Friday, March 30, 2012

You Forgot

Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble. 

Working in the yard the other day I got a sick feeling in my stomach when I heard a reminder that I had forgotten something very important.  A Purple Martin was swooping down just above my head and warbling insistently as if to say, “We’re back, you forgot us.”
I don’t know how but I had neglected to prepare for their early spring arrival by putting up the bird house.   I hoped I wasn’t too late.  Fortunately I had taken the day off so I dropped everything I was doing, got the bird house out of the garage, cleaned it out and put it up.  By lunchtime they were already sitting on the house - a good sign they will take up residence.  So I’m again filled with hope that they will stay and eat lots of bugs and we look forward to seeing them feed and train their young before they leave again in July. 
 Amazingly, these creatures arrive on almost the exact same day every year.  How they know when to leave their winter home in Brazil and begin their long northbound journey so they arrive here on March 15 is beyond me.  It really is a God-thing.  Sure, I know bird migration is a simple fact of science but I see a powerful thoughtful Creator.  
Sometimes I get discouraged or worried when I see bad things happening around the world, but I know nothing happens of which our great and powerful God is unaware.  And every year when I see the Martins return from their long journey to another continent I’m reminded that God superintends over His creation.
Psalm 46 tells us that God is in control.  As you go about your day today look for evidence that a powerful God is in control.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rain Delay

1 John 5:5(NIV)
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
Irritated at yet another delay on an already long trip overseas and having already read the airline magazine’s October issue on the trip over two weeks earlier I decided to just stare out the window at the rain.  At least I don’t have to be out there in it, I thought.  
Sitting in my seat over the wing I happened to notice a yellow square painted on the ground just beyond the leading edge of the wing.  A stenciled message read, “No Standing.”  I wondered what this was for and my curiosity got the best of me.  That is until the pilot fired up the engines and I realized that the yellow box was marking an area to be avoided because of the proximity of the engine.  I watched as the falling rain was sucked into the powerful engine.  It was then I understood the point of the yellow box.
It made me think about how often we get sucked into the world’s system.  We underestimate its power.  Materialism, selfishness, greed, lust and hatred for others; so many things strive to pull us in as we struggle to overcome the world.
1 John 5 is all about overcoming the world.  So what is the key?  The power to overcome the world begins with our trust in Christ.  It’s all about Jesus.  He’s the one who already overcame the world and He’s the author and finisher of our faith.  If we are to overcome the system of this world with all of its trappings we must be connected to Jesus Christ.  
Jeremiah 32:17(NIV)
Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Make Others Important

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

I’m sitting here watching my son, Andrew practice soccer. I have to hand it to coach Bob, he’s a great guy with a big heart and coaching fourteen 6th graders is a lot like herding cats. At times teaching 6th grade boys anything at all can be a real challenge. It seems that most of Bob’s effort is spent trying to get the boys to work together, pass the ball around and work as a team. If you know anything about boys at this age playing like a team goes against everything in their constitution.

I’m reminded that everything in our being works against playing like a team too. Whether we’re talking about soccer or life in general we also tend to, so-to-speak, hog the ball. It’s in our nature to make a play ourselves rather than to pass the ball to another player and share the glory and the effort.

So when we are on the job and the boss recognizes some accomplishment, do we share the credit with others who were involved or do we simply let the boss think we did it all ourselves? When we’re working on a project with our coworkers do we look for ways to include others or do we hog the spotlight for ourselves?

Truth is this team could go a lot farther if these boys would work as a team and play to one other’s strengths. If they could just learn that it doesn’t all depend on any one of them but on the group as a whole they would have an unbeatable team. Really that’s the same challenge we face in life as adults all the time.

Consider today the importance of valuing others above yourself and look for ways to pass the ball and share the glory.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10 (NIV)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Creation Reveals His Love

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20 (NIV)

We were on our way to school on a typical Monday. As it often goes, we talked about the trees and the animals we saw along the way. My 5-year-old asked her usual questions about why God made some trees short and others tall—or how God makes the water flow in the creek.

Often my daughter asks if we can stop the car for a while so she can further study some facet of God’s creation. Of course, the traffic and our morning schedule are usually not so accommodating to that idea, nor is my agenda.

You see, I try to use our time driving to school for “productive” conversations. I want to set the tone for her school day, so as we chat, I include brief reminders about classroom etiquette, how she needs to follow her teacher’s instructions, and the importance of sharing.

On this particular morning, there was a momentary pause in my lecture as we noticed cows in a nearby pasture. Normally these creatures are specks off in the distance and hardly visible, but today they were just feet from our car.

As I was about to resume my last-minute instructions, my little protégé issued a request: “Dad, do you think we could have a few minutes of peace and quiet to look at the cows?”

Filled with wonder at the sight of the cows, her little nose pushed up against the car window in an effort to absorb the full view. I had to stop and wonder what great truths about my Creator and His loving care of creation I might have missed that morning had my daughter not refocused my attention.

The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. Psalm 33:5 (NIV)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Second Rock From the Sun

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1 (NIV)

The other evening, as I walked by the front window of our home, I caught a glimpse of a bright light in the early evening sky. I knew what I saw was more than a distant airplane or helicopter. It seemed odd to see such a bright light in the sky, as the sun had just moments earlier dropped beyond the horizon, leaving the sky a beautiful shade of pinkish-orange. This must be a planet or a star, I thought. My curiosity led me to an online search, revealing that what I was seeing was the planet Venus.

My teenage son happened by, and together we were mesmerized by the brightness and size of this one light in the sky. It seemed so close you could reach out and touch it, yet I knew it was millions of miles away. Thinking out loud, I said, “I bet it would take years to drive that far—if it could even be done.” My son responded, “We learned in school that it took the Mars Explorer over six months to arrive at its destination, and that’s with the help of rockets!”

Later on, as I was taking my evening walk, I struggled to find this same distant planet. It was now upstaged by millions of other stars. I couldn’t help but think about how immense our universe is…and yet, it was to this one small dot in the massive expanse to which the Savior came. It is this human race—our human race—for which the Savior came to live and die so that we could have a relationship with Him and live with Him for eternity.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Four Lanes

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble… Psalm 46:1 (NLT)

He occasionally appears at one of my regular lunch spots, first emerging as a speck in my rearview mirror. I make my way through the drive-thru, order up my Number One—no pickles and a half Coke/half Diet Coke—and then make my way over to an adjacent parking lot where I stare at the traffic, eat my lunch, and enjoy the quiet. I watch with amazement as he pumps his way by me in his wheelchair, wheels across the parking lot, and heads toward the busy road.

As my friend nears the traffic, an incredible transformation takes place. He looks out at the four lanes of cars racing by, and an expression of determination washes over his face. It’s not a gritting-of-the-teeth resolve but more of a joyful anticipation. I’ve seen him do this numerous times, and he always sports that same cheerful look.

Today I spotted him again, only this time he had additional spectators: two young women in a car not far from mine. With hands cupped over open mouths, they watched him negotiate each lane of traffic as cars rushed by. Will he make it? Can he do it?

When he reached the other side, as he always does, the ladies broke into tearful, joy-filled applause and pumped their firsts in the air in sincere admiration. As I observed them, my heart, too, was filled with joy for my friend’s accomplishment. 

I thought to myself how God must cheer for us as we put on our game face and greet the tasks that await us each day. I don’t know if this young man knows Jesus, but there’s certainly something within him that generates a spirit of enthusiastic determination. It reminds me that when I face a daunting challenge, I have Jesus’ help…and so I should smile inside, too.

When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2 (NLT)