Monday, February 23, 2015

Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and Valleys

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,
we have peace with God ...
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not disappoint us,..."
(Romans 5:1-4,)

        Life is full of peaks and valleys. It is very human to take credit for the peaks and blame something else for the valleys. It is hard at times to identify with our own "piece of the action" when there is pain. It is often hard to appreciate the lessons learned through the suffering process.

        We look to our faith more often when we are in a valley than when we are at a peak. Many people that visit our churches come through crises. Divorce, illness, grief, loneliness etc. are among the common reason for a visit. I have personally never greeted someone that told me that they had such a great week that they came to say thanks to God.

        However, one of the beauties of our faith is that we recognize God's role in helping get us to the next peak. We recognize God's role in getting us to the final peak. Each peak gives us a reason for a stronger faith, the lessons learned in the valleys gives us the "... perseverance, character; and character, hope" that carry us through out our lives.

Thought for Today: Today let us recognize if we are in a peak or a valley. Let us recognize the lessons we are learning if it is a valley and give credit to those things that helped make it a peak. Either way, let us give thanks to God.

Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, we are in a confused world. Many people are concerned about their future in tough economic times. There is war, fear, terror that seems to dominate the news. Certainly there are many needing a "peak" to help them out. This week we pray that through your Son Jesus, we all may find a peak and a way to share your Love with someone.




Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spiritual Growth! Be Happy!

Spiritual Growth! 

"I gave you milk, not solid food,
for you were not yet ready for it
Indeed, you are still not ready."
(1 Corinthians 3 vs. 2)  

            Several years ago June and I made a decision that our families would not remember us as angry old people. We decided that based on our time spent interacting with elderly people as Stephen ministers. Recently I have been involved with two such people and have concluded that somehow being happy has everything to do with spiritual growth. Let me share a story with you from a recent Saturday.
            My friend and I were volunteering at a race in a very cold April rain and many volunteers were complaining. My friend stated that as bad as it was he was dreading his next appointment even worse. Trust me, we had been out in the rain for four hours serving over 8000 participants and worse seemed impossible!
            He was going to his parents place to do a few odd jobs that his dad could or should not risk doing any more. He said that somehow dad would get angry, be disagreeable and be dissatisfied. He could not understand why. In my usual big mouth way I asked him about his dad’s spirituality. The  answer was that mom and dad go to church every Sunday!
            This lead to my favorite discussion: religious versus spirituality! You see, there are a lot of people who attend church every week that do not experience spiritual growth. In a recent discussion it was said that too many religious people just never get to know the Holy Spirit! I believe that the people who are edgy, angry or uncomfortable fit that description.
            In summary, the Lord wants us to be happy, cheerful and appreciative. He has given us the tools and we need to use them every day. The tool we have is faith and the Holy Spirit. We need to keep them in mind and in our hearts to be happy! 

Thought for Today: Today let us use Paul’s message about the milk and drink our milk but demonstrate with our happiness and spirit that we are ready for the Lord’s solid food. That food results in our happiness and peace.

Prayer for Today: Dear Lord, today we pray for all who are experiencing anxiety and anger. We pray that they may find peace and tranquility through the Holy Spirit.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Presidents Day in America

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
(James 3 vs. 17, 18)
                Today in America is Presidents Day when we celebrate the men who have led our country. I choose to write about Abraham Lincoln, who presided over a war that was one of the bloodiest in the history of our country. He could not have done what he did without his extremely strong faith. His bible was often at his side in meetings and had dog eared pages from continual use. It reinforced his belief that he and the union were doing the right thing.
            It brings to my mind the old joke about disagreements in church congregations. It says that the arguments are often fierce because both sides feel that they have God on their team! Well, in church politics we are not making decisions that cause battles where 10,000 plus soldiers die, people get assassinated, brothers fight brothers and the freedom of a race are at stake. Still somehow we do the Lord’s will.
            When Lincoln felt badly, which happened after a traumatic field report, he would lean on the Biblical hope offered to him (and to all of us). Today’s verse was one he used often when he was in need of reassurance.
He would say to his cabinet and all who would listen, “Let us renew our trust in God and go forward without fear and with manly hearts.”
Thought for Today: Today is  President’s day. In Lincoln’s case his faith is a strong example to us. We are commanded to be happy Christians, to be the light of the world, to share and contribute through our faith. Today let us shine our light brightly.
Prayer for Today: Dear Lord and Father we give thanks today for those great men who have gone before us and contributed to our world. We pray that we are contributing in some small way to accomplishing your will and spreading a world of peace and love.

Friday, February 13, 2015

St. Valentine's Day

 Be My Valentine 

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic,
love one another,
be compassionate and humble.”
(1 Peter 3 vs. 8) 

            “Love one another” is a great idea. It does not include any qualifiers or reasons to separate people from the group; it means all, every day and moment. That is our Christian charge and it means everyone, every day.
            February 14, Valentine’s Day in America has become a symbol of romantic love where symbols seem to replace the real thing. It is good to have a day when we symbolize our love, caring and dedication. It is good to focus on those around and dear to us. It is kind of fun.
                        As Christians we believe that we were made in God’s image. To love everyone we need to have God’s heart and capacity to care.  I believe that we have it and need to use it. Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Thought for Today: Today we will focus our love on those closest to us; our families, significant others, mom’s and dad’s etc. That is great but let’s also try to care for everyone every day! 

Prayer for Today: Dear Lord, today we give thanks for our ever expanding hearts that seem to have enough love in them for everyone. We give thanks for the ability to understand and care for all. Amen


Monday, February 9, 2015

Let's Talk

 Let's Talk 

“You must go to everyone I send you to
and say whatever I command you.”
(Jeremiah 1vs7) 

            The city of Boston has a public area called Boston Commons. It is a central park that was set up as a common grazing ground for city owned live stock. I believe that even today, all Boston residents have the legal right to graze their cow on “the common”.

            “The Common” is now and always was a meeting place where people meet to discuss the issues of the day. It still serves that function today. There are people on every corner, some literally standing on soap boxes, discussing everything from gay issues to the mid-east. In fact, you can generally find a “talker” that is representing your ideas no matter what you feel.

            The most common subjects the talkers address are issues of faith. There will be conservatives on one corner and liberals on the next using the same Bible passages to reinforce their beliefs. Often, they engage their audience in debates that may be very intense. “The Boston Common Talkers” represent America’s free speech at its finest.

Most of us shy away from publicly sharing our faith with others. Jesus clearly wants us to share but we generally do not have the confidence to speak out in public. We need to realize that we need to share and “…say whatever I command you.” 

Thought for Today: Today, let us all look for a chance to tell someone about our faith. Let us invite some one to share, someone we may help and possibly even invite them to join us at a service.  

Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father today I pray for the strength to do your will here on earth. I pray that I may share my story of my life with You with someone.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Never Tire!

“Never tire of doing what is right.”

(1 Thessalonians 3:13)

            One of my Pickeringisms is that there are two types of people in the world; givers and takers. That is certainly a gross oversimplification I use to describe humanity. It came from my sales and business training and has overflowed into my teachings on living.

            In business I was taught to watch for those who would want to win at any cost; those who would think they were climbing a corporate ladder rather than building a pyramid of support. On a ladder you step on the rungs as you climb and often the ladder breaks. In the pyramid you build a base wide and tall as you move forward and up. I like that.

            It Christian life there are also givers and takers. We are all people in need and the level of that need is relative. Often our needs vary from year to year, decade to decade. When June and I were raising four children we were active in our Christian family. However, we often needed love and support from our peers. I feel there were times when we took a bit more than we gave; emotionally and financially.

            Today we give more than we take. That gives us a much warmer and more rewarding feeling.

Both being a taker and a giver in the Christian sense is OK. You see, if there were not people in need, there would not be anyone to give to and that would be a conundrum.

            Paul’s message says never tire of doing what is right; my experience is that when you are doing what is right you will not get tired! OOPS- is that a Pickeringism?

Bless you all for being my friends in Christ.

 Thought for Today: Today let us live as good Christians. If we need support let us accept it without guilt and recognize that we have made the giver feel good. If we are givers, let us give freely where there is need.

Prayer for Today: dear Lord, today we pray for those in need. Whether the need is great or small, physical or emotional, we pray that we recognize it and give them support in your name.



Monday, February 2, 2015

Punxsutawney Phil

For my international visitors, this is as much about Idols as it is an American oddity!
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 every day of the 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.