Special Days

What is that earliest special day you remember?

Birthday CakeBirthday? Christmas? Going to that favorite theme park? We all have days that we remember that wrap around our own little world, but what about the people that provide those days for you?

Of course, I’m talking about our parents. Some of our earliest memories revolve around the care provided by these special people. True, I remember my grandparents from afar, aunts, uncles, even cousins, but these day to day parents are the ones that provided the most. In fact, I still have some of the birthday, thank-you and “get well” gifts from these family members, but what I cherish the most are those early memories from my parents.

Today is my mom’s birthday.

Mom and dad have their birthdays in the same month, although dad was born a few years earlier. He’s at the beginning of the month. She’s at the end of the month. And their wedding anniversary is at the end of March, so all their major date memories are close to each other. And Mother’s Day is often a week following mom’s birthday so everything seems to get jumbled together.

She’s 2500 miles away…so it’s not a simple visit. I was able to surprise her on a major birthday some 20 years ago… or so. I pretended I was in Alaska and called her from the hallway of my brothers church in Texas to wish her Happy Birthday… And then I walked in, hugged her, wished her happy birthday and taught the Sunday morning bible class with her in the audience! Special memory…

So today is her special day. It does not take money or gifts to satisfy her…only a simple phone call. If you read this before I get to the call, then don’t tell her I’m calling….

Love you mom…!

What Is Your Reason

I was talking to a friend today…

There Is A ReasonOn one hand we were commiserating over similar occurrences of life. On the other hand his situation was more recent and a little fearful for his direction of life. We chatted about the roughing we take of our knees and knuckles, and from such situations we either get bitter, or better.

What is the reason you go through the things your face? Could it be it is simply being repeated until we learn a valuable lesson? Or perhaps we go through things for the sake of a lesson to be learned for the future? Or for someone else to see how we handle our challenge?

Regardless. There is a reason we face things we are going through.

The Apostle Peter, who was a direct witness of the ministry, affliction, death, burial, resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, shared a thought that makes me understand some of these ultimate reasons.

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “AND DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THEIR THREATS, NOR BE TROUBLED.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.  (1 Peter 3:14-16 NKJV)

Paul, who was not a direct follower of Jesus during the same time as Peter, says this:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NKJV)

Regardless of what you go through, you have a witness to show the working of the Holy Spirit within you. And you need to renew yourself every day to face these light affliction.

Lyrics from a favorite song of mine:

There Is A Reason
(Ron Block)
I’ve seen hard times and I’ve been told
There isn’t any wonder that I fall
Why do we suffer, crossing off the years
There must be a reason for it all
I’ve trusted in You, Jesus, to save me from my sin
Heaven is the place I call my home
But I keep on getting caught up in this world I’m living in
And Your voice it sometimes fades before I know
Hurtin’ brings my heart to You, crying with my need
Depending on Your love to carry me
The love that shed His blood for all the world to see
This must be the reason for it all
Hurtin’ brings my heart to You, a fortress in the storm
When what I wrap my heart around is gone
I give my heart so easily to the ruler of this world
When the one who loves me most will give me all
In all the things that cause me pain You give me eyes to see
I do believe but help my unbelief
I’ve seen hard times and I’ve been told
There is a reason for it all

Do More With Less

Clutter is the enemy to productiveness…

Too Much StuffRight? Think about it…

The more I have the more it, the more it consumes me. The consumption process occupies more time than I have freely available. So, I should learn to have less…so I can do more…

Got it?

The problem for me is not the amount of stuff (and I’ve enjoyed my stuff!), but the constant thought that the stuff is important. If I get rid of it then surely I will immediately need it. That’s the fear. It will cost me money as soon as I get rid of it! I’m sure of it…

However, my productivity is more important than my stuff, hence I have been working for a year to whittle down my stuff… One hour at a time. Spend the time, trim the stuff, ease the clutter and make sure that all I keep are the things I need.

A friend who owns a business to help you declutter pointed me to an article that said, “If you have not touched it in 6 months then you probably could get rid of it.” That might be a little severe because I own books, collectibles, and rocks that I will never get rid of it.

But if a disaster hits, then I know the few things I will take and the majority of the stuff I have will never go with me. Can you think of the few things that might be important for you?

As Jesus sent his disciples on a missions journey. On your journey…

“Travel light. Comb and toothbrush and no extra luggage….” (Luke 10:4 MSG)

This concept extends itself to how we understand the sin baggage.

  • Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV)
  • Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 NKJV)

Whether it’s our worldly baggage, or a trip we are commissioned to take, the instruction is to carry lightly only the things you will need. Nothing else matters. After all, what do you think you’re going to be able to take into the afterlife?

The Language of the Tired

Give me your tired…

Overly Tired ... Still Much To Do

The most common words we think of when we consider the Statue of Liberty. You know, that bronze gifted monument that sits on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor. Since 1885, we have known these words:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

These are the ending words of a short poem, “The New Colossus”, by Emma Lazarus (1849-1887). It was written near to the ending of her short life in 1883 and placed on a bronze plaque inside the lower level of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

But what if you are more than tired. Tired might mean you simply need some sleep, or it might mean you feel exhaustion due to exertion. There is a better word that denotes your level of tiredness, and I’ve mentioned it already…

E-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-o-n

Engine - 1966 Pontiac GTOThink about any automobile engine you’ve been around. This image is of an engine from a 1966 Pontiac GTO that is probably past its prime! But off the sides of the engine come an exhaust system that funnels through a tailpipe, following a convoluted path to the back end of the car so as to not let the poisons pollute the car where the humans ride. It’s a noisy process and there is a muffler to muffle the sound. You get an idea of all the energy it took to cause the engine to combust and burn the fuel provided. The exhaust spews the left over, and with most of our senses we see it no more.

Engine - ExhaustExhaustion can be construed as what’s left over and is soon gone… In order to continue on, the engine must continually be reloaded with fresh fuel. To become exhausted means you “use up” what you have. To overcome exhaustion, you need to restore your fuel.

Restoration overcomes exhaustion.

Where does that restorative power come from? Some say vacation! (I call them vaccinations…and I enjoy the shot!) Others need to sleep more hours than I can comprehend and it seems to be after several days of this “rest” they are revitalized. (Not for me!)

You may find restorative powers from many sources,
and these are the fuels of the engine of your life. 

But think back to that engine for a moment. It needs many types of “fuels” to function. Not only in its initial creation, but also in its continued success. Oils to lubricate and reduce friction; fluids to flow, create pressure and bleed off excessive heat; oxygen as the ultimate mixture for combustion; fuel for creating that explosion that turns the engine over and over… Finally, we need the spark from an electrical source to ignite and start the engine.

All combined into a single experience to make the engine function.

Over the past few days I have felt the tiredness of mind, body, soul and spirit. I’ve approached exhaustion many times, so I’ve learned the unique elements required to restore all portions of life. My mind needs to quit thinking about all the stuff that happens. My body needs appropriate down time in order to restore itself. Pressure needs to bled off. Fuels needs to be obtained. And that power source needs to be revitalize this will cause ignition at the proper time!

How do you go about pulling all the pieces together to restore yourself?

With my mind its easy…Quit thinking about all the things that I fill it up with. Those busy tasks, important duties, and the worries that stay with you all day long. Instead, I fill my mind up with pleasant quiet. In these day, my drives are often my silent times. It’s very restorative to think of no one, and nothing, during those long hours of trip.

With my body, of course, it’s relative easy to refuel with energy and rest that every one of us need.

I turn to it often, but King David gives me that key to the puzzle of restorative power. As a young and upcoming future King, he was much favored by the current king, Saul.

And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him. (1 Samuel 16:23 NKJV)

Saul needed someone he loved and trusted to be the source of refreshing power. Later he would attempt to kill David and no longer trust him, but for now it was exactly who he needed.

You need someone with you to help give you restorative power. That’s my spouse. We restore each other. Between work, career, ministry, family, friends, finances, home, life, living and all the other things we stress over, we find small nuggets of time to restore individually and collectively. But when we both need it at the same time, then we start looking for a near future event when we can feel like we are in control and not the rest of life. Ahhaaa… That’s restorative!

In the midst of all these thoughts, we must not forget that God gives us restoration when life offers none.

A Psalm Of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalms 103:1-5 NKJV)

So that your Youth is renewed like the eagles… Your youth is restored so you are youthful like the eagle.

Finally, Paul says to be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Ephesians 4:23) and that the inward man is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16) and we must put on this new person (Colossians 3:10). It is our own action that causes us to be renewed and restored. You must take control of yourself to bring those times of R&R so that you can be strong enough to continue successfully.

Get busy… Rest!

 

 

A Nugget From a Wisp of a Thought

We have them everyday, throughout the day..

Chugach - FlattopThose little wispy thoughts that bleed into our consciousness. Sometimes we squash them like a bug. Maybe they are inerrant or unpleasant. Other times we gaze off into space trying to force the thought to materialize into substance like Star Trek’s beam transport system.

When those legitimate thoughts hang on to the window ledge of our mind, we slowly reach to them. Fearful, we are, that they may wisp away like a cloud.

Back in 1981, our first apartment in Anchorage was Checkmate Plaza on Boniface Blvd. 3330 was the street address. Apartment 31 was the location of our home where our daughter first came to live, and where my nearly 3 year old son first began to prove his intelligence. It was a special place. From the dining room table you had a clear view of the Chugach Mountains, Flattop in particular. In the valley between Flattop and the next mountain of the range, the valley was subject to clouds building in the funnel between ocean and more mountains. Quickly they would come into existence, and then with almost the snap of a finger they would dissipate.

Here for a brief moment. And then gone.

For hours we could sit and enjoy the scenery while doing dining table stuff, marveling at the beauty that was Alaska.

Recently, my mind and heart has been reminiscing about those days. The cold. Snow. Ice. Perilous driving adventures. Whales. Ice floes. Denali. Turnagain. Hiland. Eagle River. Kenai. Just a few memories within driving distance. The unbelievable beauty of that state staggers my mind.

But as I recall those places, on the edge of my mind are those wispy thoughts like the clouds in valley. They come. And go. With no easy way of recording their passing, or recalling them in any certain order.

It’s like remembering those yesteryear’s of childhood. They come and go so fast.

Is there a way to capture those memories for later review? Perhaps not. But in my mind I will enjoy their fashion of passing by for review. There are things I do not want to remember. Unfair actions. Impolite situations. Anger and Danger. Mistakes with life. Missed opportunities. But they show up unbidden. Those are the wisps that can disappear and I’m quite okay with that.

I want to be like David as he calls to the Lord and asks that God’s memory be more like mine.

Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD. (Psalms 25:7 NKJV)

Remember the good. Forget the bad. And be okay with it!

Platitudes and Signs

When traveling in another country, it is often hard to understand the signs.

IMG_4571Especially if you are in charge of the transportation needs and you are mapping to a destination. There’s a sign! What does it mean? Is that English? Confusing!

There’s no directional component. Which way do I turn?

Along with signs we find platitudes to be the darling of simple statements meant to point out particular views of life. Mostly they have a moral component and if you think about them long and hard enough you might grasp their meaning.

Some favorite ones?

  • If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.
  • Prior Proper Planning Prevent Problems – the 5 P’s of success
  • Worry is a sign 100% of the time that you do not have God at the center of your life!
  • Panic! Everything the call of God is not.
  • The most dangerous place to be with God is feeling like you are getting away with sin.
  • Prove yourself to yourself. Not others.

At least, these are some I’ve used the past few days.

I find both of these useful. Signs identify Location, as well as Destination. Platitudes are like words of wisdom that pauses for the moment, and from that pause I can determine Location and Destination!

Signs and Platitudes are valid, only if I agree with them. Some of them are so complicated it is difficult to know where I’m at, or where I’m going.

When you know you have a shorter span ahead of you, signs still show their importance – where am I, which way do I go to get to my destination. Yet, when you reach a particular time of life, platitudes often roll off your tongue as you share your life lessons with a younger crowd. Instead of asking for directions, you start giving them.

Signs of the age we are living in are searched for by every generation. Where are we in the timeline of God’s plan? Even Jesus dealt with this.

Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed. Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:1-12 NKJV)

In this portion of scripture he used a scholarly reference that could be construed as a platitude. We’ve heard it like this.

Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning

He applied the platitude to their question about signs and related the entire passage to their ability to understand the natural world but a huge disconnect with the spiritual world. And he warned the disciples to watch out for their doctrine (their instructions).

Signs of the times are important!

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (Matthew 24:3-6 NKJV)

Notice his ending… See that you are not troubled. These things must come to pass. But the end is not yet.

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 NKJV)

You know perfectly that the day of the Lord will come as silently and without warning as a thief in the night… In other words, you will never see it coming!

That’s the sign. What’s the platitude?

I’m still working on this one!