Monday, February 29, 2016

The Promise

The Promise

"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work
and the love you have shown him
as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end,
in order to make your hope sure.
We do not want you to become lazy,
but to imitate those who through faith and patience
inherit what has been promised."
(Hebrews 6; 10-12)

        In twelve step programs, there is a reading called "How It works". It recognizes that the program is to develop "spiritual growth not perfection". We all tend to get into that perfect mode; perfect mom, perfect dad, perfect employee and the list goes on. Let’s face it; we all fall short of perfection and have room for spiritual growth.
        In our daily lives, we make mistakes. We could count them weekly and judge ourselves as failures. The only one of us that does not make mistakes probably does nothing. Many people work their way into depression by counting their failures rather than their successes.
        In our spiritual lives it is not any different. We all have made mistakes and will continue to be less than perfect. We may feel bad or judge ourselves rather severely. However, "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown...".We must remember that as we walk the walk.

Thought for Today: Today we will fail again at being perfect. With that in mind let’s focus on the good that we do, the encouragement that we give others and the love we have in our hearts. That will help us have a great day.

Prayer for Today: Dear Lord and Father, it is easy to be distracted from your wishes for us. There are temptations that surround us in our daily lives; we make some bad choices and some good ones. Today we pray that we may focus on your understanding and caring love and for the opportunity to share your love with others.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

God's Love and Grace

 God's Love and Grace

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God;
He is the faithful God,”
 (Deuteronomy 7 v 9)
June and I have been blessed by being close to people of varied faiths. Through our association with each, we have come to a strong belief that we all worship the same God in different ways and we all experience God’s grace.
Several years ago we became good friends with the family of an executive from Pakistan. It was our first real close relationship with a Muslim family. We were close to them in 2001 and observed the frustration that a true Muslim felt in regard to September 11.
Recently a Jewish friend that I have known and liked for years shared with me that he does a bible study so he can learn about the Christian perspective. His strong family values, general positive personality and strong ethical standards make him someone I am glad to know. I joined the bible study!
We have spent many Sundays with my family in Unitarian Meeting Houses when we return to Massachusetts. We are learning more about my mom’s grandparents who were Unitarian ministers.
To avoid making this a 10,000 word essay, let me summarize some of our other relationships: A son in law who is a southern Baptist, a brother in law who is a Catholic priest in the UK, a Mormon best friend who lost touch with his faith, a Native American friend who has involved us in some spiritual activities, and the list goes on.
In each instance mentioned, June and I have experienced good friendships and observed strong Godly values in our friends. In most instances, we have observed God working in our friends’ lives and seen God’s grace at work in many ways. Most, importantly, we have experienced God’s grace through our friends.

Thought for the Day: This week let us recognize those around us that are different and try to befriend someone new. Let us seek out someone that looks at God in a different way. The Lord blesses them also.

Prayer for the Day: Dear faithful Lord and Father, the world is a great and wonderful creation. There are many peoples of all colors and beliefs. There are generation gaps, social differences, and economic separations. Often the differences get in the way of social graces. Today we pray the ability to bring unity to the world.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Intimacy, Marriage

 Intimacy, Marriage

"Husbands, love your wives,
just as Christ loved the church
and gave himself to her"
(Ephesians 5:25).
            I want to alter Paul’s message here to “Love your spouse just as Christ loved the church and gave himself” because a relationship is a two way street. Tonight as I write this I have said two prayers: Prayers of thanks for a great Valentine’s week and the prospect of a week above zero in the middle of February. St.Valentine’s day reminds us that it is important to love and pray for each other in a relationship, every day!
            In our early years, what I call my dark period, it was not always that way. June’s and my relationship was quite one sided, on the surface. My business schedule, coaching sports for four children, endurance training, tennis and several other items caused our interactions to be out of balance (Way out of balance!). June was more of a support person than a partner. Mom, step mom, cook, house cleaner … and whatever else was required. There was deep love on both sides but not intimacy.
            June and I met during my dark period. I did not recognize it at the time, but June was my light at the end of the tunnel. Through the grace of God, I saw that it was not a train coming from the other end!  Today our relationship is more balanced and giving; perhaps too much so if that is possible.
                        My message is a bit mixed up tonight but in summary, The Lord gives us an unlimited supply of love when we are born. It is never ending, always available to give and we have a chance to share it with our spouses every minute of every day. None of us are perfect and all days are not created equal, but we can love every day because we have an unlimited supply! As my favorite philosopher NIKE says, “Just Do It!”

Thought for Today: Today let us each tell someone close, friend or family how much their relationship means to us.

Prayer for Today: Dear Lord today I give thanks for those people in my life that are close to me; spouses, friends or relatives. May I share my love for them as Christ did for the Church.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Frozen Chosen!

Praise the LORD
 How good it is to sing praises to our God,
   how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
…Sing to the LORD with grateful praise;
Praise the Lord”
(Psalm 147, vs. 1 & 7)

            Listening to Beth Moore recently she talked about evangelism, sharing our faith and singing praises. Not only during Sunday services but all week long! That is evangelism, an invitational ministry, a welcoming format. In our small Methodist church we are far from being evangelists. The young families are too busy and we in the older generation seem too tired. The actuality of it is we are too conservative. A term that I like is that we are the “frozen chosen.” (A good expression for February in Minnesota!)
            Thirty years ago we had a gospel group come to our church for what they thought would be a rousing concert. The leader did all he could to get a group on Methodists to stomp their feet and clap their hands. He had limited success. We enjoyed the music but foot stomping was not an apt description!
            At a worship team meeting several years ago a group came to complain because people often applauded when our quartet or a soloist finished a piece. They requested that we put a notice in the announcements asking for no such show of pleasure or appreciation. As a team member I stated that if applause was outlawed they would have to deal with me standing upon a pew shouting “halleluiah-Amen!” Our pastor said “Pass the motion I want to see that!” I was blessed and the motion failed and we still applaud.
            We make decisions every day as to how we will interact with others. So today we will decide whether we will be inviting Christians or members of the frozen chosen!

Thought for Today: This week let’s mention our faith or our church to show someone why we are who we are. Let’s take our faith public!

Prayer for Today: Dear Lord and father, here in the northland we are frozen in a cold February winter while others bask in sunshine. In both climates strife, tensions and un-Godly terrorist attacks take place. We are in need of divine intervention, the interjection of love and respect and the elimination of hate throughout the world. Today we pray that we may contribute to peace and help relax the tensions around the world.