A Time for Everything

Today, we get to celebrate the birthday of our 3-year-old grandson Theo. Theo is a wonderful grandson, I love to hear him laugh, see him smile, and zoom around the house with his favorite toys. Usually, he is doing all three at the same time. I love that boy! In just three short years, he has already taught me some good things. Of all the things I have learned from Theo, my favorite lesson has to do with lunch and naps. Theo introduced me to the concept of first lunch and second lunch, and the fact that nothing should interfere with a nap. This reminds me of the importance of doing what’s healthy for us and taking things at our own pace. It also reminds me of what the Bible says in Ecclesiastes chapter 3:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven … 11 God has made everything beautiful in its time.

There is a right time, an appropriate time, for all of the things we need to do. Your time frame might not look like mine or Theo’s…and that’s okay. God has indeed made everything beautiful in its time. This afternoon I get to spend some beautiful time with family and friends as we celebrate Theo’s third birthday. But first, I’m going to take a nap.

Posted in Being Blessed, Being Thankful, Christianity, faith, God loves you | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stay Connected

I had some computer issues this morning. Actually, I had some monitor issues. It all started a few weeks ago with my screen going blank for a second or two. It would pop back on so I figured it was just some “cyberspace glitch” or some program trying to download in the background or some other technical hiccup. No worries. But this morning when I started to put the finishing touches on my sermon for the week, the monitor screen went blank, it went totally black and it never popped back on. And then the monitor went into “sleep” mode. One of the last things that happened right before it did was provide a message which advised me to “check your connection.”

“Checking the connection” proved to be a lot harder than it sounds. Under my desk there are all kinds of wires – wires for the modem, the router, the computer, the keyboard, the monitor, the desk light, and the desk fan (yes, a desk fan…a man can work up a sweat trying to finish a sermon). Anyway, it seems like most of these wires are about the same size and they are all the same color, so I couldn’t tell what was what. As I looked under the desk, all I saw was clutter. So, I powered everything down and slowly began checking each cord. I ended up getting rid of some cords that I no longer need. As near as I can tell, some of that clutter was weighing down the delicate cord which connects my monitor to the computer. The clutter finally weighed it down enough that the connection was totally lost.

I got everything going again but I learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes, we allow the clutter and the “busy-ness” of life to weigh down and compromise our connection to the Lord and our connections to others. It can start slowly at first, but it builds and builds until the connection is compromised to the point that we can no longer see the things we need to see or do the things we need to do. It is a good practice to de-clutter from time to time, to prioritize, organize, and get rid of things that only serve to weigh down and compromise the most important things in life – our connection to the Lord and our connection to others. May you have a blessed week and may you stay connected to the most important things of life.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Draw close to God, faith, Loving Others, Mark 12:30-31 | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moving Forward

I took a walk across an iron bridge at our chaplains’ conference this week which sits high above the Texas hill country. As you walk across the bridge, you can look out and behold some beautiful scenery of God’s creation. Of course you can also stop and look down and grow uneasy, uncomfortable, and even scared as you see through the bridge and focus on the ground so far below. I have heard stories of some who have become so uncomfortable and scared that they turned around, refusing to cross the bridge. This results in them missing out on a great hike, some beautiful scenery, and enjoying a time of sitting in the shade by the river.

As I contemplated these things, I was reminded of the time when Simon Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the water toward Christ. As long as Simon Peter kept his eyes on Christ, he was fine. But when he looked down and noticed where he was and what he was doing, he became uncomfortable, he stopped moving forward and he began to sink. Naturally, the Lord reached out and took Peter’s hand and rescued him.

My walk across the bridge reminded me of these scriptures and the importance of having the right perspective and the right focus in life. We are blessed in an abundant way when by faith, we refuse to let our discomfort dictate our steps but choose to continue moving forward, keeping our eyes on God’s goodness, His Grace, and the beauty of the relationship we have with His Son.

Posted in chaplaincy, chaplaincy training program, Christianity, Don't give up, Draw close to God, faith, God has a plan for you, God will help you, Matthew 14:22-23 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baseball Cards and Bicycle Spokes

Here is a poem/song I have been working on this morning. It’s not quite finished yet. But it’s a start.

Baseball Cards and Bicycle Spokes

We put baseball cards in our bicycle spokes
Played kick the can and told “knock knock” jokes.
We played outside ‘til the street lights came on.
And when momma yelled, it was time to come home.

Those were simple times… but they sure were good.
And I’d bring ‘em back again…if I could

The floor was lava so you hopped around
To keep your feet from touching the ground.
We chased fireflies on hot summer nights
When we went to bed we had pillow fights…

Those were simple times… but they sure were good.
And I’d bring ‘em back again…if I could

We ate burned hot dogs and drank root beer floats
Had to change TV channels without remotes…
We’d cross our hearts and make a pinky swear
Every summer all the boys would buzz their hair…

Those were simple times… but they sure were good.
And I’d bring ‘em back again…if I could

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Take the First Step and Then Press On

In our chapel class this week we have been talking about goals and challenges and how God can equip us and empower us to reach the goals and plans He has for us. There are lots of good quotes which encourage us to work toward our goals and execute on our plans. I like this reminder from Martin Luther King, Jr. which says, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Sometimes the goals we set, the plans we make, and the hills we need to climb seem so big and challenging we may find ourselves hesitant to even get started. Faced with such goals and challenges, it is important to just take that first step. And then take the next one and the next. You’ll be amazed at where perseverance will take you. I think this the perspective Paul had in regard to sanctification and conforming to the image of Christ. Paul writes to the church:

Philippians 4:13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Conforming to the image of Christ, living in a way that honors God and points others to Him through our words and deeds is our goal as Christians. And it can be a big hill to climb. It can be challenging, but don’t let the challenge keep you from moving forward. For although it is challenging, it is rewarding. Take the first step. Invite Christ into your life as Lord and Savior. And after taking the first step, take the next. And then take the next. Press on. God will always help us to do whatever He asks us to do.

Posted in Christianity, Do Your Best, Don't stop, faith, Philippians 4:13 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living with Purpose

What Should I Do?

A man woke up one morning and as he lay in bed,
A certain question kept running through his head,
“If everyone has a purpose as some say we do,
Then what is mine? I haven’t a clue.”

He got up, got dressed and headed out for the day,
But the question still haunted him each step of the way.
It was on his mind as he helped a neighbor cross the street,
And as he said “hello” and “God bless you” to everyone he would meet.

All day while he wrestled with that question that was stuck in his mind,
He continued to demonstrate grace and speak words that were kind.
Still, a sinister thought began to grow in his head,
“If I don’t have a purpose, I should have just stayed in bed!”

As he retired for the night, he considered the day had been lost,
Until suddenly he remembered the people whose paths he had crossed.
He had been so worried about his purpose that all the while,
He failed to appreciate each laugh and each smile.

Finally, it struck him, and he began to understand,
That one’s purpose doesn’t always have to be so big and so grand.
Great things can be accomplished every single day,
Just by being kind to others as we go on our way.

You’ll meet some people who feel like they’re on their last mile,
And they can be strengthened by your kind words and your smile.
So don’t worry so much about your purpose or what you should do,
Just go out and love others as Christ has loved you.

Posted in Do Your Best, encouraging others, Ephesians 4:32, faith, Filled with Grace, God's comfort | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stay on Track

I love the wisdom and truth of Psalm 37, especially verses 3 and 4. The psalm begins with a reminder not to fret over wrongdoers. Do not let someone who is determined to act wrong rob you of your peace. Don’t let someone who is doing bad keep you from doing good. Keep your focus on the Lord. Trust in Him, do good, and cultivate your faith. Cultivation takes time and attention. But as we see in verse 4 and throughout the remainder of this psalm, tending to our walk with Christ is always a rewarding experience.

Posted in Abundant life, Christianity, Church, Don't give up, faith, God will help you, Psalm 37:3-4 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Sad Song

In the wake of the tragic and senseless loss of life yesterday in Uvalde, I have been overwhelmed by various emotions – sorrow and sadness and anger and outrage.  There is so much that needs to be done, so much that needs to change, and so much that needs to be said.  And this morning, I just don’t have the words to express all those emotions.  As I drove to work, I listened to some sad songs, I prayed, and I cried.   I have been trying to capture some of my thoughts and put them in writing, but I am still not there.

A Sad Song

Sometimes I need a sad song,
When things are all bottled up inside,
I can’t begin to express my thoughts
until after I’ve already cried.

Sometimes I need a sad song,
Just to get me through the day
Sometimes I need a sad song
When I don’t know what to say.

So forgive me if I’m not myself,
I may not tell you what’s wrong
Right now I just need a little bit of time,
So I can sing a few more sad songs.

May God bless you and the people you love, and may God comfort and strengthen the people of Uvalde.

Posted in Encouragement, faith, Faith during hard times, Grief, Grieving Together | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hold Fast to What is Good

My wife and I have always had dachshunds in our home. We have raised them with our children, and some might say we raised them like our children! About 35 years ago, we lived in a house with huge oak trees in the backyard. Our yard was home to a lot of squirrels and our dogs loved to chase those squirrels. Every day when I would get home from work, our dogs would greet me, dancing and jumping around my feet. Which is cute, however, one of them dribbled as he danced. Which is not so cute, because he danced a lot. To avoid this situation, when I would get home, I would immediately say, “Go get the squirrel!” Those dogs’ ears would perk up and they would fly out the doggie door, burst into the backyard barking, looking for squirrels to chase. It didn’t take long for the dogs to make a habit out of chasing squirrels as soon as I walked in the door, even without any prompting from me. I would walk in and before I could put down my briefcase – off they would go!

It’s been more than 30 years since we moved away from that house and none of our other houses have ever had any trees in the backyard. Two generations of our faithful little fur-babies have come and gone. When I get home from work today and open the door, I will be greeted by the two little doxies we have now. They will come up to me, wag their tails for a few seconds and then they burst out the doggie door into the backyard barking like crazy trying to chase squirrels. But the thing is, these dogs have never even seen a squirrel. We don’t have any squirrels in our yard, we don’t even have any trees! But they do it because that’s what dogs in our house have always done.

I said all that to say this, one of the greatest opportunities for personal development lies in recognizing and assessing our patterns of behavior. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:21

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test everything; and hold fast what is good.

It is good to reflect and ask ourselves if our habits, our actions, and our attitudes adding value. If they are, then let’s repeat them. Let’s hold fast to what is good. But if our habits, our actions, and our attitudes aren’t adding value, if they are detrimental to our wellbeing and our relationships, then maybe it’s time to make some changes and stop chasing squirrels.

Posted in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Give it your best, Relationships, religion, weenie dogs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving Others

In our chapel services this week, one of our focuses has been on the way we treat other people and the instruction to love our neighbors as ourselves.  During our discussion time, we have explored several bible verses which encourage us in this endeavor.  One of my all-time favorite bible verses which provides some detailed instructions on what this will look like in our lives is found in Ephesians 4:31 – 32.  Paul writes to the church:

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

I love the wisdom and counsel of this verse.  I love the fact that it speaks to some behaviors and attitudes which we need to avoid and it also lists some behaviors and attitudes that we should be engaged in on a daily basis.  Our Heavenly Father does not want our lives to be characterized and marred with anger, ugly words, and bitterness.   Our Heavenly Father desires that our lives be characterized by kindness, forgiveness, and compassion.  We are called and commanded to love and forgive others, just as God through Christ has loved and forgiven us.  Being kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving is not just a great way to be, it is a great way to declare and demonstrate God’s love to others.

Posted in Be kind tenderhearted, Christianity, Church, Ephesians 4:31, Ephesians 4:32 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment