Thursday, May 19, 2022

National EMS Week

 This week is National EMS Week.  In 1974, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate EMS practitioners of all kinds.  It is designed to honor those who dedicate themselves to providing pre-hospital medical care.  The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) in partnership with the National Associations of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) sponsors National EMS Week.

 “OK,” you say.  So what?  Just this.  There are lots of National Whatever Days and Weeks.  Many of them are rather quirky, such as National Cherry Cobbler Day, or National Notebook Day.  Some, however, promote legitimate and deserving issues and events…not that cherry cobbler doesn’t deserve at least some kind of recognition…  This is one of those.

 Having been an EMS provider in a past life, I know that I didn’t do it for the money, the recognition, or the fame.  I did it because there was a need and I thought I could help fill that need.  Little did I know when I first became certified in 1990 that I would obtain through EMS service the wealth of experience and memories that are now mine.  Nor could I have guessed that I, along with my co-workers, would be making a huge difference in the lives of many.  There were days when I was on top of the world after serving in some way, and days that I would have just wanted to chuck it all into the dumpster because of a bad medical outcome, a horrendous wreck that we worked, or someone dying in spite of all we could do.

 I served in my home town…the place where I was born and grew up.  I knew most of those who needed us.  I knew most of their families.  They were friends and sometimes even relatives.  It was a privilege to serve them in their time of need, but it was also very difficult at times to serve them knowing that their lives would never again be as they were because of a stroke, heart attack, or traumatic injury.  More than once I recall taking a stroke or fall victim out of their house to the ambulance waiting in the street, with that victim’s spouse following along behind us with a small bag in hand filled with a change of clothes, medications, and perhaps other items they thought they might need during the emergency room exam and hospitalization.  I knew that the one we were transporting would never be able to live at home again…never be able to walk again…never be able to have it be as it always had been.  Yet the loving spouse following along behind with a small bag of clothing wasn’t aware of that…hoping and thinking about a short hospital stay, then back home to things as they always were.

 I also think of the ones…and one in particular…we picked up in his apartment who had a ruptured aneurism.  The signs of aneurism were clear, and the emergency room diagnosis confirmed it.  He was bleeding to death, and there was nothing we could do.  We couldn’t get him somewhere where that kind of surgical procedure was performed soon enough.  That medical service would have been an hour away by ambulance.  He passed peacefully in a hospital room about 20 minutes after the diagnosis.  His daughter was able to see him a few minutes before his passing.

 I had the privilege of being present during that holy time when many took their last breath.  I performed CPR more times than I can count, both on the ambulance as well as at the hospital where I had a day job.  I’ve witnessed new life making its appearance in the world.  I’ve comforted a wife, mother, or son as their loved one was taken away in the ambulance.  I’ve been present when a loved one wanted to view the body of a deceased spouse or family member.  I’ve responded to emergency situations such as multiple automobile accidents, structure fires, and “code blue” situations.  I’ve helped medically in the emergency room, X Ray, physical therapy, in patient rooms and elsewhere.  The range of experience I’ve had has been incredible as well as incredibly satisfying and emotionally heart-wrenching.

 I don’t want to go through any of that again…I’m done.  And I’m at peace with that.  However, I wouldn’t take a million dollars in place of the experiences and memories that time in my life provided.  The sound of sirens and the flashing red and white lights still stir up a little adrenalin from time to time.  They also stir up memories of not so long ago when my younger body could jump out of bed at 2am, slip on clothes, run outside to my vehicle and drive to the ambulance garage in less than 5 minutes.  Those days are long gone.

 Yes, it’s National EMS Week.  Take a moment this week to honor those who serve and have served.  And pray for their safety and their mental as well as physical health and wellness.

 Blessings.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

That "Dignity & Respect" Thing

Good morning !  Let’s hope you haven’t been washed away by all the rain in the central part of the country.  We really did need the rain here, though.   We’ve been in a mini-drought, and the two-day off-and-on rain has really been a good soaker.

 I don’t like to talk politics on social media or in this venue.  What I’m about to say here is about as close to politics as I’ll come.  I’ll begin with some what many would call “introductory” material, which will help out later on in the video.

 We’ve all heard the expression, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  The meaning of that saying is clear…you can make and keep more friends by being respectful and treating people with dignity than you can by criticizing and putting others down.  People wish to be, and should be validated as human beings worthy of being treated with kindness and respect.

 I know that it is sometimes difficult to do that, especially with others who may not understand the Golden Rule…treating others the way they would like to be treated.  We may also have difficulty being respectful and dignified when we are interacting with someone who may hold differing views on religion, child-rearing, hot-button issues such as immigration or abortion rights, politics in general, and a host of other issues wherein differing viewpoints are the norm.  And the “dignity and respect” treatment may not always be the thing that smooths out relationships…sometimes, it just doesn’t work that way.  But generally, the old axiom is true.  Generally, one really can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.

 We Americans tend to typecast people of varying viewpoints and vocations into one huge lump.  For example, we have a basic mistrust of used car sales people, lawyers, insurance sales people, and politicians.  We tend to lump all lawyers into one box…all politicians into one box…all used car sales people into one box…all insurance sales people…into one box.  Of course, when one really thinks about it, one knows that not all politicians, for instance, should go into the same box with the label of crooked, power-hungry, money-grabbing.  Yes, there certainly are some who are those things.  But there are many who are sincerely and honorably serving, trying to do the best they can to make their corner of the world a better place.

 Politicians are human beings.  They have feelings.  They have aspirations.  They have families and friends.  They’re people.  And as people, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.  Name-calling, non-constructive criticizing, threatening words…should have no place in interactions with one’s political representatives.

 Some years ago, I decided to do my best to develop some kind of relationship with those who represented me on a local and state level.  I knew that those men and women were generally more available than national leaders, and often made decisions that affected me more directly than many of the national representatives.  I also knew that those people often were the recipients of hate mail, vitriolic criticism, and coarse language directed at them.  I decided to try the ”honey” approach instead.

 And, what do you know…it worked.  Over time I have developed what I consider to be good relationships with my city and county representatives as well as those who represent me on the state level.  I have met one-on-one several times with many of them.  We’ve had lunch and have been able to talk over the issues of the day.  My emails to them are read, considered, and given a respectful answer.  My phone calls are answered and we’re able to talk with each other.  Our conversations sometimes betray a frustration with the way things are, but we are able to work past those times and continue the communication with each other.  The honey works.

 Try it some time.  Reach out to your elected representative on a city, county, or state level.  Take some time to develop a relationship.  Be respectful.  Be supportive.  Be informed on the issue you want to discuss.  Find some common ground to begin from.  State your opinions based on facts and non-biased research…not alternate facts, slanted statistics, or hearsay.  Listen to their responses.  Thank them for their time and for their service.  Be genuine.  You may be surprised at how far a little kindness and respect will go.

 Then take those lessons on treating other people and apply them to all of your interactions with others.  Your friends, relatives, neighbors…the check out person at the store…the clerk who is renewing your car registration, and others.  I think you’ll find it a much better and more satisfying way to live.

 Blessings.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Is It Ministry

 

Good morning !!  I’m happy it’s Thursday, because that means Friday is just ahead.

 Coming in to work this morning, I wondered what I needed to do today to finish up the week.  You see, I don’t work at the office on Fridays, and today will be the last work day of this week.  I knew I needed to write this Thursday Thought.  And I also had an email to send to a member.  But other than that, I had nothing really on my plate.  Or so I thought.

 Arriving in the parking lot and coming to the entrance door, I first looked into the Paxton’s blessing box we have near the entrance.  It had a few items in it that no one had taken, and no one was going to take because those items were used and not appropriate for a blessing box.  I removed them and carried them toward the entrance.

 As I did that, I noticed one of our disabled members already here, waiting to be let into the building.  No one else was here yet, and she has the public transportation van bring her to Thursday morning Bible study.  Sometimes the van has to bring her early due to scheduling issues.  That was the case this morning.  So, before I got to my office, I came into the building, threw away the items I took out of the blessing box, opened the door, and helped her into the building and back to where the class was going to be held.

 While I was in the Bible study area, Doug, the teacher of the class was there setting up a virtual meeting for the class.  He told me he couldn’t get Internet access.  I remembered then that the evening before, in that same area, I couldn’t get access for the Wednesday evening class and I had to punt by using a DVD for the lesson instead of YouTube.  We had Internet in other parts of the building, so I presumed that the switch and associated gear in the tech closet was working.  I then guessed that the WAP, the wireless access point that serves that part of the building was somehow not working right.

 I used an app on my phone to see that there was indeed a signal from the access point…but no Internet on the signal.  My limited I/T experience only gave me the option of rebooting the device.  So I went to the janitor closet, got out a ladder and found the access point in the ceiling.  I unplugged it, waited ten seconds, and plugged it back in, hoping and praying that would fix it.  After about a minute of rebooting, the device indeed came back on with Internet capability.  I checked with Doug to be sure he had Internet, then reinstalled the ceiling tile and put the ladder away.

 While in the classroom, someone mentioned that the clock which was there wasn’t working.  All it needed was a battery, so I went to my office, found a double A battery in my junk drawer and installed it into the clock.  That made it work and I rehung it on the wall of the classroom.

 Forty five minutes after I arrived, I was finally able to sit in my office chair and begin my “official” day.

 I tell you all of that to tell you this.  What happened this morning is not an unusual thing for me.  Many times I find myself dealing with something totally unexpected…something which immediately takes priority over whatever else I may have to do.  Something which does not appear in any way to be “ministry.”  And you deal with similar situations in your daily life and living too.  You may have your day planned when a phone call, a text, someone at your office door, or some other notification makes you immediately re prioritize your day.  Often, those things which force that reprioritization apparently have nothing or very little to do with your work or daily responsibilities.  Nevertheless, you take them on anyway.

 In my case, was what I did for the first forty five minutes today “ministry?”  Was it part of my work as a minister and shepherd at RiverWalk?  Or not?  Or does it matter?  What I did needed to be done, whether it could be placed into the “ministry” category or not.  People were in immediate need.  I could help fill that need.  Had I refused, needs would have gone unmet that I could have alleviated.  That wouldn’t be “ministry.”  That would be selfishness and an uncaring, unloving attitude.

 Sometimes we have to step back and see the bigger picture of our role in God’s kingdom.  We can’t, of course, see the entire thing, but we can catch glimpses of God at work in and through us as we go about our day.  And we can by faith understand that we may well be part of a much greater work in the lives of others than we ourselves can comprehend.  So we leave it to the Master Planner to order our lives.  And we continue to understand that we are, as the great Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Ephesian church, “God’s masterpiece, who has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

 Blessings.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Those Thoughts

 Good afternoon, and welcome.

 In the midst of everyday life and living, as we go about those things on our daily schedule, or deal with the unexpected that crops up from time to time, we sometimes find ourselves thinking about things totally unrelated to the task at hand.  Our minds wander.  They can go far away from whatever it is we are doing at the moment and latch on to something that seemingly came out of nowhere.

 I don’t know about you, but my mind often wanders, even when I’m driving on Kellogg, reading, or as I’m doing right now, typing this Thursday Thought.  That wandering covers the gamut from what I’ll be doing the rest of the day to thoughts of things that happened in my life decades ago.  Of course, everything in between is fair game, too.  Sadly , all too often those things that come to mind when I think about decades past are things that in some way I perceived as being detrimental to me.  And sometimes those thoughts are of are things that I probably shouldn’t be thinking about at all because of their moral or legal questionability.

 Out of nowhere it seems, a memory of a perceived slight by someone else toward me that happened years ago, or harmful words spoken to me, or that I spoke to someone else, or perhaps the memory of some bad experience of some kind comes to mind as my conscience wanders.  Maybe it was something a classmate said to me in junior high school.  Or perhaps it was something I did in Kindergarten class that brought the teacher’s attention.  It might be some disagreement I had with my wife decades ago where I can recall pretty much every word I said that I should never have spoken.

 Or maybe it is some kind of thought of something that never happened, and is morally or legally questionable, but that I might fantasize about happening to me or I myself doing whatever it was that I was thinking about.  You know what I’m talking about.  We’ve all been there.

 Those good memories…those pleasant times…those kind words spoken or heard…those thoughtful things that others did for us when we were in need…those good times with good friends…those memories are often shoved aside by the bad memories or questionable thoughts.  Those bad thoughts and memories then seem to grow and take root, expanding almost exponentially as we find ourselves caught up in the process and unable or unwilling to put it to a stop.

 I cannot get into your mind with a mind meld like Mr. Spock on the Star Trek series was able to do.  But I can tell you with pretty much absolute certainty that you relate to just about everything I’ve said so far.  You too recall entirely too many negative memories.  You too remember too many things that happened to you or that you did or said that are negative.  You too have thoughts of dubious moral, ethical, or legal value that keep coming into your mind anytime, anywhere.  And you too tend to dwell on these thoughts and memories, unwilling or unable to blot them out of your head.

 I know it may disappoint you, but I don’t have an answer for this phenomenon that seems to inhabit the human race.  I don’t know of any quick fixes or miracle cures.  What I do know is that dwelling on such memories and thoughts does one no good and can sometimes promote bad behavior, depression, and even physical illness.  Now, if you are willing follow me into the spiritual side of things regarding this issue, I can point you to a panoply of places in the Bible that talk about just the things we’ve been discussing.  Perhaps the most well-known of places is in Philippians where the Apostle Paul says this:  “

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

 There are other places in the Bible where the topic is speech, the tongue, giving grace, being merciful, and so on.  The Psalmist says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Try me and know my thoughts.”  There is also a Biblical place where it says, “The Lord knows the thoughts of mankind.  They are vanity.”  And the Bible has many places where the “thoughts of the heart” are mentioned, most of the time reminding the reader to be careful to keep those thoughts on the straight and narrow.  Such reminders would not be necessary if we humans didn’t have a great propensity for dwelling on the sad, the bad, and the ugly.

