Friday, December 31, 2010

A Sabbatical Year (or maybe longer)

As you can see since my last post in September that I haven't been very diligent in writing and posting lately. Our lives have been hectic with family, work, leadership consulting, friends and getting the house ready to sell. In fact, I don't recall a time in my life when I have been busier.

So I am going to put this blog on the back burner for a while. The subject matter remains a passion for me. But I am looking for a slightly different creative outlet. Something that can be quicker and more timely.  And something that doesn't require deep theological thinking.  I am looking for something that allows me to write about a broader range of topics, thoughts and issues that I see.

Look for a new blog and something from me soon after the new year. You may likely see it first on facebook. Thank you for all of your support and your insightful comments on this blog for the last several years.  It has been an amazing journey since that first post in January of 2006.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

If a man is fortunate in life . . .

If a man is fortunate in life, he will be raised by a great father.  I am a fortunate man to have such a father.

If a man is really fortunate in life, he will marry a woman who was raised by a great father.  I am a really fortunate man to have such a wife and father-in-law.

Both of these men have had a profound influence and impact on my life.  They have showed me what a Godly husband and a Godly father look like.  And I am forever grateful for their influence.  But, just how fortunate would I be to have had yet another man in my life that was a Godly model of what it is to be a man, a husband, a father, an employee and leading layman in his local church?

We recently lost such a man.  Paul Freese went home to be with the Lord on August 21, 2010.  Today he is with the Lord and I am left to ponder the weight and the value of his influence on my life. 

He and I first met at his house one evening back in the Fall of 1980.  I was visiting my girlfriend's (now my wife's) family for a holiday week-end.  I was told that acceptance in the family was not contingent upon what they thought about me.  It was contingent upon acceptance by Paul and Helen Freese.  And so we all trudged over to the Freese house.  I was there for inspection and evaluation.  And I was a little scared.

Little did I know how easy that evening would go.  And little did I expect to be made to feel so welcome into their home.  I was reviewed and inspected by Helen in the kitchen of their home.  There were the obligatory questions about my college studies and future plans.  And there were the somewhat unexpected questions about my life and my Faith.  As I look back now I am not surprised by those questions at all.

I guess I passed that initial inspection because I was dismissed to the family room where the men were hanging out.  And there I got to spend my first bit of quality time with Paul Freese.  But his reputation had already preceded him.  He was somewhat larger than life.  He was a V.P. and senior executive with a very prestigious environmental services company in the Washington, DC area.   He had a huge house in a quiet suburb.  He had a lovely wife and 3 successful grown children.  He was every thing I wanted to be.  But I was only looking at the surface.

The Freese's and my in-laws had a friendship that is as close as any that I had ever seen.  And since they were so close I had many opportunities over the years to be with them in many formal and informal occasions.  Many of those occasions occurred after Cathy and I were married.  In fact, we moved back to that part of the country at one point and we began to attend the same church as Paul and Helen.  For several years I had the opportunity to serve side-by-side with Paul on the Board of our local church.  It was in these years that we had the chance to sit and talk about many things.  He mentored me in many things.  He shared with me tidbits and insights into the business world, the church world and the "home" world.  I was still a young husband and a young father.  And these were opportunities for conversations that I vowed not to squander.

So what are some things I learned from Paul?

I learned that  a crew cut never really goes out of style.
I learned that being steady is harder than it looks.
I learned what it feels like to be a grown-up.
I learned that there is no higher calling in life than to be a man of God.

I learned that there is more to being a husband than bringing home a paycheck.
I learned that there is more to being a father than you see on TV.
I learned that there is more to being an employee than just showing up.
I learned that there is more to being a church leader than casting a vote as a board member.
I learned that a soft and thoughtful word is more powerful than a persuasive argument.
And I learned that I had value in Paul's eyes and he assured me that I had value in God's eyes.

