The Ol’ Taur-cedes

Recently, I saw the spitting image of a car I used to drive before the Jeep era began. Back in the day, i.e. before 2003, I drove a 1993 Ford Taurus very similar to this one pictured above. It had a maroon interior with bucket seats, but otherwise, it was identical.

Flashbacks like this one are fun. It doesn’t make me want to go back and buy another Taurus, but it’s a reminder of where I’ve been. It was a great car (except for the A/C which never worked right and left me a sweaty mess in the middle of summer).

But I’ve since upgraded to the Jeep, so I feel like my cool factor has gone way up.

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I Wish You Enough

I’m posting something that I found on Facebook 5 years ago. I can’t think of anything to add to it, so I’ll just let it speak:

“Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport as the daughter’s departure had been announced. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said:

‘I love you and I wish you enough.’

The daughter replied, ‘Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom.’ They kissed and the daughter left.

The mother walked over to the window where I sat. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry.

I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, ‘Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?’ ‘Yes, I have,’ I replied. ‘Forgive me for asking but why is this a forever good-bye?’

‘I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is the next trip back will be for my funeral,’  she said.

When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?”

She began to smile. ‘That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.’ She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more.

‘When we said ‘I wish you enough’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them’. Then turning toward me, she shared the following, reciting it from memory,

‘I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.”

She then began to cry and walked away.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person. An hour to appreciate them. A day to love them. And an entire life to forget them.”

Praying the Unattainable

I was in a Bible study this evening, sitting at a table with some people that I barely knew or had just met. We were discussing why it is that thanksgiving isn’t more of a part of our lives of faith.

One girl said that when she prays, she starts off by thanking God for those certain attributes of His that she will never have.

That took me by surprise. At first, it sounded like she was copping out, but I figured I’d hear her out so I tuned all the way in to the rest of what she said.

She basically said that she praises God for attributes like His omniscience and omnipotence. That centers the rest of her prayers around the fact that God knows way more than she does and can see from a bigger vantage point than she can.

I wonder how that would change my own prayer life. If I was mindful of God’s ability to know and see things I can’t, it might change my perspective toward what I think God needs to give me. It might shift my focus from what I don’t have to what I do.

I might even choose to ask for less and pray more “Thy will be done,” leaving the choice to God to provide what He knows I need instead of what I think I want (that often times I don’t really want once I get it).

Thanksgiving comes first. It changes my mindset from entitled whiner to grateful praiser. It reminds me that everything I am and have is really only God’s doing, so I have no reason to think I’m all that and a bag of chips. Then I can rightly see myself as God sees me and understand that when God sees Jesus in me, that’s a very good thing.

 

 

The Fear of God

“I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery” (Brennan Manning).

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10, NIV)

The fear of God was the topic of tonight’s sermon from Kairos. I don’t mean fear as in uncontrollable terror, but more as a reverential awe. A healthy fear of God means that I can’t stay comfortable in my own sin, but this God who loves me as I am won’t leave me that way, but does all that is in His power to make me just like Jesus.

This God of the Bible isn’t a daft old grandfatherly type who will wink at your misdeeds and sins. This is the God who is completely Other, whom we could never hope to know if He hadn’t chosen to reveal Himself to us.

My favorite illustration of the fear of God comes from John Piper. He said it’s like witnessing a mighty thunderstorm from the safety of a shelter. You see the majesty and power of the storm but are protected from the danger of it.

This God of love is also a God of holiness. Jesus Himself said that God’s standard is perfection, yet Jesus also met that standard on our behalf. He said not to fear those who can kill the body only, but to fear Him who can kill the body and the soul, namely God.

I’m thankful God poured the wrath that my own sins deserved on Jesus. I hope I never take for granted that my sins always are costly and always bring death in some form. I hope I never lose sight of the wonder and awe and mystery of God who has made Himself known in the person of Jesus.

 

The Sacred Silence

As I was hiking the Gainier Ridge and South Cove Trails alone today at Randor Lake State Park, I was sharply reminded just how rare true silence is.

How often in a day you do leave room for quiet and silence?

I know for me that I often turn on the television or the radio almost out of reflex, even if only for some kind of background noise. So many of us have an almost manic desire to fill every second of our day with sound.

Yet as I walked up the trail, I could feel the stress leaving my body in the midst of all the silence. Only in this case, it wasn’t true silence. I found I could hear the little rhythms of nature, like little chipmunks and squirrels scurrying about and deer prancing by in the background.

For our spiritual and mental health, we need to leave margins in our day for intentional moments of silence. We need the quiet if only to hear ourselves think.

This culture is almost allergic to silence. You will almost never hear a quiet moment on the radio or television or any kind of streaming device. But I believe that the vast majority of us are drowning in a sea of noise pollution. We need silence.

The Psalmist says of God: “Be still and know that I am God.”

The stillness has to be a deliberate and intentional act on our part. We do not naturally find silence unless we choose to make room for it. As with anything truly important, we won’t ever have time unless we make time for it.

Once there, you have to keep disciplining your mind, bringing it back from all the little tangents and diversions it takes (or at least mine takes) to be centered on hearing the still small voice of God in the silence.

But it has to start with silence.

 

 

A Tale of Two Grandmothers

At The Church at Avenue South this morning, the guest pastor, Hunter Melton, talked about how four women played an integral part in the spreading of the resurrection news on that first Easter Sunday.

It may not seem like a big deal now, but in a 1st century world were women were seen as second class citizens and had little to no rights, this was revolutionary for the gospel writers to include them.

I’m certain that most of you can point back to at least one woman who helped to shape who you are today. I know that I can point to at least (but not limited to) two women– both my grandmothers, Iris and Ruby.

Iris was a lady who loved her Bible and loved her hymns. She was almost always talking about her love for Jesus or singing one of the old hymns that you don’t hear much of these days. She definitely had a huge impact on my faith.

Ruby didn’t vocalize her faith as much but she sure did live it out. She was always ready to help out and lend a hand. She made incredible sacrifices for her friends and family, and we are all better for it.

I miss both of them. If you have one or both of your grandmothers, take every opportunity to let them know how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Don’t just call– go and see them and spend time with them and listen to their stories (even if they get repeated a few times).

If you are a mother or grandmother, never take for granted the incredible influence you have on the next generations. If you are faithful to be present in the lives of your children and grandchildren, one day they will rise up and call you blessed.

God Rejoices

“God rejoices. Not because the problems of the world have been solved, not because all human pain and suffering have come to an end, nor because thousands of people have been converted and are now praising him for his goodness. No, God rejoices because one of his children who was lost has been found” (Henri Nouwen).

I love the parables about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost a. k. a. prodigal son. They all show how God places immense value and worth on an individual life.

All lives matter to God, whether Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, male or female, gay or straight, short or tall, fat or skinny. 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is not willing that anyone should perish but that everyone should come to repentance and faith and find freedom in Jesus.

And every time one of God’s children finds his or her way home, there’s a party in heaven. The angels rejoice. God rejoices.