 As I said, I have no easy answers for the multitude of thoughts, many of them negative in some way, that come your way or come my way.  I do know, though, that with some discipline and in paying attention to our thoughts, and with the encouragement and help of God, we can train ourselves to dwell on better, happier, and healthier thoughts and subjects.  It takes work and effort, but is totally worth it.

 May God bless you as you work within His will to corral…hog tie if necessary your thoughts…and keep your thoughts pure and lovely and good.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Final Frontier

 

Good afternoon, and welcome.

 Tomorrow, we at RiverWalk church will have yet another memorial service for one of our members.  Kay passed away several days ago from illness not related to COVID.  She joins several other RiverWalk members who have passed relatively recently from illness, only one of which was COVID related, as far as I know.

It is times like this that make those of us who remain alive think yet again of the reality of life and death, mortality and immortality, and the relationships we have with each other.  These times also force us to think of those things in life that are truly important compared with those things we often place in positions of great importance, but which pale in comparison to reality.

You know what I’m saying.  Those truly important things are a life well-lived; people in our lives who we love and cherish; family ties; friendships; and for people of faith, most importantly our relationship with the God of heaven and earth.  The pseudo-important things…those things we often place in positions of greatest importance in our lives…power, wealth, prestige, influence, accumulation of things…those things suddenly shrivel and essentially go away when we are facing our final frontier.

It is sad and puzzling to me why we don’t recognize the truly important things of life sooner.  Why is it that people, relationships, family, and our faith in God seem to come front and center when we are in our final weeks of battle with incurable cancer?  Why do we humans hold on to the false narrative that gives preeminence to wealth, prestige, and the accumulation of the material?  Why do we persist in holding on to idols crafted by mankind instead of holding on to the One who created us and wants us to share life, freedom, and endless joy with Him for eternity.

I can relate to those questions because I myself am guilty…as are we all…of doing that exact thing.  I have, and continue at times to hold on to that false narrative.  I find it so difficult to let go of the material…let go of the here and now…let go of the selfishness of me-first.  I am right there in it with Paul the great Apostle when he said, “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

And Paul also provides, in the next sentence, the explanation for this deliverance through Jesus.  He writes, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Now, I don’t pretend to understand all there is to know about what Jesus did for me or how his death on a Roman cross somehow made me free, as Paul says, “from the law of sin and death.”  I can’t fathom how one man dying some 2,000 years ago can have any effect on me, or anyone else for that matter.  But when I look at the entire Biblical story from cover to cover, I see evidence of a God who loves me, who had (and still has) a plan for me, and who tells me that the death of Jesus did indeed have a profound effect on me and my relationship with this God.  And as Peter the apostle said once to Jesus when Jesus asked his disciples…his adult students…if they would leave him as the rest of the crowd just had, “To whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

There is no other place, person, or thing we can go to.  We can’t take our prestige, power, or wealth with us when we die.  Jesus is the one…the only one…who has the words of eternal life, and is the only one we can take with us when we cross that final frontier.

 

Blessings,

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Daily Influence

 

Good afternoon, and welcome to this edition of Thursday Thought.

 Have you ever given much thought to how wide your circle of influence extends into society and the world?  Now, I know that’s a rather deep question to start off a Thursday Thought, but the question is certainly pertinent.  Perhaps a question you might have for me before you even begin to answer my question might be, “How in the world did you come up with that thought, and why are you asking the question?”

I’m asking because as I count off the months and years, which by the way seem to be coming at me much more quickly than they did in my childhood and younger adult days, I think back to those people I’ve met and developed some kind of relationship with or events that I participated in which were somehow more important than I perhaps thought at the time.  I especially can think back on people I’ve known, many of whom I still know and have a relationship with, who are scattered far and wide on the earth.  The rise of the Internet and social media has made those kinds of widespread connections very easy and accessible.  I have to wonder just how much their knowing me has influenced them in some way, and how my knowing them has influenced me in some way.

The web of relationship is much more complicated than we might at first think.  And the fact that we have some kind of friendship or relationship with someone else pretty much naturally leads to some kind of change in that person and in us…some kind of alteration in how we think or behave…some kind of way in which we are different somehow for having that relationship.  Sometimes those changes are positive, for the good.  Other times those changes turn out to be destructive and cause damage to one’s health and well-being.

And one’s circle of influence…oh my, that is usually much, much larger than we ever have thought could be possible.  At times, we are unknowingly much more influential upon the lives of others than we ever could imagine.  And we’ll probably never know the extent of that influence or how our influence has changed not only the person we know, but people, situations, and events that they know and are part of.

We don’t exist in a vacuum.  We are not the only ones we affect when we say or do some thing or other.  Each of us looms large in the lives of others, whether we know it or not.  What we say.  What we think.  What we do.  Those actions affect others even if we do them in private…even if we make every effort to hide them…even if we take all measures to keep them out of the lives of others.  We may succeed in keeping those things private; however, they will have an effect on us and in turn we will alter in some way, large or small, how we interact with others.  Society and the world are very tangled webs of relationships.  We can only begin to understand small parts of those webs.

And the amazing thing about it all is that this influence is felt even when we are living our ordinary, routine days.  We don’t have to do or say something spectacular in order for the influence to be there.  Every day.  Every hour.  Every interaction has the potential to affect others for the better or the worse.

That doesn’t mean that you have to somehow be fearful of interaction or be overly cautious when you live your daily life.  It just means that we are indeed not islands.  We don’t live alone.  We aren’t just our own.  We’re all interrelated in some way.  We affect others in ways that we cannot fathom.  We are indeed in many ways our brother’s keeper.

Live your life.  Live it with joy, contentment, and peace.  Live it as God intended.  Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  And love God above all else.

 

Blessings.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Strength Renewal

 There’s a lot going on in the world today, both near and far away.  The war in Ukraine continues to drag on with daily reports of death and destruction.  Then there’s the news of a possible COVID variant that is spreading.  And now, at least in the Great Plains, we have out-of-control wildfires that have hit Central Kansas grasslands recently.  And those fires continue to be ignited and spread by the March winds.  You know, with all that is happening right now, it can become easy for us to hit the doldrums of life and living.  We become bogged down by all of the stuff that bombards us daily…stuff that seems to suck the spring out our step, sap our energy & drive, and cause us to want to just stay in bed and pull the covers up over our heads.  We don’t eat as we should.  We don’t exercise as we should.  We don’t interact with others as we should.  We ignore the laundry, the dishes, and the bill-paying.  You know the feeling.  You’ve been there.  You may be there right now.  You know full well what I’m describing.

Sometimes even in our gilded society of hot and cold running water, comfortable transportation, air conditioning, instant communication, and all the food we could possibly want, we become tired.  We get weary.  Life still presses in on us.

We still battle cancer, dementia, and heart disease.  We deal with sometimes untimely death.  We struggle with mental health issues and disability.  Families and relationships become estranged.  We experience divorce, societal breakdown, the gulf between liberal and conservative, and religious fanaticism.  The struggles are real.

So, where do we go?  What do we do?  Do we stay in bed all day?  Do we never get dressed our go out of our homes?  Should we seek medical or mental health care?  Maybe we could go on a sort of permanent vacation or just slip away to another city…another state…and start over.  Or we could become advocates for change, joining this group or that non-profit or some other do-good organization.  There are all sorts of ways to help mitigate the effects of human misery, none of which is perfectly satisfactory.

However, I’d like to point you to a place you may not often think of when thinking about possible cures for what ails you.  And although you might at first glance think this is a “religious” thing, in truth it isn’t so much religious (as many people think of the word) as it is practical, good advice.  I’m pointing you to the Christian Bible, the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, chapter 40, verse 31.  Here’s what it says.  Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

That word “renew” when examined closely, actually means to exchange one thing for another.  In this instance, we are exchanging our feebleness for the strength of God.  We will gain new strength…strength from God himself.  That newly-imparted strength will enable us not only to soar like eagles and run without becoming weary…but the last part of that verse says we can walk…continuing to simply put one foot in front of the other in ordinary, everyday life and living…and not grow faint in so doing.

Yes, some of us will soar.  Some of us will run.  But many of us will just be walkers…going through the routine of life while we continue to encounter, battle, and deal with those things that life in this fallen creation gives us from time to time.  Our own strength will not be sufficient.  By our own strength we will fail.  We will give up.  We will lose hope.  But by the strength given us by God, we can continue to go down life’s path, not growing weary, not growing faint.

I don’t know what your situation is now.  You may be in great shape, ready to conquer the world.  You may already be soaring and running.  But I suspect that many of you who are watching this are at least at times feeling overwhelmed and out of energy and strength.  Some of you may not even know how you will finish out the day or face the day to come.  However, if you are a Christian, then “Because He Lives,” you can indeed face tomorrow, tapping into the strength provided by the unmerited favor God bestows on you.

May God bless you this day and every day.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

No One But God May Know

 

My Facebook friend Jennifer Dukes Lee, in her book “Growing Slow,” talks about times when they went to the beach.  One of those times, she encountered a dad and his son building a sand castle.  As the day went on, others, many of whom were strangers, would join the two and help build the castle.  At the end of the day the castle was adorned with many towers, a moat, a stairway, and other kinds of bling.  And one thing everyone knew was that the castle at some point was going to come down, whether from humans or from the waves.

Sure enough, the next day the castle was down, having been destroyed by some kids who had jumped on it.  Dad and his son were there, building another castle.  When asked about the one that was destroyed, Dad just said, “We know these castles won’t last.  We come to this beach every year.  Our favorite part is building castles.  They never last.  But this is what we do.  It’s hard work, but mostly, it’s just a lot of fun.”

Ms. Lee then says this:  Here's what I learned on that beach:  We may build some amazing things in life that last a long time. But not everything we build will produce a measurable legacy.  Your best efforts may be washed away or trampled.  You may be forgotten.  No one but God may know about the most meaningful things you did with your life because they were done in obscurity, when no one was watching but Him.

She continues:  You might think that what you’ve built with your life so far isn’t all that grand.  But maybe that’s not the point, anyway.  It’s not what you’re building; it’s Who you are building with.

Come to the shore.  Kneel next to your Father, and get your knees dirty as the sun warms your back.  And when the day comes to a close, stand next to your Father, and take a moment to admire what you’ve done together.  Then, watch as He turns to you, squeezes your hand, and says, “Wasn’t that fun?  Let’s do it again tomorrow.”

This is Jay now.  Recently, I’ve been thinking about some of the things that I do in everyday life and work, and how futile those things I do sometimes seem to be.  And I think we all can relate to that feeling that we’re just spinning our wheels…we’re just going through the motions…we’re just doing what we are supposed to be doing as we go through our day.  Our best efforts, it seems, don’t bring about much in the way of change or recognition.  We begin to feel and believe that what we are doing is not productive at all, and more than that, no one notices what we do and no one recognizes our efforts.

The point of Ms. Lee’s post, however, is that we should place less emphasis on how much we think we accomplish and more emphasis on doing the good works that God the Father has given us to do…working alongside Him as we joyfully work with Him to renew the creation.

The fact that we may well never see the results of those good works is irrelevant.  The fruit of those good works may not be apparent ever, or may become apparent only years or even decades later.  Or we may see those good works seemingly destroyed much as the sand castle was destroyed.  That doesn’t mean we cease to do the work.  It only means that we continue those works for as long as we are given the breath to go on.

Nor does a failure to receive recognition from others for those works give us permission to cease those works.  We aren’t in the good works for the recognition and accolades from others.  We’re in the good works business because God accomplished a great work in us…forgiveness of sins, our salvation and our adoption into His family.  That’s why we do what we do.  The accolades and recognition make us feel good for a moment.  But our recognition of God’s great work in us and our thankfulness and gratitude for that great work are what should be driving us to those works.

Whether our good works consist of raising a family in the shelter of the Lord, providing good value to a customer from the business we own or work for, giving someone a ride to the doctor’s office, donating food to a food bank, being neighborly to those in our neighborhood, or whatever it may be…we do them out of our gratitude and thankfulness…not for the recognition and accolades.

May God continue to bless you with wisdom and strength as you go about the good works He has given you to do.

Thursday, March 03, 2022

We Are Unique Creatures

 

Good morning!  Again today, as I did last week, I begin this thought acknowledging the current world situation with Ukraine as well as the State of the Union speech by the President and other political and ideological events and situations.  However, Thursday Thought is not a political venue.  It is, rather, a venue for me to reach out to you with what I hope and trust are words of comfort, instruction, reflection, and even information.  I don’t intend to become overly religious in these videos; however, I will not hesitate to point out certain teachings of the Christian faith when appropriate.  It is, of course, your choice whether to view these videos or not.  It is my choice to select the topics.

We are having a warm spell in Kansas this week.  Temperatures are fifteen to twenty degrees above normal.  Such spring-like temps bring out the desire to get outside, dig in the ground, clean up winter’s mess, and even go to the shops and stores that sell seeds & plants, planning the spring and summer planting seasons.

It’s all an illusion, of course.  The warmth is just a tempting ploy to get us to believe that spring maybe has arrived.  The reality is that colder weather is around the corner.  Frosts and freezes are yet to be endured.  Tender buds and shoots may well be frozen back.  And we will go back to wearing layers to keep out the cold, and endure the biting north winds that are sure to come.

The month of March is such a tease.  Days of warmth and breeze are interspersed with days of snow, ice, and gusty north winds.  Plants begin to green up and sprout in the sunny warmth only to be beaten back by several days of below average temperatures and stifling, overcast skies.  March seems to be the month when the battles between summer and winter begin in earnest.  Those battles seem to peak in late April and May with thunderstorms, hail, and even tornadoes criss crossing the plains.

Then, the battle finally having been won by the summer’s heat, June starts the calming down of the weather and July & August are just downright hot.  Late September and October begin the battles again between summer and winter with winter eventually winning out…and then the next March we do it all over again.

There are, we know, parts of this earth that don’t see these battles.  In those areas, it’s either always hot or always cold.  And there are some areas that are always, it seems, just right with very little change in temperatures from summer to winter.  Sometimes we in the temperate climates long to live in a place where the daytime temperatures are always in the upper seventies and the nights are always in the mid sixties.  A place where rainfall is abundant and plant life is rich and full.  However, people who live in those places sometimes long for more of a change.  The sameness of the weather day after day becomes a little too much.  People long for variety, even in the weather, sometimes.

I don’t know what your preference is regarding the weather.  Some like it hot.  Some like it cold. Some like it the same all the time.  Some like the variety.  We are all different.  And that’s my point.  We aren’t all the same.  We aren’t clones.  We each have our preferences and our desires, even when it comes to something we can’t control like the weather.  Those differences don’t mean that some are right and others are wrong.  Those differences don’t mean that we trash and demean those who hold to preferences that we don’t hold.  Nor do those differences mean that we are somehow superior to those who have other points of view.  All it means is that we are not cut from the same mold.  We are unique individuals created by God to fulfill a unique purpose in His creation and in His plans.

May that same God…the God of heaven and earth…the God of, as the Old Testament says, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…the God who inhabited the earth in Jesus Christ…bless you this week as you fulfill that purpose.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Appreciate What You Have...

 

Our “across the street” neighbor lady likes to use sidewalk chalk to write messages on her drive.  Last week, she posted one that hit especially close to home for me.  The message?  “Appreciate what you have before it turns into what you had.”  In all probability, she got that quote from somewhere…where, I don’t know.  Nevertheless, it’s a great line and deserves to be explored.

 You may think you don’t have very much, or at the least it wouldn’t be a big deal if what little you may have became something you had.  If you’re thinking like that, you need to dig deeper.  “Appreciate what you have.”  Don’t think about only material things.  Think about the “other” things…friends, family, relationships, health, job, spouse…those things we often take for granted in life.  Think about those things and appreciate them, protect them, guard them because these things and these people are more precious than any material thing could ever be.

 And these things can easily be things you once had rather than currently have.  You can easily push friends away from you by inappropriate words or actions.  You can ruin family relationships and your relationship with others in the same ways.  You can throw away your health through unhealthy habits and actions.  You can lose your job and lose your spouse just by uttering words that should never be uttered or engaging in just one act of infidelity or disloyalty.

 Gaining the trust of friends and developing a love for others in deeper relationships are not easy or flippant processs.  Sometimes it takes years to more fully develop the kind of friendships and relationships that we all crave.  However, just a few misplaced and ill-timed spoken or written words can shatter that trust and faith, resulting in broken relationships and the prospect of having to rebuild…sometimes with great cost and difficulty…that trust and faith again.

 And just one act of infidelity, a one-night fling, can destroy or at least forever change the otherwise great relationship you have with your spouse or significant other.  It is so easy to slip into compromising situations…many times without even knowing what is happening until it’s almost too late.

 I can’t begin to tell you how often I’ve had to rebuild relationships or seek new ones over the years.  I also can’t begin to tell you how many times my friends, relatives, and my wife have overlooked and forgiven things I’ve said or done that might otherwise have resulted in a break in trust and faith in me.  It greatly saddens me to know that I have put these my friends, relatives, and yes, my wife through that pain.  Knowing this gives me an even greater resolve to think before I speak, consider before I act, and slow down before I rush headlong.

 Just changing two letters in a small word…turning “have” into “had”…means a life change…a forever difference…a future that will never be what had been.  Please stop and think before stepping off of the pier into the ocean.  Please take the time to weigh the consequences of your words and actions.  Consider who you hold dear before you flippantly or selfishly toss them aside in favor of something or someone you shouldn’t be involved with in the first place.

 Appreciate what you have before it turns into what you had.”  Blessings.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Tim and Clara

 Good morning !!   I was perusing YouTube yesterday during a break and came across this human interest, feel-good story.  You may have seen something about it a few years ago.  Rather than re-tell the story, I will mainly quote from a viral Facebook post about what happened on an airplane between a blind and deaf man named Tim and a young woman, then age 15, whose name is Clara Daly.  A woman named Lynette Scribner tells the story in a June 20, 2018 posting on her Facebook timeline.

Ms. Scribner writes, I saw this gentleman, Tim, in Boston’s Logan airport with his sister that he had been visiting.  It appeared he was both deaf and blind, as I observed her signing into his hand for him to feel her words.  When he came aboard the plane he had been assigned the middle seat of my row.  The kind gentleman named Eric, who had the aisle seat, graciously gave it up for Tim.

At this point, Tim was traveling alone.  The flight attendants sincerely wanted to assist him, but had no way to communicate.  I watched as they didn’t flinch when Tim reached out to touch their faces and arms.  They took his hand and tried so hard to communicate with him, but to no avail.

Tim had some verbal ability, but clearly could not understand them.  Eric did his best to assist him with things like opening coffee creamer and putting it in his coffee.  When Tim made the attempt to stand up and feel his way to the restroom, Eric immediately got up to help him.

The flight attendants were talking among themselves and someone suggested paging to see if anyone on board knew sign language.  They did page that request.  That’s when this lovely young woman, Clara Daly, came into the picture.  Fifteen years old, she learned ASL because she had dyslexia and it was the easiest foreign language for her to learn.

For the rest of the flight she attended to Tim and made sure his needs were met.  It was fascinating to watch as she signed one letter at a time into his hand.  He was able to read her signing and they carried on an animated conversation.  When he asked her if she was pretty, she blushed and laughed as Eric, who had learned a few signs, communicated an enthusiastic “Yes” to Tim.

I don’t know when I’ve ever seen so many people rally to take care of another human being.  All of us in the immediate rows were laughing and smiling and enjoying Tim’s obvious delight in having someone to talk to.  Huge kudos to the flight attendants of Alaska Airlines who went above and beyond to meet Tim’s needs.

I can’t say enough about this beautiful young woman named Clara who didn’t think twice about helping her fellow passenger, and Eric’s instant willingness to assist as well.

It was a beautiful reminder, in this time of too much awfulness, that there are still good, good people who are willing to look out for each other.

This is Jay again.

Can you visualize the scene?  Here’s a 15 year old young woman spending her flight time of about five hours seeing to the needs of a rather grizzled older man who can neither see or hear.  Additionally, a man seated next to him also is helping out as much as he can with the basic needs of this gentleman.

I don’t know Ms. Daly.  Nor do I know Eric or Tim.  I don’t know if these people are aware of Jesus’ teaching on who is their neighbor.  I don’t know if they are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan or not.  What I do know is that they set an example for us all on being a neighbor to someone, especially someone in need.

If you ever begin wondering just who your neighbor is and what your responsibilities toward your neighbor are, just familiarize, or re-familiarize yourself with the story Jesus told about the Good Samaritan.  Also, review the story of Clara Daly, Eric, and others as they helped this man on a flight across the country.  Then do some soul-searching and come up with the answer that is blaring at you in bright flashing lights.  Then, love your neighbor as you love yourself.

 

Blessings.

Monday, January 31, 2022

I Feel So Dumb...

 I have become somewhat addicted to the East Idaho News videos on YouTube where the news staff has taken on the responsibility for handing out thousands of dollars in gifts to deserving people in the Eastern Idaho area, complements of an anonymous Secret Santa who evidently lives somewhere in the area.  This past Christmas, Secret Santa gave away one million dollars in cash and gifts, including cars, gift cards, cashier’s checks, and other gifts that truly make a difference and change the lives of these people and their families.

Nominations for beneficiaries of these gifts come in from the public and are vetted by the East Idaho News staff in consultation with the Secret Santa.  They together make the decision what to give.  Then the news crew finds the beneficiary and gives the gifts.

I recently watched one video where a woman with five children had just buried her husband following a protracted and painful illness.  Secret Santa decided to pay for the funeral, which had just occurred a few days before the visit by the news crew, give a five thousand dollar cashier's check, and provide several thousand dollars in gift cards.  The woman was stunned and truly grateful for the help.

There are usually many comments below the video.  Below this particular video, the comment at the top of the page was this:  I feel dumb and ashamed when I complain about insignificant things. They just suffered a terrible loss. May our heavenly father watch over and be with this family. Give them comfort and love.

I read the comments somewhat regularly.  This comment stopped me in my tracks.  I feel dumb and ashamed when I complain about insignificant things...  Many people posted replies to this comment, agreeing with it and commenting further.  The comment really hit a nerve for many.

What the woman who was the beneficiary of the Secret Santa gifts went through definitely would NOT be insignificant.  This woman cared for her ill husband for about 10 years...nursed him through a kidney transplant...and cared for him through his terminal cancer, all the while holding the family together and caring for five kids.  She had just finished the funeral memorial and didn't have the funds to pay for the funeral...the home agreed to put it on payments for her.  I feel dumb and ashamed when I complain about insignificant things.”

When one looks at what this woman and family have gone through, most everything that we encounter in our lives looks more and more like the “insignificant things” that the woman referred to in her comment.  I know we all have issues in life.  I know things don’t always go our way, and for some of us, things are tough right now.  However, many of us complain loud and long about the most trivial of inconveniences in life.  We think that our few aches and pains, our temporary setbacks, our not being able to live our lives exactly as we had planned, our inability to turn the world around and make it all go our own self-centered way...we think we're the ones who are so abused.  We pout.  We get angry.  We push others out of the way.  We have pity parties for ourselves.  We complain loudly about the unfairness of it all.  We are concerned only with  ourselves and how we can get things to go our way again.

“I feel dumb and ashamed when I complain about insignificant things.”

I know it's tough to do, but I'm asking you right now to give an account of yourself when some “insignificant thing” comes into your life.  How do you react?  What do you do?  What do you say?  What do you think?  How do you act?  What kind of a person do you become?

The next time you're tempted to throw a pity party for yourself, throw everyone else under the bus in a fit of self=centeredness, or scream about the unfairness of it all, STOP.

Think of this one sentence.   “I feel dumb and ashamed when I complain about insignificant things.”

Blessings.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Think On These Things

 Just when you think things can't get any worse...just when you think that the world is going to hell in a hand basket...just when you think that greed, self-centeredness, hatred, jealousy and dissension have taken over humanity...you see the flowers of love, generosity, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control grow and bloom...and once more you begin to recover your faith and choose not only to see the good and right, but you determine more than ever to emulate that good and right in your own life.

Now, that's a rather strong way to begin this Thursday thought.  I have become convinced, however, over the past weeks and months that there is far more good in the world than we are led to believe by social media, the news media, and the shrill voices spewing hatred and dissension.  There is a reason why the good is often tamped down, and the bad and evil are emphasized.  Darkness hates light.  Evil revels in and encourages chaos.  The bad seeks to recruit others into lives of greed and selfishness.

But turn off the negativity and darkness that is constantly invading your conscience, and look around you.  I've been working at doing that for some time now, and I can see the goodness, the gentleness, the generosity, and the kindness popping up all over.  And if you too turn off those voices of darkness...if you refuse to buy into the schlock that is constantly peddled, tune out the shrill shrieks of doom and fear, look outside of yourself and open your eyes, you'll see those things too.

You want some examples?  OK, here are some things I'm seeing right now...today...that give me hope and flesh out God's promise to renew His creation.

On a larger scale, I see a person in the Idaho Fall, Idaho area who is anonymously giving away one million dollars this year to deserving people and families.  This is the sixth or seventh year that this has been going on, and this person’s generosity is changing lives. 

I see a municipal court judge in Rhode Island who issues rulings with compassion and takes the time to see into someone’s life before issuing his rulings.  His court is one that should be an example for all who deal with matters of law and justice, tempered with mercy.

On a more local level, I see people going to work in jobs that would test the sanity of many of us.  School workers of all kinds, health care workers of all kinds, public servants of all kinds.  I particularly know of a psychologist for the Wichita Public Schools who gives her best even when faced with trauma and emotional issues that would be unbelievable for many.  I also know of a para for the 259 district and a bus monitor for 259 who both give their all for the kids they interact with on a daily basis, doing what they can to make their kids’ days the best they can possibly be.

I know of people within our congregation who look out for the elderly in our church family, who check up on and create social contact with those who can’t get out and around.  We have people who provide food and financial help for others, who go out of their way to provide transportation and comfort.  Most of these church members do these things quietly and without fanfare or recognition.

I know people who volunteer to work at the Lord’s Diner, at food pantries, in the schools, and in many, many other ways…each one doing just a little something to make that corner of the world a little better place.  And I know people who have formed non-profit organizations right here in Wichita to combat human trafficking, homelessness, prostitution, hunger, poverty, mental illness, and many other societal ills.  People such as Jennifer, Michelle, Julie, Rachel, Laura, and others who give selflessly of their time and treasure to make a difference.  One.  Person.  At. A. Time.

I know people serving in government, both in elected office as well as hourly or salaried employees who go to work every day, doing the right thing for the right reason.  Their work is often misunderstood, and they sometimes take a lot of rubbish from the public.  But they persist and prevail in redeeming the creation…or at least a small corner of it.

I see people paying it forward…they themselves having received from someone now giving back in some way.  Whether that be in the drive-up window line at a fast food place or in the check out line at a WalMart or Target…or maybe someone buying some fuel for someone else at a Quik Trip…people are paying it forward.

I see the generosity of my church family when I hear of a special need of someone in our church family…I ask others in the family to help out.  Sometimes the generosity of those people is much, much greater than the specific special need.

I see moms and dads raising kids…some who are special needs…and some of whom have great medical and emotional need.  I see good people adopting kids.  I see good people fostering kids.  I see people mentoring kids.  I see people being surrogate grandparents for kids.  I see people all over who are investing their lives…their time, energy, talent, and treasure into the next generations.

And the above examples are just a microcosm of the work going on in the world to make things better for others…to provide a brighter path for living…to bring hope to those who have no hope.

Look around.  Turn off the naysayers, the negative, the fearmongering.  Look instead for the goodness.  Begin to live there, in the meadowlands of hope, compassion, kindness, and gentleness instead of in the desert of hopelessness and fear.  As Paul the great Apostle says in his letter to the Philippian church, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Will You Join Us?

 Last Monday morning, I came into the office a little earlier than I normally do.  I had a meeting scheduled at 9am and wanted to be here in plenty of time in the event the person I was meeting came a little early.  I needn’t have come in early, however, because the person I was meeting was actually late getting here.  My Monday wasn’t starting out very well, it seemed.

A little later in the morning, our youth minister, CJ, came into the office.  He walked past my office door toward his office, and as he passed my door, he greeted me and asked me how I was doing.  CJ usually does this when he comes in, and I have begun to respond to him with something other than, “Fine,” or “I’m OK today,” or some other of the usual phrases that people give to that greeting.

That day, I was feeling kind of down.  The early arrival that day along with the late meeting didn’t help that any, but there were other things on my mind that were weighing me down that day.  We have a number in our congregation who are ill or fighting chronic health issues.  We just had a memorial service for a long-time member the week before and have other members whose time on earth is numbered.

We had the lowest attendance at worship services the day before that we’ve had in a long while.  The class I taught on Sunday didn’t seem to “flow” very well.  And I’ve been fussing with some kind of a pinched nerve in my hip that hurts whenever I walk.

Additionally, there is the constant barrage of political stuff, shootings, COVID-related issues, and other societal ills that come our way on the news and in social media.  Sometimes, it seems that things are getting worse and worse with no end in sight.

And, for perhaps one of the first and only times since I’ve been part of the church staff…that’s been 10 years now…as I was coming in to work that morning, I wasn’t very enthused about doing so.  I think I would much rather have stayed home that day.

Normally, I very much enjoy what I do here.  I look forward to the day and the work of the day.  But on that Monday, I was not in that kind of mood.  I would much rather have gone for a drive in the country and forget about work that day.

So, when CJ came by and asked me how I was doing, I asked him to step into the office and close the door.  He did and after I said to him, “You asked,” I proceeded to tell him how I was doing…not well.

I won’t go into the conversation in detail, but I will tell you that it struck a nerve with both of us.  We commiserated regarding the state of how things were, both in the church and in society, and took the conversation on side trips that touched on several aspects of life and living.  We talked about the future and what that means for those who are Christians.  We talked about the passage of time, acknowledged past regrets, and future apprehensions.  We spoke of the heaviness of burden-bearing as ministers and pastors.  I spoke of the relatively short time I have left on the earth, and we both recognized that we have squandered some of the time we’ve already been given, and that time and opportunities for making a difference in the lives of our families, friends, and others were growing shorter for the both of us.  And we talked about the fact that we both like to be in control of our lives…and that when the end comes, we will have no control over anything…that we will have to rely on the promises of God that we find in the Bible to bring us into the eternity that we believe He has promised for those who are His.

We ended that impromptu meeting with a man hug and a prayer.  And we both felt much better the rest of that day…and on into the next days, for that matter…because of our honesty with each other and “getting it out,” so to speak, getting out into the open those things which were building up inside us over the last weeks and months.

I don’t know where you are in life right now.  I don’t know if you have it all together and are merrily going on your way down life’s path, or if you are wrestling with the issues of the day and how they affect you physically, mentally, emotionally, and yes…spiritually.  I don’t know if you often look at your life past and dwell on the regrets or if you look at the past with great joy and peace.  I don’t know if you gaze into the future and find joy and excitement there, or if you see apprehension and fear of the unknown.

Or maybe you aren’t concerned with the past and the future and are just trying your best to get through the next hour or two.  You may be looking forward only to tonight when hopefully the cacophony will calm down and let you rest a little.

Whatever your situation, and wherever you are in life, know that you are not alone.  Seek out someone you can talk with who will understand and share life with you.  If you’re a Christian…a Christ-follower…find time in your day or your week to just be…no doing…just being.  Let God’s love overflow you and bring you contentment and peace even in the midst of the chaos.  Make it a priority to spend time with the One who created you and knows you better than you know yourself.

I don’t know how you best can do that.  It isn’t necessary that you sit in a dark closet for all of that time unless that’s your thing.  Different people have different ways of connecting with God.  Find the way that you enjoy and that brings you into communion with Him.  Make it a practice to meet Him regularly.

Our church staff will do that today…this afternoon.  We all will stand down this afternoon as part of our work day to just be.  The office will be closed.  The phones will not be answered.  Our social media will be shut off.  We will not be in our offices or even at the building.  We plan to, in whatever ways work best for us, be in touch with our Creator for three hours, from 1pm to 4pm.  Will you join us?

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Time to Be

 

Something that often comes through nowadays whenever one hears the COVID-related news reports is the fact that caregivers…nurses, ancillary staff, physicians, maintenance and housekeeping people…and even others such as pastors, counselors, and others…are tired.  And that tiredness goes on to those in other vocations such as customer service, education, public health, and hospitality.  It seems like we all are tired…tired of the illness…tired of the restrictions…tired of hearing of yet more preventable deaths…tired of fighting what seems to be a never-ending, uphill, and at times unwinnable battle against not only a microscopic speck of DNA, but also against ignorance, selfishness, coarse behavior, violent acting-out, and other societal ills.

 I believe we are ALL tired.

 However, for many of us, finding the time to rest and refresh is more of a pipe dream than a reality.  It seems we are being called to do ever more with less…to improvise…to pack more work into fewer hours…to put out ever larger and more frequent fires in our lives.

 That reality has hit home in my vocation.  The staff at the church where I work is also tired.  We have had two deaths in our church family in just the last week or so.  We have others who are hanging on for life.  Some in our church family have incurable illness and are awaiting their time to go.  Others have chronic, but not yet life-threatening illness.  And still others are dealing with family breakup, mental health issues, spiritual issues, work-related issues, financial woes, unemployment, failing health, caring for children issues, and other assorted ailments physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

 And we ourselves as staff feel overwhelmed…having our own set of problems to deal with, even as we provide comfort, spiritual guidance, and service to others in our spiritual family.  And then there is the ever-present reality of carrying on with church services, Sunday School classes, and the day-to-day, week-by-week routine of what church is and does.

 As I thought about all of this earlier this week, it came to me that perhaps it would do our church staff good if we took some time away from normal work and just refreshed through meditation and prayer.  So I asked staff to set aside an afternoon next week for just such a thing.  For three hours next Thursday afternoon, we will close the office, not answer our phones or engage in social media.  We will do whatever it is that we do to refresh, meditate and pray, whether that be going for a walk, listening to music, sitting quietly, putting a puzzle together…whatever it might be.  We will consider these to be work hours, but will not engage in the ordinary and routine of work.  Hopefully, we will find refreshment, a measure of peace and contentment, and a little less overwhelmed-feeling at the end of that time.  And hopefully, we will have, during this time, given our burden over to the God who is willing and able to bear them all and relieve us of the burden of carrying them alone.

 I don’t know what your circumstance in life is at the moment.  However, if you can join us on that day, that would be so good…and if you can’t during that time, perhaps you can set aside a time of your own next week…just to be and not do.  As has been said, we are human beings, not human doings.  We need to take the time to just be.

 Join us if you can, Thursday the 20th from 1pm to 4pm.  Blessings.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Life's Preciousness

  This is from my cousin Rachel, who has these last years endured the  hell of spousal deception, abuse, and finally his suicide.  There is truth in this post well beyond Rachel's years...for us all.

Some days it still amazes me; the amount of pieces of my life I still find myself putting back together. Unpacking dishes into my new (to me!) China cabinet today has me thinking and thanking. Some of these things I haven't seen in years. Some I packed away and tucked into a box because I knew they weren't safe in my home anymore. Some were packed by people I didn't even know who reached out to help a broken woman in some of her darkest days and have sat in that packaging for more time than I want to count. I know they are material possessions, but every one of the items I have found today holds significance and value to me. Some were gifts, some passed down by family. Some I bought myself in the days before I knew what hell looked like. Some I thought I had lost and there are tears of joy, because every single thing I have seen today holds and sparks a precious memory. Some remind me of the humility and safety of strangers helping hands, and remind me to always try to be that helping hand to someone else. Somehow it all reminds me of the preciousness of life. The preciousness of enjoying beauty and grace, and everything we have in the right now of our life. It reminds me that pieces of yourself you thought you had lost can be found. Pieces of yourself that are lost forever can be remade, rebuilt and restored into an even greater part of who you are and a treasure. Those pieces make you stronger. Softer. More aware and thankful for every gift that you are given. Yeah, I know; seems like a strange realization and thought for simply a bunch of dishes and material possessions, but sometimes God uses those things in life that bring beauty and aesthetics to remind us of His care. His love. His restoration and rebuilding. Thankful today for simple joys. Simple life. Simple thanking and washing, and making of beauty. Simple love and peace from a God who sees all, knows all, loves all, and restores all for His good.

"And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten... And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you..."

Joel 2:25‭-‬26 

Thursday, January 06, 2022

It's the Little Things

 

Good morning.

 Yesterday as I was coming in to work, I received a phone call from my wife, who was already at work.  She asked me if I was still at home.  I said I wasn’t and asked what she needed.  She said she left her phone somewhere and wasn’t sure where it was.  It could have been, she said, at home or possibly have fallen out of her coat pocket and was in her car at work.  She said she had wanted me to check at home, but was busy that morning and didn’t really have time to go out to the car to look for it.

I was on Kellogg not far from the house, so turned around at an interchange and went back to look for it.  Once I got home, I did a quick search, but found nothing.  Dialing her number, I listened for her ring.  It was not there.  Now, I know I have the “find phone” feature on her phone, but didn’t think to access it until later.  So much for modern technology…it can’t help you if you don’t think to use it.

Knowing that she was going to have a busy day, I went on over to WSU Tech Old Town and went in to the office.  They know me by sight there as I stop in from time to time.  I told the receptionist why I was there and asked her if she could get the key fob so I could look for the phone in the car.  She went back to Pat’s office, but came back saying she was in a meeting.  The receptionist Then sent a message to her and received an OK to interrupt the meeting.

Going back to her office a second time, she came back with the fob.  I went out to the car and quickly found the phone on the seat.  I went back in and gave both the fob and the phone to the receptionist, who later returned it to Pat.

OK.  I tell you this story, not to give myself a pat on the back for going “above and beyond,” so to speak, for my wife.  These are the kinds of things we do for each other without really thinking about it that much, so it wasn’t anything special for me.

However, I had to wonder about the young receptionist, the security officer also in the reception area, and the person who was meeting with my wife.  They all knew the story and knew what I had done.  I wonder if they took note of the relationship the two of us have with each other, and how that relationship worked in a very practical way to the benefit of one.  Later that evening, I found out what the two young women…the receptionist and the security officer…thought.  Evidently, I made quite a stir with them because of what I did for Pat, because they spoke to her in glowing terms about her husband.  OK, I’ll tell you now that if you know me, you know that I don’t really “glow” very much…I’m pretty much just a routine sort of guy.  However, there is a lesson here.

All too often, as Christians we think that going about our everyday lives and routines is about as far as it gets from evangelism and planting the seeds of the good news message of Jesus.  And I don’t know how my service to my wife this particular time will make any difference or not in the lives of anyone else.  But I have to believe that somewhere along the line of life and living, these kinds of acts of service are at times noticed by those who have a tender heart for the seeds of love and kindness to drop on to.  I have to believe that God can take something even as mundane as finding a phone and make it into something useful and wonderful for His Kingdom.

It’s the little things, people.  It’s the ordinary, routine, mundane things of living that often bring about the greatest of change for the good in ourselves and others.  Don’t go through life in a fog, thinking only of yourself.  Think of the little ways you can demonstrate God’s love.  Let the car trying to merge into your lane go in front of you.  Help someone who can’t reach the top shelf at the grocery store get the item they want.  And while we’re on grocery stores, look around when you park to see if you can take someone’s cart back to the store for them.  You’ll help them as well as the employee who has to go out and bring them all back in.  Say “Please,” and “Thank you,” often.  Open a door for someone…anyone.  Volunteer at your favorite non-profit.  And if you can’t volunteer, be a cheer leader for them and the work they do.  Don’t push others out of the way by being in such a rush when going through your day.  Apologize when you are wrong or use a poor choice of words.  Find a way to make the day of a loved one a little easier.  And listen.  Listen to others more than you talk.  Above all, be kind toward others; tenderhearted, forgiving others.

These are all things that can make a huge difference in the lives of others.  And these are all things that can scatter that seed of the Kingdom of God in the world.  Try it…I think you’ll like it.

 

Blessings