Everything I "learned" from Paul I also was learning from my own father and my father-in-law.  But, Paul made some of these life lessons easier to receive from his lips than from my own father's.  I am pretty sure my own dad was smart enough to realize that.  And, if truth be known, my own dad is probably grateful for Paul's influence in my life.

So, I will not prolong this post.  Neither will I become maudlin.

I will just say, "Thank you Lord for putting Paul in my life while I was still young and 'moldable'.  And thank you Lord for helping me recognize what an opportunity was right in front of me."

If a man is fortunate in life, he is befriended by a man like Paul Freese.  I am a really fortunate man.

Paul V. Freese
March 7, 1926 - August 21, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"buildings are sacred places"

I had an opportunity to attend a gathering Saturday morning.  Thank the Lord it ended up being something different than what was planned!  A meeting and ideas for fund raising was planned.  But, it ended up being an opportunity to see what God is doing in other parts of the world.

I had the opportunity to meet Imir and Janette.  They are ministering in Imir's country.  Both Imir and Janette spoke eloquently about their ministry and their home, the newest country on the planet, Kosova.

The list of things that are different between their home country and mine is HUGE!  And I could pick any one of a number of them to blog about.  But Imir made a statement while discussing the need to purchase a building in one of the cities in Kosova.  He is currently leading a small group of Believers in a building that is not a church.  And that building is in much need of repair.  So they are looking to try to locate a building to purchase.  In his country, a church is really not taken seriously unless they have a permanent facility or building.  In his country, "buildings are sacred places."

There it was.  Did you catch it?  He said buildings are sacred places.

I thought about my church today and many of the churches that I have attended in recent years.  Some of them didn't even look like churches.  And I am not here to debate the relative merits of the "sanctunorium" or the multi-purpose building.  But I miss the days when you walked reverently into the sanctuary.  You didn't run inside the church and passing notes was the 8th deadly sin!

Do you think there is any connection between the informality of the new church and the lack of a deep abiding reverence for the Lord's House?  Again, I am not attacking the modern church.  But what "message" is being sent to the congregation when the pulpit has been replaced with a bar stool and a tall table?

Have we lost a sense for what is sacred?

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Grace and Peace

I have a lot of friends who use various closings in the signature blocks to their emails and blog posts.  Some of my favorites are:

* Respectfully (that's kinda old fashioned)
* Have a great day (that's a little wishful)
* Warm regards (that's a little stilted)
* All the best (that's a little optimistic)
* Blessings (that's a little out of my league to dispense)
* In Christ (that's where I want to be)
    They range from totally secular to completely sacred.

    My favorite is . . .

           Grace and Peace

    There is nothing wrong with any of the other ones.  I just like that one best.  I don't even use it myself in my email and blogging for fear of jumping onto their bandwagon. 

    But it speaks to me.  It reminds me that those two things are certainly things that I could use a little more of in my life each day.  I don't know about you, but I have never come to tough situation and thought there was too much grace applied.  I have never come home at the end of the day and thought, "Wow, today was just too peaceful!"

    So what about you?  Could you use a little more grace and peace in your life?

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    Monday, July 05, 2010

    There's no place like home

    I think it was Dorothy that spoke that line of dialog in the classic 1939 film, "The Wizard of Oz."  She was longing to go back home to Kansas.  Her wishes and dreams of traveling "Somewhere over the rainbow" had not turned out quite like she wanted.  And, although I haven't not traveled quite like she did, I have been away from home an awful lot lately.  My work has had me on the road about 75% of the time lately.  And like young Dorothy, I want to go home.

    I remember early in my career when I got to take a business trip or two.  What a thrill that was.  Stayed in a nice hotel.  Got a new rental car.  Ate whatever I wanted at whatever restaurant I chose.  That was the life!

    But lately it has been meeting here, negotiate there, meet over there.  Go to the big conference.  And every hotel room looks the same.  All I can think about while on the road is, "When will I get to go home and see my wife and my kids and grandson?"  All I think about is coming home.

    You know, heaven is like that for the Christian.  Maybe at this stage in your life it isn't all that you think about.  But, it is something that you should think about from time to time.  It helps keep things in perspective.  I can get through anything on the road because I know I am coming home soon.

    I think about it a lot more and more as I get older.  I've never been there.  But I know I want to go there.  I know that I will go there some day.  After all, it is my home.  It is my eternal home.

    And there's no place like home.

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    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    Have you heard from the kids lately?

    This is the latest question that I pose to my beloved everyday when I call her on the way home from work. It is a question that is becoming more important to me in these days ahead. It is becoming regular. It is becoming like clockwork. And it is a question that I am really more and more interested in. You see, I want to know what is going on in their lives. I want to know how they are doing. I want to know how my one year old grandson is doing and whether or not he has taken his SAT yet. (Did I forget to mention that he is very bright and advanced?) I love them and I miss talking with them every day.

    Obviously from my opening lines we have recently become "empty nesters." Our house that has been so full of love and life and laughter is now much quieter. Our kids have all moved out and I don't see them every day like I have for the last bazillion years. And, quite frankly, I miss them. I miss the sounds and the smells of a full house.

    These thoughts and feelings caused me to think about this from a Spiritual perspective.

    I wonder if our Heavenly Father misses us in much the same way. I wonder if He feels some of the same emotion that I feel. Does our Heavenly Father miss talking with us every day? Am I too busy to talk to Him? Does He sit around the heavenly realm and say to the Holy Spirit, "Have you heard from the kids lately?"

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    Friday, March 26, 2010

    Why Am I Here? -- Part 4 -- Somebody Prayed

    So, we come to the end of this little 4 part series. It has been an interesting experience for me.  It has been a blessing to think about my life from 4 distinct perspectives.

    I was recently told by a very dear (and slightly OCD) friend that I should not have interjected the little commercial for someone else's blog between part 3 and this last part. So, I offer my apologies for that literary faux pas.

    Let me remind you of the topics one last time.

    Here are the four topics again as a reminder.

    I am what I am because:
    • Somebody Played
    • Somebody Stayed
    • Somebody Paid, and
    • Somebody Prayed
    In Part 1, I pointed out that I am deeply grateful for the impact that my 4th grade boys Sunday School teacher had on my life. In Part 2, I discussed what an impact on my life was made through the personal sacrifice that my mom made to stay at home and raise my brother and me. And in Part 3, I wrote about something a little more tangible in terms of a specific monetary investment made into my life.

    Now, the last installment.  I am what I am because somebody prayed. That someone is my Dad.

    Tonight as I sit at the keyboard my memory goes back to a morning in my early childhood. Actually, any morning morning that would come to mind would demonstrate my point. And that fact may be the greatest statement and testament to a life of consistent prayer.

    I really don't remember when I first experienced it. But the memories are about as vivid as any of my childhood. Every morning as I was getting up in the morning and heading to the table for breakfast I would pass by the bathroom in the hall. Our home was a modest home. It did not have a private bathroom in the master bedroom as I recall. So, the family shared a bathroom in the hall. Dad, Mom, David and me. Each morning on the way to breakfast I would pass by that bathroom. Usually the door was slightly ajar. I could see in the bathroom as I walked down the hall.

    What did I see as I walked down the hall? -- I would see Dad.

    Where was Dad? -- He was kneeling by the bathtub.

    What was Dad doing? -- He was praying?

    Who was he praying for? -- He was praying for me.

    Now I need to tell you something at this point. I did not grasp the significance of that act at that point in my childhood. But I did later in my life as I got a little older. As I was growing up I would often pause by the door and listen. Dad would use my name as he prayed for me. He prayed for my safety. He prayed for my day as I went to school. He prayed that I would make wise decisions. He prayed for many things. But he prayed that I would come to know Jesus in a very real and personal way. He prayed that I would come to know Jesus like he knew Jesus.

    That memory has come to me countless times in my lifetime. It seems that memory always came at the worst times. That memory came at times when I was tempted to do stupid teenager stuff. It came when I was tempted to do stupid college stuff. It came when I was tempted to do many things. Unfortunately, that memory did not always keep me from making those decisions. But I never escaped the memory of Dad praying for me.

    That habit that Dad had is still a part of his daily life. He still prays for me every day. He calls out my name in prayer. He calls the name of my wife. He calls the name of our children. He calls the name of my son-in-law. And he calls the name of my grandson, his great grandson, every day as he communes with God at the start of his day.

    So here I am. I have more days behind me than I have in front of me. And I owe much of the life that I have enjoyed and the success that I have enjoyed in raising a family to the faithfulness of my Dad and to his prayers for me every morning of my life.

    I am what I am because somebody prayed.

    Thanks Dad.

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Ministry Adventures in Haiti

    I continue to be inspired by folks who take the words of Jesus seriously.  That is never more true when you answer the call to be actively involved in the dirty and sweaty aspects of ministry.

    I guess we expect pastors to be involved in that sort of thing.  And they are.  Fellow blogger, Trey Morgan, is actively involved in feeding the Dump People in a city in Honduras.  He is preparing his second trip this May.

    My brother is constantly involved in rebuilding activities following hurricanes, floods and whatever else God calls him to do.  His church in Michigan adopted a church in New Orleans and rebuilt it following Hurricane Katrina.  A year later, he was at it again.  This time in Iowa following the flooding there.

    Today, I received an email from my uncle who is returning yet again to Haiti.  He has been there many times and has been active in ministry there for years.  This time it is a little different.  Ministry in countries like Haiti is sometimes difficult under the best of circumstances.  But, trying to minister following the devastation of the recent earthquake seems extraordinary.  But this time when he goes, he is planning to blog about his adventures in ministry. 

    I know we all are busy.  Maybe we are too busy to go and minister alongside of folks like these guys.

    But, are you too busy to read about what God is doing in the midst of chaos and devastation?

    Are you too busy to pray for them as they go and do what God is calling them to do?

    Just wondering . . .

    Go check out my uncle Bob's blog.

    Drop him an encouraging note or comment.  It'll do both of you a world of good!

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Why Am I Here? -- Part 3 -- Somebody Paid

    We are half way through this short series that examines a bit of my personal story and yet illustrates some principles that apply universally.

    However, this one will not have a name associated with it as the others have.  It will have an element of mystery.

    Here are the four topics again as a reminder.

    I am what I am because:
    • Somebody Played
    • Somebody Stayed
    • Somebody Paid, and
    • Somebody Prayed

    I discussed the first point and I am deeply grateful for the impact that my 4th grade boys Sunday School teacher had on my life.

    I discussed in the last post what an impact on my life was made through the personal sacrifice that my mom made to stay at home and raise two boys.

    This post is about something a little more tangible.  This post takes the word sacrifice and makes it a little more concrete.

    I am what I am today because somebody paid.  Somebody, and there were lots of somebodies, invested in me.  They took their hard earned money and they decided to use it for Kingdom building. 

    The first two posts went back quite a few years.  This one does not delve that far back into history.  And, I must be honest.  I don't really know for sure who the person is that is worthy of my thanks and God's blessing.  But, i think I do.  And it happened about 15 years ago at a time of great financial struggle in my life.

    Every year there was a Layman's Retreat Week-End that was hosted by the Washington District Church of the Nazarene.  This event was the highlight of the year for many folks.  The event was held in various places and conference settings.  But the best by far was The Willow Valley Resort & Conference Center in Lancaster, PA.  This place was not the place for folks on a diet or for vegetarians.  Does the word "smorgasbord" It was the place for incredible gravy covered menu items and coconut cream pie as a chaser!  But it was a wee bit expensive if you were a one income family living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

    We scrimped and saved and found a way to go most years.  But one year, things were a little tougher than other years.  And it didn't look like we were not going to be able to afford it.  Then the envelope came in the mail box.  It was addressed to us.  But it didn't have a return address on it.  What it had in it was almost the exact amount of cash that we would need to register for and attend the conference that year.  Somebody paid for us to go.

    I don't know for sure who did that.  I think I do.  but I am not certain.  But I know this.  There was a couple in the church that was a little older than us.  They were both established in their careers.  I'll not give any more details about them out of respect for their privacy.  I know that they would not want any sort of public acknowledgment.

    Nevertheless, I think they chose to invest some of their money into a young couple with two small children.  They invested in a young couple that was doing all that they could to raise their children right.  They invested in a young couple who worked hard and volunteered for many duties in their church.  They invested in a young couple who needed the encouragement and fellowship that they found at the conference each year.

    What about you?  Are you able to invest in someone?  If so, what are you going to do about it?

    We made a solemn promise to God that if we ever were in a position to "invest" like somebody did in us, we would do so.  God has blessed us over the years.  And through God's blessings we have been able to make a few investments as well.   The gift and the blessing goes on and on and on.

    Thank you *** and ****.

    Saturday, March 06, 2010

    Why Am I Here? -- Part 2 -- Somebody Stayed

    Earlier in the week I began a series that is somewhat personal in nature. It was inspired by a post by a fellow blogger who pastors up north in Childress, TX. If you are looking for a great blog to follow, I wholeheartedly recommend his to you. But enough of this shameless promotion . . .

    Here is what I came up with and began exploring in my earlier post.

    I am what I am because:
    • Somebody Played
    • Somebody Stayed
    • Somebody Paid, and
    • Somebody Prayed

    I discussed the first point and I am deeply grateful for the impact that my 4th grade boys Sunday School teacher had on my life.

    So today, let's consider the second -- Somebody stayed

    This one is a little more difficult.  It evokes thoughts in my head of a famous Friedrich Nietzsche quote that became the title of a book by Eugene Peterson.  The quote is:
    The essential thing in 'heaven and earth' is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.

    Now, lest we get all worked up praising this insightful quote, let's hastily remember that this is the same Nietzsche that proclaimed that “God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed Him!”  However, Nietzsche has stumbled upon a theme that is true regardless of where one is on the spiritual spectrum.  And that is that there is something powerful about a sustained obedience or commitment.  Some would call it “Staying Power”.  Hence, my alliteration, “Somebody Stayed”.

    The list of those who have “Stayed” in my life is long.  My generation was ripped apart by the sexual revolution of the 1960s.  In the midst of all of that commotion and noise, my parents remained faithful to one another and remain so to this day.  They stayed together.  They have been together now for more than 50 years!  And they ingrained that idea of what commitment was like into my brother and me.  He and his wife have been married for more than 30 years.  This June, my bride and I will have been married for 28 years.

    There are other examples of staying.  My Mother stayed home with us boys and worked while Dad went off every day to his job.  At a time when many disdained the role of “housewife”, Mom embraced it and made it a Divine call in her life.  She stayed home rather than ship us off to day care and pursue a career of her own. But let me be clear about this, what ever she would have chosen she would have been great at because Mom is one of the smartest people I have ever known.  But, she stayed home with us.

    So, what does all of this mean?  I don't know for sure.  I don't know what I would be like if my childhood had been different.  But, I know this.  I know that I benefited greatly from that model of what a mother was like.  And 20 years later, I found myself married to a woman with that same mindset that was willing to sacrifice an external career for an internal one.  And the following generation has benefited just like I did.

    Thanks, Mom.

    Tuesday, March 02, 2010

    Why Am I Here? -- Part 1 -- Somebody Played

    Why am I here?

    Now there is an interesting question.

