Monday, June 26, 2017

Florida





What I like and don't like about Florida.

What I don't like.....
Most of my friends live in Kansas City.
The friends that I made in Cape Coral are 3 hours away.
I'm not working much.... hard to find handyman gigs.
In some places the traffic is really bad [not in Vero Beach]

What I do like about Florida...
It is almost always sunny, which makes me feel warm and happy.
I love the palm trees.
I love the swimming pool.
I love my work space in the garage.
I love the retired life.  {what day is it?}
It's a great flat place to bike ride.
My friends can come visit.
We are 8 minutes from the beach.
The wind from the ocean travels in to us and it is wonderful.
There is a lot of live music.
My family is here.

Pretty good stuff over all.  Life is good.

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


Sunday, June 25, 2017

shaving

I have never liked shaving.

It's kind of an odd journey.  When I was a teen... Oh I wanted to shave!  Oh I wanted a beard.  To wear a beard was to be a real man.

As the years went by I was able to grow one, and I quickly became aware of the annoyance of shaving every day.  Even if you grow a beard you must keep it trimmed.  Shaving is a pain in the neck.

So for years I would grow a beard during the winter.  All that came to an abrupt end round about 2002 when a good old "church lady" made a comment.  On the way out of church, instead of wishing me well or commenting on the sermon, she looked at my hairy face and said, "I don't know why you grow that, you look dirty."

Ouch.

I am sure that I allowed those words to effect me too much.  I know that person did not mean to hurt me.  But I stopped growing my annual winter beard.

Now that I am mostly retired, I shave or not.  I grow it for a week or two, then I shave it off.  I don't feel dirty anymore.  May the words of our mouths be chosen with care.

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

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Prisoner

So I was in Kansas City working for one of my friends on a rental house.  Next door to the rental was a family that kept Basset hounds as pets.  Basset [from the french word meaning low] hounds have short legs and a long drawl of a hound dog bark.  They get big and fat and can be kind of funny looking.  Definitely not a lap dog.

So I am working on the side of the rental house and the Bassets are in the back yard.  Howling at me and rooting around.  Then I notice something.  Do you see it?

There is no fence to speak of.  The Bassets are held in the back yard by a small green border fence.  I paused to think.  Here is a big strong dog who is held back by something that he could easily plow right through.  I guess his mind says that he is fenced in.  Oh what fun they are missing by staying in the back yard!  I imagine them breaking free and carousing around the neighborhood creating great memories, but they won't.  The green "fence" holds them back.  Or something in their mind holds them back because the fence can't do it alone.

So, how about you?  How about me?  Are we held at bay by something that we could easily plow through?  Are we satisfied with a tiny back yard sized life when the whole world awaits our exploration?  What ever fences you may have allow to hold you back, push through them and take over the neighborhood.  What a story you will have to tell.

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

BUG!!!

So I have this scab on my arm.  I am not sure how it got there, but it has been there for a month for sure.  It is about the size of a June bug and it won't go away.  I have been worried about it, and the fact that it just won't heal.

Then I realized something.  I keep catching it out of the corner of my eye and thinking it IS a bug.  I have been startled by it 20 times.  I have hit it 17 times.  I have made it bleed.  I have shaken my arm out of the socket 4 times.

You know what, things won't heal when you keep smacking them.  Stop and think about that. ... things won't heal when you keep smacking them.

No matter how many times I tell myself that it is not a bug, my brain still reacts to it.  Laugh for a minute.  OK, are you done?  Now let me ask you a question.... are there things in your life that you react negatively to that turn out to be nothing?  Are there pieces of your life that won't heal because you won't stop picking them?

Cringe.  Not so funny when I look at it that way.

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Beautiful

In March I wrote about the song, You've got a Friend. I wrote about the impact that the song had on my life and how I felt about it. Well there were several other songs on Carole King's Tapestry album. I know them all by heart. I wore that record out 3 or 4 times.

Well, just a few months ago, I heard again, the song Beautiful from that album. I have heard it 4,000 times, but a few months ago when I heard it, I heard it for the first time. I actually heard the words....

WOW!!!
here is the link to the song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJn3QJYYBr0

Here are the lyrics:
You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful, as you feel

Waiting at the station with a workday wind a-blowing
I've got nothing to do but watch the passers-by
Mirrored in their faces I see frustration growing
And they don't see it showing, why do I?

You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful as you feel

I have often asked myself the reason for sadness
In a world where tears are just a lullaby
If there's any answer, maybe love can end the madness
Maybe not, oh, but we can only try

You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful, as you feel

I have highlighted the chorus because I think that it says what I have been trying to say in this blog for over ten years.....

You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

a theory

I was talking with a friend the other day about God's love.  He said that he had a theory about 1 John 4:8.  That verse says, He that does not love, does not know God.   He said that he had a theory about that verse and then he paused......

I bit.  I asked him what his theory was.  He said this.... my theory on the statement, he that does not love, does not know God is the following - - -  ""HE THAT DOES NOT LOVE, DOES NOT KNOW GOD."

I was expecting something long, complicated and profound.  What I got was something short, simple, and profound.  People that do not love, do not know God.  Plain and simple.

May we pray that all people, come to know God, that they come to know the God of love.  That they come to know that God is not simply a God of love, but indeed, God is love incarnate.

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

1973 Renault Gordini

Random story from my past....

So in my unpacking of boxes, I ran across some old pictures.  When I was in seminary, I bought a
really cool sports car from Lacy Weatherholt's dad, it was a 73 Renault Gordini.  Oh I loved that car.  It had fuel injection, and it would fly.

During Advent, our youth group was wrapping presents in the Walmart lobby for extra money.  [I doubt Walmart would allow that today.]  I had to run to the bank to get some change.  It had snowed the night before.  It had been years since I had driven in snow and no one in Tulsa, Oklahoma sees much snow.

On the way back from the bank I was heading up to the stop sign on Memorial Drive.  I hit the brakes.... nothing happened.  I was sliding.  I saw immediately that I was going to end up out in the middle of this main artery of traffic.  I said to myself, nothing will be coming, I will slide right through.

Sometimes our intuitions are right, and sometimes they are wrong.

As I slid into the intersection, a tractor trailer was coming.  The front end of the Renault slid under the trailer and the back wheels of the trailer hit the driver's side door.  The impact spun my car out from under the trailer.  I came to a stop on the side of the road.

The first one to the car was a friend of mine, John, who  was gassing up across the street.  They called an ambulance.

Overnight in the hospital, broken ribs- no worse for the wear.

As a side not, during my recovery, my friends loved to tell me jokes and try to get me to laugh so my ribs would hurt.  Then I would groan and they would laugh all the more.  I have always had great friends.

Maybe I should have, but I never really thought of this incident as "oh, I could have died."  Mostly I have looked back on this incident and thought about how I love cars too much.

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




Monday, June 19, 2017

Sinners

Jesus ran with sinners.  The Pharisees and the self-righteous hated him for that.  By running with sinners, Jesus was turning their world upside down.  By running with sinners, he was changing the rules of their game.  It was no longer the pious who got in, but the broken who saw their need for grace.  No wonder they killed him.  No one likes to have the rules of their game changed.

May we always remember as Peter Rollins taught us, Jesus did not just run with sinners, he ran with unrepentant sinners.  Had he ran with those who repented and cleaned themselves up, there would have been no scandal.

How sad that so many churches in America have painted a picture of a Jesus who loves the good people, the cleaned up people, the whole people.  And he does love those people, but he also loves and runs around with those who are still struggling, those who don't get all the commandments right, those who are broken.

What this means for you is that you are loved, in your brokenness.  You are accepted, you are invited to Jesus' table.  That my friends, is good news.  That my friends, is grace.

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

God is not a Methodist

a friend wrote in to me..........

"Jeff, for years you talked about the danger of keeping God in a box. Well, I have been thinking more about that and I have arrived at a realization. God is not a card carrying member of my denomination or anyone else's for that matter. God is not a Methodist, a Baptist or a Catholic............."

Let me comment on this nice note.....

In the movie 42, about the baseball career of Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey who recruits him, is explaining to one of his coworkers why it is ok to bring an African American into Major league baseball. Rickey famously says of Robinson, "I'm a Methodist, he's a Methodist, God is a Methodist."

It is a cute statement, but it is not accurate. God is not a Methodist. God is bigger than Methodism, God is bigger than the Catholic Church. In fact, God is bigger than our ideas about Christianity. Do you realize that there are versions of Christianity around the world that are very different than what we practice in America? And God is bigger than all of the versions.

There is a famous story about 5 blind men who are leading an elephant along a road. Later they were asked what the elephant was like. The one who held the trunk said that the elephant was like a boa constrictor. The one who held the ear said that the elephant was like a piece of heavy leather. The one whose hand guided the elephant's leg said that the elephant is some kind of a giant. The one who held the tail said that the elephant was like a wiggly worm.

They might have thought they knew, but they did not really know what an elephant was like. They only had clues of something that was much much bigger than they were able to perceive in their limited state.

God is bigger than your denomination. God is bigger than our version of Christianity.

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

ideas

Some ideas hit us like a ton of bricks.  We hear them and immediately take them in.  They are assessed and internalized immediately.

Red lights in your rear view mirror = an immediate stopping of the car.
Someone in the house calls for help = an immediate coming to their aid
You get a great coupon in the mail = you can't wait to use it.

There are other ideas that come to us, not as a brick, but as a seed.  An idea is planted and it grows over time.  A good example of this is grace.  We hear grace and we like it... we think we like it... but it sounds too easy.  Over time though, a person begins to see that Jesus was all about grace, all about welcoming outsiders.  Grace grows in us over time.  Like yeast in the dough, the bread eventually rises.

Sometimes we hear ideas that we are uncomfortable with.  Ideas that challenge us.  Don't be afraid of allowing them to work their work.
Yes, part of that fracture was my fault after all.....
Yes, I see what I was doing now.....

These ideas grow within us a little bit at a time.

Do you consider new ideas?
Do you consider ideas that challenge you?
What is God growing in you?

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

Referendum

A referendum is a vote on the value of something.

We allow too many things to have power over us in this life.  My child's behavior is not a referendum on my value.  My income is not a referendum on my value.  My pretty face or not, is not a reflection of my value.

My mistakes and sins are not a referendum on my value.  My good mission work in the name of Jesus is not a reflection of, or a referendum on my value.

I am valuable.  You are valuable.  Period.  Nothing to prove.  God made you and you are good.

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

On letting go

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. The current of the river swept silently over them all -- young and old, rich and poor, good and evil -- the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current was what each had learned from birth.

But one creature said at last, "I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom."

The other creatures laughed and said, "Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed against the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!"

But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, "See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the messiah, come to save us all!"

And the one carried in the current said, "I am no more messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure."

But they cried the more, "Savior!" all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a savior.

                                           -- from Illusions by Richard Bach

Are you finding joy, or boredom in life?
Are you clinging, or letting go?
Are you stuck, or flying?

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

a friend sent this to me....

This came in from one of my friends....

I once worked for a man with whom I had a kindred spirit for liking everything neat and in order. His desk was always in order, and sometimes before he began a workday he laid paperwork for all the tasks out in perfect order. Said that to say that there was rarely anything laying on his desk that wasn’t about his workday.

Because he was a department head people frequently came to and from his office. And as you probably know, in any given group of workers, you’ll find a few unhappy campers, who resist change. In the workplace, this was particularly true when computers first came on the scene. One day I walked in my boss’s office and saw a letter sized piece of paper he’d printed at the copier. On the paper, it said “Don’t look back, we’re not going that way.” I loved it.

To be sure, there are events in life that we tend to look back on, sometimes with good feelings, sometimes not so good. But the idea is not to become mired in the past, and refuse to accept what is.

In thinking about that, I learned a lesson from my toes. If God had wanted me to walk backwards, he would have created my heels at the front of my foot and my toes at the back.

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

an oversight

In yesterday's post, I announced my change in status with the Missouri Conference to "retired."  I mentioned my appointments in Missouri and thanked everyone.  If I had been thinking, I would have also mentioned that I was thankful for my appointment in Cape Coral Florida and the great people that I met there.  I am sorry for that oversight.

I also served Methodist Churches in Bixby, Cache and Indiahoma Oklahoma, but that was years ago and I doubt any one from those churches even know that I am still alive, much less a blogger.  Anyway, I am grateful for every person, in every church along the way.

I have been blessed.

And remember, even as a retired person, I can still serve a church.  We shall see what the future holds.

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

retirement

As you know I have been on a personal leave from the church. When you are on a personal leave, everyone asks things like:

"when are you coming back?"
"are you ok?"
and "what happened?"

Honestly, it gets a little tiring. Anyway, I will be 60 years old this year. I have decided to turn in my retirement papers. No more explaining what is wrong with me.... everyone understands retirement. The good news about the retired status too, is that if offered one, I can still serve a church.

I was asked to submit a 150 word statement to be read at annual conference. How do you sum up your life's work in 150 words? Here you go....

It has been a privilege to serve these past 27 years. I celebrate every person that I have met along the way. I give thanks for my appointments in Lebanon, Princeton, Mercer and Woods Chapel. Thank you all for partnering with me on this journey in the ministry of Jesus. I honor every clergy colleague, District Superintendent and Bishop that I have had along the way. 

What a joy it is my friends to be used for a purpose larger than one's self. God uses our nothingness to show his love. God calls each of us to be his sign of love to one another. This is a great privilege that we are invited into. Appointments end, paid service to the church ends, but love goes on, always. 

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

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

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The beach

Happy Birthday to my sister Julie.  Sis if you read this [and I don't know why you would] happy birthday, I love you, and I am happy for you and proud of you.

Now on to the beach.  My daughters hang out with each other from time to time.  When I was a kid, we did not really even know the other people in our home.  I did not hang out with my sisters or even get to know them until I was much older.  I am not sure why it was that way in my home, but I am so glad that my kids love each other.

Here is a beautiful pic of my lovely daughters Alli and Jenny who have taken a Saturday to spend together on the beach in Jupiter, Florida.  Alli is getting married next year and her maid of honor is Jenny.  This is not something that comes to Jenny by a birthright.... these girls really do love each other.

It makes me so happy to see my kids enjoy each other!

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

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Drug of Approval

Most everyone I know, at one time or another, has been addicted to the drug of approval. We want the approval of our father, we want the approval of a friend, we want the approval of a partner.

A ten year old girl walks into the room wearing a pink dress. We say, "Oh, my you look wonderful!" She beams with joy. The next day she walks into the room wearing a green dress. We look at her, shake our heads and say, "Green? It's not your best color." Her countenance falls and she is crushed. She is addicted to the drug of approval.  This addiction comes to us at a very early age.

All of us would prefer to be liked. We would prefer to be approved of. We would prefer praise to criticism. There are some people that it is pretty important to have their approval. Your boss would come to mind. If he or she doesn't approve, it could mean a job change.

But for the most part, we are way too worried about getting others to like us. What if we spent our energy living and loving, instead of worrying about if everyone liked us? Maybe they act that way because something is wrong with them instead of you? Maybe they will never be pleased.

Live well. Do right. Love all. But spend your days in celebration and joy instead of worry. Don't buy the drug of approval. God approves already and he is the only one that ultimately gets a vote.

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

setting boundaries

If healthy people free others to live, they also set boundaries in their own lives.  You can love that 41 year old child, but you do not have to let them move in with you.  You can love that cousin and not loan them the money.

When I say free them to live, it does not mean that you become a doormat.

I may or may not loan someone money.  I am not obligated to do that.  Even to my children.
I will allow you to visit, but I am probably not going to allow you to move in.
I may or may not loan you my tools.
I may or may not do a lot of things.

When I free you to be you, it does not mean that I belong to you as well.  I free you to be you, and to take responsibility for your own life.  If I keep saving you from your life, I am not freeing you to live, but I am probably helping you so I can keep you around.... another form of control and manipulation.

I can love you and free you to be you.  But I don't have to meet you for lunch.
You have a right to be happy.  I release you to do that.
I have a right to be happy as well.
Healthy people set boundaries.

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

controlling behavior

As a follow up to yesterday's post, I want to write a bit about control and manipulation.  We have all had those people in our lives that tried to control and or manipulate us, and we have also been guilty, each of us I am sure, of trying to control and manipulate others.

For the sake of my typing fingers, I will now refer to control and manipulate by c and m.

My mother was an expert at c and m.  She wanted to be sure that her kids acted just as she thought they should.  When children are young, they do need some direction for sure.  But at some point, we need to stop trying to c and m our adult children, our adult friends and our adult spouses.  The result of c and m is never love.  If you want to be loved, free others to live.  Let them go.  Let them march to the beat of their drummer.  They have a drummer and it is probably not your drummer.

The moment we try to c and m another person, we are announcing that we are broken and needy.  Whole people do not need to make others behave in a certain way.  They have learned to be ok in their skin.  They can welcome others into their life, and they can release others when others move on.  And in this life, people move on.... most notably our children move on.  They become adults and they are no longer ours to parent.  But sometimes friends move on too.  Sometimes spouses.  These can be very difficult because we have developed attachments to them.  I spent a year once, begging a friend to remain my friend.  Do you think that worked?  Not at all.

Take a few moments to examine your life and ask yourself to what extend you may be trying to control and manipulate others.  Free them to live, and you will find a new freedom in your life as well.

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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

how to love difficult people

So someone asked a different question. Not so much how to deal with difficult people, but how to love them.

This is going to be a bit uncomfortable, and a bit difficult, but lets chase it... 
Let's talk for a bit about what love is and what isn't.

1. love is not attraction. It is not about how gorgeous or handsome you think someone is. Someday, we will get old and bald and fat and will not longer be attractive. Love must be more than attraction.

2. love is not dependence. It is not two broken dominoes holding each other up. Once one domino gets healed enough to stand on it's own, the loving will be over. love is more than dependence.

3. Love is not an attachment. A clinging to someone or something. It is not an insistence that we cannot live without someone.  Whole people live life, standing on their own two feet [with the grace of God.]

So what is love? I would say that love is willing someone their highest good. Wishing and acting in a way that brings them all of the good that you can. You free them to live, to be themselves. Love is to see and appreciate them for the person they are. It is not about finding someone to meet our needs. Love demands nothing. It is unconditional.

Love is larger than marriage, for you can be married to someone and not love them. Love is a deep appreciation, a kindness, an affection that seeks not to take, but to give, to honor and to free another person to live.  You can have a child that you say you love, but if all I ever do is pour guilt on that child, it is not love.  When I love the adult child, I stop insisting that they live as I would prefer that they live and I simply care about them and for them, regardless of their choices.

And so back to difficult people. Once I stop wanting something from them, they seem less difficult to me. Once I stop insisting that they behave the way that I think that they should, I am less bothered by how they behave. If I free them to live, then I am also free to live. I may spend less time with them and more time with others that I have an affinity with, but I am able to learn to love difficult people when I stop insisting that they solve my problems and I free them to live their life as they choose.

These are indeed difficult words, I see that for sure.  They are words that I write for myself as well as others. It is so easy to be needy in this life and to insist that I get this or that from others..... when I release myself from this behavior, then love rises to the top.

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



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

very well, very well

One of my favorite people in the world once told me that this story changed her life.  It is a real thinker though......

Once in a small village a teenage girl became pregnant.  She hid it from her parents for as long as she could, but eventually they confronted her.  Not wanting to take responsibility, and not wanting to implicate her teenage boyfriend, she told her parents that she was with child by the monk who lived just outside of town.

The parents were furious and they called the village leaders together.  The elders determined a course of action.  When the baby was born, the girl, the parents and the village leaders all went out to confront the monk.  "You foolish, terrible man.  You have impregnated this young girl.  You have fathered this child.  Here, you take it and raise it.  You foolish terrible man."

The monk held out his arms, received the child and said, "very well, very well."

After some months, the young girl, like all mothers do, began to pine for he child.  She couldn't take it anymore so she sat down with her parents and told them the truth.  It was not the monk, it was my boyfriend Johnny that had fathered the child.

The parents were mortified, they were beside themselves.  The had believed a lie, drawn others into it, shamed a holy man and given away their only grandchild.   They gathered up the village leaders and returned to the monk.  

The monk saw them coming and stepped outside carrying the six month old child.
They addressed the monk, Dear Sir, we come to apologize to you.  We were wrong.  You did not do this.  We are sorry that we shamed you.  Please sir can we have the baby back.

The monk smiled, held out the child and said, "very well, very well."

Commentary.... Jesus said don't worry...... what is coming your way today?  Avoid a collision if at all possible.  Avoid the terrible things that you can.  But some things are coming your way that you cannot avoid.  How will we accept them?  Will we make ourselves sick with worry or will we open our arms to the gift of this day?

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

different drummer

On marching to the beat of a different drummer.....

Someone said, I have been considered a misfit since my childhood. No one seemed to understand me. My own father once said to me, “You are not crazy enough to be put in a madhouse, and not withdrawn enough to be put in a monastery. What shall I do with you?”

The man replied, “A duck’s egg was put under a hen. When the egg hatched the duckling walked with the hen to the edge of a pool and went straight into the water. The poor hen stayed anxiously clucking on the bank. Now, dear father, I have walked into the Ocean and find in it my home. You can hardly blame me if you choose to stay on the shore.”

You can hardly blame me if you choose to say on shore.  So you have a kid that swims in a pond that is not of your liking.  Yet it is their choice.  We may not understand, but we cannot blame them because we choose to stay on shore.

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

Sunday, June 4, 2017

dining together

We Americans eat a lot.  We eat so much, and so often that we have forgotten the joy and the gift of dining.

When I was in Russia many years ago, I went to the local grocery store.  Now conjure in your mind a grocery store.  Maybe you are thinking of Kroger, of Price Chopper or Publix.  If you did, then the problem is clear.  We have so much.  We see our opulent society as the norm.  It is not.

It might have been a bad time in Russia, it may not have been typical of Russian grocery stores.  Surely I saw much nicer stores on other trips, but this local Russia store was the size of a double garage.  There was a counter running through the middle of it.  Half of the place was where you stood to wait your turn, the other half held the counter, space for the worker to stand, and the back wall.  Needless to say, pickings were slim.  People would go to the store, not to get what they wanted for dinner, but to see what was available for dinner.  One day there was a few fish.  No beef.  The next day there were a few chunks of meat, no fish.  You get the idea.  You ate what was available, not what you wanted.

So it did not surprise me that when I was staying with local Russians, they would call each other up in the morning and discuss what each one had that day in the way of food.  Then they would meet up to share their food and to share time around the table.

To be invited to one's table is a joy!  When you are invited to share a meal, the host is saying, "you are good, you are welcome, you are loved."

Jesus ate with everyone.  The Pharisees scorned him for eating with sinners.  But what Jesus was saying by eating with them is quite amazing.  Imagine Jesus saying to you, "Come and dine!  You are worth it!  You are welcome here!

To share a meal with someone is a gift indeed.  Maybe this is why we say grace and give thanks before we eat.  To dine with another is a precious thing.

Who have you had over for dinner lately?  Who have you met for lunch?

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

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Godspeed


I was thinking of people that I used to run with, people that I used to live my life with, people that have moved in and out of my life. So many good people come in and out of our lives.

If you have moved in and out of my life, maybe we will see each other again. Maybe you will come to visit, maybe I will visit you. Maybe we will meet up for lunch in West Palm Beach. Maybe in this life, we will reconnect, but if not:

I bid you Godspeed. May your days we oiled with joy. May your dreams come true. I have done all that I can to help you on the way of life. I have celebrated with you every day that I could. If from now on, I only watch from afar, then may my pain and loneliness be covered by the joy of watching you fly.

I wish you Godspeed.

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

this too shall pass

A friend sent this in.....

I’m sure many of you remember sayings taught to you by your mom.   My mother had many favorite sayings, and a few were not actually Biblical.  I muse at remembering her telling me “the Bible says if you call someone a fool, you will not go to Heaven.”  My mom’s intentions were good, in that she was teaching me to treat people fairly and not call them names.  Her saying was founded on a verse she read in the Bible, that pertained to the times Biblical writers lived in and the use of the word Raca.

But one of my mom’s sayings is real and applicable to my life today.  I never forget it, and when members of our family are going through a life challenge, we frequently say to each other, “remember what mom always said, “this too shall pass.”   I presently find myself in a situation that is hard, but I know “this too shall pass.” 

Conversely, I realize that some people are faced with situations in their lives that do not pass, such as the prolonged illness of a loved one.  But God promises to give us the grace to keep going on.  And yet, there are many challenges or glitches that come along in life, that pass on and we’re off to the next phase of life.


My mom had a very difficult and hard life (an alcoholic husband, a child who had fifteen major operations in 21 years, very small houses with no air conditioning, and several family members living in them at once, and not enough money to get by.)  But because of her philosophy that “this too shall pass,” she and God got through it all.

Whatever  you may be facing today..... this too shall pass.

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

Thursday, June 1, 2017

spiritual

I was visiting with someone the other day and they used a phrase, now all too familiar, "I am spiritual, just not religious."

I have heard this so many times over the last ten years.  It seems to be growing in popularity.  I truly believe that some of what TV preachers have said over the years has so hurt the reputation of the church.  Church and organized religion seems to be growing more irrelevant, especially to younger folks.  Oh, I wish that churches could get better at being normal and relevant.
So, spiritual but not religious.  While many wish to distance themselves from the brokenness of organized religion, there is still a deep desire for spirituality.  People recognize that there is someone or something, God, out there that is bigger than they are.  People are too often repulsed by religion, but drawn to the spiritual God.

What are we, who are in the church business to do about all of this?

  1. First of all, make church as normal and relevant as possible.  
  2. Open the books.  Anyone that attends your church should be able to know how much the secretary makes.  
  3. Answer people's questions.  Secrecy gets us nowhere.
  4. Drop every form of pretentiousness.
  5. Be kind.
  6. erase judgement, add grace
  7. Love.  Love. Love.

I think many of you that attend church would say as well, I am spiritual, just not religious.  May our churches and our lives become less religious and more spiritual.

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