Thursday, August 29, 2013

Quietly

I don’t have to be online too long before I can find out what is going on with people I know. Vacations, promotions, prizes, and other good things fill up emails, make up Facebook statuses, or are tweeted about. Those are good things and they are heard loud and clear.

What I’m thinking about today are those who are quieter.

  • Your vacation won’t come again this year because you are just hoping to have enough money to buy groceries this week.
  • Your car was new to somebody else twelve years ago and you are hopeful those wheels will just get you to work a few more times.
  • Your family doesn’t seem as fun as what other people are sharing. It reminds you how much you are dreading the return of the holidays in a few weeks.
  • Your job situation is not the promotion you wanted, nor is it even in the field you thought it would be in. Each day is a reminder that you were trained to do more and you want to do more . . . but in your current job, or with no job, you are doing neither.
  • Your doctor’s report wasn’t “Good news!” You know what you battle isn’t fatal or anything, but the pain is tiring or the immobility is frustrating. You simply want a day with some relief.

You struggle quietly. You ‘Like’ other people’s successes and good fortunes. You reply with graciousness and humility, but you struggle quietly.

Can I remind you of something? God hears you. He certainly does. The Bible tells us so many times and in so many ways that God hears people. Not only does he hear you, but he loves you. He really does want things to get better for you. What father doesn’t want the best for his children? Until things can get better, he wants you to do one thing: trust him. Have you? Will you?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Language

The clue was “POLISH.” That could mean one of two things. First, it could mean the stuff you rub on your dress shoes to make them shine. Second, it could mean that you are from Poland. They are spelled the same, but they sound different. (It was a game, so we decided that the shoe definition would work best.) English also has a problem with words that sound the same, but they are spelled differently. An example is “or” and “oar.” Another dilemma, and one of my favorites, is that we park on driveways and drive on parkways. English isn’t alone in its quirkiness, it is just the language that I know.

Is God smart?

You might wonder what that has to do with word games and driveways. John tells us:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us . . . . John 1:14.

God came to us as the Word. What God had spoken, is speaking, and will speak, is what Jesus is. The Word became flesh. In all of the languages that have been spoken since Jesus, there is the possibility to talk about the Word! It’s brilliant! God communicating through people and languages and words and sentences. What a God. It’s so simple that it’s profound. When God speaks, we should listen.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sing

Each morning for the last several weeks I have been reading the Psalms. Those last three words are kind of ironic: ‘reading the Psalms.’ That is like saying “I have been reading countless top 20 songs this week.” All of those psalms were written with the intent to be sung and played. Sadly, we don’t know the tunes. In those lyrics, though, is a heart that I long to have. A heart that:

  • sees God as bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger
  • is so sad at the state of humanity
  • realizes the need for God can only be satisfied by God
  • can weave words and music together in such a beautiful way
  • is so bold before God
  • is so humble before God

As I continue to add more and more of those things to my life and my thinking, I will do what these psalms want me to do: sing. Sometimes it is in the car while other times are during worship on Sundays. In it all may God hear and may God be praised.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Advertising

A co-worker and I have been working on some different flyers to hand out to visitors on Sunday mornings. We have one in the making that we hope will be useful when someone wants to tell their friend about our church family. Another one will help people know what to expect when they visit. I have had classes on preaching and classes on different books of the Bible. One class that was not offered to me was marketing.

Marketing is what we have been dabbling in with the flyers. That sounds almost irreverent to say, but if the ‘product’ was something other than religion, marketing is exactly what a bystander would call all of this discussion. Font size, text box outlines, color choices, and the all-important wording. Friendly not fuzzy. Cheerful but real. Then we will have to decide between regular printer paper or that slick paper that fancies things up.

All of this leaves me with mixed feelings. Do I want someone to come to worship because of the picture we put between paragraphs? I do know I don’t want them to dismiss us because we chose the wrong one. Do I want someone to come to class because we used the phrase “Classes for all ages”? I do know I want them to be aware of what we have for them.

It looks like we will stay in the publishing business. We want to share what we have with others. The business we must not forget about, though, is the loving business. Listen to Jesus talk about another kind of marketing:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35, NIV).

A flyer may help someone come, but the love they find will be what helps them stay.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Word study

National – This means you won’t be doing things by yourself. Those sharing your neighborhood or other borders are joining you. You are a part of something bigger than yourself.

Day – Something that has a place on your schedule. Compared to the ‘blink’ or ‘flash’ this is something that has a more lasting purpose. Compared to ‘week’ or ‘year’ this is something that will not go on beyond a 24-hour period.

Of – A word that must really confuse people who are not used to the English language. It ends with the ‘v’ sound but has an ‘f’ in that place. It even sounds like ‘above’ and that word ends in yet another way! That aside, it indicates a degree of relationship.

Prayer – The created talking to the Creator. Even more surprising is the Creator promises to listen.

By the sounds of it, we need to make this more than an annual event. I propose that tomorrow be National Day of Prayer part 2. After that we should have a proclamation for National Day of Prayer part 3. Then we could go on and have National Day of Prayer part . . . .

Monday, April 29, 2013

Years

Yesterday’s sermon began with something very fun and it wasn’t initiated by me. I guess it would be safe to say that it was initiated by two people five decades ago.

Before worship I found out that one of the couples in my church family was celebrating their 50th anniversary. Sometimes when events like that are mentioned on a Sunday it usually follows with, “The actual day is this coming Thursday.” Not this celebration. Sunday was the day! I was thrilled to be asked to present them with a vase of roses and a card.

As I walked over to where they were seated, I thought of a bunch of questions for them:

In what ways is your marriage stronger today than after the first few years?

Marriage is in the news a lot today. What makes your marriage different than the rest?

What have you done right?

What have you done wrong?

What would you have done differently?

Their smiles answered many of my questions. Only those sitting right in front of them could join me in seeing their faces. 50 years. When they said, “I do,” they did.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Potholes

The people who fill potholes have a tough job. You think it would be easy. Load up some asphalt on your big truck, drive around the city, get your shovel out, get a scoop out of the pile, fill the hole.

Me? I’d make it harder than it had to be. I’m the guy who likes my bookshelves orderly: divided by topic, all the books flush with the front edge of the shelf. I would fill the hole, pack it in, level it, drive over it with the big truck, check it for compaction, bring it back to level . . . and repeat. It would take me months to get a street done.

What jobs are being done around you that you should be thankful for? When you see someone who does one of those jobs, be sure to tell them thanks. If you can, tell their supervisor that you noticed their employee.

If you are one of those who do a job that often goes unnoticed, thank you! Forward this to your boss, too. They need to know you are doing a great job!