Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Love keeps No Record of Wrongs

I am in a denomination that likes record keeping.  We are asked to keep track of baptisms, professions of faith, membership, worship attendance, attendance for bible study and christian education and giving.  We want to keep records of how the numbers change from year to year.  Each year we fill out year end report to create a record of what happened in the year.  Because we keep these records we can go back to just about any year and bring up the numbers to compare.  We are record keepers of certain types of records, not all. I could spend many post on the topic of our churches record keeping but that really gets nowhere.  I bring this up because it came to mind as I thought about the 1 Corinthians 13 description of love that says "love keeps no record of wrong."  Record keeping, hmm?

I looked at some other translations of the bible to try to understand this description more fully.  It is interesting that the King James translates this part of verse 5 as "thinketh no evil" and both the New Revised Standard and the English Standard version use the phrase "not resentful".   The Message says, "doesn't keep score of the sins of others".  The Arabic Bible translates to "not keeping a record of the abuse."

When we are resentful we just continue to think about the wrong and abuse that others have done.  When we hold resent in our hearts we just hold onto the evil and the wrong of others.  It is like keeping records or keeping score of what someone has done to us so that it is easy to recall and easy to compare.  We keep it ever before us so that we never see the good we just stay focused on the evil.  We hold onto the evil, keep the record, and keep that record playing over and over.  Maybe they are talking about a record like we had when I was a kid that you recorded music on.  We do that don't we when we are resentful of what others have done or the abuse we have faced we just play the scene, play what was said over and over in our minds.  And it consumes us and robs us of our ability to move on.  It robs us of our ability to live.  It traps us in the past so we cant experience the present.  It makes us bitter.  Love however takes a different path.  Love keeps no records and does not keep score.   Instead of thinking on the evil and the abuse and letting it consume us we focus on the good.  The Bible gives us a prescription for how to overcome being trapped in resentment and bitterness and to become more loving, forgiving and grace filled.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."  Philippians 4:4-9

Love keeps no record of wrongs.  It does not focus on the evil it looks for the good.  It lives in the present moment and the joy of the Lord today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Love is not Easily Angered

Sorry about the interruption.  It seems that I hit a roadblock to blogging right in the midst of reflecting on Paul's description of what love is in 1 Corinthians 13.  I realize that it is probably a bit presumptuous of me to think that there are people who come here each day looking for what I have written and notice a lapse in regular posts.  However, I notice and it is a good discipline for me and my relationship with God so the sorry is most likely to me and to God.

Paul writes," love is not easily angered."

My first thoughts on this description of love is what it is not saying.  It does not say that love never gets angry.  It says it does not anger easily.  It is patient with me and with you.  Love does not just jump instantly to anger.  It does not fly off the handle or give a knee jerk reaction.  Love is not easily angered.  But, love at times gets angry.

Jesus most famous incident of anger, which is always brought up when we talk about getting angry, was the turning of the money changers tables in the temple.  Jesus clearly is angry with the situation.  He is angry with the selling of things in the temple.  He is angry with shift from worship to capitalism.  He is angry with the idea personal gain off the worship of God.  He is angry at the perversion of worship.

I think he is angry because he loves the people in the temple and he  loves the Father.   He recognizes that this activity, which he can do something about, is keeping them from understanding and expressing their love for God.  In fact, it has replaced it.  “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’but you are making it ‘a den of robbers."

Because love is a deeply rooted emotion that is patient, kind, not rude, does not  boast, and is not self seeking it can and will become angry at injustice, abuse and oppression.  However, we should never anger easily and our anger is never toward people or for selfish reasons.

Often times when we get angry it is over things that we should not get angry about.  We are angry for selfish reasons or we are angry for no real reason at all.  Often times anger is just the emotion that we know so it is what we go with even though what are really feeling is sorrow, grief, or disappointment.  We need to be slow to anger so that we take the time to really look within ourselves and discover what it really is that we are feeling.  If I am slow to anger I may may see that I am really not angry at all.  I might discover that I am really just being selfish and that is why I am mad because I am not getting my way.  I am not thinking about God or about others-- just me.  If I am slow to anger I might discover that I am really hurt and I need God to comfort me.  I may also discover that there is something that I can do to change the situation and my anger is a catalyst for change in the world around me.  If I am slow to anger I can keep my anger from being directed towards the object of my love and direct it towards what is really the cause of my anger.  This is not easy but it is what love does.  Love never is angry at people.  Love is angry at injustice, abuse, oppression, perversion, distortion of the truth, and separation of God.  It separates people from behavior and my not love an behavior but always loves the person.

If love does not get angry there is no Christmas and there is no Easter.  God just doesn't care about his creation being separated from him for all eternity. However, I believe that God is angry with his creation being separated from him. He is angry at the situation because he loves us but he is not angry at his creation.  If he is angry at us he just punishes us. Strikes us down and it is over.  If he is selfish he just says "you don't obey me so you are doomed."

If  God's anger is directed at people and not the catalyst to change the situation-- Jesus never leaves the comfort of Heaven.   But, because God loves us and cares about our situation he does for us what we cannot do for our selves.  He is motivated because he does not like the situation to do something to change it.  He is not mad or angry with us, he loves us, so he enters into this God forsaken world, to change the situation and turn the tables.  Loves is slow to anger and when it's anger is expressed it is an ultimate expression of love for the other.  It is a catalyst for change.  It is used for good and to restore and rebuild not to tear down and destroy.

You see the opposite of love is not anger or hate it is indifference.  To not care at all.  Love cares and because it cares it will at times be angry with situations, circumstance, behaviors, and events but never people.  But, love is slow to become angry and it takes the time to evaluate motives and feelings and to consider action.

"Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not rude or self seeking, it is not easily angered."


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In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Love is not self-seeking

I am beginning to see a theme.  Love and selfishness do not mix.  They cannot co-exist even.  You can not have it both ways.

As I was thinking about how love is not self-seeking I was reminded of how Jesus earthly ministry begins.  I was thinking about the the time after Jesus is baptised in the Jordan River by John the Baptist and then immediately he is led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days.  We are told that Jesus ate nothing during this time and was tempted by the devil.  For 40 days Jesus is pressured, prodded, and proposition by the devil to seek something other than God's will for his live.  The devil tries as hard as he can to get Jesus to stop loving us.  To love himself more.   He tries to convince him to think about himself and not about us.  Maybe because even the devil knows that selfishness and love do not go together.

The devils first move is to try to convince a hungry Jesus to turn stones into bread to feed himself.  The next move, the devil offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and all their authority and splendor.  All Jesus has to do is worship him.  The offer is for Jesus to be the King of Kings without the cross.  The devil offers Jesus a shortcut.  Love does not take the shortcut.  Without the cross we could not be restored into a relationship with God.  Jesus loves us and wants to have a relationship with us for all eternity.  It is not about kingdoms and authority it is about love.  His mission will not take shortcuts.  If he is self-seeking he probably takes the shortcut.  If he is self-seeking he probably whips up some bread for dinner.  But, Jesus is not seeking what is in it for him.  He is thinking about you and me.  He is not seeking his own comfort or his own glory.  He is seeking us.  He come to seek and to save us.

The move from self-centered to God centered happens as we move from being self-seeking to God-seeking. As we seek first God and his Kingdom all others things are added to us and our love becomes more like his.  This is not self loathing or not loving yourself it is about loving God and loving others.  It is about seeking God not self. Love is not self-seeking.  Jesus gives us the example.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Love is not rude

I remember growing up being told "don't be rude."  This usually was when I had interrupted someone or my body made inappropriate noises. As I grew older I begin to see that rudeness was about more than noises or just social norms.  My parents and teachers where helping me to honor others. When we cut in and talk over someone it inadvertently says "what I have to say is more important than what you are saying."  When we are inappropriate in our action and behavior around others we are saying "we don't care what they think." 

Rudeness is dishonoring others. It is a lack of respect for others.  It is a disregard for the value of another individual. All for the sake of self. 

Love does not do that. Love honors. Love respects. Love values others. Love is not rude. 

Love lifts up and elevates others. It understands that everyone is of great value and worth and treats everyone accordingly. It thinks of others feelings and cares about how others are effected. Love is not rude. 

Love does more than be polite or show good manors.   It values, honors and respects others.  It is not rude. 

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, February 17, 2014

Love is not proud

proud
adjective
  1. 1.
    feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one's own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated.



  2. 2.
    having or showing a high or excessively high opinion of oneself or one's importance.

Love is a selfless act.  Love is not about getting satisfaction from what we get or have.  Love is about others.  Love sees and celebrates the importance of others.  It finds satisfaction in the achievements, and qualities of others.

As I read this definition of pride and thought about how love is not proud.  I thought about a young man from our church family who is a close friend of my oldest son.   This young man is a very good athlete.  He is the best golfer on the team and the best basketball player.  He would never tell you that.  He is  humble.  One of the qualities that I really appreciate about Chase is that he is always more excited to talk about what one of his teammates has done or something my son has accomplished than his own.  Chase could win the tournament or lead the team in scoring but he is going to be excited and tell everyone about the success of his teammate.   He is truly more happy about a shot my son makes than his own scores.  He gets a big smile on his face and is ready to talk about what his sisters achievements,  his brothers success or his friends qualities.

This is what love does.  It is not proud.  It celebrates others and recognizes their importance.  It is selfless and about the other.  I thank God that when I reflect upon love there are people in my life that come to mind that are examples of what love is (and that he is a 17 year old friend of my son).  I often talk about how there are people  in our life, and we need to be people, who are little windows into the love of God.  We catch a glimpse of what God's love is all about through these people.  Through a window we can only see a small portion of what is on the other side.  We can't see everything that is out there but we can see part of it and understand what it is like.  People like Chase can  help us to catch a glimpse of what it means that love is not proud.  I hope you have someone in you life that is not proud and recognizes and celebrates the importance of you.  That is what love does.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love does not boast

Yesterday was Valentines day. I woke up early because I needed to make a long road trip to visit a friend who is near the end of his life. When I got up I placed a valentines card that I had for my wife on the counter for her to find when she woke up. I kissed her goodbye and left anticipation her response when she found the card.  As I drove I kept thinking she would call any minute to thank me for the gesture of love I had left for her.  After time had past I started to think maybe I should call and just check to see if she got my card. After all, had she gotten it she surely would call to tell me how much she loved me and how thoughtful I was, right?

Thankfully she called me before I called. However, I was thinking I should call and tell her what I had done. 

We do that sometimes don't we. We want to boast about what we have done. We do apparently loving things and then we say "look what I did!"  We say, "see what I did for you."

Real love does not need to be noticed. It does not expect something from others. It does not draw attention to itself. Love does not boast. 

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love Does Not Envy

It was interesting that as I reflected upon "love does not envy" I came across a translation that used the word jealous rather than envy.  Being the easily distracted person that I am I begin to wonder if they were really the same thing?  Is there a difference between envy and jealousy.

If Paul is writing about God, who is love, is he saying that God does not get jealous?  Exodus 20:5 tells us that God is a jealous God and so does Exodus 25 and Deuteronomy 4 and 5.  Our God is a jealous God.

Can envy and jealousy really be the same thing?  I don't think so.

Envy has to do with wanting something that you don't have which somebody else has.  It is an emotion of wanting another persons things or attributes.  It is a feeling of discontent and resentfulness

Jealousy on the other hand is about not wanting to lose something that you have that is yours to someone or something else.

God created us for his pleasure.  We are his children.  His handy work or masterpiece. He loves us and does not want to lose us.  We are his but we have to choice him.  We are created by our Creator to love our Creator but the only way that it can be true, real, love is that we choose to love him in return.  We are His and we are restless until we find are place in him but we have to choose him.  God is a jealous God because he does not want to lose any of his children.  God is love and he does not want his children to be without His love.  He desires that none would parish and be separated from him.

God does not envy.  He is not discontent or resentful that he does not have something someone else has.

Love does not envy.  It is not resentful or discontent.  It does not want for other peoples stuff or belongings.

I think that when it comes to our love we often confuse envy and jealousy.  We see them as synonymous so what we are calling jealousy is really envy and our envy is really jealousy.  Maybe understanding the difference in these two emotions can help us to love more like God loves.

Love does not get resentful and discontent or long for something that belongs to someone else.  Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Love is Kind

I want to continue in this thread of reflection on the way that love is described in 1 Corinthians 13.  What does it mean that love is kind?

Here is a definition that I came across from Merriam-Webster:
kind  adjective

: having or showing a gentle nature and a desire to help others : wanting and liking to do good things and to bring happiness to others
A gentle nature.  Nature is at the core of who we are. It is in our DNA.  You might even say it is our DNA.  God is love.  That is who God is.  There are  many statements about the nature of God.  God is omnipresent.  Meaning that he is always present.  God is omniscient.  Meaning he knows all.  God is omnipotent.  Meaning he can do anything and is all powerful.  These statement tells us about God at His core.  This is God's nature.  He is these things and will never cease to be these things.  This is what makes him God and you and I not God.   By our very nature we are none of these.
I think the most profound statement for us to understand about the nature of God is that God is love.  If we can really grasp this aspect of God's nature it truly changes the way that we understand and see God.  When begin to understand that God is love and not just loving or does love.  We can see that God is always going to act in love.  He cant help it.  It is who God is.  This means his commandment are an expression of love.  His guidance and direction are an expression of love.  It means that his desire is to help us.  Always.  This means we have to throw out any idea of a punishing, wrathful, vengeful, God.  Love is kind.  Love is gentle by its very nature and desires to help others and likes to do good and bring happiness to others.  God desires what is best for your and me.  God desires to help you.  God desires to bring happiness to our life.  It is his very nature.  God has your best interest at heart.

I need God to work on my love so that it can be more gentle at it's very core.  I need God's help to shape me so that I love from a pure place of desire to help others and bring happiness to others.  At my very core I am not love.  But the promise of the scripture is that God, who is love, will transform us so that our love can become like his love and our character like his character.   It is a process that we have to submit to.  But we can trust that if God calls us into this live changing relationship with Him it is what is best for us.  We can trust that if he says he will "take from us our hearts of stone and give us a heart of flesh" than it too is what is best for us and he will do it.  I want my love to be gentle by nature and desire to help and bring happiness to others.

Love is kind.

In Christ's Love and mine,
Doug

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Love is patient

This morning I was thinking about  love as it is described in 1 Corinthian 13. Paul begins his description of the characteristics of love with "love is patient."  

This led me to Google and a search for the definition of patient.  Here is what I found:

pa·tient
ˈpāSHənt/
adjective
adjective: patient
  1. 1.
    able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.

Love is able to accept or tolerate delays without becoming annoyed or anxious.  Love accepts suffering.  Love tolerates problems.  All without becoming annoyed or anxious.  

Hmm?

Am I accepting and tolerant.  Paul says "Love is".  Do I become annoyed and anxious with delays, problems and suffering?  The bible says "love is patient."  

I am still a work in progress.  God is not done with me yet.  I long to have a love like Jesus that is not easily annoyed and anxious when delays, problems and suffering are present.  

Delays will come.  Problems are inevitable.  Suffering happens.  As I work to love my wife, my children, my family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and all people as Jesus loves,  I will experience them all.  My response should be to love without letting the anxiety take over.  Love without allowing myself to just become annoyed.  I will certainly need God's help in this.  It is a good thing he says he will love through us.  He will come and make his home with us and in us so that  his love, which is patient, will overflow from us.

Today, I am trying to be conscious of how my love is, or is not, patient.  I am leaning on Jesus to take this lump of clay and mold it into His masterpiece.  I give my love, and my idea of what love is, to Jesus. 

Lord, help me to accept and to tolerate delays, problems, and suffering without becoming anxious or annoyed.  Amen.

In Christ's Love and mine,
Doug

Friday, February 7, 2014

Free Will TGIF

I am a big fan of free will. I like my choices. I like that I am able to make my own decisions. I like that I have the choice and I am responsible for right and wrong in my life.
Most of all what I like about free will is what it tells me about God and his love for all of us. You see without free will we would not know what love is. Without the ability for us to choose not to love God we would never know what it means to love and be loved by God. In fact we would not know what love is at all. 
You see God does not want us to have some false, forced, or manipulated love. He wants us to know true, deep, meaningful, heart moving love.  
So, instead of creating a creation that is programmed to love him he gives us free will. Because he loves us and wants us to know love.

Thank God it's Friday!

In Christ's' love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Learning to Love

The truth is we don't know how to love like Jesus.  The bible when describing the unconditional love of God says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1Corinthians 13:4-8)
We have to learn to love like Jesus.  As we are transformed and grow in our relationship with Christ our love will become more like His.  It will become more patient, more kind, more humble, more forgiving, more trustworthy and more unfailing.  We are a work in progress and our growth can be guage by the change in our love.
Here is the tough part.  We don’t develop and learn to love like Jesus in moments that are easy to love.  We learn to love like Jesus when it is difficult to love.  When our love requires patients we have to lean on the love of Christ.   We grow in our love when we love without getting love in return.  We grow in Christ like love when we love those who persecute us.  We learn to love when we love always, no matter what.
We need to embrace the difficult times of love as opportunities to grow to be more like Christ.  We need to recognize those moment when love is difficult for us are our opportunities to learn to love like Jesus.  In these moment we need to trust and rely on the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus and allow his love to flow through us and teach us to love like him.  
In Christ’s love and mine, 
Doug


Friday, January 31, 2014

What if it is not all about me? Part 2

After yesterday's blog some people had a few questions and wanted more said on this topic. I don't have all the answers on this, I am still in the process of being transformed by Christ from self-centered to Christ centered.  God is working on me.

Remember, it is a work that God does in us.  This too is about God. 

Spiritual disciplines our important things that we can do to open ourselves to Gods work in our lives. They help us to deny ourselves and connect to God. Prayer helps us to focus on others. I know that we can pray selfishly and there are times that we do. Yet, Jesus tells us when we pray we are to pray as a part of the family of God. Our Father...Give us our daily bread...forgive our trespasses...as we forgive...lead us...deliver us.

Prayer is not  self-centered and true prayer, offering ourselves and others to God, moves us out of the center and focuses our live on our need for God and our care for others.

Spending time in God's word, reading and meditating on the scriptures help us to shift our focus from ourselves to God.  It speaks to us about God's love for us and mutual love for one another.  God uses his word to change us from the inside out and to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him.  He is withing the words of the bible that we encounter in a real and tangible way The Word that is God and becomes flesh and dwells among us.  It is not easy to read the words of scripture and remain self-centered.  Jesus says, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23.  Following Jesus begins with daily self-denial.  

Worship helps to shift our center as well.  True worship is not about us it is about God.  It is offering our love, adoration and attention to God.

Another spiritual discipline that God can use to shift our center is service.  Serve others.  Through service we experience the joy of being use by God and experience Christ in the people we serve.  Service changes us.
Doing the "one another's" of the bible helps us to deny self and follow Jesus.  Love one another.  Serve one another.  Carry one another's burdens.  We can't do the pone another's and remain self centered.  God changes us as we deny ourselves in this way,

Books have been and can be written on these spiritual habits and practices.   They enable us to arrange our lives in such a way that we can encounter God and he can do the work of transformation in us.

Finally, I know that we might wonder if it really is more pleasurable to be Christ-centered than self-centered.  I mean after all if I just set out to please my self would that be pleasurable?  Would that be more pleasurable than living for what pleases God?

Unless you are an extreme narcissist, which means psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem, you know that you really do experience more pleasure from selfless acts than you do a selfish act.  I can blow hundreds of dollars on myself, have a temporary good time (and I have), and be left empty and drained of life afterwards.  Every time that I have selflessly given to help others It has been life giving and the pleasure last.  We feel this at moments around the holidays when we expand our hearts to care for other.  We experience this in moment of disaster when suddenly we reach out and rely on others and care for others.  We fell this on mission trips and when we do random acts of kindness.  We feel this when we lose ourselves in worship of the one who created us for his pleasure and loves us, cares for us and wants what is best for us.   

I guess what I want to say is give it a try.  You will not be disappointed.

What if it is all about Him?

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Thursday, January 30, 2014

What if it is not all about me?

Selfish.
Self centered.

Do you ever find yourself in that place where you are thinking only about yourself?  Do you ever wonder when you do things "what am I going to get out of it?" or "what is in it for me?" Do you ever find yourself just asking, "what do I want?" or "what do I need?"

Ya, me too!

I think one of the toughest transformations for us to allow God to make happen in us is the transformation from being self-centered to being Christ-centered.  We tend to go from that place of what is good for me and what pleases me.  We come from a place of what do I want to do.  Really this is the root of sin and separation from God.  We are selfish and only care about what we want and what pleases us so we don't care what pleases God or what God wants.  We even know what God wants but the "fruits" look good and pleasing to us and we desire them so, we do what we want.  

But, guess what?  What I am about to write may surprise us.  
IT IS NOT ABOUT US.  We were not put on this earth and created for our pleasure. 
IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT US.  We were created for God's pleasure.  
IT IS ALL ABOUT GOD.

Now this does not mean that we won't find pleasure in life or that we don't get anything out of life.  In fact, I think that life is most pleasing to us when we are pleasing God.  Life is at its best when we allow God to be a the center of our lives.  We then can have life and have it to the full.  A self-centered life is always less of life.  The pleasure that we find in just pleasing ourselves does not even come close to comparing to the pleasure that we find when we seek after what pleases God. 

This means that in order for us to truly find pleasure in life we need to be transformed.

We can't make this shift from self-centered to Christ-centered without giving up control.  We can't be transformed in this way without letting Christ have the lead and we follow.  

After all, what if it really is all about God and not about me?  Would we ask different questions and live our lives differently?

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Lord's Supper

I can remember the first time it clicked with me.  I was in the sanctuary at Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church and I was holding a piece of Hawaiian bread soaked in grape juice.  I realized that that piece of bread and juice was more than bread and juice.  I remember holding it and thinking that Christ gave his life for me the least that I can do is give my life for him.  Christ gives himself to me and I am invited to receive him and give my self to him.  
"This is my body given for you."  That is what he said. 
 "This is my blood shed for you."  That is what he said. 
"As often as you do this remember me." That is what he said.

Yesterday I did the Tuesday worship services at a local nursing home.  For the first time in the almost six years that I have been going to Eastview Manor for these services we shared in the Lord's supper.  It was amazing.  Throughout my life I have had a several unforgettable and moving moments when it comes to sharing in this meal that Christ gives to us.  Moments that clicked and I understood that Christ is present and we encounter him in this sacrament.  Moments when I could not help but know that God was real because I could sense him in with me as I participated in the sacrament.  Yesterday was one of those moments.

Yay God!  

"This is my body given for you."  That is what he said. 
 "This is my blood shed for you."  That is what he said. 
"As often as you do this remember me." That is what he said.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It's Cold

This morning when I woke up and stepped outside it was -3!  If I have learned one thing from living in the Midwest it is that I do not like cold weather.  In Missouri and Iowa,  where I have spent the majority of my life, we can experience extreme heat and extreme cold.  This has enabled me to know that I am a warm weather person.  

As I hit the cold this morning with this thought I was reminded of Jesus words in Revelation 3 to the church folks in Laodecia, and really all Christians, about living in relationship with him.
He said, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!" (Revelation 3:15 NIV)
The folks in the church were indifferent. They were lukewarm and just going through the motions. They were playing church.  They were neither extreme.  It would be better if they were either cold or hot but they (we) are neither. 
I am a hot weather person and I pray that I live my life on fire for Jesus. I pray that I don't fall into lukewarm indifference and just going through the motions.   I pray that I would be a person that others feel the warmth and the love of Jesus through. 

May you be warmed by the presence of Christ today. 

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Monday, January 27, 2014

Must be about my Fathers Buisiness

We are not told very much about Jesus as a child. The Gospel of Luke tells us about a time when he was about 12 years old and his parents left him behind during a trip to Jerusalem. After traveling for a day on their return home they discovered that Jesus was not with them and returned to Jerusalem to find him teaching in the synagog. Jesus response was don't you know that "I must be about my father's buisness"

The word that really hits me as I read it is "must."  After I get past the thought of them traveling a day without knowing Jesus was missing, I am hit by the must language.  

Is doing God's work a must for me?   Too  often it is seen as an option.   Too often it is seen as something I do when I get the time or when it is convenient.  
 
When we are about our fathers buisness life has meaning and purpose. When we are about our fathers buisness we experience his power and his presence.  

It should not be something that is when it is convenient or optional. I must be about my fathers buisness. 

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thank God it's Friday

Happy Friday!  

Today, as I wake and turn my thoughts to God I am thankful for prayer partners.  I am thankful for those people who throughout my life have prayed for and with me. 

There are times that I have not had the faith to pray and there have been friends who prayed for me. When I could not do it, they did. Wow!  Where would I be without those people who have prayed for me when I could not or would not?  That is a prayer partner. 

My prayer partners pray for me to find forgiveness, strength, healing, hope, love and guidance. Just to name a few. 
I am thankful for prayer partners that pray for me. 

Prayer partners also pray with me and together we go to God with my joys, hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities and vulnerabilities. Again, just to name a few. Wow!  Where would I be without my freinds praying with me?  

Freinds, everyday is a day I need you to pray with and for me and my family. I am so grateful for you partnership. Please pray with me today as my wife begins her medical therapy that she will have to undergo from now until they find a cure for ms. Today is a day that we need strength and assurance, comfort and peace. It is not any different than other day. It is just that today we introduce daily shots and new medications. God is with us and he will comfort us and ease the anxiety. I know this. It is already comforting knowing that you are praying with and for Nicole and I. 

Today I am thankful for my freinds who are my partners in prayer who pray with and for me each and every day!

In Christ's love and mine, 
Doug

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

God of the Impossible

It seems that over the past few months there has been a recuring theme going on for me.  It began back in November I think.  I preached a sermon series during the time leading up to Christmas that was about how the Christmas story is filled with all kinds of impossible things that God makes possible.  The virgin birth, the star that leads the magi to the manger, the birth of John the baptist to a couple who was "old" and pass child barring age, and the marriage of Joseph and Mary that was destined it seemed to end in divorce are a few of the things that God makes possible to show us that all things are possible with God.   As the new year has begun the theme has continued in my preaching and in my medatative and prayer life.  This past week we were challenged to believe that "we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength."   The challenge was to step into our fear of failure and trust God's strength in our weakness.

Here is what I am beginnning to think.  God is preparing me because he going to do the impossible.  I need to trust God because there is something about to happen that only God can do.  I don't want to miss this miracle.  I don't want to allow fear to keep me from stepping into this.  Because God is doing a miracle.

That is what God does.  He is the God of the impossible.  He does for us what is impossible for us to do.  Do we really trust that?  Do we really expect and anticipate when we are facing the impossible that God can do it?  Do we really expect and anticipate that when we are weak he is strong?

I am preparing and looking for the impossible thing that God is doing right now.   How about you?

Maybe you feel like you are at a place where all you are faced with is the impossible?  Trust the God of the impossible who is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, January 20, 2014

Do we really want to be rescued?

My friend Andy posted his sermon topic yesterday on Facebook. He invited people to come to his church and hear a message that connected the classic TV show Gilligan's Island to the Gospel. 

Oddly,  I found myself this morning on the Tvland channel watching that old classic show. It seems they are having a marathon.   I don't know the direction that Andy went but as I watched I was instantly taken to a connection that I think speaks to the human condition,  the way you and I tend to act. 

The story line of the show is pretty simple, 7 people set out on a three hour trip in the SS Minnow and they end up ship wrecked an stranded on an island. The show is about the things that happen as they live on the island and try to find a way back home. The tension that is created is over whether they will be rescued or not. This is complicated because at times it seems they really don't want to be rescued. 

I think this is an interesting connection. God wants to save us.  He want to help us with our struggles and to overcome the things that strand us and seperate us from him.  We know that we are stuck for the most part. Yet, we have to want to be rescued. It seems at times,  if we are honest, we really don't want to be rescued. We are comfortable even in the life that we know is killing us,  because we know it. To surrender to God and return home is an unknown. To surrender to God and return home would mean we would have to change and we don't know the new life like we know the old one.   We want things to be different but we fear the change to come. We are such creatures of habit. Even in habits we know are bad. 

Home is where we belong. There is no place like home. We are never fully alive and living until we are living in relationship with God. So we must be rescued. We have to want to be rescued. 

When we cry out to be rescued our rescuer comes.  That is his promise. 

Is is time for you to get off your Island?

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thank God It's Friday!

When I was blogging regularly before I would often use Fridays as a day to express my thanks and gratitude to God.  As I get back into the swing of things and work through this writing block I will do it again.  

Today, it seems that I as I think about all the many things that I have to be grateful for there is one thing that I have had come to mind that I often don't think to be grateful for.  In preparing for the message I will share this Sunday at Dockery I have been reflecting upon the connection between our weaknesses and God's power.  I am grateful for God's power and that I can experience his power in my life.  I am grateful that the power which created all things and overcomes sin and death is available to me.  I am thankful that the power to open the eyes of the blind, make the lame walk and raise the dead is at work in my life if I will just surrender to it.  I am grateful for the power of the resurrection that is available to strengthen me. 

 It is not the power that I often don't think to be grateful for it is the understanding of my weakness. I am grateful that I can see that I am weak and in need of God.  I am grateful that I can recognize my need for God's power.  I am weak.  I struggle.  I have hurts.  I have habits.  I have hangups.  I have flaws.  I am too weak to deal with the stuff of life on my own.  I am thankful that I can understand this.

It is at this place of understanding our weakness and our need that we can experience the power of God.  As long as we think we are strong enough we will never experience the power of God, because we will just rely on our own strength.  Never trusting God's.  Yet, his power is made perfect in our weakness.  It is not until we understand our weakness and give our weaknesses to him that we can understand and experience his perfect power.  

Thank God for an understanding that I am weak and in need of his perfect power in my everyday life.  His power is perfect for overcoming my fears, my worries, my stresses, my weakness.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  Thanks be to God!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Resolutions

I will admit it, I am a resolution maker.
 
I like the hope and the possibility that comes with a new year.   So, at the onset of a new year I like to dream that things can be different and set out at the start of the new year to make a change for the better.  God is in the business of making things new.  The new year signals for me that promise and I am reminded as a new year begins that God is not done with me yet.  What can I do to make myself available for God's transformation and change in my life?  This is the question I ask myself as I think about a new years resolution.  What can I do differently to align myself with the work that God wants to do in my life.

I know that today is the 16th day of this new year but I have a desire to do more than set a goal and try to stick to it.  I want whatever change or decision that I make to be one that draws me closer to God.  I am not looking to draw attention to myself or an external accomplishment.  Although, there may be external changes that I need to make to draw closer to God.  What I desire, with the promise and hope of this new year, is a new a deeper love for God and to resolve to do what will help me experience more authentic relationship with Christ.

Sure, I might resolve to blog more or exercise more ( I have got to get a race on my schedule so I can work off this holiday and vacation weight) but ultimately I want to resolve to submit myself to the only one who can truly make all things new so that I can claim his promise of transformation for my life.   I want to be more real about my life, my love, and my relationship with God.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Missed Miracles

I wonder how many miracle we miss every day.  I think that sometimes we expect miracles to just be obvious and undeniable.  Sometimes they are.  Sometimes we see the impossible happen and we can give no other explanation except it was a miracle of God.  However, I think that many of God's miracles can be missed or even misunderstood.  We will call them coincidences or luck.  We will try to come up with an explanation that we can understand logically or because we just don't expect a miracle we don't see it.  

Jesus first miracle illustrates this for us.  The miracle takes place at a wedding reception.  People are partying and having a good time and they run out of wine.  Mary, Jesus mother, tells him that the time has come for him to demonstrate his power and then tells the servants to do what Jesus tells them to do.  Jesus has them take the jars that were used for cleaning and fill them with water and then serve that to the people of the party as wine.  The servants do as Jesus asks and when the people drink the servants offering they drink the finest wine of the night.  Jesus takes stale, stagnant and dirty water and turns it into the finest wine.  The people who drank the wine that night had no idea that a miracle had just taken place.  They just think "this is good wine."  The host of the party, the bride and the groom, have no idea that the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords has just performed a miracle to continue the celebration.  Most of the people who experienced Jesus first miracle miss the miracle.  They may have seen it as good fortune or coincidence or may have even just taken it for granted.  But, the servants saw it as a miracle. The ones who did just as Jesus told them to do know that Jesus turns stale, dirty, stagnant stuff into the finest of wines.  They know that Jesus can do the impossible.  They, because they are serving and doing what Jesus ask them to do and they are watching to see what happens, know that it is a miracle not coincidence, luck, or chance.  They don't miss it.

I wonder what miracles I have missed today because they appeared ordinary.  I wonder how many we take for granted each day.  

If we are following Jesus and not getting out ahead of him we are in a better position to see his miracles.  When we do what he says and serve him our perspective on the things that go on around us is clearer.   I am looking.  I am expecting.  I know that it is what Jesus does and there is no such thing as coincidence when it comes to God.

In Christ's love and mine,

Doug

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Catch Up

The past two days I have felt like I am trying to get up to speed.  My time away afforded me an opportunity to slow down.  Slowing down is important. It is also something that seems to get harder to do in our busy, wired,  world. It is important for many reasons.  It is hard to love in a hurry.  It is hard to connect in a hurry.  It is difficult to grow in relationship with God in a hurry.  Life tends to want to hurry us up.  Sometimes it wants to run us over.

Today I feel like I am trying to jump on a treadmill that is already going and catch up to the pace.  I need to do that to get back into the swing of things and to get things done but I must remember that it takes slowing down to grow, to love, and to connect.  I can't let the pace and the hurry of life and busy schedules derail me from the things that are most important and most needed.  As we get back into the routine we have to make sure that we are always catching up with God and with others.  Slowing down, a rhythm of rest and work, is what a Sabbath life is all about.  It is an ebb and flow.  I must keep the rhythm and I must keep the flow.

How is your rhythm?  How is God flowing in your life and work?

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, January 13, 2014

Back at It

This year the Christmas present at the Franklin house was a family vacation.  We planned and saved so that we could spend quality time with each other and get a chance to reconnect and create lasting memories as a family.  We did many wonderful things. We traveled and saw parts of our country that we had never seen before.  We drove from Trenton, Missouri to Miami, Florida and back again.  (That is about 45 hours together in the truck!)  We visited with family that we had not seen in a long time along the way. Nicole and I met our nephew and the kid's cousin Ray for the first time.  We were able to spend several days with my sister and brother in law and other friends as we sailed to Mexico and back.  We swam with dolphins. We saw alligators up close.  We jumped in a dove through waves in the ocean.  It was truly a trip of a life time.

I don't tell you this to make you think "oh look what they did!"  I tell you what we did because I want to tell you what was the best part of the trip.  The best part of the trip was the time spent with each other.  It was uninterrupted time with my wife and children.   It was time with my brother and sister in law and sister and brother in law.  It was talking and sharing and doing life together. You see the best part of the trip is not something that we have to go away somewhere to experience.  Sadly, sometimes it takes getting away to really enjoy the best parts of life.  Which are not places, or sights, or experiences, but people.  Our family and our friends are what make the sights, sounds, places and experiences so meaningful.  They are what makes  home a place like no other place.  I thank God the opportunity that we had to make this trip and I and grateful most of all for family and friends.  Invest time in your family and friends.  If it means 45 hours in a truck than do it.  It it means making sure you set down and have a meal together, do it!  Value one another and give thanks for the gift of relationships and family that God has given us to share and experience everyday.  Invest time into your relationships.

I am going to try this year to get refocused on my time reflecting and writing.  I have been a little "blocked" when it has come to writing and blogging for some time.  This year I will try to make it a priority.  I am going to make every effort to get back to regular blogs because it helps me in my relationship with Christ.  As focus on and build our relationship with Christ it impacts all other relationships in our lives.

So, I guess what I am trying to get out today is that I have returned home with a new and deeper appreciation for relationships and a deeper desire to nourish and grow these relationships.  I want you to know that I am back it!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug