Monday, December 20, 2010
Advent is two fold. It is a celebration of the historic event when the great distance between heaven and earth was closed by the birth of a child. Advent is a remembrance of a single event when Jesus Christ was born into our world. Advent is also the acknowledgement of the gifts our Savior brings. The Christ child brings the gift of hope which enables us to navigate through the hardships, the pain, and the fears of this life. When we unwrap this gift of hope we realize God is with us through all the ups and downs of our life. When we unwrap the gift of peace, we realize at that exact moment, it is through Christ we find that inner peace we all long for. In the deepest depths of our soul, we all desire that inner peace. A confidence that no matter what happens to us, through Christ everything will turn out all right. When we unwrap Christ’s gift of joy for us, we find that elation in the simple blessing in life. With the joy we find in Christ we are able to not always focus on the negative, the bad, or the ugly but see not only the goodness in our lives but the best in all humanity. Through this gift we find life is a joy and full of God’s simple blessings. Last but not least, Christ brings for us the gift of love. Love is the most powerful gift we receive. Love allows us to begin to mold our own life after that of Christ. The moment we recognize Christ’s unconditional love we too being to love others the same way. We are able to look past the outside and accept people as they are. We are able to build them up instead of tearing them down, we are able to understand their frustrations instead of being critical, and we are able to offer them grace or a soft place to land instead of judgment.
These gift that Christ has for us are not gifts we play with until the newness wears off or the batteries go dead. They are not presents that quickly loose their glitter or glory but they transform who we are. They are intended to remold our character, recalibrate our moral compass, and strengthen us for whatever lies ahead. God sent us the most precious gift of all, a child, to enrich and transform our lives. Advent is not a time or a season but an opportunity to truly appreciate, cherish, and use God’s gifts to us. Because the best gift I can give others this Christmas, is a better me.
May God bless you and touch your hart like never before..
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas..
Hope, Peace, Joy and Love,
Tommy, Kellie, Abby & Will Henegar
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Some time ago, Time magazine published an intriguing cover article during the Advent season. The article that struck my attention was about sleep as I am one who struggles with sleep. For all that we know about the human body these days, scientists do not know the exact reason why we need sleep. We know why we need food, shelter, and clothing; but we do not know the reason why we need sleep.
And what is the reason for dreams, those strange images that bounce along our brain waves? We wake suddenly, and reality itself seems like a different world. Why do we need sleep? I believe the answer is this: We need sleep because we need to dream.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent is about a dream, the dream of Joseph. Not Mary's dream, but Joseph's dream. In fact, the story of the angel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary appears in only one gospel, the gospel of Luke. In two other gospels, Mark and John, there is no account whatsoever of the physical birth of Jesus. We have four gospels, and they differ dramatically in how they tell the story of the birth of Jesus. In Matthew's gospel, the angel appears not to Mary at all, but to Joseph.
And it is Matthew's gospel that we read this year (Matthew 1:18-25). It is Joseph we hear and consider his point of view. Joseph dreamed something wonderful. It was astounding. God would enter the world. God would be born to his wife, as crazy as that was to understand. Joseph had some serious trusting in God to do! But Joseph had to trust someone else, too. Joseph had to trust Mary. I know Mary was his wife, and surely Joseph must have loved Mary. But, still, this took a lot of trust! And this is why Joseph's dream is so important. Joseph dreamed of the salvation of the world.
And for Joseph, the way of salvation meant trusting someone else. It may well be that true salvation comes through someone else. That is the lesson for us, too. Like Joseph, sometimes, we are supposed to trust God and then get out of the way. Trust that God is working through our wife, and then get out of the way. Trust that God is working in our children, and then get out of the way.
What are you giving for Christmas this year? I do not mean what are you getting. We all want something wonderful, I am sure. But what are you giving for Christmas? The greatest gift you can give this year is to believe in someone's dreams. The greatest gift you can give is to have faith in someone else; believe in their dreams. Believe in the dreams of the person you love. Believe in the dream of your husband. Believe in the dream of your wife. Believe in the dreams of your children. Believe in the dream of your hero, your leader, your friend. Believe in their dreams!
And sleep comfortably this season. I know some folks do not sleep well because of too much worry. The reason we sleep is to dream.The reason we have relationships is so that we will have someone who will believe in our dreams. God works through those relationships. God works through both Mary and Joseph. God needs both Luke's story of the annunciation to Mary and Matthew's story of Joseph's dream. They are miracle stories. God works through a young and wonderful woman, and her husband believes in her. That miracle can occur again and again. Believe in the dreams of the person you love. Believe in dreams this Christmas, and Jesus will be born again. Believe in dreams this Christmas, and yes, God will appear.
Sleep well, dream big and take care of yourself and one another..
Hope, Peace, Joy & Love,
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I recently learned a deeper joy and pride as a sports father. Will and Abby both have excelled in every sport they have attempted. I am not bragging or boasting they just have. Both have always made any team they have tried out for. I am proud for the fact that what they lack in natural ability they make up for in work ethic. That would be enough but that is not what causes the pride to swell up in my soul.
The last few days I have witnessed in both Abby & Will excel in athletics in a different way. It just recently became cognizant to me. It has been there all along but I just now somehow seemed to notice it. It began with Will. Will has more than excelled in any sport he has ever attempted. His true passion is football. If anyone could watch him play or practice you can see the elation he has. The rougher and harder it is, the more his love for the game grows. This season he played every down both sides of the ball and made spectacular plays. He was a team leader on and off the field. He was first in line on every drill. Not bragging, but to watch him play he really does have a natural gift. You can see it in his walk and his demeanor. It is a since of self-esteem and pride for him. Every game he made a game changing play and just has a gift well beyond the other boys his age.
I noticed my pride and joy in a different way in which he shined. Will is now in the middle of basketball season. The other night in the game, Will never got in the game. Will rode the bench the entire game for the first time in his whole life in any sport. While the coach’s son kept making a million mistakes, and of course would not take his own son out of the game, Will sat the bench. I’m not saying if Will was in the game they would have won. But Will has never, ever been on a team where he did not play. Instead of the game, I focused on my son. I watched attentively as the minutes ticked by and the game was moving to a close. He shouted words of encouragement to his teammates. He was the first on to jump off the bench and give high fives as the boys came off the court. He never asked or begged to go in. After the game he padded each of his teammates on the back. The team lost. The coach was pissed. But Will was the only one giving everyone words and signs of encouragement. Will’s only statement after the game, “I wished I could have played but oh well.” He wasn’t mad, or upset; just disappointed he didn’t get to play. I was more disappointed than he was.
His maturity was amazing for an eleven year old athlete. Will demonstrated how to give his best to the team from the bench. He didn’t have to be on the court to shine. I felt as much pride for him that day as if he had scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. It is a joy to witness God using him to encourage others, to put others before his own desires to play, and to give his all on or off the bench. I have witnessed Abby awake before dawn to go to practice while her parents are still in bed sound asleep. To give her all, to listen and learn any sport she attempts. She recently said, “Dad you don’t have to come to the game. It’s varsity. I won’t get to play.” Yes Abby I do have to be there, see it gives me a since of joy and pride. You don’t have to get in the game to make me proud I’m proud already. The athlete you are off the court is more important than the one on the court.
So I’ll always been in the stands, yelling at the ref’s, eating nasty salty popcorn, beaming with pride of the true athletes my children have become on the court or on the bench. Sometimes God opens our eyes to the true character that He is transforming you into. To catch a glimpse of it from the bleachers is good enough for me. It gives me an inner joy and pride, to know I haven’t mess you up to much…
One proud Father..
Monday, December 6, 2010
Advent is the time to get out of our heads and let go of our notions about "What Jesus Would Do?" in this great debate and look at what Jesus is doing. If we do not, we will simply miss the true essences of Advent. Advent is the time to let go of those preconceptions of who the Messiah should be and enter the deep dark cold of winter. It is also time we should focus on exactly who Christ was. Advent is the beginning of the church year because we start all over. We leave our scripts of every thing we know; the pain of our past mistakes, the joys and accomplishments of last year, and begin the new journey toward Bethlehem. Like Mary and Joseph, we stop thinking about some ideal life and look instead at where we are.
• No, I didn't expect to be unmarried and pregnant.
• No, I didn't expect to be have all those people whisper behind my back.
