Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 25, 2014 - Along the Way ...

This week we certainly have many reasons to give thanks and praise to the LORD!   He is good, and His steadfast love endures forever.  

It is good to state this up front because my thoughts today will be honest reflections on the brokenness of this world.   I am sure by now most of us have heard the news from Ferguson, MO.
To quote one author, "There are no winners."  It is a sad situation all around.   It is sad for the Brown family, and it is sad for Officer Wilson and his family.   Nobody wins.

And it is this brokenness that causes me to reflect.   I hear voices that say we should seek to listen and understand rather than speak, especially as white folks.   And I want to understand, but I am very confused.  I am confused that the rule of law, and respect for those who enforce the rule of law, seems to take a backseat to public opinion based on what has been shown to be false assumptions.

A while back I watched a video commentary regarding the Trayvon Martin case.  In the video, the commentator quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. from his "I Have a Dream" speech.  King said, "I look forward to the day when my sons will no longer be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."   I agree wholeheartedly, and also look forward to that day, but it seems we cannot get there.   Why?

When will we get to the point that the color of the skin of the shooter and the one being shot will no longer be a factor?   When can we see a day where the truth matters more than perception and public opinion?  When will the law, and those who enforce the law, be respected once again?  And more importantly, how will we get there?  What needs to happen for this to become reality?

I read about systemic racism, and I do not deny it.   Yet as a person called to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18 and Ephesians 2:14), I am puzzled by what I am supposed to do.   How do you break down a system of racism?  How do you undo years of privilege based on realities which were put into place long before I was born?   How?

I wish I had more answers than questions, but this is where I am.   I invite anyone to share your own honest thoughts, questions, opinions, answers, and other responses, as we journey TOGETHER along the Way ...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 18, 2014 - Along the Way ...

Last week Friday I received the news that my 93, almost 94-year old grandmother passed away.   She died, and is now experiencing the wonderful joy known only to those who belong to Christ.

I am sad that I will not be able to be present to pay my last respects at her funeral, but I am so thankful I saw her alive just 2 months ago.   I am also thankful I was there with my mom and my daughter.   Such a blessing to know her legacy lives on in us.

So what was her legacy?

She was the mother of 10 children, the grandmother of 28 grandchildren, and great-grandmother to 27 great-grandchildren.  

She was a fighter, all her life, and she instilled that fight in everyone of her children.

She was not perfect, but she was genuine.   With Grandma what she saw is what you got.

I think there is a lot more I could say, but I will leave space for others to add their own thoughts.  Nevertheless, I believe her greatest legacy was her testimony and her love for Jesus.

You see my grandma did not always know that comfort.   She did not join the church until she married my grandfather Raymond, and even then she admitted, she did not understand what it meant to love Jesus.

But one day all that changed!   She was in her late 60's or early 70's when her life was transformed by the knowledge of God's love for her in Christ and she became "born again"!

Now I know there are many folks who claim to be "born again", and people doubt since it can be difficult to see the change.    But with my grandma there was no doubt!  Almost overnight she changed.  Anger turned to joy, negativity turned optimistic, and skepticism became wonder.   She started to change her habits, her lifestyle, she lost weight and began exercising, she really discovered the beauty of every day and she shared that excitement with everyone she met.

She volunteered to clean the church building, and took great pride in the cleanliness of the bathrooms believing them to be fit for a king.

Over the past few years, her health had slowly deteriorated after her mind had long been gone.   She suffered from Alzheimer's disease/Dementia, but I don't know if I should say she "suffered" as much as we suffered; those of us who knew her previously.   She held onto the joy and wonder of each day.  She cut out pictures from newspapers and delighted to share the daily conversations she was having with God.   It was a joy to visit her, but it was definitely different.

Still I am thankful for every moment I had with her.  I am thankful to see the transformation that took place in her life, and I am proud to have called her "Grandma".

If you are reading this, and want to share your own thoughts and memories, please do so.   This reality I am sure touches all of us along the Way ...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 11, 2014 - Along the Way ...

Today is Veteran's Day.   As we remember and give thanks to all who have served along with their families to defend the freedoms we possess in the US today, let us also consider what it means to be a veteran in service to the LORD.

I have been thinking a lot about this lately.   Here are some scripture verses that have come to my mind, which I believe can shed some light on this subject.

Psalm 144:1 - "Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war ..."

Ephesians 6:12 - "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

I Timothy 4:7-8 - "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for the present life and also the life to come."

Our military members train daily for war.   Even those of us who serve on a part-time basis must remain ready at a moment's notice to enter the fight and accomplish the mission.   So what about warriors in God's service?

In these three scriptures I see a call to prepare for battle, but especially the type of battle we face along the Way.   Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Living in Christ requires recognition of the Way and commitment to live according to Him.   In short, training takes time and requires commitment.

So how are we training ourselves to be godly?   How are we training our hands, our feet, our minds, bodies, and will for war?

One answer is given in I Timothy 4:13, following Paul's exhortation for Timothy to set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity, he says, "Until I come devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and to teaching."   Apparently, Paul believed training involved God's word being read publicly, preached publicly and taught publicly.   In other words, it meant seeking God's will in the Way together.

Training can take place individually, but it is more effective when we train together.

I find this in physical training.   When I have a trainer, and I am training with a group, I push harder, fight longer, and find that extra something to drive through even when my body wants to quit.

I feel the same is true in training in godliness.   We can train on our own, but I believe we will be less effective than if we train together, letting iron sharpen iron in the body of Christ.

But we must also realize that training is for a purpose.  We do not simply train to train.   We train for war.   We train to bring Jesus to people, as we become more like Jesus through the Holy Spirit's power.  We train because God has a purpose for our salvation, and we want to do all we can to prepare for the opportunities God will bring our way this day.  

So what do you think?   Are there other things we can learn from these scriptures or other scriptures?

I invite you to share your thoughts, as we journey together along the Way ...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

November 6, 2014 - Along the Way ...

As promised here is my response to the question: "If you could change anything about your body what would it be?"

My initial reaction when the question was posed was, "I wish I could change my eyes."

You see, over the years it has always been my eyes that have prevented me from pursuing my dreams.
I was unable to become an Air Force pilot because my vision is impaired, I am color blind, and I have poor depth perception.   I was unable to become a police officer because I am color blind.   Finally, you can't make a very good race car driver if you have poor depth perception.   Imagine the wrecks I would have caused ...

So it has always been my eyes that have held me back, and if I could change anything it would be my eyes.   At least that was my initial reaction.

However, after I thought for a moment, I was reminded that I am who God created me to be.   I am the person with the unique body that God gave me, not to pursue my dreams but to fulfill His purpose for me.

If I had perfect vision, I may have never become a pastor.   If I had perfect vision, my dreams could have kept me from seeking first God's kingdom and His righteousness.   If I had perfect vision, imagine how blind I might really be.

Those are my thoughts, I invite you to share yours as we journey together along the Way ...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bonus!!! - Along the Way ...

I heard a question on the radio yesterday that made me think.   I would like to share that question with you and see what you think as well.  

"If you could change one thing about your body what would it be?"

I encourage you to consider that question, and share your response.   Tomorrow, I will share with you my thoughts as we journey together along the Way ... 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 4, 2014 - Along the Way ...

As we head to the polls in the US for mid-term elections today, I thought it might be good to think about those voices we seldom hear.  

Over the past month or so, I have been considering with you what it means to "love your neighbor" well.  Last week, I received a great opportunity to listen in on some of our neighbors whose voices are seldom heard.  So let me challenge you to listen with me.

The following link is an opportunity to listen: dojustice.crcna.org/MarginalizedVoices

I encourage everyone to sign up today.  Let's listen together and consider what it means to really love all of our neighbors well, as we journey together along the Way ...