Saturday, August 27, 2011

pause for power

Many have lost power in the current hurricane (nasty Irene with a temper tantrum moving up the east coast).  But God is displaying His power.  Whether an earthquake or a hurricane, we see that God is able to cause us to pause for power.  This is a day when the best advice is to do stay put...and the best way to stay put is to stay under shelter.  In the midst of this pause for a demonstration of God's might our physical shelter comes from walls and roofs but our real shelter comes from the one who is blowing and raining.  The maker of storms is the maker of shelter and His peace is constant whether before, during, or after the storm.  Today the ways of men, from Wilmington to Wall Street, will bow to the wonders of God.  Tomorrow...will we continue to bow?

Psalm 95:4 He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
      and the mightiest mountains.
 5 The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
      His hands formed the dry land, too.
 6 Come, let us worship and bow down.
      Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
    7 for he is our God.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

coming storm

There is a major storm coming...a serious hurricane is expected to hit this area within the next few days! The wild animals seem to sense it coming as there were no signs of heron, or other large birds, on the pond this morning. Modern forecasting tools can provide estimates of the hurricane's track and intensity and people are scavenging milk, water, batteries and bread from local stores. There is a sense of anticipation and concern. Past experience with these storms has ranged from little more than a rainstorm to full blown gales and massive damage from wind and tree falls. We know the storm is coming...but we don't know the specific outcome until we experience it. Some will leave the area but most will batten down the hatches and ride through. There is another storm coming. At a point in the future there will be a cataclysmic clash between the forces of Heaven and Hell in a place called Armageddon. Good will triumph ultimately over evil and the Creation will rejoice after the cries and the groaning cease. There is yet another storm coming, and some are in its midst's called "the trials of life". Life today is full of tests and discouragements...of disease and disappointment, of uncertainty and the unknown. Some try to escape this storm in drugs and alcohol. Others are beaten into depression or some of the other "D" words: divorce, disgust, distraction, delusion. The storms capture our attention and they require a response. A storm brings energy and force that is greater than our personal strength and we need shelter, endurance and hope. As we shop for the essentials to see us through this hurricane, let us replenish our supply of trust and reliance on God. He rides above the storms. He walks through the the midst of storms. He stands with us as the storm assaults us. He greets us on the far side of the storm. There is no storm that can overshadow His presence, or out-muscle His might. We will bow before the storm, but only after we bow before the Lord.
Job 38:1 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2 "Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the commission

June 5, 1974 I was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.  I still have the commissioning certificate framed in my office.  It states that the President of the U.S. had "special trust and confidence" in me and charged me with following his orders and the orders of all officers above me.  It also charged those of lesser rank to obey me in the course of my naval duties.  It stated that I served "at the pleasure of the President of the United States" and it was signed by the Chief of Naval Personnel and the Secretary of the Navy.  That was a long time ago but it reminds me that we have a commission as disciples of Christ.  He has confidence in us to carry the good news of His love and victory over the sin that has fractured our relationship with God.  He is placing His trust in us, as we have placed ours in HIm, to obey His directions...His Word...and to work together with others of like-faith.  We serve at His pleasure and we are motivated by the reality of our relationship and our gratitude for the work He has done in our hearts.  I may have resigned my naval commission to become a civilian but the Heavenly commission will be my challenge (and hopefully yours!) for the rest of this time on earth.
2 Timothy 4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.


Monday, August 22, 2011

essential life

If you were to try to break down life to its smallest piece, what would that be?  If you break down any substance you come to elements and molecules that give unique identify to the substance.  If you break down the atoms that make up the molecules you release tremendous energy and lose the original atom, itself.  If you break down time to its smallest piece you move backwards from years to months to days to hours and minutes and seconds...and there can be significant activity even within small fractions of a second.  But, if you break down life to its smallest piece for a person, what would that be?  Would it be a breath?  Would it be a thought?  Would it be a single heartbeat?  What constitutes t he essence of life?  This is a difficult assignment because, once human life has become alive, it has a physical dimension that is described by our anatomy and it has a spiritual dimension that is described by the inner person we call the soul.  What is the essential part of our soul?  Here are a few key ingredients: There is the Word of God that spoke man into being that is carried in the soul of each of us.   There is the credential of saving faith that hangs in a frame within our hearts when we have placed our trust in Jesus' finished work on the cross and from the grave.  There is the presence of God, Himself, dwelling continually within our being, as a result of that trust.  One thing that seems clear is that the essence of our lives is God, Himself.  And you really can't break down our lives to exclude God...His presence, like our souls, goes on continually and for eternity.