• But here I am, God's servant; show me the way.
Like Mary and Joseph, now is the time to leave the familiar country of the old and begin the journey into the dark of newness. We leave our assumptions behind; we leave behind the ways we have put God in a box. We look for God in new ways - not the idea of God, but the experience of God. Remember what Jesus says to John's disciples: "Go and tell John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight; the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed; the deaf hear; the dead are raised; and the poor have good news brought to them."
In other words: Wake UP. Instead of thinking about our idea of the perfect Messiah, look and see what the Messiah is doing all around you and in your life. Stop thinking of God outside yourself - outside your life; look for the Divine Presence right where you are.
One day we must realize that Jesus is not a concept or a theory to be confirmed or disproved during Christmas. Jesus is the bringer of life -abundant life - eternal life - and He is bringing life to us right now. So often we think of Christmas as a religious history lesson. We are interested in how the world worked 2000 years ago. What exactly was the census, and what were the marriage customs? And who were the magi? Where their really cows at there?
All of that is interesting, but none of it gets to the real point which is: Do you experience God being born in your life? Do you recall how God has answered your prayers? Have you forgotten the excitement of Christmas from your childhood? The birth of Christ is now and here. Jesus is always being born and because of that people we know - people like us - are being transformed.
That's how they know Jesus is the One. And that's how we know Christ is the Messiah. Advent is the stirring of the divine in our life and in our world. Advent is the time for us to leave our safe houses and experience that stirring first hand. Like Mary and Joseph we too begin a journey that can change or life forever, if we dare.
See ya in church, Merry Christmas, and until then take care of yourself and one another.
Hope, Peace, & Joy,
Monday, November 29, 2010
As we read and recall the stories of Advent, we must not forget John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a man of passion and conviction, who was not afraid to speak the truth. Unfortunately, speaking the truth and popularity don’t always go hand in hand and John paid the price for standing up for truth. In the gospel of Matthew, Matthew often refers his readers to references in the Hebrew Scriptures to help them to make link between the “Old” and the “New” Testaments. During Advent, he identifies John with the “voice crying in the wilderness” foretold in the Book of Isaiah. Despite his strange appearance or maybe even because of it, the crowds are drawn to see him and are convinced by his preaching. Many choose to be baptized. Others are attracted too. We are wrong to suppose that all the Pharisees and Sadducees were hostile to the preaching of John and later of Jesus. Many were hostile but some were curious and tried to understand how it related to the scriptures and teaching they had grown up with and loved. John’s challenge to them is to change. Change their way of thinking, change their current attitude, change they way they treat each other, and change the way they behave inside and outside the church. When we reflect on what we want for Christmas, what we really want let us focus on what we need to change about ourselves to receive that gift. How can be the link between to “old” and the “new”? Christ is coming, are you ready for the change?
See ya in church but until then take care of yourself and one another.
Monday, November 15, 2010
God has chosen to give us what we need and not what we want. God gave Christ for us and to us. He delights in providing for our every need and for those of our families, friends and neighbors. He makes provisions for the great and small, the rich and all the children of the world.
True living isn't about what we own or the wealth we amass. Paul tells us, in I Timothy 6:6-19, riches are uncertain. True living, though, is about placing our trust in the God who richly provides all things for our enjoyment. Sun and rain, air and water, food and clothes are for all. For us, the good race of the faith is run in pursuit of treasures in heaven. It is there, Paul assures us, that we inherit the life which is the true life. The life we all truly desire. May each of us re-evaluate our spending, as we invest in love, friendships, and influence the lives on the ones we love. That's is a inheritance worth leaving and worth spending. I ponder exactly what inheritance am I leaving for my children. Where are my riches and what I am leaving behind?
Thursday, November 4, 2010
My world with those words came crashing down. No father felt as low as I did at that exact moment. I kissed her bye and left. She be-bopped on in and joined her class. Instead of driving to work I drove to Target. I sat in my truck, tears rolling down my face waiting for the store to open. I was devising my plan on how I could steal my baby girl a bike. That transformation on her face was etched into my conscious. As I waited for the store to open, I kept looking at the clock, the store was suppose to open at 9:00 it was already ten after and the store was not yet open. As I pondered why the store had not open on time, I recalled her words. Simple words all fathers hear from their toddlers. “It Ok, Daddy, I love you.” She loved me, not a new bike. She loved me despite my ability to get her a material possession that others had. God granted me the serenity to see that I possessed the most precious gift of all. I had a daughter who adored me, who looked to me for protection, guidance, understanding, love, self image, and security. She looked to me for how to navigate in the world.I was her hero and I was about to steal her a bike? She didn’t need a new bike, she needed a new father. Call it a mystery, call it God’s intervention, call it coincidence, but I thank God for whatever reason Target did not open on time that morning. I left a different person. I left with my cup overflowing.
In the familiar song of David, Psalm 23 we are reminded that God anoints our heads with oil. It is a phrase we hear but I am not sure we all know the true depths of its meaning. God told Moses to make special oil and anoint specific things with the oil. The oil was to be used sparingly. When the items were anointed with the oil, they became holy. The ordinary becomes holy. It means they are set apart from the rest. It is called kadosh, in Hebrew by anointing with oil takes something plain and ordinary and makes it Holy. Those who are anointed with oil become an offering to God. This Holy thing becomes an offering to be used by God. God chose in Jesus Christ to anoint us, you and I, make us Holy and to be used to glorify God. Anointing with oil also had another purpose as a healing agent. It was used to remove the dangerous influences on us in our life, those things that are harmful or cause disease. Oil was used for medicinal purposes to heal us. God heals us, sets us apart, and makes our lives Holy.
You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. When our cup overflows, the vessels of our lives can not hold all the blessings God has in store for us. It is superabundance. God is able to do more than we can ever ask for or think of. God will accomplish more with us than we could ever imagine. God’s grace, mercy, a life with God will never run out. We have an unlimited supply of God’s blessing only if we desire to drink. The more we drink he more we want, and the closer we get to a right relationship with God. The more right relationship with God, the more we want.
Want does that mean for our life and our church? You may be asking. I thought this was about stewardship. It is. Stewardship begins we realize we are anointed by God, by the blood of our Savior Jesus Christ. We are set apart from others to connect people to the love of Jesus Christ. We a little old ordinary church, a little life, with all our problems, worries and concerns becomes God’s Holy offering. When we acknowledge our anointing, we become like no other church, no other father, mother, grandparent, child, old adult, young adult, Elder, deacon, whatever we are in life. Even with all our flaws, frailties, uncertainties, pain, and anxiety. We realize we can do more than we have ever imagined. We might be at the lowest point in our lives and realize what’s truly important. We may think we are broke but our lives re4ally filled with riches beyond measure. We may begin to live not in the moment but in the longevity of our lives. We may realize what we are to others is more important than our current situation. We may hear the words of one who loves us, say I love you Daddy. We may realize God anoints our head with oil, and yes, our cup is overflowing.
Monday, November 1, 2010
The Psalm of David recalls that “God will anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.” When we recognize that our God anoints our head with oil, which simply means God will bless us, heal us, and pours out his blessing upon us our faith is strengthened. Stewardship is about recognition of the great things God has done for us. Our life might have some rough spots, we might be financial strapped, but if we pause and look at the totality of our life, we will see God’s many blessings. In acknowledgement of the blessings God has bestowed upon us, we then realize our cup overflows. Our cup overflows in so many ways we don’t realize. Our cup overflows with friendships of people in our faith community that have lasted decades. Our cup overflows with generations coming together in unity to worship. Our cup overflows with opportunities to reach out to a community in Christ’s name with Centralia Group Workcamp. Our cup overflows with comfort and support in the prayer shawl/quilt ministry. Our cup overflows with young people who although they may be loud and make a mess; they bring us the sounds of hope for a vibrant future. There are thousands of ways our cup overflows so we must respond. We must be willing to sacrifice something for our relationship with God. When we realize our cup is overflowing, we must be willing for the sake of our relationship with God to do more than we have done in the past. Take time today to count your blessings. Some may be out in the open, some may be hidden, but acknowledge how God has anointed your head with oil. Then we can begin to explore what true stewardship is all about our lives will be transformed as: surly goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life…
See ya in church, count your blessings, and take care of yourself and one another.
