May 20, 2011

Getting Past the Valley

It's raining today.  I've always liked the rain.  There is something about it that cleanses the soul.  We need that in our day to day living.  It gets pretty dirty at times. 

It's been a long time where I live since we've had a good long rain.  In middle Oklahoma we usually get our rain at this time of year from severe thunder storms.  Sometimes if you survive the storms, the gentle rain continues for a while.  That's what it's like today. 

Life is like that, too.  Walking through the shadow of the valley of death, as we all are doing from time to time, it's all we can do to just get through it sometimes.  But if we can, and when we do, there is often on the other side a gentle cleansing rain to wash away the dirt of the valley.  Thank God for those times.

February 25, 2011

Living the High Life

There are so many Christians who do not appreciate the magnificent dignity of their vocation to sanctity, to the knowledge, love and service of God. - Thomas Merton

Every day I take walks around my neighborhood.  It's good for me physically, socially and mentally.  It's a blessing to be able to stretch the old muscles and enjoy God's creation.  I go everyday that I am able, no matter the weather.  Daily walking is an important part of my life.

The other day I was looking into the sky, as I often do during my walks, and there was a most beautiful sight.  High above, maybe 1500 feet or so, was a large flock of Canadian Geese, about a hundred or more, in V-formations and heading north.  They were so high that I could barely hear the squawking sounds they were making to communicate with one another.  What made it so beautiful to me was the sight of birds in migration, doing what God created them to do instinctively - fly back north from their winter refuges to their northern homeland.  Shortly thereafter followed a second flock about a large, following the first.  Quite a sight!

As I continued my walk, thinking about the migration of birds, our local geese - about twenty of them - flew just over my head down the block to our neighborhood pond.  They remain here year round, and except for having to dodge their occasional droppings on the sidewalk, they are a joy to watch and have around.  Some of my neighbors feed them, and one man has even gone so far as to give them names. 

Our local geese are very unaware of their high flying relatives at this time of year.  Though the same breed, our local geese lead a very different existence.  They are not experiencing the fullness of their created, instinctual nature.  They have the ability to migrate, and God created them to do so, but for some reason have not taken to the high flights of every spring and fall.  Though nice to have around, it seems to me that they are missing out on such an important part of their existence and purpose.

Then I realized, some of us Christians are like local geese - never attaining to the fullness of life in Christ which we were meant to have.  So, I wonder what keeps so many of us from taking to the high skies?

January 23, 2011

Upon Finding a Church

About a year ago my wife and I began to feel the Lord moving us to a new location of ministry.  You might wonder how we knew it was the Lord.  We knew through His revelations to us in the words and deeds of others, especially those of the His body - our local church.  Little by little we began to hear what He was saying.  We opened our hearts more and more to His leading and guidance in our lives.  Prayer upon prayer was said by us and others.  Then, when we were as certain of His will for us as we could be, we stepped out on faith and simply showed up - seeking Jesus. Our new congregation, we have found, is full of assurances that we have made the right move. 

We are where the Lord wants us to be now, and that's a mighty good feeling.  Finding our new church is such a blessing.  We are glad to be a new part of God's church in our home town.  We have methodically visited Sunday School classes, enthusiastically participated in worship services, genuinely fellowshipped in both men's and women's groups, and have expectantly scheduled a visit with the senior minister.  Of all the moves we have made in ministry, this is the best because we have patiently waited upon the Lord - maybe better than we ever have done before.  It sure feels that way now. 

So, upon finding a church I simply give God all the glory for His grace and mercy in our lives.  As we enter into this new part of life's journey and phase in the ministry to which He has called us, we go with confidence that we are walking in His paths of righteousness for His name's sake.  We're looking forward to what He has in store for us.  It just doesn't get much better!

January 20, 2011

Wait and See

Sitting down with my wife at breakfast this morning doing what I have a lot more time to do since retirement - meaningful conversation.  Of course we talked about how to get through the early stages of this new adventure, but we spent the best part of our time discussing what makes for meaningful ministry and trying to answer the question - Now What?  We've come quite a ways since our beginnings in our walk with the Lord Jesus.  As we face the challenges that lay ahead for us, the wonder is naturally in what way are we best going to be able to serve Him.

Looking back over the years of ministry that I've had - both personally and professionally - it was impressed upon my mind today that it's always been about others in need and finding and doing what I can to meet the need in Jesus' name.  God hasn't called me to a life of preparation and thinking about what to do.  He has called me to action by His grace through faith in what I can do for Him to help others.  I've helped native Americans, soldiers, church congregations and foster parents through the years.  They were groups of people that had needs that I was enabled by God's Spirit to help meet in various ways.  It was always about the people.  It's never been about me.

Now I'm entering a new phase of life and ministry.  As I do so, I know that the Lord Jesus will lead me in the right way to utilize the gifts that He has given for the work ahead.  Like before, I believe that all of a sudden I will end up in the midst of doing that work with the people He has led me to help and later realize that it was His hand that guided me there.  Like never before, though, it will be about ... well, I'll just have to wait and see.