A Beautiful Reflection

I love pictures of a calm, serene lake reflecting the beautiful and majestic scenery that surrounds it.  In such pictures, the calmer the water, the more beautiful the reflection.  I believe the same principle holds true for us spiritually.  The more calm and serene our spirit, the better we can reflect the beauty and majesty of the Lord.

Perhaps today your spirit is far from being calm and serene.  Perhaps today the waters of your life are troubled and tossed about.  If so, this would be a good day to turn to the One who can still the waters and quiet the storm.  Allow Him to calm your spirit so that you can once again reflect His beauty and majesty.

Posted in ambassadors, Christianity, Church, faith, Faith during hard times, God's Peace, God's Strength, reflection of the Lord | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lord Bless My Family

Lord bless my family,
Be with them today;
Walk close beside them,
Lead them on their way.
Hold their hand in every valley,
Help them climb each hill;
Guide them and protect them,
Help them do Your will.

And while You’re watching over them,
Please keep Your Hand on me,
Help me be the person
That You have called me to be.
Don’t let me ever forget
That my strength comes from above,
May I ever praise You,
For Your mercy, grace and love.

So as we walk along life’s path,
And become distracted by things in our land,
May we remember that You are with us,
That you are always holding our hand.
For the power that binds us together,
Is not based on our strength or what we do,
The power that unites us and keeps us close,
Forever resides in You.

Posted in Being Blessed, Christianity, Church, Count Your Blessings, Draw close to God, Encouragement, faith, family, following Christ, God Answers Prayer, Poem, poetry, prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking Flight

Today I have been reflecting on a quote from Maya Angelou.  She says, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

I love that quote and I think that is a great reminder for all of us.  We love butterflies.  We marvel and offer praise when someone is at that stage in their life where vibrant colors are shining and they can take flight easily and effortlessly each and every day.  We acknowledge the beauty of those moments and of those people.  We esteem the butterflies of this world.

But in the midst of that beauty, we often fail to acknowledge the transformation that took place in someone’s life.  We fail to properly esteem the changes, the struggle, and the time spent inching their way along day by day until finally, they made it to that season of transition.  Too often I fear, we fail to appreciate and esteem the caterpillars.  We fail to appreciate and acknowledge that everyone is a work in progress.  We fail to recognize that there is beauty and potential in everyone we meet, not just the ones who shine bright and fly.

Today, I hope that you will shine bright.  I pray that you will fly easily and effortlessly.  And I pray that God will bless you with the capacity to see the worth and value of others, not just those who shine bright and fly easily but also those who are still a work in progress.

Posted in can't go on, Christianity, Church, Encouragement, Give it your best, God is doing a new thing, God's Strength | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Power of Proper Thinking

This week, the power of positive thinking and how it shapes our planning, our efforts and our expectations has been on my mind.  I have had a lot of coaches over the years who have shared their favorite quotes and impressed upon me the benefits of positive thinking and believing that you can succeed.  One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Henry Ford.  He is reported to have said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”  In other words, our attitudes and our presuppositions really impact the success or failure of the endeavors we undertake and the dreams we pursue.  If we are expecting success, then we will push through some obstacles and seasons of difficulty that otherwise would have made us give up.   In Proverbs 23:7, Solomon said it like this:

Proverbs 23:7 “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.”

Both of these guys had it right.  It is true; our thoughts and our attitudes really do shape how much effort we place into our tasks and as a result, our thoughts and attitudes impact the results.  Thoughts, whether positive or negative can become self-fulfilling prophecies.   How we think we can shape our desire to persevere, our willingness to keep going and push through obstacles and setbacks in life.  But positive thinking alone isn’t enough.  We need to have proper thinking.  I love the counsel found in Joshua 1:8

Joshua 1:8  “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

It’s not positive thinking that makes all the difference; what we need is proper thinking based on the principles and precepts found in God’s word.  That’s the key to perseverance.  That’s the key to overcoming obstacles and achieving success.

My prayer for you today, is that you would dream big, think positively and properly and persevere in everything you do.   I pray that you would let God and His word direct your thinking and your actions.  I pray that you would let God equip you and empower you for all the tasks that He sets before you.  May God bless you and keep you.

Posted in Abundant life, Church, Do Your Best, Don't give up, faith, God's Strength, God's Word, inspirational, Joshua 1:8, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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