Psalm 73:26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
      but God remains the strength of my heart;
      he is mine forever.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

absolutely relative

What is the foundation for making value decisions...for knowing right from wrong?  How does each individual person see the world in an orderly way and is it possible to know that there is a right way?  Some folks just follow their conscience...but what forces have shaped that conscience?  Some folks are molded by what they hear and see in the ever-present media and in popular conversation.  But do they really consider the underlying currents and tidal forces that lead to those views and those angles and those perspectives.  There can be shifts in popular values over time, almost like the momentum shifts within a football game.  Does that mean that right and wrong are like a line of scrimmage that moves up and down the field?  Are there absolute truths or only relative values?   I remember my father talking at the dinner table about our family values and how, now matter what they did down the street, we would do what was right as we saw it.  There are absolutes and there are relatives.  Becoming a relative of God by trusting in His Son makes the absolute clear.

John 8:32 "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Friday, August 19, 2011


There is a beauty in seeing a need met that transcends the winning of any lottery. The purpose of money is to meet needs but we elevate money to have meaning in itself. Until money finds its match in meeting specific needs, it only has potential value. The greatness of provision is seeing God enter our lives by supplying the resource that specifically addresses each of our needs. I think that is why we love the phrase, "Give us, this day, our daily bread" so much from the prayer Jesus gave the Disciples. The dynamic of receiving, daily and as needed, what we need to live reminds us tangibly of the spiritual source of life. Money can never be the meeter of needs...only our Maker can do that. By focusing on the Provider and His provision, we develop a "hand-in-hand" walk with Him and that is what He seeks. The Japanese became famous for "just in time" production to supply the manufacture of goods with minimum inventory. God has specialized "just in time" provision from the beginning!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

water colors

The sky above is canvas, true,
for art of clouds and shades of blue
and daily He does paint the scene
unique each morn and freshly seen.

The pond below does mirror back
that view with motion stirred, by
insect wings and breezes fresh,
His work artfully blurred

We children stand beneath His sky
or drink in the reflection...
His gallery lies all about,
in brush strokes beyond mention

Do I prefer the ceiling sky with ever changing shapes and hue
or water colors of the pond,
where ripples paint a living view?

Proverbs 27:19 As a face is reflected in water,
      so the heart reflects the real person.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

cause for celebration

It had been several days since I'd made my way down to the local pond for some peaceful reflection.  We'd been busy with all the activity surrounding, and including, the wedding of our daughter.  It was good to feel the familiar calm and note that the pond was just the same... as the peace of that place reminds me of the peace we have with our great and personal Lord.  Two became one on Saturday and I was there to observe the wonder and mystery.  In the days leading up to the event we met the groom's immediate and extended family and friends and we realized that two families were also becoming one over this marriage.  Everyone who came was close to either the bride or the groom, but only a few knew both very well.  Ben's family is wonderful and it was a great joy to become friends with his parents and get acquainted with sisters, aunts, uncles and many others.   And it was heartwarming to see our own family members from across the country and to celebrate together.  The beautiful vows that Ben and Courtney made were cemented by the promise of God to join them.  They started the ceremony as two and left as one.  A wedding holds the promise of a marriage and represents the birth of a household and a family.  Ben and Courtney are not just Ben and Courtney...they are Ben with Courtney and Courtney with Ben...and both walking with the Lord.  There will be fruits from this marriage that one, alone, cannot bear and there will be strengths within this marriage that only two, together, can bear.  Truly a marriage like this is a cause for celebration.

Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the main thing

I was discussing a problem with my wife this morning. This Saturday our daughter will be getting married. Relatives and friends I practically never see will be coming to town and I want to "hang out" with all of them. I want to walk around meals...catch up on their lives...with all of them! And it just won't be possible! They will only be here a few days and, yes, I will see them for the wedding and the rehearsal dinner and a brunch the day after the wedding....But it just isn't enough! These are some of my very favorite people in the whole world, including aunts and uncles and cousins and my sisters and some friends we have known across our marriage. But then it hit me..."Keep the main thing focused" It's all about the wedding. These wonderful people are all coming here to witness and celebrate one of the greatest events of a lifetime...when two are joined by God to become one. As dear as my relationship is with each of these people, we are all gathering because of the wonder, the beauty, the mystery and the challenge marked by the marriage of Courtney and Ben. That is the greater relationship this week. We will see the birth of a home and a family and we will witness their commitment to each other and God's commitment to them. This is a week to keep "the main thing" the main thing. And the main thing is the wedding where God invades two lives and knits them together so that the vital purposes of life may be sustained and new life may ultimately enter this world. I was reminded that it is also important to keep "the main thing" centered in all the other weeks that follow. This week we are putting our close existing relationships on the second shelf to honor a very special relationship. We have a relationship with our Creator that is "the main thing" every day and we need to keep that focused, as well, when so many things compete for our attention.
John 3:31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.

Monday, August 8, 2011

compete or complete

We earthlings are big on competition.  Sometimes it shows up in sports, sometimes it shows up in school, sometimes it shows up in war, sometimes it shows up on the job, sometimes it shows up in relationships.  We want to prove we are better, bigger, beautiful--er...than all the others.  If we win and we prove we are better then we may feel better about ourselves.  We can think that in the pecking order of life we are a notch or two higher than others.  It's been tough in our country lately.  We are used to being No. 1 in the world in standard of living and in freedoms and ideals (at least in our minds).  We've been taking some hits below the water line and have come down a bit in some rankings, while other countries seem to be rising.  I don't think we abide very well with being anything less than top dog...even if sometimes it means that other countries are actually coming up in the world.  But I wonder if "compete" is really the key to being "complete"?  We have come to know that when we open our hearts wide to Jesus and He moves in...that we are renewed, restored, revived, redeemed and truly re-born.  The completeness that comes with Christ wasn't the result of winning the game...landing the big deal...taking the trophy as Mr. Universe...or getting 1600 on your S.A.T. scores.  And, best of all, this completeness is available to all.  There was a victory...we do have a champion...and there are no losers when we admit we are already lost.   It is exciting to compete and better to win but it is best to be complete through the faithfulness of our winning Savior!

John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

looking forward, looking back

In the back of your mind...always...when you are raising a child is the thought that one day they will grow up...but that they are not there yet!  The child is in a process of becoming all the way from pregnancy through preschool up through puberty and the perils of peer pressure.  Then, one day, you look around and the child isn't in your house...isn't at your table...isn't even in your zip or area code.  They are continuing to grow and develop and emerge at a different location.  Along the way you pray for them and you give thanks for them and you are amazed by them.  And then, one day, you realize that the child is an adult.  The child is now fully engaged in the world, with a calling and a career and a commitment to caring.  They call one day and tell you that they've fallen in love and are ready to head down the road that could result in a child of their own one day.  With a child you are always looking forward...but now I am starting to look back.  I don't know how the process moved this fast, but I am sure that raising the child has also caused me to grow.  One of my daughters will marry this week.  A chapter is finishing and a chapter is beginning and the book continues to be written.  (With great love for of the sweetest and most sincere people I know...who happens to be my little girl).

Proverbs 23:24 The father of godly children has cause for joy.
      What a pleasure to have children who are wise.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


What is your window on the world?  As you sit on one side of the glass do you enjoy the view coming through?  Are you secure on the inside while light breaks in and does your window shield from rain and wind?  When gentle breezes blow outside do you open your window and feel the sweet air?  If you can't go outdoors does your window bring it in and can you find the sky artist when you look out?  Is your window clean and clear or do smudges distract?  Consider your window are on one side with a view of Heaven...Can you see it?  The window will soon open forever...and with no glass will be with Him.

Song of Solomon 2:8 Ah, I hear my lover coming!
      He is leaping over the mountains,
      bounding over the hills.
 9 My lover is like a swift gazelle
      or a young stag.
   Look, there he is behind the wall,
      looking through the window,
      peering into the room.
 10 My lover said to me,
      "Rise up, my darling!
      Come away with me, my fair one!

Friday, August 5, 2011

in touch

Put me in touch with you, oh Lord.
I know you're here right now.
Fill my mind with yourself, please Lord.
I'll wait...I'm still...I'm yours.

Have your way with my life now Lord.
I know your plans are best.
Guide my thoughts and steps, please Lord.
I'll trust...I'll lean...I'll rest.

Let others see you in me, oh Lord.
They need to know you too.
Shine through these hands and eyes, please Lord.
I'll bow...I'll yield to you.

Put me in touch with you, oh Lord.
And never let me go.

Matthew 9:29 Then he touched their eyes and said, "Because of your faith, it will happen."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

grace for the graceful

One of the sweetest and gentlest men I have known lies today in a nearby hospital.  His face and body have been badly broken by the sudden impact of a deer flying through their car windshield last week.  We have known this couple for years and traveled with them on a short term mission trip to England several years ago.  They have the closest of marriage relationships and are so bound in love that you don't think of them as just close to each other....they are always "next" to each other.  Rod is the kind of man who is big-framed physically, but tender and soft on a personal level.  Rod and Elaine both love music and singing in the choir.  In England, as we moved about, Rod would often spontaneously start a familiar praise song or hymn (I remember one particular time as we rode on the top level of a double-decker bus in London...) and it always felt so right to join in...even in public.  We love this couple and now this gracious pair needs great grace to walk through difficult days.  A few months ago I watched two mated geese swimming on a local pond.  The male was drawn into a fight by another hostile male goose, who seemed to be vying for his partner.  Researching geese, I learned that they are absolutely loyal to their mates.  If one is injured, the other will remain by his side until he is well again.  Rod and Elaine are like that.  Rod is in a controlled coma and Elaine is standing by her life partner continually watching and waiting and trusting.  It is a time when grace is needed for the graceful.  Please lift Rod and Elaine in prayer today.  Thanks and blessings!

Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
         The LORD will give grace and glory; 
         No good thing will He withhold 
         From those who walk uprightly. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011



movement or procedure with uniform or patterned recurrenceof a beat, accent, or the like.
1550s, from L. rhythmus "movement in time," from Gk. rhythmos "measured flow or movement, rhythm," related to rhein "to flow,"

I was thinking about the word 'rhythm' last night.   It's the "beat" in music that gives the underlying foundation and sets the stage for the melody and the harmony and the lyrics.  It's like the rocks in the river that add interest to the water flow.  If the beat is interesting the song will probably be appealing.  Movement with an accent is what rhythm is all about.  Our heartbeat...a wave breaking on shore...each breath we take.  Rhythm captures the pulse of living.  Each day has a rhythm.  The flow of time is patterned by the rise and fall of the sun each day and the seasons as they pass.   Rhythm adds the interest to activity and the spice to life.  I suppose each of our lives carries a rhythm...some pattern to our movement.  What is the "beat" of your life?  What forms the pattern of your actions and turns random thoughts into focused themes?  After's the rhythm that makes the song!

Psalm 135:3 Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
      celebrate his lovely name with music.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

two immortal beings

The next time you are in conversation with someone you might consider this: two immortal beings are communicating with each other.  Every human being begins existence here, in the flesh, but will continue existing in the eternal realm after death.  The drama of this brief portion of our lives centers on whether we will establish a faith based relationship with our Creator and Savior.  That will determine how we live in eternity.  The issues and concerns that wrap us up in this life simply pale in comparison to the issue of our eternal destiny.  Recently, in our neighborhood, there was quite a flap about using the approved paint color for mailboxes.  I wonder if that subject will be discussed much in Heaven.  This earth is a greenhouse for tender eternal plants to get started from seedlings.  It seems that we ought to be about the business of preparing for eternity.  We live, side by side, with other "seedlings" who may be blind or dulled to this reality.  Someday we will look back and remember when we lived in the place where time was marked by the sun's passage.  We will remember the issues that troubled us and we will shake our heads in amazement that we thought so little of the place called "Forever".

Psalm 16: 10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
      or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
 11 You will show me the way of life,
      granting me the joy of your presence
      and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Monday, August 1, 2011

participate with Christ

1 Peter 4:12-13
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

We have many privileges as those who have come to fully rely on Jesus.   We have found a solution for our tendency to stray from the right path and we have obtained clear directions to help us get back on track.  We have discovered that God has words for us that cut right through to the core of our identity.  We are joined to a family of brothers and sisters with the same faith and there is love and mutual support there.  Although we haven't arrived there yet, we are absolutely confident that we will be in Heaven forever because we have His promise and His completed work on the Cross...crowned with His resurrection from the dead and ascension.  The scripture above reminds us that we also have the privilege of participating in the sufferings of Christ.  We live in a world that doesn't embrace Jesus as the Son of God, at least in mainstream culture.  Our suffering comes when we align ourselves openly with Him.  We are willing to be scorned as "narrow minded" because we have found the narrow path to life.  And the closer we align with Jesus now, the greater our joy will be when we see Him, face to face.