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not a clue, as usual


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a fair question

5096_1197313732195_1677986_nO LORD, what is man that you care for him,

The son of man that you think of him?

Psalm 144:3

A fair question.

Why does God care about us? I know that theologians can (and have) gone on and on about this but the answer is simply that He loves us. I wish I could state it more eloquently. I wish I had the beautifully poetic words that would make the notion of such a love come to life for you. But, honestly, there is no need to complicate things. God is love and He loves his creation.

That’s it – a pure simple truth.

Man is like a breath

His days are like a fleeting shadow

Psalm 144:4

Compared to God’s greatness, we are nothing

He loves us anyway

Our time on earth is momentary

He notices us anyway

Our foolish waywardness has to be frustrating

He shows us a true Way

Our speeches and written words (like this) must be entertaining

He listens anyway

And responds by pointing us to the Word – His Son

Why does He care?

He simply does.

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Extraordinary Love

 

jesus_mary_joseph

It was just an ordinary town

on the edge of nowhere

Just a simple, quiet night

that took the world unaware.

She was just an ordinary girl

Frightened of her part to play

He was just an ordinary guy

with a wife and child on the way

But He was no ordinary babe

Lying in that bed of straw

Surrounded by sheep and shepherds

Even kings bowed down in awe

star

Under that same old, starry night

Where one star shone out clear

A new mother held her babe

And whispered love into Love’s ear

On this simple, quiet night

He entered our world in this way

From a throne in Heaven above

To a simple bed of hay

Out of ordinary things

Comes a simple mother’s love

Out of ordinary things

Comes extraordinary Love.

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Small things done with great love

images (4Our neighborhood supermarket closed a few months ago and I had to find a new one. There is a great market one town over but it is very busy and always crowded. I’ve had to make some adjustments, which is never easy but it seems to be working. One thing that I struggle with at this new store is probably the most trivial, yet I drives me crazy. They lock up their shopping carts and you need a quarter to unlock it. All the carts have a chain with a lock on them that inserts into the next cart in the line to keep them together, but a quarter inserted into the slot will unchain one. When you are through shopping, you return the cart and as you lock it to the other carts, your quarter is released. I like the concept. It keeps the parking lot free of stray carts. My problem is remembering to take a quarter with me. I keep a few spare coins in the cup holder of the car just for this purpose but it doesn’t help me if I always have to return to my car to retrieve the quarter that I so consistently forget.

Yesterday, as I went to insert my quarter, I saw that someone had left their quarter and not locked the cart. I’ve seen this before, some kind soul who understands the frustration of not having change on hand had left the coin to make someone’s day a bit easier. I resolved to leave the quarter in place and so pass on the act of kindness to the next person so they don’t have to fumble in their bag or reach into empty pockets in search of elusive quarters.

I felt good as I left my unlocked cart, passing on the caring gesture to the next shopper. I returned to my car and saw the spare change sitting in the cup holder and suddenly realized what an empty gesture that stupid quarter really was. It didn’t cost me anything. That 25 cents wasn’t going to break the bank. I had no right to be so pleased with myself for doing something so trivial.

And then I remembered a quote from Mother Teresa:

images (4)

or perhaps this quote that I read:

“There are no great things, only small things done with great love.”

Think of all the little unimportant things that you can do each day to brighten another one’s life. Saying “Thank You”, holding a door open or sharing a simple smile. images (5)We may not get an opportunity to make dramatic difference in someone else’s life every day but we if we keep our eyes open we will find a hundred little “nothing” things that we can do each day to lighten someone’s load.images (6)

Lord, I ask you to help me to see the needs that are all around me. Give me the courage to reach out and help even if it may cost me dearly. But help me also to see the value of the little things. Help me to see the beauty of that particular shade of green that you chose for the grass outside my window right now. Show me how to be grateful for all you give me, including that soft heart that caused someone to leave a quarter in the cart lock so I didn’t have to trudge back to my car for change. Help me to see the beauty in all the “small things done with great love” that have been done for me. And help me to do the same for others every day.   Amen


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Love Looks Like…

 

When I was a childchildhood love

Love was kittens and puppies

And splashing in puddles

Love was a summer’s day

On my bike that went on forever

Love was making cookies with mom

Or taking walks with dad

And looking up into their faces

Knowing I was safe

 

When I was a teen

Love was sweet stolen kissesfeet in love

In darkened movie theaters

Love was best friend sleepovers

And secrets by flashlight

Love was romantic daydreams

And summertime romance

 

When I was an adult

Love was meeting that person

Who filled all my empty placeshands on tracks

Love was a best friend forever

That I felt free to laugh or cry with

Love was that one special person

To complete a new family circle

 

Now as a wife love is in one

who has seen all my darkness

And still stands beside me

And now as a mom love is a constantfather child hands

giving away of my heart and yet

there is always more to give

 

Now I thought I understood how love looks

But of all the many faces of love

That I’ve been blessed to know

There’s one I almost missed

A love that had me before I recognized it

A love that had me before I returned it

A love that had me before I received it

A love in the shape of a cross

love looks like...

 

 


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If God is Love….

If God is love….what does that mean to me?

 

…God is love… John 4:16b

Probably the most overused Bible quotes of all time, second only to John 3:16. But a most important quote. It tells me that God truly does love me because it is His very nature to love. He can’t not love.

Someone once explained the extant of God’s love to me like this:

You know how, when you visit a family with a toddler in it, they always have those big clunky crayons drawings hanging on the refrigerator? If you are parent, then you are most likely guilty of this too. It’s a magical moment when your child first makes that connection that the purple thing in his hands will create big fat lines when he runs it against paper (hopefully not the wall!), so he colors purple lines on every scrap of paper he can find. The parents, being understandably proud, will hang it on the fridge for everyone to admire. If you see this in a friend’s house, I would recommend not commenting negatively as it tends to upset parents. Comments such as, “ Ooh, I see Johnny found the red crayon” are met with angry glares and a retort along the lines of “Hey, that’s my kid’s first coloring page” .

Can you imagine what God’s refrigerator must look like? He might have Michelangelo’s work hanging from a magnet. Or mine. Or yours. An angel gets thirsty and asks God for a cold drink. “Help yourself”, God replies. As the angel approaches the fridge, he sees my artwork, front and center of God’s fridge. “What is that?” the angel will cry. “Lord, you could have Picasso or Monet’s work there and you choose that?” he will ask incredulously. And God will look that angel straight in the eye and say, “Hey, that’s my kid’s!”

That’s how much I am loved.  You too.

god's love


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Happy Groundhog Day!

 

P1010724

 

P1010740There’s a town in Pennsylvania that is known for its devotion to its very famous resident rodent. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has long been known as the Groundhog Day capital of the world. Now before I start to get angry notes from Punxsutawnians, let me just say that I have grown to admire this quaint little town over the years. My daughter attends college out that way and the highway that we take goes right through the middle of the P1010721town. It’s become quite the game as we drive through to search out the groundhog statues that adorn street corners and many local businesses. The town hired artists to create these quirky fiberglass statues and placed them around the main business district of the town. When you drive through, or better yet, stop and take a stroll around, there is no mistaking that you are in the hometown of that weather predicting phenomena known as Punxsutawney Phil.

P1010733I must admit, I was a little surprised on that first drive through. I P1010746couldn’t help but think that it was a bit crazy to choose to base your identity on a rodent combined with a legend,  but I have come to appreciate the charm and creativity of the this town and the people who call it home. It could easily have become a tacky sideshow, but instead Punxsutawney has become a place that celebrates its heritage with dignity, grace and a touch of whimsy that is endearing to all who are blessed to see it.

So now I have to ask, “Where have I based my identity? Is it in my home? My family? My job? The things that I write in this blog?” What do people see when they look at me. Be careful, for the exterior that you show the world, is the legacy that you leave behind.

 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. 

John 13:34, 35

And there it is.

I choose to be follower of Christ and I hope it is more than my exterior. I want it to sink deep inside and make a difference in the way I live, the choices I make and shine in a love that goes beyond my grumpy mood or bad day.

Choose love, live love.

 


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In response to red cups

images (3)

I recently saw a sign that read,

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty,welcome the stranger and the unwanted child, care for the ill and love your enemies”

I realize that all this is in response to Starbucks red cups and Christians trying to fight the “War on Christmas” but I feel that we are being distracted from the real challenges of living out Christ’s words in a fallen world. The quote above cuts to the heart of the matter. Jesus set the example of how His followers should navigate the pitfalls of this world and it’s not easy.

I can bring canned goods to my church’s food pantry once a month but would I give my lunch to a hungry person. Maybe for a friend, but what about a stranger that I chance upon who is hungry. Would I still be willing to help even if I didn’t know that person?

What about clothing the naked. I rummage through my closet each fall to find old coats to give to the local coat drive and make donations to the Salvation Army and other such organizations. But isn’t it hard and a bit dangerous to reach out to the emotionally naked? Those who are vulnerable and hurting and just need to know that someone cares?

Would I welcome a stranger into my home? Probably not, it’s just irresponsible in today’s society to do that. But could I welcome a stranger into my heart in friendship? Could I stop worrying about whether or not i might get hurt and extend love and caring to the people that God has put into my path? Am I able to care about the children who don’t have a family to care about them? What about the child whose parents are too busy or ill to shower their child with the love they crave?

Do I stretch out a hand in kindness and offer help to those who are struggling with medical issues (and there are so many who don’t complain or make an issue about their struggles)?

And here’s the big one – can I love my enemies? I may not hate them and I do feel sorry for those who have hurt me or simply think differently than I, but can I truly say that i love them?

These are difficult matters that Christ followers face everyday, not just at Christmas time. Things that are difficult to incorporate into our everday lives. Things that will require sacrifce on our parts. We will have to give of our finances, our material possessions and our time. We will even have to make ourselves vulnerable from time to time. Loving like Jesus did will cost us dearly but the rewards will be incredible. Am I willing to try? I’m scared and unsure but I’ll hold the hand of Eternity and keep trying. I’ll fail often yet I’ll keep trying.

So now can we stop worrying about who is putting up Christmas decorations and who has chosen not to? The real “war on Christmas” is a personal one and will be fought in our hearts and not on our coffee cups. We are always in danger of getting embroiled in corporate or political battles that will distract us from the real battle. Fight to keep Christ first in your heart. Fight to keep Christian principles of love, grace and mercy first in your life. That’s the front line in this war. And it’s not just for Christmas, it’s a year-round 24/7 battle that Christians must fight every day. Christmas is a great time to revisit these principles and recommit ourselves to them.

And by the way, I actually like the simplicity of the red cups. I think it sends a message in line with Christ’s teachings. Too bad I can’t drink coffee.

“The King will reply, ‘ I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’. Matthew 25:40