Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lenten Reflection #35:When Children Cry

I don't handle my children crying very well.  I refused to be a parent that would let my children cry themselves to sleep.  My heart hurt to hear them cry.  When they would fall and skin a knee or bump their head.  I would wipe away the tears not just to dry their face but I can't hardly bear to see them cry. I want to comfort them and help them over their pain.  I want to wipe away their tears.  My kids are 16, 15, 11 and 6 and I still can't handle seeing any of them cry.

The Bible tells us that God is one who wipes the tears of his children.  He hurts with us and he hurts when we are hurt.  Isaiah 25:8 says,

"he will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces: he will remove his people's disgrace from all the earth.  The Lord has spoken."

God could not bear to see us swallowed up by death and separated from him forever.  So he swallows up sin. And when we are hurt and crying he wipes our tears.  It seems that he too does not like to sit by and see his children cry.  When we fall He is there to wipe are tears, to help us up and mend our wounds.

In the final days of Jesus earthly ministry He reveals how far he will go to restore us into relationship with Him. He shows us what he is willing to do for his kids so that we can be with Him forever.  He shows us how much he loves us as He swallows up death and sin on Good Friday and He makes all things new on Easter morning.

Rejoice for God, Our Heavenly Father, is with us and he will wipe the tears from our faces.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lenten Reflection #34: Do Over

This morning I sat in the hospital waiting for a friend to come out of a procedure. While I waited there I took some time to reflect upon scripture and to write a blog post. The post was a reflection on the passage from Isaiah that prophecies about the final days of Christ's earthly ministry and his suffering.  You can read this passage in Isaiah 53. 

The particular part that I was reflecting upon speaks of how Jesus bears our pain and our suffering. I talked about how we experience the shadow of the valleys we walk through because Jesus stand between us and the situation so we don't get the full impact, just a shadow. The psalmist writes that he walks through "the valley of the "shadow" of death. 
Like when an object is between the light source and the ground it cast a shadow. The shadow is not what is being blocked it is just an after effect.  
 
Jesus bears some of our pain and suffering so we get a "blocked" version. Jesus keeps us safely in the shadow and he bears the brunt of the pain and suffering. 

I am sure that the blog was going to be a good one but as I was searching for the perfect picture to go with the post I lost everything. The whole post just disappeared from my phone. 

So, I got a second chance to write and reflect. 

Isn't that just like God. He is with us through our pain and our suffering and he is the God of second chances. And third chances. And fourth chances. So on and so forth. He is the God of the do over. 

Love today knowing that as long as you let Jesus lead you will be in His shadow. 

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lenten Reflection #33: Palm Sunday

 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
John 12:13

I remember in the old westerns when an outsider would come into the camp of the cowboys or the cowboys would encounter the Indians and they wanted to talk, they would say "I come in peace" or they would say someone had sent them.  Sci-fi movies used the same type of line when the people of earth confronted the aliens, "I come in peace."

On the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem, the day we remember today as Palm Sunday, the people exclaimed, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."

In whose name do we come?  Whose name do we represent?

As followers of Jesus we come in peace, love, hope and joy.  We come in the grace and forgiveness that flows from a live lived in the name of Jesus.

We are blessed when we live and relate to others in the name of the Lord.  Blessing, according to Matthew 5, means that we will see God.  We will encounter Him.  We will be comforted by Him.  We will be called "children of God."  We will enter His kingdom.

Names in the bible are more than names.  They illustrated who the person was.  They had deeper meaning into a persons character and they described them at there core.  Jesus even changed peoples name to call them something that better illustrated the content of there character.  He tells Simon that he will called Peter, which means rock, because Peter was a rock.  Elijah means the  "my God is the Lord".

For us to live in the name of Jesus means to live as Jesus would live.  To live with the character the Jesus and to love like Jesus love.

In our day there may never be parades of palms but we can come and live by the name of Jesus.  People may never shout "Hosanna", but may it be said of us that we come in peace, love, joy and hope.  May they say of us that we live in the name of Jesus.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lenten Reflection #32:Dependent

"My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge."
Psalm 62:7 NIV

I am dependent.  I spent a great deal of my life trying to show myself and everyone else that I could be independent. I tried most of my youth and early adult years trying to prove to other that I could do it all by myself.  Independence was what I thought it meant to grow up.  Be my own man.  Depend on no one but myself.

Boy, was I wrong.  I am dependent on God.  Without Him I am nothing.  Without Him I can do nothing.

Sure, I can balance my checkbook and I can dress myself.  I hold down a job.  I have the independence of being able to care for myself.  Yet, I am dependent upon God for everything.  He is my rock and my refuge.  Everything I am, everything I will be and everything I have is because of Him.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lenten Reflection # 31: Easter is Coming!

I was just thinking the other day how quickly this season of Lent has gone by. Easter is just around the corner. This Sunday is Palm Sunday and then we will move into Holy Week. Easter is on the horizon.  

Of course we still will pass through the cross and Calvery. We will be confronted by and encounter the passion of Jesus. There is still darkness before we reach the light of Easter. But, hang on Easter is coming. 

Easter transforms the darkness to light. Easter changes death to light. Easter turns all our Good Friday's to Easter Sundays. 

This is the promise of the parable of Easter.  For all our Good Fridays there is an Easter morning. For all the days that we pass through that are filled with pain and darkness there is an Easter coming.   Beautiful, life giving transforming days are coming!  

Hang on Easter is coming!  I can see it on the horizon. 

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lenten Reflection #30:A Better Day

Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Psalm 84:10

Maybe you have seen the t-shirts or the signs that proclaim that "the worst day fishing is better than the best day working." Maybe you heard it in reference to some other hobby.  But the sentiment in the saying is that the wearer of the shirt or the person with the pumper sticker or sign would rather do that even when it is bad than be working.  

The Psalmist expresses the sentiment that with God is the best place to be. It is better to spend one day in God's courts, worshiping, connecting to and growing in relationship with Him than a thousand doing anything else.  

I would rather go through my worst days with God than have to go through anything without Him.  I would rather have to go through storms of life with Jesus than to go to the mountaintop and be without Him.  I am grateful that God is with me every step of my life.  I am grateful that he never leaves me or forsakes me.  I am grateful that he leads me from the difficult moments to moments that take my breathe away.  He carries me at times.  One day with God, even if it is a hard day, beats the alternative.  To be apart from God.  To not have God with me.  

I know that he is with me.  That is the good news.  God is not going to abandon us.  We can spend everyday in his presence.  Everyday can be a day in his courts. All that we have to do is be a doorkeeper that opens our lives to Him.  

Love Today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lenten Reflection #29:Not Magic Words

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:15-18

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
John 14:23

Bad days are a part of my life.  As a pastor and as a fire fighter I am often with people on the worst days of their lives. What I have learned through the years is that my words are inadequate for the situation,  There are no magic words that can be said that will change the bad day to a good one.  I don't profess to have an "abracadabra" phrase that will comfort the hurt, right the wrong, or reverse the situation. Words, although we want to say something, really are limited and usually fall way short of conveying the comfort, hope and care that we want to offer someone in the tough times of life.

Jesus does not offer us magic words.  Jesus offers us himself.  In the midst of our worst days and toughest times he does not say remember what I said in such and such verse.  He doesn't say hold onto that promise I gave you.  He is our comfort.  He is our healer.  He is our friend.  He is with us.  He comes to us and makes his home with us.  He is our advocate in the midst of our troubled times.  He does not leave us to face the situation alone.  He gives himself to us.  He does not just give us words he gives us himself.  We can hold onto Him.  We can find shelter in Him.  We can can receive strength from Him.

As followers of Jesus, who are called to love and care for one another, this ministry of presence may be the greatest thing that we have to offer one another in the midst of tough times.  Rather that just coming up with a cliche to try to make things all better with a few words, we can follow Jesus' lead and be there.  We don't have magic words but we can be there to help weather the storm with them.  We can be a visible sign to one another that we are not alone in the tough circumstances of life.  By doing so we may just make real the presence of God for someone without ever saying a word.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug