Monday, January 15, 2018

Lift A Burden--Cancel A Debt

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ~ Ephesians 4: 32 (Apostle Paul)

"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love... Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt... There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies."
~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Loving your enemies--sermon--Christmas, 1957, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Easy...

I have the following words written on a 3x5 card on my desk for some time. I would give credit to their author (maybe Spurgeon) if I knew who it was. Nonetheless, they square with the message of Scripture and are worthy of our attention and meditation...

"The Bible uses the word easy once. Jesus was the one who used it. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened... and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Easy is a soul word, not a circumstance word. Aim at having easy circumstances, and life will be hard all around. Aim at having an easy soul, and your capacity for tackling hard assignments will actually grow. The soul was not made for an easy life. The soul was made for an easy yoke." 

Friday, December 8, 2017

His Words-Our Words..

If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. ~ John 15:20

In spite of the fact Jesus never misspoke there is a long record of Jesus' words being twisted and misquoted by his detractors in Scripture. There is also a long record of Christ's words bringing redemption and transformation.

We, as Christ-followers, are not as pristine as Jesus in our speech; we sometimes misspeak. But not always, and we should not be surprised that when we speak the truth of Jesus' words hearers may twist or misquote them. But neither should we be surprised when those same words open the door for redemption and transformation. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Christmas at The Shire...

The Shire is surrounded by acres of pasture. On Saturday its tall grass was mowed. Now, golden stubs are drenched in sunlight. As long as the mercury stays above freezing, the fescue grass will once again grow green. When that happens, tasty sprouts will emerge the deer love to nibble on.

A hot, dry summer has passed and the early fall's heat was oppressive. Most everyone here in the southeast rejoices over and welcomes the cool morning temperatures in the 30's. Daytime highs of less than 70 have prevailed. Sweaters for some. Jackets for others. Relief for all.

In a couple of weeks I will "Griswald" The Shire--traditional scenes will reflect off the pond, lights will wrap the railings of the porches and shrubs. The back lawn will be lit with penguins on slides, Santa's mailbox, a parachuting moose, galloping reindeer and sleigh, and more! Wyatt is old enough to be my helper. I can't wait!

This Christmas we will have more family--and extended family--at The Shire than ever before. Sandy and I look forward to large gatherings around the fire pit, food prepared by committee, the laughter of children and adults, colorful packages and bows, and the wonder and awe the birth of the Christ provides!



Monday, September 11, 2017

Irma...

Early this morning I moved our vehicles, and the vehicles of our refugees, into the wide open spaces of the pasture. About an hour after I did so, a thick limb from the pine standing by the edge of the driveway took up their parking space!

Like so many other people, our yard is covered with leaves and limbs detached from trees and branches. We got off easy. For about 8 hours we were without electricity--that's the extent of our suffering.

We were prepared for Irma's tirade... we had enough candles set out to deplete the ozone layer. Our large stash of flashlights, batteries, food, and bags of ice were never needed.

On the upside, this forced isolation within our home made for a day of rest... 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

What Is The Church?

Josh and Sammy were at The Shire this weekend--along with their friend, Haley. Justin and Wyatt joined us. We had our first fire in the circle of stones that sits at the edge of the pond. Wyatt and "Moose" carried on as little boys should running around on the green grass, throwing pine cones into the lake, and enjoying the attention of the adults.

Today, we all gathered at Hamilton Baptist Church. Though many regular attenders were traveling we were blessed with first-time guests. I'm always grateful for the warm and genuine reception our family and guests receive from HBC members.

It seemed appropriate to speak from Matthew 7:24-29 (take a moment to read it), so that's where we centered our attention for the message: Shaken, But Not Shattered. Our worship team prepared us for the message with music firmly rooted in Scripture--love those folks.

In the days ahead the message theme will be: What is the Church? Every generation needs to take time to return to what Christ intended.

How would you define "The Church?"

Monday, July 10, 2017

What's Next, Papa?

The resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us--an unbelievable inheritance! ~ Romans 8: 15-17

Nearly six years ago, the night before Sandy and I left for the country of China, Justin and Erika revealed they were pregnant with our first grandchild. Eight months later when Wyatt was born we were still living in China. Ugh! Since returning to the U.S. we have spent every moment with him we could, but those moments were separated by months and fifteen-hundred miles.

Three weeks ago Wyatt and our second grandchild--newborn Travis, moved less than two miles from us! Now, living in the wide-open spaces and the sparse populace of country life everything is completely different from anything Wyatt experienced living among the compressed population and tall buildings of metro-Boston. So contrasted is his new environment the only commonality between the two locals is the English language. Wyatt and I spend time together every day, and each day is an adventure.

While driving to Auburn, Alabama early this morning I listened to the Scripture passage at the top of this post. The phrase, What's next, Papa? grabbed my attention. It reminded me of the relationship Wyatt and I share. It's a special one; my first with a grandchild. He calls me Papa. Loves me. Trusts me. Feels no timidity in approaching me. Draws vibrant life from me. Always expects that in my company he is on the cusp of an adventure.

I'm not sure how many miles or minutes passed, but I found myself saying out loud: What's next, Papa? It was a spontaneous and heartfelt prayer, spoken to my Heavenly Father. Simultaneously, it was my confession by verbalizing a deep longing, What's next, Papa. I want to live in the presence of my Heavenly Papa with the same trust and confidence and vibrancy of life...

In that instant God' heard my unfiltered plea. His Spirit touched my spirit and confirmed who I really am, whose I really am, and what I really am. I am His. Dearly loved. He is my Papa. He delights in me.