Sunday, February 7, 2016

Mission Statement

"Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!" (Psalm 117:1-2).

Earlier this morning the pastor was talking about each of us having a mission not suggested but commanded by the Lord. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul.

We can consider it our mission statement from Jesus.

It seems that all clubs, groups, organizations, and businesses have mission statements--communication to one and all of just what the organization is all about; the most effective mission statements are those that are simple, direct, and to the point. Isn't that just like the perfection of our Lord? Our mission statement can be found in Matthew 22: 37-38: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. this is the first and greatest commandment." Direct, specific, and a true challenge to each and every one of us.

Just how do we carry out this mission? Of course, we love the Lord our God--but we are to love Him with all our heart...all our soul...all our mind. Not some...all.

Quite a mission. This is not a typical mission statement that exists for a very finite amount of time to be revisited and edited. This mission statement is perfection from the beginning. It is eternal. It is our duty.

So how do we live up to this ultimate mission statement? I feel very inadequate to give any suggestions. The longer I thought about this all afternoon, the more I decided that prayer is my only answer. Meditation is needed throughout the day; upon rising in the morning, mindful prayers as the day carries on, and at the end of the evening before going off to sleep. Our mission challenges--no commands--us to love--truly love. In order for us to work toward this greatest command, we need to work diligently...perhaps the most diligently we will ever work on anything in our lives. 

Let's accept the mission as well as the mission statement. What better work in the world is there for us to do?

Peace be with you.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8).

Gifts. I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of a complicated relationship with the whole idea of gifts. I’m pretty much a low-clutter person, so sometimes a gift, no matter how well-intentioned, can be a bit intimidating. I don’t care for having a great deal of anything material; I’m much more content with opening a drawer or cabinet and being able to see everything rather than combing through numerous items. Just a few helpful, meaningful pieces keep me quite content.
I would like to think that I am a better gift giver than a receiver. However, after listening to a very good sermon last weekend, I’m wondering if I try to keep my gift giving a little too low clutter as well. Romans 12:6-8 very clearly tells us that we all are given the best gifts in the world—given from God to share with the world. Yet, how many times have I convinced myself that I wasn’t “gifted” enough to share my gifts from God with others?
I believe that God has given me a gift of expression through writing. Nevertheless, there are so many times that I convince myself that what I put down on paper is of little worth. There are, after all, tremendous writers out there with much greater talent and training than I possess. But is talent and training really what is concerned with gracious gifts from God? I don’t necessarily think so. I know last year while Kurt was going through the pre- and post-transplant process, it wasn’t my talent or training that drove me every day to write about the experience. It was a practice in something much more important—it was my daily practice of faith in God. These words were my prayers; what entered into my heart during these prayers was God’s love that was so over-whelmingly generous that it literally overflowed onto the page.  What a gift indeed.
So, this is my belief concerning gifts—the everyday ones are fine and, if given with thought rather than obligation, are appreciated. If I give one of these material gifts to someone and, later, it becomes a gift that should be passed on to another as a thoughtful gesture, so be it. These are tokens, after all. The true gifts that God gives us through the sharing of faith, mercy, support, or enlightenment of God’s love—share them and they will never go away from the original one gifted. They continue for as long as they are shared. Amen!

Peace be with you all.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Precious Snippets

January is a cleaning up and clearing out month for me. Like many people, I find myself encouraged to "freshen up" the house with the arrival of the New Year. 

Yesterday evening, as I was clearing out a section of the downstairs study, I took down a bulletin board in anticipation of eventually painting the wall. The board had pretty much taken on a life of its own in becoming a memory book of sorts. Among the many addresses of old friends, items from various occasions, and assorted old pictures, I started unearthing a number of snippets and short items of a Biblical nature. I halted my cleaning for the next several minutes and sat down to read these precious snippets. Once I read each one, becoming more energized by the beautiful messages of God's love through Jesus that were penned on these various pieces of paper, I decided they were "Bible worthy"...those of you who have a Bible that is well-used know what that means. Just as our favorite cookbooks that we've had for decades or have been passed down to us are stuffed with precious bits and pieces of generations-old scraps of paper that carry on them prized recipes that appear at family gatherings and other special occasions, our Bibles are full of similar bits of paper that contain "recipes" for better living.

My recipe books and my Bibles get a reprieve from the annual "cleaning out"; there's nothing but precious snippets in each one.

Peace be with you. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Called to Serve--Anyone, Anywhere

             "Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (I Corinthians 4:1)

In church this morning, we were treated to a special speaker. Our friend and neighbor John Gray shared his work with us as a Gideon. For anyone not familiar with the Gideons, all one needs to do is check the nightstand at the next hotel where a Gideon Bible will be found. Over two billion of these Bibles (including millions of New Testaments distributed throughout the world at schools, events, and within the military) are available to anyone, anywhere at no cost.

And the Gideons? Just regular guys with regular families...called to serve and answering that call to be "stewards of the mysteries of God".

We are all called--but do we answer? Who are the daily servants of Christ? How is one a steward of the mysteries of God?

Just look around...these good folks are everywhere.

And you're probably one of them, too.

Every time we do something for our family, our neighbors, or our friends--no matter how small the deed--and do it in stewardship to God, as a servant of Christ, we are putting into practice the call. No matter what the deed, we are following the instruction of our Lord and increasing the Kingdom of God on earth.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

In the Garden

"I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses"
--from In the Garden by Austin Miles
I know of few things in this world that put me more in communion with the Lord than being in my gardens. In the summertime, I like to go out early in the morning just after sunrise. There's always a wonderful quietness at that time of day; the world is just waking up, with the birdsong of a few early-risers like me. As I walk through the grass, my shoes always get as wet as standing in a rain. But, you know, that's a good thing--that same dew gives life to all the flowers, the bushes, the trees, and the plants growing in the vegetable garden. When there's a healthy dew on the roses, the roses grow well.
There is a blessed stillness in the early morning hours in the garden. All my thoughts and meditations for the day are as fresh as the air I breathe. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24). It is the perfect time to hear the voice of God in my prayers. Working in the life-giving soil puts me so very close to our Lord. He gives us all good things.
"And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other can ever know."
There in the garden I share my every thought, concern, and joy with the Lord. I know I am His own and blessed with His perfect love. To be a child of God is the greatest joy we'll ever know.
Peace be with you.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

This is My Command

It's been far too long since I've written on this blog. Spring arrived and with it all the wonderful things that my favorite time of year brings, namely tending to gardens. So now, on this rainy late June evening, sections of the garden are freshly planted with some late summer veggies, while the rest grows on with its towering celery and sunflowers, its many herbs, late lettuce, peppers, and a plethora of tomato vines bearing green promises of scrumptious red tomatoes to come in the next few weeks.

In the midst of all this joyous time outside among the veggies, the flowers, the fruit trees and bushes and brambles, the world took some turns. For those of us who hold our Christian beliefs near and dear, it's a time of pause.

Our world, with the whoosh of a pen, became quite different. And, to give us greater pause, those of us who hold our tightly to our precious Christian beliefs became less liked and tolerated. We are living in a time when we are shamed by our friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and even family for not being tolerant, yet we are not tolerated. We are aware that, with the bang of the gavel of a judge, we immediately became hard-hearted and, according to many, we just don't get it.

We get it. We've been told this would happen. It's okay. We're in good hands.  "You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22).

Are we hard-hearted and hateful because we don't join in hardy agreement with ideas that contradict tenets from our Bible? I don't think so. Please take a moment and read the following passages:

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. This is my command: Love one another" (John 15:9-13, 17).

So, you see, we love all--it is commanded of us by our Savior and we obey. We may not agree with what our brothers and sisters on this blessed Earth choose to believe, but we love all, nonetheless.

We pray all will know this love. Blessings.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Shedding a Layer

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1).

Today was one of those first glorious days of late winter. After church, I actually took my coat off before heading into a restaurant for lunch with my mom. I always feel a particular sense of freedom--shedding that layer that clearly defines a time of the year that is certainly far from my favorite. I feel lighter, in both weight and spirit. Released from the feeling of being "bounded" by a bulky coat, hat, and/or gloves is such a feeling of liberation. I step more lively, and I just feel better in general.

When we think about it, God allows us to "take our coats off" and enjoy the lightness of a new spirit in His love. Most of the time we walk around in those moth-eaten old coats of despair, short-sightedness, and frustration with ourselves as well as with others. We don't like those ratty old "coats" of living lives that are less than Christ-centered, yet we continue to keep the buttons done up, the collar pulled up around our ears. We're not comfortable, yet we are familiar with the feeling of being encumbered by our being tethered by our everyday habits.

As more and more coat shedding days present themselves in the near future, let's keep in mind that just as we can free ourselves from the yoke of the heavy old coat, we can free ourselves permanently from the yoke of our sins through the love and sacrifice of Christ our Savior.

Peace be with you.