy Sunday, D.L. Moody, and later Billy Graham followed this altar call pattern. Since most of us grew up at least knowing of altar calls, we aren't aware that the church existed for 1800 years, making disciples, without the practice of altar calls.

Next, we avoid altar calls because of the potential for manipulation. Many of us have had experiences at churches where well meaning pastors or youth leaders felt that it was their duty to get someone to come forward. The meeting is not going to end until someone comes forward. The music is just so, we will sing 100 verses, because the pastor is just sure that someone is going to make a decision. There is too much room for human ego to be on display in an altar call.

Finally we don't need altar calls because God doesn't need them. The Holy Spirit is able to reach people and convert them without the benefit of a preacher or a church. Some of my favorite stories of conversion are moments that people had just between them and the Lord.

I close with a quote from a Baptist pastor that I found on the Internet.
“Most everyone who comes here notices that we do not practice the generally accepted and practiced ritual of modern day religion commonly called the "invitation" or "altar call." There are many reasons why we do not, the greatest being that it is not taught or practiced in the scriptures. In the inspired record of the church in the book of Acts there is no mention of any such practice. As a matter of fact, we do not find this practice appearing in the life of the professing church at all until about 1820. It appears then being introduced by a preacher seeking to produce what God alone can produce. How were all the people who were saved before Christ and over the 1800 years after His death saved without an invitation or altar call?  Of course, by coming to Christ in the heart.”
Gary Shepard, Pastor
Sovereign Grace Baptist Church
Jacksonville, NC


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

Monday, February 9, 2015

cocky

I was talking with my wife the other day and she let out something that shocked me.  She told me that when we were first married, I was cocky.

I was surprised.  I am embarrassed.  I wanted to argue.  But I didn't.  I remembered some times when our softball team, myself included, got pretty mouthy.  I am sure there were other times when I did it all by myself.

I guess this goes to show that we can never really see ourselves quite as clearly as others do.  We see our selves as one way, and it is usually much more favorable than others do.

I apologize to everyone to whom I was ever cocky.  That is not how I want to come across.

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

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fall in Love

This was in a book I have been reading.

Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991)
Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

When life is guided by something as good as this why look elsewhere?

Peace,

Lion's Den Man

Saturday, February 7, 2015

selfish prayers

Look at our prayers.  We want so many things.  One prays for nice weather for a picnic while the farmer in the same town prays for rain to ease the drought.

When our wants get in the way, prayer can get really fuzzy.  Prayer should be less about what we want and more about spending time with God.   

Do you want to hang around people that always want something from you?  No, our friends are folks that we just enjoy being with.  If they start asking for money and favors all the time, I don’t think we will have them over as often for dinner. 

I wonder if God feels the same way sometimes?

Prayer should be more about spending time with our Father.


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

Friday, February 6, 2015

To forgive

Possibly the thing that people struggle with the most is forgiveness.  How can I forgive the person who did that to me?

We hear teaching after teaching about it, and we try to force ourselves to forgive, but it is so difficult to do.  Often, time rolls by and the wound scars over, but it is still there.

In order to really forgive someone, it helps to understand why they did what  they did to you.  Take a moment and think of someone who hurt you.  What happened?  Why?  I will share with you some of the reasons why people have hurt me over the years.

They were friends with the previous pastor and I am not him.
They thought they were defending the Christian faith.
They did not understand my approach to faith.
They did not want to give money to a project.
They were afraid. 
I challenged them.
I made them nervous.
I disappointed them.

There are hundreds of reasons why people hurt us.  When you can look and see the reason behind their action, it makes it a little more understandable.  They did not mean to hurt me, they were almost always hurting inside themselves.

Seeing something from the other person’s perspective always helps me work on forgiving.


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

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Teasing


I am an ornery teasing person.  I can dish out the grief as well as anyone I know.  I can pick at you good naturedly for being tall, being from a small town, being bald, or being, well, just about anything.

Why do we do this to each other?  It is said that when people stop giving you grief, that is the time to worry.  Good natured orneriness is a sign that people like you. 

I guess it is uncomfortable for me to talk with you about how much I like you.  The discussion might be odd.  So, we can just stick with orneriness.  But lets be clear, I do like you.


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