Monday, March 12, 2018

Letting Go

Letting Go

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you
may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you".
(Colossians 3:13)
            Recently I was talking to a group of 60ish guys about a pending class reunion. The subject broke down to the many things we did in our youth that we would not consider doing today. The events we talked about were items on our conscience, things we were not proud of doing.  They were the acts of youth and part of growing up. Each helped develop the person that we are today. None of the events made us a bad person, however, at the time there were people (neighbors, school authorities, mom/dad, friends etc.) that did not appreciate our behavior. These discretions and memories are perseverance finishing its work “…so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
At a bible study this week we talked about letting go of past discretions. Others forgave us long ago and somehow as adults we seem to hold on to past errors.  As we work through our faults, we learn that life goes on. God eventually works his miracles in our lives. When we lack the wisdom he comes through for us.
Thought for Today: When we are very busy, it is difficult to feel God’s presence in our lives. Today, let us all try to take time to understand and appreciate His contributions. 

Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, we thank you today because we are not what we were. We have sinned along the way and are grateful of the Grace and forgiveness we receive through Christ.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Endurance and Life

Endurance and Life

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial,
because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life that God
as promised to those who love him."
(James 1:12 NIV)

                   In our seemingly endless search for tranquility, we always seem to "want what we want, when we want it". Waiting seems like an impossible task. We seem to want our victories to come via the easy route. That is rarely a reality of life. Life is not a sprint; it is an endurance event, a marathon.
Many of you know of my amateur career as an endurance athlete, a Triathlete, swim, bike and run. Just to get to the starting line in a race takes hours of practice, mostly alone; sometimes in pain; often in bad weather conditions. However, in most races there are over thousands participants! That's correct, thousands. This is generally true of most endurance events. What for? Why do people do that?
 Let me summarize the feelings that occur during a typical Triathlon. There is anticipation and excitement standing on the beach   during the national anthem. There is generally a feeling of spirituality during the blessing. In all my races, there was a period of fear at some time during the swim. Boredom, pain, doubt and an entire array of other feelings occur during the bike ride and run. Then comes good time; the approach to the finish line.

 The finish line of an endurance event generally has a crowd of 10,000 to 50,000 spectators. Enthusiasm and positive energy seem to radiate out of the crowd to be absorbed by the competitors. Most of my fellow racers agree that the feeling of finishing, the pride, and the accomplishment and of course, just being done, is very special. Many of us have never crossed the finish line without tears of joy in our eyes.

 As a grandfather and senior citizen, I can look back over the years and see the parallels between racing and life. Life is full of challenges, fears and excitement. Consider what James said in his twelfth verse:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and
complete, not lacking anything."
(James 1 vs 2)

Let's remember to live our lives as Christians, be patient, meet our challenges and look forward to receiving our "crown of life".

Thought for Today: We are all living through trying times. There is too much to do, too much work, not enough playtimes. However, we have God and through Him we have our Christian friends. This week, let's look toward the future knowing that patience and perserverance will bring us tranquility and happiness.

Prayer for Today: Heavenly father, as Christians we are not perfect. We seem to want immediate gratification throughout our lives. Today we pray for patience to discover your will, the courage to implement it and the knowledge to recognize your presence in our lives.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Letting Go!

Let God Lead

"Precious Lord, take my hand
lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
through the storm, through the night,
lead me on to the light,
take my hand precious Lord,
lead me home."
(Thomas A. Dorsey, 1932 UMC Hymnal 474)

        God works in many ways when we allow Him to help us. Yes, he is always there, but not always present in our minds. We have a way of being self-centered, focusing on business issues, personal problems etc... We want to be in control. We can deal with it ourselves.
        Many years ago, June came home with a big orange refrigerator magnet that had the message "Let go and let God" written across it. She did it because we were, and still are, control freaks. Often we get into the "control mode" when we cannot help or do anything about the problem. Trying to control things beyond our sphere of influence made us "tired...weak...and worn".
        It is easy to become frustrated when things are beyond our control. It is normal to try to control. It is better to recognize our place and let God take our hand, lead us home.
Thought for Today:  Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. We do not have to function the same way as we did yesterday. Let's us take a look at God's influence in our decisions. Let's let some of it go and allow Him to help us.
Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, we thank you for our many blessings and the many wonderful things that we enjoy. We are concerned about others in our society that have less; some without food, housing or a job. We are concerned about the many people that are afraid they will lose their jobs and their security. There seems to be a growing acceptance that this is OK here on earth, as long as it is the other guy. Today we pray for our society in general. We pray that somehow everyone can be at peace, that everyone may find enough, that all children have food and that our riches are shared as You would have us share them.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Don't Give Up

Then Jesus told his disciples…that they should always pray and not give up”.
    (Luke 18:1)
            With my son in the music business, we have seen a lot of young people try to live their dreams of fame. To some it comes fast and they go from teenager to a star. One we worked with twenty years ago was a young man named Johnny Lang who made it big singing the blues at age sixteen. Several others that we worked with in the mid ninety’s are still enjoying the pursuit of their dream. They are known regionally as local club acts and make a good living. Their day may or may not make the big time.

Barry Manilow used to play piano for an up and coming singer, Bette Midler, in the bars of New York and write jingles for advertising agencies. We have all heard them; State Farm is there, I am stuck on Band Aid because Band Aid is stuck on me, All across the nation it’s the Pepsi generation, You deserve a break today at…. He applied himself, developed his skills and then his God given talents prevailed.
While writing this a Good News friend emailed me to tell me how he and his family are doing. We fought the battles of live together for ten years or so in New England back in the 60’s. He found his way to California, June and I are in Minnesota. Here is a quote from his text, “Jesus had it all planned, all I had to do was show up when he summoned me.  It's sweet.”

June and I were talking tonight at dinner after having had our first great grandson in the pool this afternoon and I commented on what a blessed life we have. She reminded me that we have had fifty years of blessings!

All of our lives need to start someplace. We often do not control our destiny and just need to keep on plugging. Joel Osteen uses the term “…keep on keeping on.” I like “Today is the first day of the rest of my life.” Jesus said “…always pray and not give up”.

Thought for Today: Today let us focus on what we want to be when we grow up. Not because we are young but because we have a future. Our lives are always changing; we always need to have our faith in hand. Through our faith we can always find ways to grow, to solve issues and be better.

Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father we are learning that life is an endurance event, not a sprint. Today I pray for stamina, guidance and the patience to keep at it until you deliver me to your place.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Trust and Faith

 Trust and Faith

When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God whose word I praise,
in God I trust."
(Psalm 56:3)

         We all experience times in our lives, certain situations when our trust level is down. These are usually times when we must let a situation be under someone else's control.
            A teenager spending a weekend away with friends, away at camp or going off to school. We fear what they may find to do.
            A family member not home at an expected time. We fear an accident or other harm.
            Consider a simple four way stop sign with all drivers arriving at the same time. Often no one trusts enough to go first.
Reading this, it would be easy to think that the subject was fear, but it is trust.

"The Lord is my light and salvation- Whom shall I fear?"
(Psalm 27:1)
There is a direct link between a weak faith and trust in the Lord, and high levels of anxiety and stress. Yes, there are days when we are strong and have no fear, then there are days when we are weak.

On the weak days, we need to meditate. Leave the news turned off, put down the newspaper and get closer to God.
"Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me"
(Psalm 50:15)

     Thought for Today: When we have doubts this week, let us stop, take a deep breath and try to place our faith in God. If we can do that, our reactions to doubtful situations will be less stressful.

     Prayer for Today:  Heavenly Father, as we go through our busy schedules, it is easy to forget you. We try to control, manipulate and alter our lives to fit "our will" and lose sight of "your will". We seem not to trust     you. We pray that we can slow down, consider your will for us and increase our trust in you.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Ground Hog;s Day!

Punxsutawney Phil

We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world”
and that “There is no God but one.”
For even if there are so-called gods,
whether in heaven or on earth…
…for us there is but one God,
(1 Corinthians 8 vs. 4 & 5)

            On Groundhog day every year in Pennsylvania they forecast the end of winter. Today Phil’s shadow was seen and it was declared that winter will end in six weeks. Well, you see Phil is never wrong because somewhere in the world in six weeks it will be warm; probably not here at my home here in Minnesota.
            Phil is a character, not even a legend. He is no Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed or Ichabod Crane. He is just a ground hog being disturbed for a group of people in Pennsylvania to have fun. Frankly he is not a good idol!
            I would love to see them open Phil’s den next year and have Jesus step out in a white robe, the sun beating down on him in a heavenly glow, and have the crowd speechless. Imagine Jesus saying something like, “Sorry folks but even I refuse to do a long range weather forecast. There will be more bad weather here in the north country but do not fear for the Lord will be with you.” He would then give is his blessing and arise toward the heavens.

            Bless you all and may we have an early Spring!

Thought for Today: The Lord blesses us and keeps us 365 days a year.

Prayer for Today: Dear Lord and father, we pray for those in the north that deal with fire and ice. May they take the time to appreciate the seasons and the beauty of it all.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Let the Glory Be God's

 Let the Glory Be God’s

“Praise be to the Lord,
for He has heard my cry for Mercy.
The LORD is my strength and shield;
My heart trusts in Him and I am helped.”
(Psalm 28 vs 6 & 7)

In America the “Super Bowl” takes place on Sunday the fourth and there are big numbers associated with it. Numbers like 150 million people watching on TV, 3 million dollars for a 30 second add, 250 million added to the area economy- OH yes, a number I do not have but tried to find; there are a number of competitors and coaches from both teams who will attend a prayer meeting and bible study Sunday before the game. They are members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
            My sports history goes back to age six as a YMCA swimmer and in my 60 plus years of associating with athletes has convinced me that they are overall not a group to be proud to know. For the most part, their years of competition and “winning is everything” attitude has influenced them in a negative manner. Frankly I don’t like them and avoid them.
            On Super Sunday there will be members of the “Fellowship” who have kept a balance in their life. In sports I find them a pleasing and great minority. They represent what I feel every Christian and person needs to be: The best they can be with an appreciation of the Lord and Jesus Christ. Below is the last paragraph of their competitor’s creed.
“I give my all- all of the time.
I do not give up. I do not give in. I do not give out.
I am the Lord’s warrior- a competitor by conviction and a disciple of determination.
I am confident beyond reason because my confidence lies in Christ.
The results of my efforts must result in His glory.

Let the competition begin.
Let the glory be God’s.”

Thought for Today: Let us enjoy today by being the best we can be while keeping the Lord in the forefront.

Prayer for Today: Father, today we pray that we will keep you in our lives; that we will be fair in our dealings and competitions. We pray that through our faith we will be good examples of your commandments.