Monday, March 30, 2015

quote from a friend

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common – this is my symphony.


William Henry Channing, clergyman, reformer, 1810-1884

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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

think about it


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

Saturday, March 28, 2015

how do you show your love for God?

How do you show your love for God?  By believing right?  By faith or actions?

One church has a slogan that says, "we show our love for God by how we treat others."

I love it!!  What a great way to show your love for God.  This is how it works in his kingdom.  In fact, it is the only way that things work in his kingdom. 

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

Friday, March 27, 2015

the things that we don't know

I was very surprised when in response to my posts about homeless people, one of our members sent this in:

You don’t know this but my family lost our house (foreclosure) when I was a senior in HS. My dad left home about the same time and we did not hear from him again until we were told he died. I’m not sure how my mom managed because it looked like we would be homeless back when no one used the term. At the last minute her parents agreed to take us in even though my grandfather did not like me or my brothers as we reminded him of our dad. As you know things have worked out very well for me in this life. Even at that time, two of my friends’ parents were willing to take me in if necessary. That time is a constant reminder to me that anyone can be homeless. For whatever reason I did not have to walk that path but I am certainly in no position to judge someone who does. If I see people holding the signs I give them money. It’s not a big question for me. I remember my mom who fought thru everything and my friends’ parents who reached out. I was put on this Earth to share what I have with others. It’s a privilege that I’m grateful for every day. Thanks for your blogs on the homeless. The WCC members help people every day. There is no greater way to practice God’s love as a church body.

You see, a person's experience so shapes how they respond to those in need.  Maybe if more of us had lived through having little or nothing, we would be more understanding of those who do have little or nothing.

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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

jobs I have had

Someone asked me to post a listing of jobs that I have held in my life.
Here we go.........

In High School
Bicycle Repair man
McDonalds

In College
Gallenkamp shoes
McDonalds
Dishwasher at the School Cafeteria
Setting pins at the manual bowling lanes
Self Service Gas station

College summers
furniture mover

Post college
Asphalt company
youth director

Seminary
Kwik Kopy printing
deck builder
youth director
UPS delivery

Post seminary
bank teller
handiman
associate pastor
pastor

lots of excitement eh?  Let me just celebrate the joy of hard work.  I really believe that to work at a thing and to give it your best makes so much difference in this life.

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

to ponder


I read this in an article last week,“It’s often said that we Christians eat our own.” It went on to say, “For a people whose go-to ideas are love for God and love for others, we Christians can be pretty horrible toward one another”.  Well, people in general can be pretty horrible at times. I would hope that as seekers we would be more open, nurturing, forgiving, understanding, tolerant, accepting etc. This article was in reference to a person in the Christian community who broke script and began to ask questions. Thought provoking questions. He did not take a stance of what is true but hit the gray area that invites us to wonder, ask, listen and grow. He dared Christians to dig deeper, think, explore, have conversations and test everything….to take a level of responsibility for our own understanding so that we can move beyond the things and people that shape us in this world. Unfortunately, the things that shape us can bring us to do the very thing that we should not. So we hold up a guard and choose carefully what we say and do and that is a shame. How do we grow in that environment?

Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

shift

For those of you hanging in there with me about this left, right and center thing I want to say thank you. I have been in a rut and I hate ruts. I have been in them enough times to form that opinion. Ruts are a bad place to be. Growth is stagnated. Ruts can cause separation. Even the simplest of things that seem harmless can put you there. Like consistently choosing the sanctuary vs. worship center, back left row vs.  first front right, this class or topic or author vs. that one and so on…. Each in their own way can be good and yet they place us here and never there or with them and not the others and only this type of thinking vs. that etc. I am guilty of this practice. I believe it provides comfort and comfort is where ruts thrive. Like the saying goes, “If you don’t think you have ever been there then more than likely you are there right now.”  Bottom line is I believe a broader base is a catalyst for change and growth. So I am working on that shift. I will be healthier for doing so.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Peace

Lion’s Den Man

Monday, March 23, 2015

center


Center, I believe, is where we are when we are born. God places us here without leanings. We are then shaped by life and those around us. Things and people encourage us to slide a direction that is away from center.  Sometimes we slide very far. Sometimes we slide back or even go as far as the opposite direction. Sometimes we get stuck in a place. Neither side is either all good or all bad. This is not a good versus evil thing it is a human perspective thing. However, it is a separation from the core of how God would like us to see him and see and treat others.
If you are like me and want to know where you are resting I suggest listening more. Listen to others. Listen to what you say. Reflect on your day. Test what it is you have said and done to those around you each day. When you find your justifications from learned leanings of left or right you can begin to work on the path towards center.

Center is where Love your God and Love others resides in its purist form.
Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Sunday, March 22, 2015

peace, love, harmony and truth


Where are they found? Left or Right? Maybe the closest we can come to experiencing all of them together is when we find middle ground…center.  I once read that Christ on the cross was reaching his arms to the left and right drawing all to center. Harmony requires love which leads to peace.  It is the place that enables us to learn and grow. If we hold so tightly to our belief of truth (left or right) our tongue gains power and our ears become deaf. There is no room for harmony, love or peace in that place.
Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Saturday, March 21, 2015

be - day 2 (awareness)


There’s no answer, no problem-solving, simply awareness. You cannot live in the presence of God. You are totally surrounded by God as you read this.
St. Patrick said,
God beneath you,
God in front of you,
God behind you,
God above you,
God within you.

You cannot earn this God. You cannot prove yourself worthy of God. Feeling God’s presence is simply a matter of awareness. Of enjoying the now. Deepening one’s presence. -Richard Rohr
It is a beautiful day to be Aware……

Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Friday, March 20, 2015

be


The other night I was at an event where a photojournalist was presenting her work and the story of the Aborigines. One of her goals was to capture the quintessential storytelling photograph. Although she had taken many great photos, the “one” had yet to be realized. In time she came to understand what she needed to do was simply get herself out the way. In doing so she knew she could then fully experience everything around her. Her sense of awareness was freed and she saw and felt everything much more clearly....


Which made me think of something I read recently.
Be still and know I am God.
Be still and know I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.
Be.

Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Thursday, March 19, 2015

a perfect world

Seeing the good challenges us to look past our difficulty and - see the good.  If there were no difficulties in life, all we would ever see would be the good.

Although we don't like difficulty, a reader reminded me last week that a perfect world isn't really so perfect after all, for there is nothing to accomplish, nothing to overcome, and no goals to attain.  In effect, we would be totally consumed with our pleasure.

Somehow the difficulties that we face bring us meaning and growth that we would otherwise never find in this life.

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


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

time

We have a limited amount of time.

Why waste it being angry at others or judging them?  I am not saying that there is no right and wrong.  Of course there is.  What I am saying is why waste your time focused on it all the time and being bothered by it all the time.  The time we waste on negative endeavors can never be recaptured.  May we spend our time loving, encouraging and showing kindness instead.

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

a simple question

Here is a simple question to ponder.  It can be applied to almost anything that we think or do.  Here it is, ready?

How much of this is about me?

To the extent that an idea or an action is about me and my self-interest, it is almost always going to get in the way of God's hopes for how I might otherwise live.

About me, or about God?  About me or about others?  The world is ruined by the selfish.  The world is changed by the selfless.

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

from a reader

I have been pondering your blog about the homeless and reading that one comment from the other day. I have a friend that feels the same way about giving to the street people, but I really think it has nothing to do with that. You respond to the Spirit's nudging or not. Will I follow my Jesus when He calls or do I let someone else receive the blessing? My Choice. And do they give to well dressed people vs homeless? Approval is also a from of judgement.

I have been using this 10-second rule for a while. My daughter in Cali had shared a sermon her pastor gave on learning how to answer God's call to action within 10 seconds. When a thought pops in your brain, you have 10 seconds to process the situation. Within that time frame you have already done a quick evaluation, decided to take action, talked yourself out of it or doubted your gut feeling, which results in no response at all.

I'm a pretty instantaneous decision maker and love checking things off my list as to move on to something else. I many times wonder if God is keeping up with me! I have been starting my day out lately in anticipation of how God might use me as a blessing to someone.

Intentional, missional living as Hebrew 10:24 says: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. So Monday morning I'm at the QT filling up with gas when the nice, well-groomed, young man wearing a dress shirt and tie approaches me with reddened eyes and tears just about ready to spill out at any moment. He says "I have a job interview that I am going to be late to, I needed some gas and realize I forgot my wallet." He lowers his head and says, "I have never had to ask for money before, but do you perhaps have $5 so I cold put some gas in my car?"

And me who always say out loud what I am thinking blurts out with a big smile, "YOU are my mission blessing today!" I didn't even need ten seconds to think about it, I reached into my wallet and said, "I'm sorry I don't have $5, will you take $20?" He wants to go into QT and get me some change, I touch his arm and say, "No, please just fill your car with gas and go get that job." (one of my principles in De-meaning myself this Lenten season said: never expect paybacks ).

I am so glad I was wearing my sunglasses as I start to shed a few tears alongside him. I thought about that young man all day, praying for his job interview, praying that he saw a glimpse of Jesus in my act of kindness and he would someday pay it forward to someone else in a time of need.

I hope to always keep myself awake to the fact I am one of God's good news people in this mundane, routine everyday life. When I started up my car to leave QT, I hear these words from a song on the radio, I just want a heart like You.

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

Sunday, March 15, 2015

two paths

In life there are two paths.  There is the natural human path.  It is the way of self.  Self protection, self centeredness, and self importance.  It ultimately is the way of complaint, retribution, anger and rage.

The other path is the way of grace.  It is the path of forgiveness.  It is the path of love.  It is the path that calls us to see life through the eyes of another.

Those who choose the way of grace are always glad that they did.

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

Saturday, March 14, 2015

yesterday's post

Yesterday I posted this and then I had an interesting thought.  So please re-read this and then see where my brain went........

From yesterday:
They have a need.  They need food.  They need clothes.  They need a bath.  They need a home.  They need us to help them.  They need us.  Whether in Russia, Nicaragua, or Westport, they need us.

But, what we often overlook is this: we need them as well.

Imagine a world, a utopia, where everyone had everything that they needed.  We would never be able to help anyone because no one would need help.  No one would appreciate anything because no one would have ever have experienced want.  We would simply be consumers, blindly doing what ever we wanted with all of our abundance.  It would be the most self consumed of all possible lives.

Wait!  Wait!  hold the horses!  My brain says, "stop!" Isn't that how lots of people think anyway?  Isn't our country filled with people that are simply blind consumers doing what ever they want with their abundance?  Haven't I been that person before?

Lord, please don't let me be that person anymore.  Lord help me find the joy of living generously.

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

Friday, March 13, 2015

need

They have a need.  They need food.  They need clothes.  They need a bath.  They need a home.  They need us to help them.  They need us.  Whether in Russia, Nicaragua, or Westport, they need us.

But, what we often overlook is this: we need them as well.

Imagine a world, a utopia, where everyone had everything that they needed.  We would never be able to help anyone because no one would need help.  No one would appreciate anything because no one would have ever have experienced want.  We would simply be consumers, blindly doing what ever we wanted with all of our abundance.  It would be the most self consumed of all possible lives.

So, we need them.  We need them so that we can learn to be generous.  We need them so that we can learn to live outside of ourselves.   We need them so that we can learn to be grateful for what we have.  We need them to help us learn to be kind.

Need goes both ways.

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

Thursday, March 12, 2015

homeless part 3

What if you helped a homeless person and were swindled?  Taken.  Taken advantage of.
It is going to happen if you help people enough.


Which would you prefer?  For your default to be to help so  many people that sometimes you got taken advantage of? Or would you prefer that your default was to scrutinize, question give very cautiously -  the result of which was that many truly needy did not get help because you just didn't feel right about it.


I want my default to be to give.  Yes we will be taken advantage of at times, and I don't want to openly give to someone who is a schemer, but I do believe it is better to give one time too many, than one time not enough.


Remember the Priest and the Levite in the Good Samaritan story?  I am sure that they did not help because they thought it was a trap, or that the person was in some way unworthy.


If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  1 Jn 3:17


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



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

homeless part 2

We have heard it said, "don't give them any money, they are just going to buy alcohol."  Maybe you and I have said it ourselves.

Well, let's have an honest talk - Do you drink?  Have you ever felt stressed and were so glad to pop a beer, or a margarita or a scotch and water? 

These homeless  people are lonely and cold.  We would not trade our issues with them for anything in the world.  I gave the guy $5.  And he might buy a cheap bottle of wine with it?  So what is the problem?

Let me ask you a question.  And think before you answer.
Think.

If you had no family to care for you, no home, no job, no self respect, and you were going to have to sleep tonight in 15 degree weather under a bridge, wouldn't you want a bottle of cheap wine? 

I would thank God for the person who eased my pain.  I would thank God that I could go to sleep and forget my worries.  Maybe I would dream of having a shower, a job and a haircut.  Maybe I would dream of having a normal life.

In the kingdom,  the first shall be last and the last shall be first.  Never hold back from being generous.  God has blessed us so that we can help others.

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

helping the homeless

There are many reasons why people don't help the homeless.  Yes they may have brought this on themselves.  Yes they may drink too much.  Yes to an entire list of reasons to not help someone.

But- they are still people.  They are still cold, they are still hungry.  Our value judgment about why they are this way does not absolve us from the responsibility to help them.

Jesus did not say, I was hungry or thirsty for reasons beyond my control, and you fed me.  He doesn't qualify the worthiness of the person who receives the help.  He simply says, I was hungry and you fed me.

Part of the holiness of helping the homeless is in the helping them.  The other part of the holiness is not judging them for why they are the way that they are.

I refuse to get lost in why they are the way that they are.  That is not the point.  I am able to help, so I will.

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

Monday, March 9, 2015

truth part two

I posted one day last week about truth.  Jesus is the truth, I said, capital Truth, much bigger than our version or experience of the truth.  A reader commented and asked if I would say a few words on how people can discern when a truth is true.  Is there a way to know that something is true?

Lets begin by remembering that truth is going to rise to the top.  It can be ignored, but it will always come around.

I would also tell you that many people don't like the truth.  They would rather live a comfortable life that revolves around them, than consider the truth.

Many Christians point immediately to the Bible and you can read a lot of truth in the Bible, but there are also people that take verses out of context and use the Bible to hurt people. I think that behavior makes God angry.

I believe that good people know intrinsically know, inside their hearts, what is good and true and right.  You know when you hurt someone.  You know when you do wrong.  When you tell the truth and act in ways that are true, you don't have to cover your footprints later.

Many people never open their eyes or their mind to see how their actions hurt others.  This is a grievous sin.  The entire nature of spirituality revolves around waking up and seeing what is out there in the world and what is going on inside of me.  We must get off of auto-pilot and see how our words and actions hurt others.

Truth brings love, joy and hope.  It may also sting a bit when we are confronted by it, but it is never condemning, God's truths always point us toward hope.

The reader asked a good question.  I am not sure I have addressed it.  But I do believe that we know inside what is good and true and beautiful.  May our lives gravitate more toward those things.

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

Sunday, March 8, 2015

a gift

I shared a meal the other day with a friend.  It is someone that I have known for a long time.  I told them how much I appreciated them and what a fine person I thought they are.  Sometimes it is hard to articulate why you like someone.  There is an intrinsic goodness  about this person.



Later I thought more on the topic of why I like this person.  He always makes you feel special.  When I was new to town, he made me feel special.  When I had very few friends, he made me feel special.  Whether I see him a lot or a little, he has a way of making me feel valued.  He inspires me to be friendly and caring.



This is a gift.  This is a gift that I wish more people had.  This is a gift that all of us can exercise.  Who can you care about today?  Who can you cause to feel special today?  Invest yourself in another and bring them joy.



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

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Server

I swear this young woman was the most unhappy restaurant worker I had met in a long time.  She was so sour that I thought about talking with the manager.

Then I decided to try another tactic. One day, before Christmas I gave her a $20 tip for an $8 meal.  Then from then on, I just made a point to talk with her and act like everything was fine.  I would like to tell you that a change happened overnight - it didn't.  But slowly, gradually, this person has come around.  Now they smile when they see me, and a person that I thought was not a nice person has emerged from her cocoon to find a joyful life.

It can happen.  The lover creates the love.  Try it.  The best advice, the most important advice that every pastor  needs to hear about relating to the congregation is this, "love the people."  When people know that you love them, they will go to the ends of the earth for you.

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

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.