Monthly Archives: December 2010

Peace

One of the phrases we here in this season of Christmas is “peace on earth.”  How we all wish that could happen!  No more wars.  No more arguments.  No more divorce.  No more murder. And that list could extend for a long time.  If we could just get there, how much different would life be for us all?

What about personal peace?  I have been in a place in my own life where personal peace had left me.  It was a feeling of despair, loneliness, depression, and fear.  I don’t like being there.  None of us do.  Just think of the millions of dollars spent on helping people find peace in our world–self-help books, counsellors, medications, psychiatrists, and more.

Generally speaking, I think that our inability to find peace lies from within.  It’s a choice ultimately that has roots in where we place our faith.  The things I struggle with the most have to do with the things of this world–finances, stuff, transportation, popularity, and on and on.  We put lots of stock in our world and the stuff that is here.  We even put stipulations on our prayers.  We tell God, “I need _______ and you need to give it to me because I’m _______.”

It could be that our desire for peace centers more on “earthly peace” rather than “heavenly peace.”  Peace is a spiritual matter and is connected to spiritual things.  Please don’t because I say these things that I think I’ve got it all together. Just read the past year’s worth of blogs from me and you know that’s not the case.  So, when I say these things, I’m primarily speaking to me.  Peace has escaped me before and I don’t want that to happen ever again.  It nearly costed me my faith! 

Here is an encouragement for us all.  Philippians 4:6-7  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

I believe the peace spoken of here exceeds all understanding because of the disconnect with this world.  That kind of peace can only be spiritual and achieved only through spiritual means–namely Jesus Christ.  We live in a place where we will never–I said NEVER– be fully satisfied.  That’s one of our problems now.  We are so satisfied here, we don’t look forward to being with Him there! Let us all find our peace in Him so that whether here or there, we will be at peace with him.

I pray that my contentment can be that of the apostle Paul.  He said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  That would be peace!


Time Flies When…

Do you remember when the phrase “time flies when you’re having fun” was true?  It really was.   Remember when you were playing a baseball game and the whole world seem to stop what it was doing, but it didn’t last that long?  Remember the vacations with family?  Before you left for that two week time period, two weeks seemed like forever, but it flew by.

The opposite of that was true as well.  As a young person, birthdays seemed like years away instead of just one year.  Getting out of school for summer just felt like it would never get there and Christmas seemed ages away–so much so that we all used to say, “slow as Christmas.”

What happened to that?  Now for me it seems like ALL events fly by.  Afternoons off seem like moments before I’m back at work.  Months click off by the hour.  Birthdays are passing by like monthly events and Christmas “sneaks” up on us.

I’ve had older people tell me that the older I get, the faster time goes by.  It’s really true.  James tells us that life is like a steam or mist that appears only a short time and then vanishes.  That statement seems all too real these days.

Here some lessons I’m learning about that.

1.  Sweat the small stuff.  When I think of someone now, I usually call them or go see them.

2. Take advantage of every opportunity to spend time with family.  Who knows?

3. Sit in the floor and play with my grandson.

4. Go with my kids places when they ask.

5. Tell my wife, “I love you” at every opportunity.

6. Do good to others when the chance comes along.

7. Call mom more often.  I wish I could still call dad–and grandmother–and ….

8. Take every opportunity to share Jesus and the good that He brings the world.

What do you learn from time?


Humility Not Optional

If Jesus taught anything by the way he lived his life, He taught how we need to humble ourselves.  Philippians 2 is a classic text for the humility of Jesus.  This week on my way to work, I’ve been listening to Dr. David Jeremiah who has been speaking about humility and the lessons we learn through suffering.  Rich stuff!!

In this text Jesus is described as one who gave up his place in heaven in order to come here and live as a man so that He could be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.  What a mouthful that is–God in the living breathing person of Jesus!

If we could leave the text alone with that one concept it would be great and probably enough for us to chew on the rest of our lives, but we can’t leave it there.  As David Jeremiah did in his radio message, we must see the whole text.  I’m not going to preach his whole message here.  You can click the link above and find it for yourself, but I do want to quote the text that is found in the verse before all of the description of Jesus and let it sink deep within us.  It says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:5 NIV).  Notice that the sentence does not end here.  The next word in the NIV is, “Who….” Following this word, Paul then describes Jesus and His emptying Himself from heaven to come here and be a servant.   What can that mean?  For the Christian, it can only mean that the two phrases are part of the same thought.  In other words, “You, as a Christ-follower should have the humility of Jesus.”