    I don't think I am going to go into the biology of it all.  That would be icky and probably bring the wrong crowd to the blog.  Or maybe it would be the right crowd.  Who knows?

    But, why am I here?  Or maybe, a better way of putting it is, "How did I get to where I am today?"

    One thing I know for sure, I did not get here on my own.  And I was thinking the other day about the influence that many folks have had on me down through the years.  Fellow blogger, Trey Morgan had an interesting post on that today.  He was asking about it from a ministerial perspective.  He was posting about a couple of pastors who were very influential in his life and ultimately his ministry. 

    But what about that question from a more wholistic perspective?  Here is what I came up with and have been formulating in my mind long before Trey's post today.

    I am what I am because:
    • Somebody Played
    • Somebody Stayed
    • Somebody Paid, and
    • Somebody Prayed
    Let's consider the first -- Somebody played

    I grew up in the church.  My family has always been a part of the fabric of ministry.  My dad is the best Sunday School Superintendent that has ever been.  And my mom is perhaps the best Head of the Children's Department that has ever been.  I truly mean that.  They were that good.  And I will get to them in a later post in this series. 

    There were others that were influential.  And I will not name them all.  But, one stands out tonight as I sit at the laptop.  You probably don't know him, his name is Mr. Gene Snell.

    Mr. Snell was the 4th grade boys Sunday School teacher when my family moved to New Cumberland, PA.  I remember a lot of things about that man.  I remember he loved us boys.  I remember he gave us $20 if we would read Revelations.  And I remember that he took time out of his busy schedule running a concrete construction business to take us boys horeseback riding on a Saturday. 

    That's right.  He took time out of his busy schedule to play with a bunch of unruly boys.  He didn't have to do that.  But, he knew that if he were going to have an impact on our lives, he would have to do more than just show up on Sunday morning with a Bible story and a snack!  He would have to play with us.  He would have to spend time with us.  He would have to invest his time, talents and treasure into our lives.

    I don't know whatever became of Mr. Snell.  I don't know whatever became of the twins Charles and Charlie that were in that class.  (Seriously, they were twins and those were there names!) That was about 40 years ago.  But, I know what his investment in me has done.  It helped form the foundations of my Faith.  It propelled me on to jr. high and sr. high and then on to college where my Faith grew and matured. 

    I am beginning to grow older.  My kids are grown and serving the Lord.  And I am watching the next generation come along.  And I remain firmly grounded in Faith because somebody played.  And I want to have that kind of impact on a young boy's life.

    Thank you Mr. Snell.

    Sunday, February 07, 2010

    Lessons from your father-in-law

    The next interesting observation from reading through the Bible chronologically . . . 

    "So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you."
    Exodus 18:22

    Moses was a grown man and certainly mature.  But he still was able to benefit from some sage advice from his father-in-law.  Moses was being bogged down by the day to day burden of leadership.  He was spending all day long listening to the complaints of the people and then rendering a judgment. 

    It was noble work and work that he was qualified to do.  But it was becoming overwhelming.  And his effectiveness was suffering.  So, up steps the father-in-law, Jethro.  (And you thought your father-in-law had a funny name.)  He makes a wise observation that benefits both Moses and the people.

    He observes that Moses himself will be able to endure: This is the first reward for effectively delegating some of his authority. Moses would be able to enjoy life and be able to do his job better than ever.

    The second reward was that all of the people will also go their way in peace with their issues resolved quickly. In other words, the people would be effectively ministered to.

    And if you are interested, check out Paul's similar advice to the younger Timothy in II Timothy 2:2.

    So, is it the age?  Or the status as father-in-law?

    Probably the age thing.

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    Wednesday, February 03, 2010

    Strength will rise . . .

    I have the lyrics from Chris Tomlin's song Everlasting God running through my head. I am a little tired. So, I guess I need to go to bed and rest in the comfort of those lyrics.