Monday, October 25, 2010
First, she says: There's urgency. I live with a renewed sense of urgency, and that has changed my priorities because I realize that if I'm to stop and smell the roses, I had best do it now. Second, she says: There is gratitude. I don't understand this miracle that has happened within me with my new body. All I can do is accept and feel grateful for each additional day I live. She goes on to say: A third change is that I now walk a little closer to God because when you've been through a harrowing experience with someone you form a special bond with them. Recovering from cancer was at times a harrowing experience, and I guarantee you I clung to God for dear life during those times. He was the good friend who saw me through, sometimes the only one who thoroughly understood. I'm grateful that He was there for me. Deep down inside I know that God will always take care of me. I also know that no one lives forever and that someday He'll decide He can better care for me on the other side of the Jordan, but until that time, I am still alive and enjoying every minute of it.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The church service started on time with a nice greeting and welcome, then a very nice long prayer, then some very upbeat awe inspiring music. The service provided nothing out of the ordinary for us as we waited to hear Rev Green. Rev Green was seated up front, surrounded by his group of Elders. The music continued, the Elders would pray, and more music. During the singing, an offering or two was taken up, we continued to wait for the sermon. Not just any sermon, an Rev Al Green sermon. We continued with the same routine as I began to get a little impatient. I glanced at my watch, we had been singing, praying, and taking up offering for over three, yes three hours, and we had even gotten to the sermon. I was losing both patience and money. My anticipation began to drain. My waiting began to be transformed into frustration. I wanted to hear AL Green preach. He is right there; I could see him, why isn’t he preaching. The service was great but not what I had come for. After over four hours of waiting, to hear a sermon, hungry, frustrated, and feeling unsatisfied we left. I left never to hear Rev Al Green preach. [Note: I was informed later by a member of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church that Rev Green only preaches when he receives the Holy Spirit, some Sundays he doesn’t feel it at all so there is no sermon. He also rightly corrected me that I was too focused on the sermon and missed the healing, connection, authentic worship of God in the music and prayers. He was totally right. I wonder what all I missed only focused on my own wants. ]
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
It you reread my opening statement you will find the hidden truth. It is the place my family loves to eat. For me, my family is the most valuable gift God has granted me. I actually enjoy, cherish, and love being around my family. For me dinner time is much more than food consumption. To eat is the “reason” we have gathered but not “why” we gathered. We dine together because of the conversations we have around the table, we pray, we laugh, we communicate, we share our problems, our achievements. In our hectic lives, we check in with one another. We listen to one another sympathize and support one another. We are teaching our children that family is important. Our dinner time instills the value of family. We provide examples for our children to model with their children. The preference or quality of the food is really very insignificant to the whole dinning experience. I choose to dine with them, at their favorite place, because they enjoy it and I love them.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The street was bustling with excitement, flair, and luxury. But then upon a closer look, we noticed something peculiar. Out of all the hundreds of people, walking down the street, no one was carrying any bags. We did not see one person that had made a purchase. The crowd was just window shopping, taking photos, and pointing. No one was actually buying anything. It would be impossible to determine why all the people lined the streets, but what was evident was they were not there to actually shop, purchase anything, or spend any money. They were present to either be seen or see what Rodeo drive was all about.
In reflecting on our Beverly Hills experience, I wonder how many of us are like that in worship. We come to either be seen or to see what is going on. We come to get away from the routine of our daily lives; a life that can be full of pain, sorrow, stress, and anxiety. We come to share our joys, celebrations, and information with our faith family. We come to be around others who are better defined in their spirituality. We show up to window shop, take pictures, and recall precious memories. We come and experience the presence of Christ. All these things are awe-inspiring, but are we leaving empty handed or d we actually make a purchase. Are our bags full or do we just window shop. What do we take away from the sacred holy time we spend in worship? Are we there to just witness Christ’s words, or are we here to actually take something away that will benefit both our lives and the lives of others. Christ love for us illustrates his desire, wants, and wishes, for us. He wants us to make a purchase. He wants is to exchange our currency for something greater. Maybe less emphases need to be on why we show up, and more on what we take away.
See ay in church but until then take care of yourself and one another.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Jesus understood our short comings. Luke tells us a story of Jesus as others ask to follow him. To be apart of his ministry on the road to Jerusalem, someone asked if he could go along. "I'll go with you, wherever," he said. Jesus was curt: "Are you ready to rough it? We're not staying in the best inns, you know." Jesus said to another, "Follow me." The person said, "Certainly, but first excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have to make arrangements for my father's funeral." Jesus refused "First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God's kingdom!" Then another said, "I'm ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home." Jesus said, "No procrastination. No backward looks. You can't put God's kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day." Christ understands we all have excuses or other things that keep us from serving others. Many things in our life that can distract us, hinder us, distract our attention from where it should be. He also wants us to fully understand that following him is not easy. It takes commitment, dedication, and determination, which are all qualities that are not easy to overcome but the rewards are greater than anything we can imagine. As opportunities provide themselves, it is time to step up: Call that person whom you have missed in worship, send a card to someone who is ill, go visit that person in the nursing home or confined to their home, pray daily for someone, lend a hand to someone, buy a bottle of Gatorade and give it to someone who life has no retreat from the heat, cook a meal for someone, etc. We hold the power to make our life one that is awesome at serving Christ by tending to all God’s children or as Will puts it, we can be a person good at excuses. In finding ways to rid ourselves of excuses we might just find our true self. The choice is yours.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Many of us want a better relationship with God and a more fulfilling life, but are we also willing to admit our limitations, struggles, disappointments, and longing? Spiritual growth is truly possible; God is already at work drawing you closer to him and transforming you, whether or not you can see or feel it. The love, joy, and peace you are longing for is not reserved for a few special people but is available to you as well, as you learn to better recognize God's activity in your life and how to flow better with the Spirit's leading day by day.
What can we expect to have for a Spirit-led living and personal transformation? I read recently an article on how we should think of the Spirit as the wind of God it may help us in our perceptive of the Spirit. As a cool breeze may bring relief in the summer, or as a strong air current may fill a sail, the Holy Spirit can suddenly change our perspective, our feeling, or our capacity to respond to any given situation. Through the Holy Spirit, our experience with the grace of God becomes active, and we are able to sense what was not accessible to us otherwise, and to respond in often surprising and life-giving ways to others.
The Holy Wind breathes new life into us, transforming our thinking, feeling, and behavior even while our basic nature remains flawed and limited. Spirit-led living means just what it implies: we live out our God-given purpose in life by virtue of the Spirit's ongoing work within us. This happens moment by moment, as we follow the Spirit's leading, and not by becoming permanently and irrevocably transformed. Our basic human nature is not changed as much as we are enabled to grow in our ability to let the Spirit have its way in us and to keep in step with the Spirit's prompting. We do in fact mature, but we never stop being flawed, limited human beings. Over time, we will become more gracious toward ourselves and others, accepting our human limitations and failures better. We will learn how to become more attentive and responsive to the Spirit's prompting and leading, more helpful to others, and, as a result, more fruitful in our ministries. Spirit-led living provides us with a way to move from unhealthiness to the life God intends for us not as a permanent, complete transformation, but as a tool for living out of our best self in the moment.
Feel the breeze, see ya in church but until then take care of yourself and one another.
Peace & Grace,
Monday, April 12, 2010
Jesus asks the same question. In the gospel of John, we hear the words of the resurrected Christ ask Simon Peter do you love me. After seeing the risen Christ, after experiencing the realty of our risen Lord, Peter quickly returns to fishing. As soon as the Easter lilies were taken back up into the attic, Simon Peter has returned to the life he left to follow Jesus. He went backwards to the life he knew before he met Jesus. Instead of reading him the riot act, Jesus just ask Peter one question three times: Do you love me? When Peter replies a resounds Yes! Jesus responds that it is our actions that declare our love, not mere words. Jesus elegantly asks each of us, if you love me, your actions will illustrate to all that you are willing to do whatever it takes to back it up. If you recall I stated over two years ago the secret of getting people into the church. I said it is not a real big secret it is just hard to do. I said you love them, you love them into the church. Maybe the question in light of the risen Christ is not “Do you love me?” but “Who have you shown it to?”
Peace & Grace,
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Luke describes Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as full of details. We are given specific details, the exact location: the Jerusalem suburbs of Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives. Jesus then pulls two of his disciples aside, gives them specific detail instructions that fulfills the exact Old Testament prophesy. He knows exactly what type of colt he wants -- one that had never been ridden. He knows exactly where the colt is. He’s even worked out a response to the public relations problem of swiping a colt. "If anyone asks you . . . just say this, ‘The Lord needs it."’
During Lent we all feel the need to become more spiritual. We tend to think that spirituality means escaping the concern with detail. Spiritual people, we think, live simple lives. They don’t worry about mortgages and dentist appointments and going to church committee meetings. They wear sandals, meditate and feed the birds. But that is not the biblical understanding of spirituality. According to the Bible, the hindrance to our spirituality is not that we pay attention to the details of life, but that we pay too much attention to the wrong details.
There are a lot of details that Jesus ignored. He didn’t worry about the detail of urgency. He didn’t worry about the detail of effectiveness. Jesus didn’t worry about the detail of recognition. He didn’t worry about the detail of popularity. He didn’t worry about the detail of tomorrow. Details that consume us never crossed Jesus’ mind. And we easily overlook the details he was concerned about. Our souls are dried out because we have tried so hard to save ourselves by controlling the wrong details that we have no energy left for the detail of finding a savior.
We know the details of Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday and Easter. We’ve gone through them year after year. Why do this again? For the same reason that we go through the details every Sunday. It’s the only way we can take our eyes off the things that do not matter and set them upon the arrival of the Savior. The best news is that once we’ve learned to look for Jesus, we’ll find him in every detail of our life.
Monday, March 8, 2010
In his novel, The Testament, John Grisham paints a powerful word portrait of one man's surrender to God's will. Nate O'Reilly, a disgraced corporate attorney, is plagued by alcoholism and drug abuse. After two marriages, four detox programs, and a serious health crisis, Nate acknowledges his need for God. Grisham describes the dramatic transformation in these words: With both hands, he clenched the back of the pew in front of him. He repeated his list, mumbling softly every weakness and flaw and affliction and evil that plagued him. He confessed them all. In one long glorious acknowledgment of failure, he laid himself bare before God. He held nothing back. He unloaded enough burdens to crush any three men, and when he finally finished Nate had tears in his eyes. "I'm sorry," he whispered to God. "Please, help me." As quickly as the fever had left his body, he felt the baggage leave his soul. With one gentle brush of the hand, his slate had been wiped clean. He breathed a massive sigh of relief, but his pulse was racing. Perhaps like Nate, you need to make a list of things to bring before the Lord. When you do, you will find Christ waiting and ready to hear and forgive. Take it from Jesus Himself, "There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents/changes."
See ya in church but until then love one another and take care of yourself and your neighbor.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Have you ever wondered when you examine your life, what you produce? I mean when you truly examine your daily words, thoughts, and actions, when the day is over, you lay down your head, what have you produced? Production is the key to anyone survival. Any society that does not produce anything will truly perish. In Luke the 13th chapter Jesus tells a parable about production. There was a fig tree that did not produce any fruit. After waiting patiently for three years the tree does not produce fruit. The land owner orders the gardener to cut down the tree. The one who tended the tree begged for one more year and pledged to take radical steps to tend to the tree’s needs. He begs for one more chance for the tree to produce.
Jesus told the parable of the fig tree to call his listeners to turn towards him and to change their minds and their hearts. The result for the fig tree and for the listeners is the same: to bear fruit. As Jesus tells the story, the hope for the changed fig tree is that it will bear fruit. He has the same hope for the human beings who would listen to his words, that they would bear fruit. The ultimate sign of our changing of the mind, our repentance, our turning in a new direction is the action of our life. It is not words. It is not opinions. It is not feelings. It is action, bearing fruit, doing some new things in our lives. The fulfillment of the call to change and repent is new action of faith in our living. As individuals, we are called to do actions of generosity, compassion, service, peace making, justice, witness and respect. These are the fruits of a life turned to God, of a mind and heart changed by the Spirit of God. As communities of faith, we are called to bear fruit as well. We are called to produce.
How do you produce you might ask?
This season of Lent is a time to take stock of our own hearts, souls and life in God. There are some steps that help us to do just that; here are some of them:
* First, acknowledge your need for God, in prayer and in your heart, acknowledge the reality of the living God and recognize your own yearning and hunger for that God in your life.
* Second, confess your sins. Tell God about the things that you do regret and want to leave behind as you turn to a new direction and embark on a new journey in your living.
* Third, accept God's forgiveness and lay claim to God's love. Truth is, God is much more ready to forgive than we are to receive that forgiveness and much more ready to love than we are to own that love.
* Fourth, change your mind, re-examine some things about your life, your priorities, and your patterns of activity. Let God renew your mind with God's grace and love.
* And finally, finally, bear fruit. Show some new actions, some new practices, patterns and behaviors that reflect the love that God has for you and the love that you have for God.
Bear fruit, produce, and take care of yourself and one another.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
In the wake of the tragedy of last week, it is times like these which test the deepest part of our souls. Many questions arise of “why”. Why did God let this happen? Why were so many killed? Why did it happen in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? Why should I even care, I have my won problems? Why were some lives spared and not others? The list can go one and one.
Having traveled and worked in Haiti, I too have had more questions than answers. I too get so frustrated when people like Danny Glover and Pat Robinson make ignorant comments for their own selfish gains. Amongst the confusion, devastation, and pain, in any time of devastation, no matter how big and how small, the best thing to do is focus on the facts not the speculations.
Here is what I do know:
- The God we serve is a God of love and forgiveness. It was not God’s punishment on people of Haiti.
- God answers specific prayers. While our friends Dr Glen Stewart and a group for Tennessee were in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, we prayed without ceasing for their safety. By God’s grace and harm, they returned home without physical injury. We continue to pray for their psychological healing that is needed after such an ordeal. We pray for those friends that lost there life while serving God in Haiti.
- I am proud I serve a church that responds immediately. Week of Compassion sent fund within 24 hours of the quake to begin the process of saving those who were trapped. I am proud that Week of Compassion continues to offer several areas of support.
- I am forever grateful for the special gifts God places in my life each and every day. The gift of a loving healthy family, a wonderful church family, a place to live, a place to worship, something to eat, and friendships. I am grateful for the time I have and realize it can all change at in a split second.
- God brings about healing by helping others. I am encouraged by those who have already responded in various ways. I look forward to the opportunity in the future to serve the beautiful people in Haiti. We can begin the healing process by serving people here in Centralia. All God’s children need our attention, when we put others first, we are the ones that receive the greatest inward reward.
- God is good all the time. I’m the midst of any tragedy we will begin to see God’s grace and mercy shine. We will witness the Light of Christ shine through in the darkness wither it is in Haiti or Centralia. We will see God’s people react with compassion, zeal, and extraordinary feats.
We continue to pray and worship the God of mercy, grace, and love through all time both good and bad. It is now; we praise God for all those who can’t find their voice at this time.
Together with the power of a sovereign God turn a tragedy into everlasting hope.
See ya in church but until then take care of yourself and one another.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Maybe you have a special pair of clothing that brings you comfort and relief. Maybe a favorite warm sweat shirt, T-Shirt, dress, blanket, that the moment you put it on brings you relief from the stress of the world. It is more about the peace it brings that the actual fabric. Sometimes we may find our spiritual life like that as well. When we find something that fits right, bring peace, helps us connect with Christ; we want to hold on to it forever. Just the mere routine of church can bring about this same sensation as well. We find an overwhelming sense to keep things just the way they are, not matter if they are tattered and worn out. Jesus calls us to experience something new. At a wedding in Canaan, when the host was about to be embarrassed, the reception ruined, Jesus brought about new wine. He turned ordinary water into a wine much better tasting, much richer, fuller, than what was served before. He does not ask us to throw out what connects us to Him, just experience something new that will enhance what we have already experienced. He has the power to turn the ordinary water into the richest of fine wine. Christ has what we need if we want an enriched relationship with God and one another. Christ is not saying throw out your stretchy shorts, just add a new shirt to go along with what you already have. Take the traditions of the past, the routine of the now and jump into the future. If we take that approach, He will transform our ordinary into an expensive precious commodity. Then we will experience comfort and peace like never before.
See ya in church but until then take care of yourself and one another.