This is the Day

One of my dad’s expressions that has stuck with me over the years is “Wherever you are, be there.”  He said it in the context of playing basketball or baseball.  He was trying to encourage me to stay focused, to stay in the game and not dwell on the last shot I missed or the last time at bat when I struck out.  “If you think too much about what just happened or worry too much about what might happen, then you won’t be a part of what’s happening now.”

I’m grateful for those times of playing catch or shooting baskets in the driveway with my dad.  I’m even more grateful for the words of advice and encouragement.  “Wherever you are, be there.”  Yesterday is in the past and tomorrow may not get here.  If we focus too much on either one of those days, we’ll miss out on what’s happening right here, right now on this day.

My prayer for you is that you will embrace today.  Yes, we should learn from the mistakes of yesterday.  And yes, we should plan for tomorrow but we should never let yesterday or tomorrow keep us from focusing on today.  Wherever you are, be there.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Do not dwell on the past, Do Your Best, God loves you, Rejoice | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friends that Don’t Go Places

Friends that Don’t Go Places
(to the tune of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places”)

You can tell by our roots
We still telecommute
And yes, we do our own hair.
Meeting on Zoom,
Alone in our room,
I wear a nice shirt and my underwear…

Lines under my eyes,
From those N95’s
And my ears are both numb from the pain,
I don’t know about you,
But I’ll be glad when we’re through,
But you’ll never hear me complain….

‘Cause I’ve got friends that don’t go places
Unless it’s the grocery store
With masks on our faces
Stayin’ six feet away,
So, we’ll be okay.
Yeah, we’re not big on hand sanitizer
So we’re signed up now for Moderna or Pfizer
‘Cause I’ve got friends that don’t go places.

Well, I hope I’m not wrong
That it won’t be too long,
Until things are just like before,
But in the meantime,
I’ll keep going online,
And have deliveries sent to my door.
Hey, I don’t mean
To cause a big scene
But I need your Netflix password again,
And I’ll sit on my behind
For the very next hour,
And we’ll start to binge…

‘Cause I’ve got friends that don’t go places
Unless it’s the grocery store
With masks on our faces
Stayin’ six feet away,
So we’ll be okay.
Yeah, we’re not big on hand sanitizer
So we’re signed up now for Moderna or Pfizer
‘Cause I’ve got friends that don’t go places.

Yes, I’ve got friends that don’t go places
Unless it’s the grocery store
With masks on our faces
Stayin’ six feet away,
So we’ll be okay.
Yeah, we’re not big on hand sanitizer
So we’re signed up now for Moderna or Pfizer
‘Cause I’ve got friends that don’t go places…

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Good Friday

Today, as I write, it is Good Friday.  It is the day we commemorate the fact that Christ was crucified and would rise on the third day, just as He had promised.  One of my favorite Good Friday scriptures is found in the Old Testament, in

Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

As Christians commemorate “Good Friday” we recognize that Christ willingly gave His life as Atonement for our sins.  He was nailed on the cross after having been beaten and mocked and suffering through a sham of a trial.  As John says in his gospel, Christ came unto His own and His own received Him not.  He was rejected.  He was crucified and gave His life on “Good Friday” as the punishment for our sin.  I started to say we “celebrate” Good Friday rather than “commemorate” Good Friday.  In some ways, I am not so sure if that word celebrate applies.  I have so many emotions that go through my heart and my mind when I contemplate what occurred on that day.  I am saddened by His suffering and humbled by the knowledge that my own misdeeds and sins made His very sacrifice necessary.  Celebrate?  In some ways that word does not seem right.  Yet, in another sense, I celebrate that God commended His love toward me in that while I was still a sinner Christ died for me.  In the midst of my rebellion, in the depths of my unbelief, before I ever knew Him – Jesus went to the cross for me.  He gave His life and rose again on the third day.  He died in my place.  He is my Savior.  His sacrifice has brought me peace with God.  In that sense, it is a Good Friday indeed.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Draw close to God, Easter, faith, God's Grace, God's Love, Isaiah 53:5 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Set Your Sails

As a part of my new chaplain job, I get to share a morning reflection.  One that I shared this week had to do with a poem I heard as a kid which has stuck with me over the years.  The poem is by Ellen Wheeler Wilcox and there is a stanza which reads:

One ship sails east and another sails west,
Though the very same wind blows,
For it is the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which determine the way we go.

This poem has always reminded me that although we cannot control things like the weather, we can control how we respond to those things.  I think that aligns nicely with what Jesus was telling His disciples in John 16:33:

John 16:33 “… In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

We will face trials and troubles in our lives.  No matter how well we prepare, plan and pray, we will be impacted by situations which are beyond our control as we journey through this world.  And while we may not be able to control these situations, we can always control how we respond to these situations.   And we can face these situations with courage because we know that the Lord is with us and He will help us set our sails and respond in a way that honors and glorifies Him.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Don't give up, faith, God will lead you, John 16:33, Poem, poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stay in Tune

I have a very small, inexpensive travel size guitalele that I have been keeping in the car this week.  It is just a little bit bigger than a ukulele and has 6 strings.  It gives me something to do during lunch time and also gives me a chance to practice.  And boy, do I need the practice!  Like any guitar, whenever I want to play it, I have to tune it first.  The passage of time and temperature changes impact the tension on the strings and the change in tension impacts the tuning.   Too little tension and the note is flat.  Too much tension and the note is sharp.  And ether one of these situations results in the music sounding off…that and my great need to practice.  One thing is for sure, being in tune is important.

Spiritually speaking, we need to be in tune… in tune with the Lord, in tune with our mission and in tune with our professed values.  This requires frequent self-checks; daily comparing ourselves with the Lord’s will and His Word to see if we are in tune with Him.  When we are out of tune, we need to make the necessary adjustments.  Failing to do so can result in our falling flat or coming across as too sharp to others.  And nobody wants that.  So, let’s test ourselves regularly so that we can stay in tune with the Lord and allow Him to make some sweet music in us and through us.

Posted in 1 Corinthians 11:28, Christianity, Church, Do Your Best, faith, God Speaks Through His Word, Lamentations 3:40 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tend the Fire

Last Saturday I went up to the church to help some of the other men repair a couple of broken pipes that had busted during the ice storm the previous week.  When I told my wife Marta about my plans for the day, she said, “Really??  You don’t know anything about plumbing.”  And like always, she’s right.  I don’t know a thing about plumbing.  You don’t want me fixing your busted pipes or repairing too many things around your house.  I am just not that handy when it comes to plumbing, electrical systems and things of that nature.  My skill set is mostly geared toward manual labor.   So that is what I did.

By the time I got to the church, one of the guys had started a fire to get rid of an old pile of branches and brush.  I told the others I would tend to that burn pile and keep it going and if they needed me to do something to help with their project, just let me know.   So, I kept tending to the fire, burning the brush and the branches.  Every now and then someone would ask me to run down the hill and relay a message or go fetch something.  And while I’m no good at plumbing, I can tend a fire, burn brush and run up and down a hill all day long delivering messages and fetching things for somebody else.  It’s okay that I’m not good at plumbing.  I am just grateful to be able to do whatever it is that I can do to help.  As I was thinking about the fact that there are certain abilities I have and certain abilities that I don’t have, I was reminded about what the Bible says about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians chapter 12.

Paul says that God has distributed spiritual gifts to every believer and that God gives each of us the spiritual gifts, the spiritual skillset that He wants us to have.  God gives us the ability to do something for the kingdom; something for the common good.  And just because everyone’s gifts are different does not mean that certain gifts are better than others.  Not everybody is a preacher, not everybody is a teacher but every believer is gifted to serve in some capacity.   And every gift is special because it comes from the Lord.  As Simon Peter said in 1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Whatever spiritual gift God has given you, put it to use.   Employ your gifts and serve others as a good steward of God’s grace.  Tend that fire, keep it burning.

Posted in 1 Corinthians 12:4, 1 Peter 4:10, Christianity, Church, discovering spiritual gifts, faith, good gifts, inspirational, religion, Represent Christ | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do Your Best

My dad used to always encourage me to do my best.  He would say, “Son, if you are playing a basketball game and you don’t leave the game with at least three fouls, you probably didn’t play hard enough.  You probably didn’t push yourself and take enough chances.  You can’t always be the best, but you can always do your best.”  When I think of the level of effort he was describing, I think of Paul’s words in Colossians 3:23 where Paul wrote to the church, “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.”