    I don't think he wrote the lyrics.  But they are what I need tonight.

    Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
    We will wait upon the Lord
    We will wait upon the Lord

    Our God, You reign forever
    Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
    You are the everlasting God
    The everlasting God
    You do not faint
    You won't grow weary

    Our God, You reign forever
    Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
    You are the everlasting God
    The everlasting God
    You do not faint
    You won't grow weary

    You're the defender of the weak
    You comfort those in need
    You lift us up on wings like eagles

    Lyrics by Brenton Brown

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    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    The Vast Reaches of Grace

    I have been mulling something over and over in my mind ever since our small group met together this last Sunday night. We were discussing the 6th chapter of Hebrews. And as you might expect, there was some energetic discussion around verses 4, 5 and 6. So, let me say quickly to my friends from the Reformed Theology tradition that I am not going to debate the doctrine of Eternal Security in this post.

    Rather, I want to look at the issue of Grace.

    As I mentioned, the group was pondering this passage and someone in the group began to wonder about the potential relationship to what is known by many as the Unpardonable Sin in the Gospel of Mark chapter 3 and verse 29. Again, I am not going to debate that theological point either.

    So, what am I going to write about?

    I am going to write about a song by one of my favorite gospel quartets, Greater Vision. The song that I listened to on Monday and has echoed through my head ever since is "God's Grace Reaches Farther". Click on this link and listen to track 12 and tell me what you think about it.

    I don't know a lot. But this one thing I know. God's grace reaches farther than sin could ever go. No matter where we find ourselves and no matter what depths of sin we find ourselves in, if we reach out to God in true repentance, surely He will reach out to us and lift us up from where we are.

    How far will grace stretch? I don't know. And I don't want to find out. I just know that I have never gone so far that grace could not reach me.

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    Thursday, January 07, 2010

    You Are Never Too Old

    I am in the process of reading through the Bible this year in a chronological order. I have never read through the Bible from the beginning of the “story” to the end.  I just started on January 2nd, so I am still in Genesis as you might imagine.

    Yesterday's reading had a passage that struck me and made me look at it from the perspective of age and opportunity. Here is the passage:
    When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.”
    Genesis 17:1 NIV

    Here is the age perspective. Abraham was 99 years old. I know they lived longer in those days. But Abram was still well advanced in age.

    And here is the opportunity perspective. Abram was given a command that seems hard to comply with. But he was given the opportunity to obey through the power of the Almighty God. First, God told Abram who He is. God referred to Himself as El Shaddai. He revealed His Person and character to Abram as the One who is ALL sufficient.

    God goes on to tell Abram what was expected of him. You and I can only do what God expects of us when we know who He is and only when we know that in a full, intimate, personal, and real way.

    The word blameless literally means “whole.” God wanted all of Abram. He wanted a total commitment. God wants the same thing of you and me. So, as we still are in the opening days of this new year, consider offering yourself completely to the One who is All Sufficient.

    It is never too late.

    And you are never too old!

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    Wednesday, January 06, 2010

    Toes and Hearts

    This past week-end I had the privilege of spending some time with a very fascinating woman.  Her name is Inez and she is my aunt by marriage.  So, I guess that makes me her nephew-in-law, if that is even a real familial relationship.  She told me a story about her grandmother.  In that story she talked about raising children and quoted her grandmother as saying the following:

    When our children are young, they step on your toes.  But when they are grown, they walk on your heart.

    What a great quote!

    Perhaps up until this time in my life, I was too young to get the full meaning of that quote.  But, I get it now.

    How well I remember the days when our kids were little.  I am not that tall, but I was taller than they were and they always seemed to be at my feet.  Now, my kids are full grown and my son towers over me.  And today, it is my heart that feels the impact and not my feet.

    I am a very fortunate man and these days my heart swells with pride.  So, maybe the slight pain in my heart is more like the tightness in my waistline after the holidays.  Too much is stuffed inside.