The challenge for me in this is to be like Christ in my thinking when it comes to every aspect of my life.  I can’t excuse myself by saying, “I’ll never be perfect like Jesus.”  He’s not asking us to be that which we cannot, but he is asking us to have the same thought patterns and lifestyle that lines up with humble principles.

What would the world look like if we all decided today to humble ourselves before God and let Him be at work in our lives?  Our world would immediately be a better place.  That’s one of the biggest understatements I’ve ever written here.

Here are some more scriptures to look at to see this paradox of being last in order to be first.   Humility is the key to living for Jesus and for Crist-followers, it’s not optional.   (Read, Proverbs 15:33 and 29:23, Matthew 18:4 and 23:12, Luke 14:11 and 18:14.  Also James 4:10, and 1 Peter 5:5-6.)

 


Prepare to Meet Thy God!

Ever wonder what it will be like when Jesus comes back?  I don’t mean the whole pre, post, or a-milliniel stuff.  I don’t concern myself so much about all the nuances of those arguments any more.  The question mostly comes out of an experience that happened today.

I meet lots of interesting people in the hotel business.  At our hotel, we get a wide range of people.  There are those who have lots of money who stay in hotels many nights a year–business people, retired people who are well to do, and others who just have plenty of money to spend and like to travel.  We have famous people stay with us–coaches, singers, actors, and more.   Then there are others who hardly ever get to travel.  They are at our hotel on a gift certificate, a friend pays for it, or they happen to win the contest at their company Christmas party and get to have a night’s stay.

Last night we had a family stay in our hotel who, let’s just say, were very well to do.  I don’t give out information here that might indicate who these people are for obvious privacy issues, but just know that this guy and his family were VIP’s and they got the royal treatment.  You wouldn’t think it though because they were almost impossible to please.   The coffee wasn’t right.  The fruit was “rotten.” The valet didn’t react quick enough.  And on and on.

When she called about some of her concerns, you can guess that yours truly answered the phone.  After a good chewing (actually she was very proper as she chewed) I explained that we all make mistakes and that we were very sorry that she had the experience that she did.  I told her that I hoped she’d come back and give us another chance to do better.  She assured me that coming back was not an option!  After a few more words of chastening, she let me off the hook.

Not to just cry sour grapes and not to just defend our hotel because it’s ours, but this was an obvious case of someone who, it didn’t matter how we acted, she would find a problem.  When you are part of our hotel like ours, you understand how important it is to take care of the customer.  At present, we are number 21 out of almost 400 hotels in customer satisfaction.  That’s pretty good.

In light of this, I asked someone at the office today, “How are people like us going to react when we see Jesus?”  One would get the sense that when Jesus comes back again there will be some who will just look at him and reject him.  Some will be so bold as to think they will be able to talk to God in anyway and God will bow to their wishes.

The word says that Philippians 2:10-11 “… at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Did I get that?  There won’t be any demands that day!  There won’t be any schedules that can’t wait.  There won’t be pride and cocky.  There will be bowing and confessing.  Awesome!!

So, the next time I feel like I’m superior to God’s ways and will, I need to think about Jesus and our next face to face meeting.


Sanctifying Your Stable

Heard an awesome lesson this morning from pastor Doc Shell at a special service at Christ Chapel.  He spoke of the place where Jesus was born in a way I had never thought of before. 

Of course we all know that a stable is not the best place in the world to do anything–especially birthing a child.  There are smells (we won’t go into), there is the presence animals, and hay cannot be the most blessed of bed surfaces (assuming there was hay in the feed box where Jesus lay) on which to lay a new-born baby.  No matter what, the fact remains that the King of kings was born in a stable.

Pastor Doc talked about how this was a physically bad place for the greatest of all spiritual victories to have taken place.  While the world around Joseph, Mary, and Jesus was business as usual, the angels in heaven were singing praises because the Son of God had been made flesh and was among us!  God brought forth from a stable the one who would be the Savior of the world! 

Question:  What stable are you in right now that God is sanctifying for something great to come out of later?  So many of us think we are not where God wants us to be when all along he is trying to get us to understand that it is Him who is working in us something awesome for the future. 

This is a lesson in trust and faith.  Our trust cannot be grounded in anything other than God Himself.  We must trust that wherever we are, that is where He wants us right now–even though we can’t see the future.

Therefore, let us all sanctify our stables and continue being content with where we are in order that God’s mighty power can be working in us.  Set apart in your mind that the situation in which you find yourself just may be a place God is preparing something wonderful for you.

Share some of your thoughts about times when God has brought you out of the stable.


Where I Am For Now

It’s been a long time since I have written. I wonder if anyone is even stopping by here any more. Blogging isn’t always about whether anyone is listening or not–it’s just therapy to write sometime.

Anyway, I thought I’d write and explain a little about where we have been in the past few months. It’s been almost three months since my last post. Before that only one in August and two in July.   The interesting thing about those posts is that they represent just how confusing my life has been for the past year.  I’ve gone through pain, joy, excitement, hurt, and more.  At times I’ve been able to function fairly normally. At other times, I’ve been an absolute jerk to myself, other people, and especially to God.

I feel very much like I’ve been through some kind of grief or something.  I’ve denied the reality of things that existed.  I’ve certainly been angry at the situation–to the point that I have completely alienated myself at times.  I’ve bargained with God, “Lord if you will only take this away, I will….”  I would not admit it, but depression has crept into my heart more than once through all of this time.  And, then there are the recent times of accepting where I am and just waiting on God to do whatever it is that He is going to do with me.

That last step is one that I want to focus on now.  About three months ago, or at least that is the best of my remembrance, I decided to stop being angry at God, the church, people, and myself and just get on with it.  It was such a liberating feeling.  To “let go and let God,” which is a phrase you didn’t want to tell me 6 months ago, has been awesome.  That hasn’t meant that things are always good now, but it has allowed me to be in a more accepting and humble frame of mind.

After doing this, I found that the words from the Father seemed clearer.  I have found an ability to stop and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  When I think about someone, I call or go see them.  When I feel that God is leading in a certain way, I try and just follow that.  It’s made me a much more giving husband, understanding father, and a better co-worker.

Work has been a real issue in my life over this past year.  I’ve done everything from work in a music store, a sporting goods store, clean houses with Ellen, driving a school bus, sell so much stuff that the dog is getting nervous–just anything I could to get by until….  I didn’t know what “until” would be and still don’t know ultimately, but I made a decision to walk into whatever opportunity that seemed like an open door–no matter what kind of money I would be making.  I’ve had so many great experiences that I should have been blogging about, but was just not in a frame of mind to do so.  Maybe sometime I will write it all down.

On September 17, I was hired at my most recent job–Front Desk Clerk at the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa here in Florence.  I once mockingly said, “That place is too ritzy for this area, it will never fly.”  Boy was I wrong.  It has thrived now for 5 plus years and shows no signs of stopping.  I love the people and what I do.  I have said that if it paid more than what it does, I’d be content doing just what I’m doing now.  Who knows where this work will lead?

As far as “church” goes, I’ve been through so many emotions.  All of the grief process I spoke of earlier is really due to my church experience.  There are not enough megabytes to type how I really feel here.  Some have said, “You ought to write a book about it.”  Maybe someday I will.  The cool thing about it all is that I have totally and I mean TOTALLY let go of all of my hurt and anger toward the organized church.  God has had to have been the one to set me free from this because the hurt and anger was so deep, I don’t think I could have done it myself.

I want to say a special thanks to all of the people and entities who have been there for me in so many ways.  Groups of people and individuals have come to our financial aid and still continue to do so.  The government that so many of us have maligned has and continues to help us get through this.  Creditors have been at times understanding and let us slide till the next month.

So many of you who have doubted that I loved you because of my actions, I truly am sorry and hope that you will forgive my stupidity.  To the church that I have fussed about and put down, please forgive.  To my family who has put up with me in the worst of attitudes–I am sorry and pray your forgiveness.

I feel that my feet have been placed back in a solid position for the time being.  That does not mean that I have it all together.  It just means that, for now, I feel I can function.  We have started meeting in our home with a small group of believers on Sunday mornings to follow the call of God on our hearts.  We feel that God is calling us to minister to people who may not feel they belong in a larger group of Christians like in a conventional church setting.  I don’t know where this is going, but I feel it is where God is using us right now.  On Wednesday nights, we attend Macedonia church of Christ and they allow me to teach in the teen class, which I thoroughly enjoy and feel at ease in.  Teens have always played a special part in Ellen’s and my life.  These kids are awesome too!

Thanks for listening.  I love you all.