Archive for February, 2010

Church and Excuses 2

February 20, 2010

When asking someone to come to church with you, don’t be surprised to hear the number one excuse.  “I don’t go to church because its too full of hypocrites”.  Well, imagine that!  A hypocrite is one who upholds standards of behavior or ideals that are too high to be reached, and they often fail to live up to the standards they profess.  Consider the alternative.  I could lower my standards until I’m sure I will never have a problem living up to them.  Then instead of being a hypocrite, I will be accused of all sorts of names given to lazy, underachieving people.  Its a no-win situation.    A better answer to this excuse is:  “How can someone claim to love God whom they can’t see, if they can’t stand his followers whom they do see.”  I’m actually paraphrasing the first letter of the apostle John.

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Church and Excuses

February 20, 2010

People who wouldn’t touch church with a ten foot pole say its because of the wrongdoing of religious people through history.  Now, these same people wouldn’t want to be judged solely by the behavior of their  children, but they will refuse to enter God’s house because they don’t like His children.  These same people probably wouldn’t want to cut themselves off from their billionaire uncle simply because his children’s behavior was disgraceful.

In-Laws, How to Share a Loved One

February 20, 2010

In this culture we don’t have a say in choosing who our children will marry, and they may very well marry someone with emotional issues or someone who hates their new in-laws.  Whats a parent to do?  I wrote this little scene after listening to families struggle with new additions who aren’t connecting.

I have a baby tiger in my garden.  It is not at all tame, and it appears to have some old, unhealed wounds.  I have been trying to get close, but it growls and hisses.  Sometimes, when I speak gently to it, I can draw closer, and then it bites or gives me a nasty scratch.  I don’t hate it when it bites and scratches.  I know it is what it is.  Its not tamed, and its protecting itself.  I do wish I could get a vet to look at its wounds, or an expert who can help me tame it.  But I can’t do those things, for it doesn’t belong to me.  My child, whom I love very much, has brought it into my garden.  So for the sake of my child, it is welcome.  I hope someday it will become used to me, and the growling and hissing will stop.  It may never let me touch it, but perhaps we can both be in the garden in peace.

Dogs and Heaven

February 20, 2010

If you have ever owned a dog, you have probably experienced one of two rather disgusting episodes.  Either your dog tangled with a skunk, or it rolled in something so sickening you gagged as you had to bathe it.  Did you ever think of all the theological implications of this situation in relation to God and his humans?

People often ask “Why doesn’t God just let everyone into heaven?”  We could logically ask why we don’t just let all our reeking dogs into the house.  Humans all have a stench called sin, and we have to be cleaned and deodorized before we can be let into God’s house.

People often say “I’m a pretty good person, not like most people”.  Would we go around smelling skunk-sprayed dogs to try to determine which smelled better than the others?  They all stink too much to be let inside.

Some people say “I would never go to church–there are too many hypocrites there.”  Should one smelly dog refuse to go to the groomers salon because its full of other smelly dogs?

God does provide a way for us to be cleaned.  All it requires is for us to ask his forgiveness and we are completely deodorized, because of the price Jesus paid to have it done.  However, like some dogs, we may come when we are called, or we may run away and keep on running until we become lost forever.

We don’t get into the master’s house because we’ve been good enough, or do great tricks or look adorable–we get in because He loves us, calls us and cleans us up.  Humans have a problem called pride.  We don’t want to ask God’s forgiveness.  We would rather try to earn our way in.  We don’t want to admit we’re all beggars, completely dependent on God from start to finish.  In this case, we would do well to be more like our dogs.  They aren’t ashamed to beg.

Homecoming

February 20, 2010

I watched a scene at the airport where a father greeted his daughter.  They smiled and hugged and laughed.  They couldn’t wait to go home and see everyone.  Is this what it will be like when you come for your loved ones, Jesus?  I know you said you’d come to us when all is ready, to take us where you are.  I always thought your eyes would be kind.  What never occurred to me is that we might run toward each other, laughing and hugging, and racing for home because we can’t wait for me to see everyone.  And yet, why shouldn’t it be this way ?  If we humans, sinful as we are, feel so much joy in seeing our favorite people, surely you do, too.  The father of the prodigal son, after all, is a picture of you.  Lord, that you should be glad to see me, is just more than I can comprehend.  It brings tears to my eyes.

Lord Let Me Be a Paintbrush in Your Hand

February 20, 2010

Lord, let me be a paintbrush in your hand.

Let me be in the bundle of brushes you hold in your hand as you paint your eternal masterpiece.  Let me stay a usable brush; pliable, so that I move as you move, and your colors flow through me. Let me not stiffen against your will either through neglect, carelessness or contrariness.  Keep me filled with the color of your choice and not wander beyond your limits for me, for that will muddy my colors and the colors of those around me.

Lord, grant me glimpses of the beauty you create.  I need an occasional insight to keep me encouraged.  Help me realize I’m too small, too bound and too close to the action to ever see your big picture while I’m down here.  Someday you’ll take me far away where I can see your work in all its loveliness.  Meanwhile, as a brush, I can take no credit for the beauty you’ve created, but I am so happy that you chose to use me.

To my Heavenly Father

February 19, 2010

Lord, I was thinking about how it must break Your heart that so many of Your children ignore You.  I know how sad I would feel, if after giving my very best to my children, they would ignore me.  Yet I am often guilty of the same thing with You.  So often on busy days, I give up quality time with You.  This is the last thing I should do, when I wouldn’t have a life at all if it weren’t for You.  Not only that, but time with You, pouring out my thoughts and feelings, and then listening to You, fills me with peace.  Thank You Lord, for the gift of Yourself.  Thank You for having children and caring for them.  I wouldn’t exist if You had not done that.  Thank You that you never stop thinking about me even when I’m not thinking about You.

A Prayer on my 50th Birthday

February 19, 2010

I wrote this prayer on my 50th birthday.  That was quite a few years ago now, but I found it again and want to share it.

Dear Lord, my eternal friend,

Here it is, my 50th birthday.  While I’m not having a full-blown mid-life crisis, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this birthday.  It’s reminding me how short life is, and how little I have accomplished.  When I look at all the youthful dreams I had of what I wanted to do for You, I wonder if I ever will do anything really significant in the time I have left on this earth.  Why does all this matter?  Well, I guess I just want, somehow, to pay you back in some small way for all you’ve done for me.  Love needs a response, and I’m so aware of how much You have loved me.  I want to love You back, and I don’t know how to do that except to love Your people and do good things in this world.  Yet, my love for You is so small, my expressions so inadequate, and I always fall so short of what I intend to do for You.  This love is so much about Your giving and my taking.  What else can I say but thank You.

Thank You for making me.  Thank You that I was created to live here and to know the experience of human life.  Thank You for letting me know You from an early age so that I wouldn’t spend most of my life running away from You in fear, as so many people do.  I can only imagine what that must be like.  Thank You for being there during the saddest and loneliest times of my life, and for letting me know in small, yet personal ways, that You were there for me and heard my prayers.  Thank You for being a God who always listens.

Thank You for giving me sight, hearing, a mind to think clearly, the ability to move freely, and days that are mostly so free of pain that I take my body for granted.  Thank You for the freedom from disease that allows me to serve You with more opportunity than a lot of people have known.

Thank You for the people You’ve given me to live with.  Thank You for good parents.  They were people who loved and respected You, and who gave me a wonderful heritage of their wisdom and strength.  Thank You for a husband who’s the perfect partner for me.  He has taught me more than any human, been there through thick and thin, and filled every empty place.  He has led, supported and loved me for years.   Thank You for the gift of children.  Loving them throughout their lives has been so completely satisfying.  You’ve taught me more about Yourself through the experience of parenthood, for You are the Great Parent.  Thank You for being a partner in our parenting–the largest share of the partnership.  Thank You that despite all my failures as a mother, these children have turned out well.  Thank You for being all they needed and all I wasn’t.  Thank You for the wonderful relatives and friends who have graced my life through the years, whose presence seen and unseen, has been a source of joy and comfort.

And so Lord, what about the future?  I don’t know how many years or days You plan to leave me here.  I know I still have dreams of doing a lot of good things–things I hope will please you.  If the past is any indication though, I’ll fall far short of what I hope to do.  What can I say, Lord, but take me and use me.  Since You always do the lion’s share of whatever we accomplish together, then You please pick what we will do.  I realize there’s going to be three of us in whatever You plan, for You are always thinking about my dear husband, and making plans for us as a couple.  I want to say yes to all of it, Lord.  Use us Lord, and let me serve my sweetheart, as well as You, for all the days You grant us together.

I know some things will change in the future.  If I live long enough here, my body will wear out.  I dread that Lord, and I dread losing, one by one, my abilities to serve You in this world.  Help me to face my limitations with courage.  Help me depend on You.  You have things to teach me, even in my physical weaknesses.  Help me to focus on what I can do for you, not on what I can’t do.  Help me to realize that my weaknesses are blessings, if they force me to depend on you more.  They will make us closer.  And after all, what’s more important than becoming closer to you, if I am soon to see you face to face and live with you forever?

Lord, I’m thinking less now about how many things I can do that spread far and wide.  I’m thinking about what things I can do that will live after I’m gone.  I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to know what a wonderful friend You are, how totally trustworthy You are, and how You help them in every way.  Please show me ways to do that Lord.

Last of all Lord, we will make a final journey together.  I know it will come sooner than I think, even if I’m quite old when it comes.  Just as You’ve never left me in life Lord, I trust You’ll hold my hand and walk me through the final passageway.  It will be light then, Lord, and I’ll finally see Your face, which has been in the shadows all these years.  I hope I will also see the faces of all those I’ve known and loved.  If You grant me a last request Lord, it would be that everyone I’ve known would unfold their arms from across their chests and take Your hand.  Give them whatever they need to be able to do that, Lord.

What can I say now Lord, except You are truly the beginning and end of everything.  You are the Love behind all that is good.  Help me complete all I lack in loving You.

A Tool in the Hands of God

February 17, 2010

Mother Teresa used to say “I’m just a tool in the hand of God.”  As true as this is, our understanding of what it means deepens with our spiritual maturity.  Young believers look at a completed work and think “Look at what God helped me do”.  With more years of experience the same believer says “God used me to do this” all the while thinking “He chose me because I was the most uniquely gifted for the job.”  In that thought is a tiny bit of pride that God’s choice to use them made them somehow superior to others who may also have been considered.  Many more years with the Lord makes the believer think “God chose me for this job although I was totally helpless to do it myself.  That way His power alone would carry me and there would be no doubt that this work was God’s doing.  To God be the glory!”

The Tunnel

February 17, 2010

A very old and dear lady once described the secret to living a long and happy life, which was to remember that life is a tunnel:

As we walk through the tunnel, gates close behind us, and we cannot turn back, so don’t look back either.  The things behind become darker and more blurred as we travel, and we never see them clearly again.  Don’t look back.

As we walk, we are limited in what we can carry, therefore carry only the best.  Carry the very best memories, carry those lessons learned that have made us better people, but never carry negative memories or negative lessons.  These are too heavy, and keep us from carrying what can really help us on our journey and make it beautiful.  Carry only the treasures, but be sure to carry enough treasures to sustain you and be sure to look at them often.

In the tunnel are many doors.  Some are closed.  Don’t stop to look at them or wonder about them.  It only makes it harder to keep walking.  Some doors are open, but close as we approach them.  Don’t stop to look or wonder at them either, for every time you see a door close, another will open just a little further on.  When you see the door open with the light on, go inside, for good things are waiting there.  Stay as long as the light is on, and when it dims or darkens, move on, again taking what is precious from that room as a gift.

Keep on walking, even when you’re tired, even when you hurt, and when you stumble, get up and keep going.  Notice that there is always a glow ahead.  Looking at it, we feel encouraged.  Behind that glow lives the One who loves us most, and one day as we continue to travel forward, the light will suddenly become very bright, surround us completely, and we will find ourselves in the arms of Jesus.  Therefore keep your eyes on that glow, on the Unseen Presence, and trust in the Love who lives there.