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Monday
Jun252012

Embarrassment of Riches

My wife has been house-sitting for a couple of retired doctors this Summer. The well-travelled duo has a keen eye for art and valuable keepsakes. Their shelves are appointed with detailed carvings (of wood, ivory and jade), first-edition books, and rare artifacts; the walls, adorned with exotic rugs and artwork from around the globe.

In most homes, I might walk in and admire a tasteful piece or two; but this living room is a feast for the senses! As Allison completed her chores, I "toured" the mini-Smithsonian. With wide-eyed wonder, I crept at a snail's pace around the perimeter - transported through time on an intercontinental voyage.

On the drive home, we shared a chuckle, comparing the vacation t-shirts we typically bring home to their fascinating collection. Then, sitting at the drive-thru window of Chicken Express, I had an epiphany...

 

"I am a collector of fine friends, with an embarrassment of riches!"

 

Wow! Talk about knock-my-socks-off! Regardless of what hangs on my wall or how much (or little) I have on the bank's balance sheet, my greatest "possessions" are the hearts of friends and family that I love. These are the ones enriching every moment of my life!

I hope the gravity of this simple maxim will seep down deep, and refresh your soul today. Take a moment and recount the value of your specific relationships. Then, the next time you see them, let them know, "You are treasure to me!"

Wednesday
Apr112012

...He is risen, indeed!

This past Sunday, we hosted our 7th annual Easter Sunrise Breakfast. Allison and I used toothpicks to hold our eyelids up, having driven back from a wedding in DFW the wee hours before, but wild horses couldn't keep us from hosting this cherished tradition.


I have many fond memories of my dusty, West Texas hometown. Waking up in the pitch black pre-dawn of Resurrection Sunday, to meet our church at a ranch off the Caprock. We'd gather, bundled up and bleary-eyed (little ones still in PJ's), around a campfire as the men prepared breakfast, chuckwagon-style. Morning chill gave way to deep azure and pink, as Bobwhite quail began to greet the dawn. Meadowlark added their warble to the chorus while the scissor-tail performed high-flying aerobatics... and we few joined with all nature in manifold witness, singing hymns at the top of our lungs - celebrating our reason for living.


Fast-forward 30 years - a new generation carries the torch. Higginbotham Park (behind my house) doesn't quite match the rugged beauty of the Caprock's rosy hues, and there is a burn-ban in affect (so no campfire); but it suffices for a bunch of urbanites. This year, my dad shared a vesper and the fellowship of close friends and family was sweet. Kids always like the ukulele and singing hymns a cappella provides a sense of connection with that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before.


We had a few less people than last year. Seems more folk are "awakening" to this greatest of all Easter traditions and hosting their own. I am glad of it! Modern devices like the Evite make it easy enough for anyone to coordinate (especially if everyone chips in on the food!). Perhaps you'll be inspired to do the same next year?

Tuesday
Jan172012

"...bright hope for tomorrow"

It surprises folk to learn that I rarely listen to music on the radio. More often than not, I prefer silence. But just because there aren't tunes in the cab, doesn't mean there's not plenty going on in my head. Lately, the old hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness" has been on replay in my mental iPod. Specifically, the third verse... 

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside...

Hope - noun; confidently optimistic of good to come.

Isn't that what everyone is looking for in these uncertain times? I have come to believe that most anxiety, depression, divorce and suicide are rooted in hopelessness. We can't see how today or tomorrow will be any better than yesterday; so, we give up... hope.

"Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ...

and strangers to the covenants of promise,

having no hope and without God in the world."

~Ephesians 2:12 

Hopelessness is man's natural default, apart from Christ. Lest we believe this outlook is reserved exclusively for "the lost", we need only review the parable of the vine and branches ("...without Me, you can [present tense] do nothing"). It is the worst predicament, "believing" the correct things about God, yet in function, living apart from Him. This has been termed Christian atheism.

So, when we find ourselves floundering in the sea of hopelessness, what is the remedy?

We must recognize that we came to this place because of misplaced reliance. It is the grace of God which causes everything to shake that can be shaken. No earthly situation, investment, vocation, location, or relationship can grant us that bedrock security we so desire. It can be found in One place, alone...

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,

a hope both sure and steadfast and One which enters within the veil"

~Hebrews 6:19

Now, that reminds me of another great hymn (click to listen)...

 

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Romans 15:13 

 

Thursday
Nov172011

Fill 'er up!

Check out this audacious promise from Christ:

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  ~Jn 10:10

We have to take off our Sunday school glasses to grasp the hutzpah of this statement. A well-meaning and common presentation of eternal life is, "Accept Jesus, so that when you die you'll go to Heaven."

While this much is true, Jesus Himself offered much more. Pretend for a moment that you're not reading the Bible, but instead, someone has walked up to you at the lowest point of your week and offered the statement above. (go ahead, re-read it - and personalize it [change "they" to "you"])

I don't know about you, but I would think He was talking about something practical, tangible and exciting - certainly not religious. Also, I would hear those words in the present tense, not just meant for sometime later. 

Here's the whole truth: God invites us into an adventure with Him long before we kick the bucket. It's not about getting our "ticket punched" or securing some sort of ultimate fire insurance. It's about life, NOW!

He wants to speak to you in the mundane as much as the exciting. Through the highs and the lows, He's right there. Just listen...

Wednesday
Oct262011

Who's your Daddy?

FAMILY... that word can mean almost anything these days.

Used to, when someone spoke of family, it was understood they were talking about a husband, wife and some combination of offspring - the nuclear family. Extended family would include Grandma, Grandpa, aunts/uncles, cousins and the like. One thing family always held in common was blood... shared DNA.

Enter the 21st century. Family is now loosely defined as, "any group of people who love each other". I have no intention of using this entry to make a political or social statement. However, I don't think I'm alone in asserting that both of these leave a little to be desired.

We've all had friends who are closer to us than "blood" relatives. Can we not also call them family? On the other hand, "love" (as I've experienced it) can be a fickle thing. I'm not sure I want to call someone "family" if there is no assurance of a life-long connection.

So, what constitutes family? Are we exclusively limited in our most intimate relationships to some cosmic lotto's determination of whom we'll spend eighty-odd years? What's that saying? ..."You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family."

Consider this: When Christ came to Earth, His purpose was to make a way for us to enter both the fellowship of the Trinity and a different type of extended earthly family. "How?", you may ask... blood. More than a few scriptures identify Jesus as the "Bridegroom" and the Church as His wife; thereby securing a "marital" connection to the Godhead. Another passage calls Christ the "firstborn among many" - eluding to the availability adoption for those who would come after. All of this is made possible by the physical sacrifice of Christ on our behalf.

Finally, hope for the orphan & emotionally orphan-ed. A people with whom we are both intimately acquainted and safe. Check out the passage below, and see Jesus' (fully human) take on all this.

But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!  “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”     Matthew 12:48-50

Church is not a place I go to, but a people I belong to.