Out of the Storm

This week I finished cleaning out the garage.  I had started cleaning it last summer and reorganized it a little bit, but I still had a lot of junk stored in there and I never finished the  job.  There was a big hail storm headed our way the other day so I got motivated to get my car in there.  I did some more reorganizing, some more throwing things away and I hauled some of the better stuff off to a local thrift shop that accepts donations.  And lo and behold, two cars can fit in a two car garage!  We have lived in this house for ten years and that’s the first time I have ever parked my car in this garage.  Now, I no longer have to worry about hail storms or ice on my windshield in the winter or someone trying to rifle through my glove box and my old Journey CD’s when my car is in the driveway overnight.  As I was thinking about how nice it is to have my car in the garage and in a safe and secure spot, I was reminded of what the Bible says in Nahum 1:7

Nahum 1:7  The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

It is good to take refuge in the Lord.  He is a safe place and a stronghold.  Christ offers not only to forgive us and deliver us but He also offers to equip us and empower us to withstand any storm that life may send our way.  It is good to take refuge in the Lord, to place ourselves in His presence.  And yet, sometimes it takes storms or the threat of storms for us to recognize our need for refuge in Him.  If you are facing a storm in your life, I pray that you would know that the Lord is good and that He is a safe place and stronghold in the day of trouble.  I pray that you would take refuge in Him.

Posted in A refuge, a stronghold, faith, Faith during hard times, God loves you, God's comfort, Nahum 1:7, religion, Safe place, Storms in Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make Room for Something New

I have a few days off this week and have been using the time to do a few things that really need to be done.  I cleaned the refrigerator and this afternoon I started cleaning out my closet.  It may take a little while to do because I have a tendency to hang on to things I don’t need and just store them in my closet.  Truth is there are a lot of clothes that are in pretty good shape but they will either never fit again or I just won’t get around to wearing them.  I don’t think my powder blue tuxedo jacket is coming back into style.  And if it did, it wouldn’t fit anyway…and not because I’ve been lifting weights.  At any rate, sometime in the next few days, I am starting off this New Year by making a run to Goodwill to get rid of all those things I no longer need.

I find it is a good practice to do some cleaning out of our closets and in our lives in general from time to time.  We all need to intentionally get rid of those things that God no longer wants us to hold onto.  There may be old habits, old grudges, old ways and even some old, inappropriate relationships that we need to let go of.  There may be any number of things in our lives that God no longer wants us to hold on to.  I think God would love to see all of us start this New Year by cleaning out our closets.  As I was thinking about these things, I reflected on Isaiah 43:18 – 19. God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah says

Isaiah 43:18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

I like the reminder from our Lord, that we don’t have to dwell on the past. I like the reminder that sometimes we have to let go of old things so that He can do a new thing in our lives.  It’s like Marta told me the other day, “If you get rid of those old clothes in your closet, you’ll have some room for some new clothes.”  Smart woman that wife of mine.  I’m glad she keeps me around.  Well, I guess I better get back to the closet; I have some old things I need to get rid of and I need to make room for something new.  May you have a very blessed and happy New Year.

Posted in Being Blessed, Church, Do not dwell on the past, God has a plan for you, God is doing a new thing, good advice, Isaiah 43:18, Isaiah 43:19, New Years Resolutions, purpose | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Blessings, My Cup Runneth Over!

On Christmas day, Marta and I spent some time with family.  We were able to visit with Marta’s parents and all of our kids and our grandkids.  And of course, we exchanged some gifts.  I got some wonderful gifts, new pajamas, a weighted blanket, cologne and a coffee cup with some great pictures of the family.  For me, the entire day served as a reminder to enjoy and count all of God’s blessings – my cup really is running over!  Marta is such a wonderful wife, mom and nana.  She has always been so good to me and so good for me… and not just when I am on crutches!  I am so grateful the Lord brought us together 35 years ago.  And our kids are such a blessing too! Eric and Amanda, and Lauren and Matt are such good and loving parents.  I am so proud of each and every one of them.

And of course, I am grateful for the grandkids.  It was Theo’s first Christmas and he was rocking the Christmas pajamas and the Santa hat!  He is two months old now and he has grown so much in the last 8 weeks!  And even though he has grown so much, he still seems so small.  It is hard to imagine that his cousins Avery and Haley who are 10 and 8 now, were ever that small.  As I thought about how much all of the grandkids have grown, I thought about how much growing they have yet to do.  There are so many things they will learn and experience over the years.  My prayer for them this Christmas is that as they grow, they will also continue to grow in the grace and knowledge and the blessings of the Lord.

I hope that as this year draws to a close, you will have time to reflect on the blessings in your life. And I hope and pray that you will experience many more blessings in the year to come.

Ephesians 1:3   Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Posted in Being Blessed, Being Thankful, Christianity, Christmas, Church, Ephesians 1:3, good gifts, Good memories, grandchildren | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Things We Need to Say

Had a sleepless night the other night.  That’s a rare occasion for me, but sometimes it happens.  When it does, I pray for people friends and family and sometimes write.  The other night, I wrote this poem based on some of my experiences as a chaplain in the hospital.

The Things We Need to Say

They tightly held each other’s hands
Both knew he would soon pass away,
This might be their last chance,
To say the things they needed to say.

Would they speak of when they first met
Or the kids when they were young?
About places they’d never forget
And other things they had done?

But the silence was rarely broken,
As they shared some smiles and shed some tears,
Words of love had already been spoken,
Every day throughout the years.

Their quiet conversation should remind us,
How quickly time can slip away.
And how every day should find us,
Saying the things we need to say.

Posted in chaplaincy training program, Christianity, faith, final memories, I love you, Poem, poetry, things we need to say | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hope Through God’s Word

This week I am starting to work on a short devotional about hope that I have been asked to share at a local hospital.   I have been praying and studying some scriptures which speak about hope.  So many of my favorite scriptures speak about hope!  One of them is found in Romans chapter 15.  The Apostle Paul writes,

Romans 15:4   For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Paul reminds the church that God’s word can serve to instruct us and help us to endure any situation we may find ourselves in, especially those which are unpleasant, unfair and unkind.  God, through His word can give us the power to endure!  God through His word can give us instruction and encouragement!  God has given us His word that we might have hope!

I love that reminder.  And it is a good one especially for this time of the year.  For although this is a season of celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas, not everyone feels like celebrating.  Some people are downcast and discouraged as they face this season in the midst of a life filled with trials and hardships.  Some people feel downcast and discouraged because they face this season alone, without someone they love.   In the midst of every circumstance, God is able to comfort us and give us strength.  He is able to help us endure and He is able to give us hope.  I pray that we would consistently and continually turn to God’s word and learn His word so that He can give us hope.  And I pray that we would live God’s word, so that He can use us to give hope to others

Posted in Being Blessed, Being Thankful, can't go on, Christianity, Christmas, Don't give up, Draw close to God, faith, Faith during hard times, God loves you | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seasoned with Salt

We should all be mindful of the importance not only of what we say but also the importance of how we say it.    One of my favorite Bible verses in that regard is Colossians 4:6.  Paul tells the church:

Colossians 4:6  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

That’s good advice for everyone.  We should all pay attention to the way we share our thoughts and our ideas with others.  At the time Paul was writing to the church, salt was very valuable.  It was used as a preservative and to add a pleasant flavor to the foods it accompanied.  In the same way, our words, our conversations should be seasoned with grace.  They should be useful, purposeful and not presented in an unpleasant way.  As important as that is for everyone, I believe it is especially important for Christians.  Certainly it does not mean that we cannot have our own thoughts, perspectives and opinions on matters in this world.  But it does mean that when we share our thoughts, perspectives and opinions with others, we should do so in a way that has been seasoned with grace; God’s grace.

Posted in Colossians 4:6, Filled with Grace, God's Grace, God's Standards, good advice, inspirational, ministry | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The One Who Writes in Dust

They brought the woman to Him,
And threw her at His feet.
They demanded to know His judgment,
And anticipated His defeat.

She had been caught in the very act,
And by her own actions stood condemned.
And now the fate of her life,
Rested entirely upon Him.

Would He follow the Law,
Would He sentence her to death?
Or would He decide to let her go,
And fail the Pharisees’ test?

He knelt and wrote in the dust,
Words that today are still unknown,
He invited them to step forward
The one without sin to cast the first stone.

He continued writing in the dust,
And one by one they slipped away.
The woman was the only one remaining,
To hear the words He had to say.

Who remains to condemn you?
Do you see your accusers from before?
Neither do I condemn you,
Go and sin no more.

We still don’t know what words were written,
By the Lord in the dust that day.
But He proclaimed love and forgiveness,
As He sent her on her way.

This woman was not condemned,
She received His Mercy and His Grace.
Nor were her actions condoned,
He would later die in her place.

Like this woman we are all guilty,
And by our own actions stand condemned,
And like this woman at His feet,
Our fate rests entirely upon Him.

Will we accept the gifts of Grace and mercy,
Offered by Him who died for us?
Will we receive as Lord and Savior,
The One who kneels and writes in the dust.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Draw close to God, faith, Filled with Grace, God's Grace, God's Love, John 8:11, Paid for our sins, Past mistakes, Poem, poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment