Tuesday, August 4, 2015

laughter


I had a good laugh today. A tearful laugh. A belly laugh. An out loud laugh. It brought attention from those not far away. I shared with them what I was watching and boom a laughter explosion took place.

“You’ve got to laugh at least once a day because a day without laughter is like a day without sunshine, and a day without sunshine is like . . . .night.” - Steve Martin

I need to give credit where credit is due, re: yesterday’s blog post. Laughter has been a big part of why I am where I am now. I am laughing more. I am being deliberate in seeking out things that will make me laugh. It is good medicine. Good for the soul.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Monday, August 3, 2015

not flat


Many times I have felt spiritually flat. Nothing would seem inspiring. Maybe the world and its ways had taken the front seat. Maybe I had. One way or another it would happen. This came to mind the other day when I began to write down some ideas to share here on the Blog. I was struggling to come up with anything I was passionate about. Only this time I knew it wasn’t because I was “flat”. So I thought about it and came to realize, for now at least, I am content... at peace. It is not because the world is now perfect for me nor am I in control and making everything right. I made a conscious decision a while back to slow down. Maybe that was the catalyst for this change. Whatever it is, it is working and I am trying to not think too hard about it….I don’t want to mess things up and lose where I am. God, I think, is just looking for a little space... a little time, so he can work on us.

See the good.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Sunday, August 2, 2015

read this.........

Read this from the top down first, then from the bottom up..........

Spirit 105.9's photo.

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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

the purpose of the church

Someone suggested in a facebook post the other day that the purpose of the church is to point out sin or call out sin.

While I do believe in sin and I have personal experience with it, this is not the job of the church or the job of the Christian.  That is God's job and God's alone.  When we point the finger at others, all we do is come across as hateful.  There is nothing Christian about that.  We end up driving away the very people that we would have hoped to have won.

Anyone who points the finger at another, better be living a sinless life.  They better not skip church ever, and they better give 10% at least.  Those without sin, cast the first stone.

Over and over Jesus dealt with sinners with grace and compassion.  The only people he crushed were those who were crushing others, the Pharisees.  I said this the other day, too many modern Christians sound more like the Pharisees and not enough like Jesus.

It is not our job to point out the sins of others.  That is the job of the Holy Spirit.

The purpose of the church is to point people to God and to lift up the name of Jesus Christ.  The purpose of the church is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  The purpose of the church is to offer grace to a broken world.

Grace to you my friends.

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

demons

Demons.  Figurative demons.  Those things that vex us and torment us and sometimes dominate us.  Everyone has a dark side.  People who act like they don't are dangerous.  Flee from them.  Perfect people are fake.  Period.

One person's demon is drink.  Another's is gambling.  One person battles with arrogance.  Another with temper.  One fights depression, one laziness, another abuses prescription drugs.  Someone is physically abusive to others, someone else has multiple affairs.  On and on the list goes.

What every your demons are, it is good to know which ones they are and where you find them.  It is good to know this so that you can stay away from them.  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  Your demons are your enemies.  Keep an eye on them.  Keep them in your sights.  Control them.  Fight them.  The moment you forget about them, or ignore them, trouble is on the horizon.

Use all the will power that you have.  Your participation is important.  But always remember that God is at hand to help as well.  When we are weak, then he is strong.  We may feel powerless, but God can help us make it through a difficult time.

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




Thursday, July 30, 2015

A psalm of lament

Today my middle daughter Jennifer left to join my wife and our oldest daughter, Allision in Florida..... a permanent move.


A psalm of lament when my wife and daughters moved away..........

Every time I think of you I am struck with sadness.
I can't stop the sobbing.
Load groaning from deep inside.

Don't leave me.
I don't want to be alone.
You that I love.... come back to me.

The pets hear the cries of a wounded animal.
They come to my aid.
I am inconsolable.

I can't share this with anyone.
Don't read this blog - don't speak to me of it.
It is too personal, it is too raw.

Finally the cries cease.
A quiet peace settles in.
Love hurts but God is there.

We will see each other as we can.
Distance does not reduce love.
Absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Back to work.
Back to my friends. 
I am not alone.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

love and judgment

Love and judgment are mutually exclusive.  The moment we judge someone, we have stopped loving them.

Imagine that I am telling you about a friend of mine and about how wonderful they are.  Your heart is warmed by my description.  Then when you meet them, you see that they are covered with tattoos, piercings and are smoking. 

Your brain automatically recoils in judgment. 

What happened to how your heart was warmed by my description of them?  Our propensity to judge others pushes love right out of the way.

Had our hearts been only filled with love, we would have met the person and not have been surprised or affected by their appearance.

The next time that you catch yourself judging someone, stop yourself and think instead of loving them.  See them as a person.  See them as God sees them.  The moment that we do that, judgment leaves.

Love and judgment are mutually exclusive.  Which one do you want your life to be dominated by?

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Angry

My post of Thursday last week was reposted on Facebook by six people.  The comments that they received included some very nice comments and some very angry ones.

So someone jumps on facebook and leaves a 30 second rant about something that they don't agree with.  The only person that Jesus ranted against was the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were those who judged others instead of loving them.  My comments were not a slippery slope. Jesus was much more grace filled than many of his followers today.  He would be quite surprised that many of his followers today are pointing so many fingers...........

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

quote from Lions Den Man

From the movie - A River Runs Through it.........

Each one of us here today will, at one time in our lives...look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question. “We are willing to help, Lord...but what, if anything, is needed? “It is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give...or more often than not, the part we have to give...is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us...but we can still love them. We can love completely...without complete understanding.

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

perspective

I read this somewhere last week.......

Don't cry because a thing is over.
Smile because it happened.

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

Saturday, July 25, 2015

why I go to church

A friend wrote to me and said the following:

I don't want to know everyone's political opinions at church.  I don't want it forced on my child at church.  I want to come to church, to love God, to love my neighbors, and to put aside judgment.  I don't want my church to be about what I'm against or what you are against.

I could not have said it any better.......

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


Friday, July 24, 2015

right and wrong

We like to be right.  It is much more enjoyable than being wrong.  We all like to be right, but it is impossible for everyone to be right all the time.  We are such dualists.  We almost always measure a thing by whether or not we are for or against it.  Consequently, if we take that approach, some will be right and some will be wrong on any given topic.

A friend reminded me that life is not always about being right.  Sometimes life just must be lived.  Sometimes we have to just let a thing lie and live our lives.  We can't fix everything and I don't want to spend my life being angry about what I can't control.  Life is good, and it is too short to be dominated by negative unhappy thoughts.

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Food for thought

Sometimes we have already made our mind up on a topic.  I invite you to hear me out on this one.  Please let this post be food for thought.

The Holy Bible has a great deal to say about the social issues of the day.  Some of what the Bible says about a social issue will support your personal stance, and some of it will not.  I am going to intentionally repeat that sentence.  Please read it again and let it settle in.  Some of what the Bible says about a social issue will support your personal stance and some of it will not.

From time to time, our nation is in an uproar over one social issue or another.  I certainly have my opinions on social issues and so do you.  There are many different kinds of people in God's family, and they don't all see things the same way.  Let me be clear - I was not called to the ministry of getting you to agree with me on social issues.  I was called to the ministry of Jesus Christ. 

What did Jesus say about social issues?  Homosexuality, capital punishment and gambling were all rampant in Jesus' day.  Yet, he does not address them.  I am not saying that he agreed or disagreed with any particular one, he certainly would have had his thoughts, which makes it all the more interesting that  He does not address them.   He refuses to separate people by whether or not they agree on a particular issue.  Jesus stays on mission.  I am your pastor.  I must stay on mission.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus had an amazing ability to bring diverse types of people together.

I don't understand or agree with everything that happens in this world, but that is not the point.  Inside my heart there is a deep desire to love God and follow Jesus in loving others.  I hope that is enough for you.  It was enough for Jesus and it is enough for me.

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



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

those people

I have a friend who lives a long way away and I don't get to see him very often.  The last time he was in town we were talking and I used the phrase, "those people."

He called me on it.  Quite directly.

When we say "those people," we are creating a class, a separate group.  We are excluding or measuring or judging those people.  Not a good thing.

The other day someone asked me about a particular group of those people.  They asked what I thought about those people and what they should think about those people.  I was smart enough to remember a conversation I had with Pat Stark in which he reminded me of something that a preacher should know. 

The core of the Christian faith is to love.  Period.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  If we have everything, but have not love, we have nothing.

What should we think about those people?  We should love them.  The amazing love of God smashes through our discomfort and prejudices and insists that everyone is to be loved.  Remember, the only people that Jesus cast away were the Pharisees.  The Pharisees however, judged everyone and cast many people away. 

Unfortunately these days, too many Christians act like the Pharisees and too few act like Jesus.

Just love them and let God figure out the rest of it.

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

procrastination

Don't put off until tomorrow what you need to do today.  A stitch in time, saves nine. 

Christopher Parker said, "procrastination is like a credit card.  It is a lot of fun until you get the bill."

I don't just believe in work hard, play hard.  In fact I am not sure I believe in that at all.  I would say however, work really hard and be sure to play as well. 

But I definitely do believe in work first, play second.  If a person will not do this, they will find nothing but pain in life as they continue to create situations of pressure and never actually get to find the enjoyment of life.

This is the true joy in life.  To work hard.  To bust it.  To get after it.  And then, after the work is done, to sit and enjoy.  To rest and celebrate.  Do your chores first, then go sit on the porch.

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

Monday, July 20, 2015

sad - happy

Today I have some sad but happy news.  You know that my oldest daughter lives in Florida.  So does my wife, about 50% of the time.  [how weird is that?]  Well now my middle daughter has landed a job in Florida and will be moving there in a few weeks.

I am sad for me.  I don't want to be anymore lonely than I already am.  But I am very happy for her.  This is what she wanted and it is a great opportunity.  She will also be in close proximity to her mom and sister.

Let's chat about loneliness for a moment.  Being alone isn't always horrible.  When I am alone, I get to think.  When I am alone, I get to pray.  When I am alone, I get to work on things inside of me that I need to fix.  Most of us could use a little bit more time alone.  Solitude is an important spiritual discipline that is hard to grab onto in this fast paced world of computers and cell phones.

Sometimes in life we have to celebrate the joys for others and just keep working on our own stuff.

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

Sunday, July 19, 2015

baseball or football

The baseball season is half over.  I am always sad when the season ends.

Someone asked me the other day which I liked better, baseball or football.  Well when I was younger, I liked football better.  I loved watching it and I loved playing it.  I was actually a better football player than I ever was a baseball or softball player.

Today, things are different.  I still like football, but I love baseball season and I dread football season.  Why you might ask?

Remember, this life is all about me, right?

I can go to baseball games with my friends.  I cannot go to football games because they are on Sundays.  Even if it is a 3pm game, by the time I get there, I have missed most of the fun.

The other thing is this - baseball still respects Sunday church time.  The games don't start until 1:10 and no one tailgates before.  Football games start at noon and although we have an 8am service, very few members who are going to the game will attend at 8am.  So since I love the church and I am invested in the success of the church, I tend to see football as a competitor.

Now you know that I don't believe in guilt.  T
hose of you who are fortunate enough to go to the games, keep going, of course!  But, please remember that we do have an 8am service and you can wear your Chiefs gear to church anytime you want.

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

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Windy Day

There was a big storm a few weeks ago.  Trees down, power lines down and this....... a steeple down.  Someone who is involved in missions at Woods Chapel thought that it would be nice for our church to offer a helping hand.  Even with insurance, a large deductible would be a burden and a surprise expense to most churches.  

With the permission of the missions director and the budget team leader, a check was cut for $500 to help this church. They are just up the road from us, and it could just as easily have been our steeple.

I had the pleasure of delivering the news about the check.  The people from the church that I spoke to were just overwhelmed with gratitude.  They were so so very thankful.  

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."  Galatians 6:9-10

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

Friday, July 17, 2015

Elders and Licensed Local Pastors

In the United Methodist Church, Elders are ordained clergy who have been to seminary.  Licensed Local Pastors are those who have been called by God, but instead of attending seminary they go through an extended educational training called "Course of Study."

Now with that explanation, here is the blog for today.

I spent a few days with some Licensed Local Pastors last week.  They were completely delightful human beings.  I was a bit surprised when some of them told me that they are routinely demeaned by Elders because they are ordained and have been to seminary and Licensed Local Pastors have not.

I hope that isn't true but if it is, let me say a few words to any Elders that would do that:  Shame.  Shame.  Shame.  Are your prayers better?  Is your heart purer?  Is your calling any different than someone who is only licensed?  If you would ever demean another pastor - STOP.  Stop it.

If we can't deliver grace to other pastors, how can we ever give it to our members?  Every one is in this ministry thing together.  There is no first class section.  God needs every person that is called.  In John Wesley's famous doctrine of the catholic spirit he asked a simple but profound question, Is your heart like mine?  Then give me your hand.

Elders, listen.  Local Pastors need our care and support.  There is no better than.  Period.  Share God's love, everywhere, and with everyone.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

wait your turn

The other day I stopped at Subway for a breakfast sandwich.  Mmmmm tasty.

An older woman got in line behind me and I made my way down the fixins line.  Arriving at the cashier, I was negotiating my payment, when a loud, older gentleman came in and started talking to the only employee there, who was helping me at the time.

He came right up behind me and talked right around me and through me.  He wanted a cup of coffee.  I found his behavior annoying...... and it is all about me, right?

I finished paying and took my time leaving the cashier area.  The cashier asked if I was ok.  Yes I said I was ok, but that lady in line over there is next.  Then I left.

I don't know if the employee helped the woman in line who had waited patiently or the man who was insistent on his coffee.  But please friends, get in line!  Wait your turn.  Your transaction may be small but wait your turn!  Would we cut in line at the grocery store in front of others simply because we wanted change for a $20.

Respecting others is so very important in this life.
And no, it is not about me.  That is why we wait in line.

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dr Phil

Decisions.  We all make them.  Some of ours are good and some of them are not so good.  One of the signs of bad decisions are bad outcomes.  It is usually, almost always true that a continued, regular habit of bad decisions is going to bring bad outcomes. 

People argue with Dr. Phil and he says of their behavior, "so how is that working for you?"  It is as if he knows that the outcome of a certain behavior is predictable.

What kind of decisions am I making?  You?  What results are you getting?  Usually if we want a different outcome in life, we need to make different and better decisions.  A better tomorrow awaits for those who make good decisions.  The outcome of good decisions is also predictable.

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

comment from a friend

This came in by email from a reader and I thought it was insightful.......

I was thinking, last night, about your “tag line” – It’s a beautiful day in God’s world – be sure to see the good.  You said in one of your blogs a while back that some people aren’t really happy with that line.  Well – I LOVE it…  here is how I look at it…

There may be problems in my life – I may have worries – but I need to remember to look for the good…  Maybe it will be a beautiful sunset – or the smile of a friend – but even in our darkest hours – we’ll be happier if we look for the good…

It’s a beautiful day in God’s world – because GOD is IN the world – helping us – strengthening us and surrounding us with his love.  Sometimes the world may seem ugly – but God is still there – you just have to remember to look…

If I’m really upset or worried – I may drive along and completely miss the beauty of nature –

If I’m really focused on MY problems – I may totally miss the smile or support from a friend or family member…

And if I’m filled with negativity – I actually INCREASE the negativity in my life –

It may be storming in my city – but in other parts of the world – the sun is shining – the grass is growing – the wind is blowing – and the ocean waves are moving along.  The world is beautiful.  But we sometimes forget to see it.


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

Monday, July 13, 2015

time to laugh

Ok, so I have grown fond of these bottles of carbonated water. 1 liter, berry flavor.   Jonnie Wells won't let me drink diet coke anymore, so I found these.  $.68 for a one liter bottle at Walmart.  HyVee has them too - look for the helpful smile in every isle if you get lost.

So I am in Walmart the other day and I buy 5 of these.  I had a cart, but guess what, the wheel was bumpy and noisy, so I ditched it.  But I did learn that five bottles is about all I can carry.  They are sliding in and out of my control.  Then the unthinkable happens.  One of them leaves the safety of my arm cradle and makes the floor.

Let's be clear about what happens next.  If you drop one of these just right, the top will in fact pop off and the carbonation will detonate. Think of mentos in a diet coke.  Explosion!   That bottle of water hit the floor in Walmart and shot about 25 feet across the floor, leaving a stream of water behind.

I was shocked.  I was surprised.  I was embarrassed.   I had to wait for an employee to come by so I could ask them to get a mop.  I stood guard.  I kept telling customers - go the other way, there is water on the floor.  I said to one guy - it wasn't me, it was the one armed man.

Next time, I am going to hold on to them tighter or just get a cart.

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

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ken Stabler

I have always been a Chiefs fan.  So naturally as a young man, I have hated people like Fred Biletnikoff and Ken Stabler.  They were the enemy.


Good people are Chiefs fans.  Bad people root for the Raiders.


Right?


Ken Stabler died on Wednesday last week after a six month bout with colon cancer.  He was 69.  During his life he raised and donated over $600,000 to the Ronald McDonald house charities.  Maybe not such a bad guy.


I hated him because he wore black and silver.  Today I want to tell you how dumb it is to hate people for any reason.  Life is short and our fellow humans beings deserve to be cared for. 


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

Saturday, July 11, 2015

ideas

What kind of ideas do you enjoy?  What kind do you seek out?  Only those that affirm what you already believe?  Or do you relish ideas that stretch you?


When we settle only for ideas that affirm what we already believe, we have stopped growing.  We have in our own mind, "arrived" as if there is such a thing.


Don't be afraid of ideas that stretch you.  That is how our hearts and minds get bigger.


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

Friday, July 10, 2015

quote

"It has take me my entire life to learn that almost everything is none of my business."
                                                                   Richard Rohr


So, I don't have to fix everything.  I don't have to solve everything. I don't have to speak into everything.  I can, on occasion, just live my life and mind my own business.


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

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I'm ok

I met with a friend last night who was very concerned that I was ok.  "ok."  Well I was raised German Lutheran.  I am not used to people wondering if you are ok.  You just get up and go.  That is what you do.

But in case anyone wondered, yes my wife is on the road 2-3 weeks per month.  Yes we are taking on the Blue Springs Church. Yes, it is summertime and folks are on vacation.

I am ok.  All is well.  You know the old saying, when the going gets tough......

All is well.  Really it is.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

fears

Most fears are unfounded.  Most of what I am concerned about,  I will not even remember a week from now.

I am not suggesting that you should walk down dark alleys on purpose, but most of what we fear is imagined in our brains.  We have been hurt in the past and we expect to be hurt again.

Consider the amount of energy and tension that you allow to be created in your heart and mind over a particular thing.  How does it compare to the size of the issue?  What is the worst that can happen?  We worry too much.  We give too much power to our fears.

God is with us.  Who can be against us?

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

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Born Again

"Born Again."  Here is a phrase that is quite Biblical.  Read John chapter 3.  It is also a phrase that Christians have used to hurt people, both non-Christians and fellow Christians as well.  Bad idea.  If you don't do your faith exactly as they think that you should, then you are not born again.  They are in, and you are out.  As if they are in charge of who is in and who is out.

Interesting thing about the notion of being born again though is this... to be born again, one must die to the old self.  One must give up the notion, that I am right, that I know and you don't.  To be born again is to be born of the Spirit.  My old opinions now must fade away.

Before we were born again, we judged others, we insisted on our way, and we were always right.  After we were born of the spirit, we stopped trying to be in control.  We accepted others where they are at.  We simply let God's love shine through us.

Die to self.  Born to God.  = Good stuff.

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

Monday, July 6, 2015

see the good

Yikes.  Uh Oh. 

I had a new thought and I don't like it.

I have written for years with the tag line, "it's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good."  Here is my new thought...... that line, as challenging as it is to me and my way of thinking, carries with it an implication that somehow my opportunity each day is to look past circumstances and see the good.  It has occurred to me that a part of that thinking is very self consumed....

Oh, we have so many problems, God, help us to see the good.  Oh, I have an old car, I have an old knee, I have a whatever, my air conditioner is out.  God help me see the good.

Yikes.  When you think about the rest of the world, we have so much.  I have an old car?  Most people in the world would love to have my car.  I have a rusty truck?  Most people would want the truck and never see the rust.  I have a bad knee?  I also  have insurance, doctors and hospitals to take care of that knee anytime I actually decide to stop complaining about it and get it fixed.  My a/c is out?  Most people in the world would love to live in my home.

I am reminded of a quote from Jen Hatmaker's book Interrupted, we are "far too consumed with worthless things."  Let me go on, what an embarrassment for us to laugh about "first world problems."  What if we stop worrying about our worries anyway- most people in this world would love to have our problems.  What if we train our brains to look and see the issues of others and act to help them, and only give 30 minutes a day to worrying about our issues?  Now that would be seeing the good.

When we start thinking like this, maybe we will do all that we can to stop simply consuming, and actually make the world a better place for others.

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