Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Me So Little, He So Big, And Yet...

I was privileged to grow up on a farm that was far enough away from the big city of Fort Wayne, Indiana that I could actually see stars. Many were the nights I would lay in our yard, stare up at the diamond-studded sky, and feel an inner twinge of extreme smallness.

Apparently, the young shepherd David did the same thing, and it led him to write a song that would become the 8th Psalm...

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them;
human beings that you care for them?

Margaret Becker turns those thoughts into a more-personal question: Who am I?

Truth is...I may never know why it is He loves me so, but I will live my life celebrating the fact that He does.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

JtB or JC?

Mark gets right to it in his account of Jesus' life...cuts to the chase, as it were.

Mark 1:1-11 from Eugene Peterson's The Message:

The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.

Watch closely: I’m sending my preacher ahead of you;
He’ll make the road smooth for you.
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!

John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.

As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”

At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”

From my journal, November 15, 2000:

Which would I rather be: Jesus, or John the Baptist? Would I rather have my way prepared for me, or prepare the way for another?  -  At one time or another, I'm sure that each of us is each of them. But oh, to hear God say, "You are chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life."

Truth is...None of us can actually be either John the Baptist or Jesus Christ, but we can, to a certain extent, fill similar roles in the lives of people we have contact with. I can help prepare a person to be ready to receive Jesus by speaking truth, living out love in practical ways, and offering grace and forgiveness like a "little Christ" (a literal definition of "Christian").

The song, You're the Only Jesus, as sung by The Imperials:

Or, if you prefer prose to poetry, this quick thought from David Whiting:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ruler of Islam Saves Protestantism

It's not Scripture (in fact, it's probably from a 19th century hymn by William Cowper), but it's still true: God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

The phrase came to mind when I recently read an excerpt from Martin Luther (by Scott H. Hendrix) that explained how the Catholic church could have easily nipped Martin Luther and his fellow protesters in the bud except for being occupied with the military threat posed by the Islamic leader of "the Turks", Sultan Suleymon.

Which in turn reminded me of a song by Rich Mullins (long-time readers should not be surprised):  "Who God Is Gonna Use".

Truth is...if God can use a donkey or an Islamic sultan or a Roman Governor to bring about His grand story of redemption, He can certainly use you or me.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Fill My Cup

Feeling empty?

Let's escape from the current political news and social chaos and rumor-mongering and turn to what has proven to be a source of comfort and hope to millions of people through the course of thousands of years...music.

And the particular piece of music I'd like to direct you to today is not just a song; it's also a prayer.

Well, if you've got six minutes to spare, let the message of this song, as recorded by Debbie Roth of Rest in Him Ministry, become your personal plea for refreshment.

Truth is...yes, that IS my wife and yes, I would love for you to arrange for her to sing and/or speak at your next ladies' retreat or fellowship event. However...it would give me even more joy to know that this little oasis of hope has made today's journey through the desert more bearable.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Making Memories

The entertainment industry recently lost not only a prolific instigator of laughter, but by all accounts a genuinely kind-hearted fellow...Garry Marshall.

From writing episodes of hits like The Lucy Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 60's, through having his finger in what seemed like every ABC sitcom in the 70's (The Odd Couple, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy), to directing, and often writing, a string of successful films in the 80's and beyond (Beaches, Pretty Woman, The Other Sister, Runaway Bride...), Garry Marshall launched careers, propelled people to stardom, and taught a generation (or two) how to laugh without ridiculing or pandering.

Anne Hathaway became a star being directed by Marshall in The Princess Diaries. In her written remarks upon his death, she quotes Marshall's words to her before filming began:

“You never know if a movie is going to be a hit or not. The only thing you can control is the memories you make when shooting it. So, let’s make some good memories.”

Truth is...the same thing can be said about almost any earthly endeavor or even about life itself. The importance of the destination dims if there is no joy in the journey. So get out there and live a memorable life!