Paul was encouraging followers of Christ to always do their best.  And why wouldn’t we do our best?  After all, we have received the best!  We have received the love, the mercy and the grace of God.  We know of His goodness, His kindness and His provision.  We have received the best and we should offer our best in every task, every relationship and in the midst of every circumstance.  Certainly, we will make some mistakes and we will have our “fouls” along the way, but that does not mean we should not try hard, push ourselves and offer our best in everything and every situation. As followers of Christ, we are to represent the Lord and we do not want to provide a poor or inaccurate representation.  I pray that you will be strengthened and encouraged by the Lord this week.  I pray that you will let Him help you offer your best in all that you do.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Do Your Best, Don't give up, Don't stop, faith, Faith during hard times | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Right On Time

As some of you know, I have been actively looking for a “day job” the last couple of months.  I know that the Lord has something lined up for me, I just don’t know what it is or when He will provide it.  But, as a friend of mine says, “He is an on-time God, yes, He is, yes, He is.  He may not show up when you want Him to but He is always right on time.”  I love that thought and it is one I need to remind myself of from time to time.  See, I always expect things to be done according to my schedule and according to my time line and according to my expectations.  And as you might have guessed, the Lord works according to His schedule and not mine.  I am okay with that.  I know the Lord sees the end from the beginning and He knows what is best and He knows right where I need to be.  I know that God does things in His time and in His good pleasure.  I like the reminder Paul gave to the church about God’s timing in Galatians 4:4 – 5,

Gal 4:4    But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Paul echoed that same sentiment about God’s timing in Romans 5:5,

Rom 5:6    For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

In the fullness of time, at the right time, God sent His Son to be our Savior.  God’s timing may not always meet our expectations or run according to our schedule but we can trust that His timing is always right.  His timing is perfect.  He is an on-time God, yes, He is, yes, He is.  I pray that this week you will trust in the Lord and in His good and perfect timing.

Posted in Christianity, Church, faith, Galatians 4:4, God, God has a plan for you, patience, Perfect timing, Romans 5:6 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Prayer of Praise

During the beginning of the  quarantine last year, I set some goals for myself.  One of my goals was to improve my Spanish.  I have been listening to Spanish podcasts every day, regularly reading my Spanish Bible and writing in Spanish too.  This is one of the first poems I wrote in Spanish last year. So far, it’s my favorite.

 
Una Oracion de Alabanza

Te alabo Señor por tu gracia y tus bendiciones,
Yo sé que estás conmigo en todas las situaciones.
 
Eres siempre fiel y nunca me vas a abandonar,
Estas por mi lado, no importa que pasar.
 
Compartes tu sabiduría de tu corazón divino,
Tu palabra y tu verdad iluminan mi camino.
 
Te estoy agradecido por todo lo que has hecho,
Mientras te tenga, mi corazón estará satisfecho.
 
Siempre me bendices con fuerza, alegría y esperanza,
Tú, Señor, eres digno de recibir toda mi alabanza.

Posted in A refuge, a stronghold, Being Thankful, Christianity, Church, Count Your Blessings, faith, God has blessed me, God is worthy, Poem, poetry, prayer, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trusting God’s Timing

Last Saturday morning, I took advantage of the good weather to do a chore on my “to do” list.  The flower garden in the back yard had produced a pretty good crop of clover and other small weeds in recent weeks and it needed some work.  I had been putting this task off for a couple of weeks so that I could do what I considered to be more enjoyable things.  But I knew the ground was still damp from recent rains and this would be a good time to pull weeds.  As I was working on pulling weeds from the bases of the dormant altheas and rose bushes, I was reminded that God has a season for everything.  The altheas and rose bushes look dead and lifeless right now, but God, in His time will cause them to bloom again and paint the back yard with splashes of color.

The time I spent pulling weeds turned out to be an enjoyable time after all.  It served as a time in which I was reminded of God’s goodness and His faithful timing.  Maybe today is a good day for you to be reminded of those things as well.  Maybe today is a day in which certain things seem dormant and lifeless and you need to be reminded that things may look bad, but God in His timing, in His goodness and in His faithfulness can be trusted to bring new life and cause things to bloom again.  Look to Him, trust in Him, no matter what season you may find yourself in.

As the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season…”

Posted in Christianity, Dealing with grief, Don't give up, Draw close to God, Ecclesiastes 3:11, Encouragement, faith, Perseverance, Promises | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment