Saturday, June 3, 2023

The Days of Summer

 June…. Summer!  


The concept of summer evokes a wide range of thoughts and emotions.  For most children and older students, summer means a break from school and homework and more time for fun.  But for adults in general and parents in particular, summer often means more challenges: shifts in the workforce, travel plans that go awry, and the need to keep children safe and constructively occupied if/as work schedules make that difficult.  And almost everyone of all ages and lifestyles needs to deal with the expectations that summer brings.


To be sure, summer brings wonderful opportunities and great plans.  But if we become too attached to those opportunities and plans, it becomes very easy to evaluate the days, weeks, and the season according to how they rate on our scale of expectations.  And then if our expectations are not met, it is easy to become disappointed and frustrated.  We can miss the joy of unanticipated opportunities to bless and be blessed.


There is no doubt that planning is essential in order to fulfill our responsibilities and use our time well—even for fun! Planning is, however, most fruitful and rewarding if we view our plans not so much as a rubric for success but rather as an outline to be adjusted and filled in as the days, weeks, and months unfold.  In the end, it becomes an attitude choice on our part: We can cling to our expectation-driven plans, or we can cultivate an eye of faith that allows us to find deep satisfaction in the Lord’s sovereignty that is more sure than our expectations and plans.



Do not boast about tomorrow, 

For you do not know what a day may bring forth.  Proverbs 27:1



Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”  Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  James 4:13-14a


Thought For The Day

 "Who you are inside is what helps you make and do everything in life."

                                                                             Fred Rogers

Friday, May 26, 2023

Thought For The Day

 "Happiness is not a goal, it's a by-product."

                                        Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Flowers and Fruit

 “April showers bring May flowers….”  So the saying goes.  And here we are: after those April showers, new life is springing forth everywhere we turn.  For the gardeners among us, this is a happy season indeed.  For those of us who are less enthused, we tend to bemoan the need to trim shrubs and pull weeds.  But all of us can appreciate the rhythm of the seasons with which the Lord has blessed us.  And, we can all learn and grow from it.


The seasons in our life do not always reflect the natural season outside our windows, but we, too, have seasons of cold and darkness, dormancy and rain, followed by growth and life.  


If we face a time of cold and darkness, even of trials and suffering, we can exercise perseverance and walk through it with patience, confident that the Lord works even the most acute hardship for our good: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.   And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-4).  This is faith life at its most potent: the assurance of hope and the conviction that God’s goodness is at work even if we cannot see it.  Our roots of faith must grow deeper in order to find nourishment and refreshment in a time of apparent drought.


A time of dormancy and rain can be dreary and frustrating.  Just like our trees and shrubs need time to develop and grow underground before they flower and grow above the ground, so it is sometimes the case that we must wait for the Lord’s timing before an active phase of spiritual life and ministry begins.  Jesus spent his childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood out of the public eye and then spent 40 days alone in the wilderness dealing with the temptations offered by Satan before He began His public ministry.  And just as Jesus relied on God’s Word to return those temptations back to hell from where they came, we must rely on the Word of the Lord: Christ Himself.


And then as we abide in Christ as the true vine, the time will come when we bear fruit, much fruit.  The fruit-bearing season is preceded by rapid growth and activity.  It is a time of energy and opportunity.  It is also a time of pruning: Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.  (John 15:2).  As we grow and minister, the Lord sanctifies us so that our fruit manifests His goodness and abundance.  In other words, He pulls the spiritual weeds out of our hearts and minds so that nothing restrains or detracts from the fruit He is bearing through us and the joy that comes with bearing that fruit.


While seasons of life are often individual and personal, there is a corporate element to abiding in Christ and bearing fruit as well.  As the body of Christ, it is crucial for us to join together before the Lord in worship, prayer, and study, to invest in deep relationship with one another, and then to bear fruit as we use our gifts in a coordinated manner to powerfully minister to those in our community.  Although we are a small body, we have an amazing collection of gifts.  And with the Lord doing His loaves and fishes thing, we can look forward to bearing some exciting fruit for God’s kingdom.

Monday, May 8, 2023

The Power of Repentance


"A stiff apology is a second insult… The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt."

                                                                                                             G.K. Chesterton 




Friday, March 31, 2023

Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus

 For believers, April brings a resounding cry: He is risen!  Indeed!  This is the time when we remember Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross for us, for His death as payment before God for our sins, and then His resurrection as the first fruits of His redemptive work on our behalf.  The death and resurrection of Christ are two of the best attested events in ancient history.  And all four Gospel accounts bear witness to the fact that Jesus Christ died and was raised on the third day.  For us.


The death and resurrection of Christ is the bedrock of Christian faith.  And while believers are quick to profess belief in that truth, we are not always quick to remain grounded on that bedrock.  Not unlike the Israelites who quickly forgot the LORD’s work in parting the Red Sea as they grumbled in the wilderness, we often forget that our foundation is Christ and His death and resurrection.  We thank God for His sacrifice and praise Him for the power of the resurrection.  And then we go through our days hurried and distracted, looking for ways to feel good about ourselves apart from the Lord.


I think it might be helpful to consider that Good Friday and Easter are not events that are isolated from Christ’s entire time on earth as God Incarnate.  In Philippians 2, we read that in becoming incarnate, Jesus emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant.  He patiently grew through His childhood as a member of a family.  And even though He knew who He was when He spent a good bit of time in His Father’s house—the temple—as a twelve-year-old (Luke 2), He remained patient through almost two decades before beginning His public ministry.  Jesus submitted to baptism (Matthew 3) and then spent forty days in the wilderness fasting and being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4).  Christ’s life as God Incarnate was a series of choices that reflected His ongoing relationship with the Father as a day to day commitment.


Jesus was able to fulfill His mission on earth by living out His relationship with the Father on a day-to-day, choice-by-choice basis.  And we have a mission as well!  The Lord has created us for good works, prepared by God beforehand, so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).  If we are to walk in those good works and obey Christ as He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23), we must abide in Him as branches on a vine and follow Christ as we live our day-to-day lives on a choice-by-choice basis.  As we learn to do this, something amazing happens.  We become increasingly free from the appearance, performance, and status standards that the world would place on us.  We become less driven by self interest and more driven by the Holy Spirit.  We become better able to love.  We become more like Christ.  And we are able to experience the peace and joy that He offers.


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Thought For the Day and For the Year

 "More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness."

                                                                Charlie Chaplin