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The pictures of the tornado that ripped through Moore Oklahoma were frightening and unsettling to view. The video of one women standing amongst the rubble of her house and declaring, "It's all gone! It's all gone!" and she just kept repeating that phrase over and over again. It really is a humbling moment watching those pictures and realizing that all of the things that we strive to collect and possess can be gone in a moment—blown away.
In Matthew 7:25 Jesus tells a parable of two men, one who built his house on the sand and one who built upon the rock and he says, "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the Rock." That was not the case for the man who had built upon the sand—the scriptures describe his house as ultimately being blown away.
I am certain that if all I owned were to be wiped out in a blink of an eye, that I too would stand amongst the rubble in shock and stammering for words to describe my loss. But I pray that I would soon remember that we are ultimately not living for these temporary structures that we value, but are called to eternal things that will outlast the winds of this world.
May we establish ourselves and our family and our friends on the Rock that is Jesus Christ.
While at church today I got invited into our Thursday afternoon ladies Bible study to sing happy birthday to one of our ladies in the group. As a matter of fact, the whole staff was invited in and we all sang happy birthday, then we cut the cake, and we all enjoyed it together. Then it was back to work.
What is it about a birthday cake and some lit candles that just brings everyone together and puts a smile on everyone’s face? Is it the cake? That would be enough for some I am sure.
Is it the candles? I don't think so. Is it everyone singing the happy birthday song? Not with the way most of us sing. And I don't think it is really about someone having a birthday. I think it is the friendship and the relationships in the room that ultimately puts a smile on people’s faces. I think the cake and candles are just an excuse to put a big goofy smile on our faces. I think we need to have more "birthday cake" moments.
Well, Mother’s Day is upon us and I hope you have made, or will soon make, preparations to show your appreciation to your Mom. Mother’s Day is certainly a big deal these days. Hallmark estimates 150 million Mother’s Day cards will be sent. (in comparison to 95 million Father’s Day cards—sorry Dads). An estimated $2.6 billion will be spent on flowers. The Pew Research Center finds that there are consistently more phone calls made on Mother’s Day than on any other day. Mother’s Day is second only to Christmas in gift giving. The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for car washes. Amazing!
Yes, Mother’s Day is a big deal. Anna Jarvis, credited as the creator of the Mother’s Day holiday in 1908, years later would boycott it as she felt that it had become to commercialized and lost its meaning. I can see how she could feel that way looking at the stats I gave above. But ultimately, the value of Mother’s Day is going to be determined by the hearts of the people celebrating it.
As for me, I have two incredible Grandmas to be grateful for, that gave me a great spiritual heritage and who are in heaven. I have an awesome Mom who gave me life, cleaned me up, helped me graduate kindergarten (it’s a long story), and has ALWAYS been there for me. I have an amazing wife who I would be lost without, who has gone above and beyond the call of duty as the mother of our children, and has made me a better father.
So yes, I will be participating in some of the commercialism on this Mother’s Day, but not for any other reason than GRATITUDE.
Thank you Grandma Simmons, Grandma Larsen, Mom Jacque, and Wife Annette!
The sun is out! It looks like we are going to have a beautiful weekend. We are well into spring and heading quickly toward summer. Graduations, BBQ's, vacations, camping, summer camps, etc. are just around the corner. The cold, rainy dark days are behind us for awhile and we all look forward to it. Personally, I am looking forward to celebrating all three of my kids graduating from something. I look forward to getting out on my bike more. I look forward to enjoying Annette's BBQ skills. I look forward to some golf outings. I look forward to taking in a couple of Mariners’ games. I look forward to a week in August in the hot sun of Lake Chelan. I look forward to Trinity's first VBS. I look forward to Youth Camp. I look forward to the Convoy of Hope outreach to our county. I look forward to celebrating my Annette's and Abbey's birthdays. WHEW!!!
Actually, I am starting to feel a little exhausted taking in all that I am looking forward to. And everything I just mentioned is great. Imagine the strain on the life of a person who is looking forward, but for whatever reason, is only contemplating difficult things, hard things, sad things, and hurtful things? Now that goes beyond being exhausting; that becomes stifling and a life killer.
I think we should take scripture’s advice, "So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:34
A fresh new perspective is one of those things that can really spice up our lives
and make for a refreshed view of life. Today was a couple of firsts for me. I normally
study at one of four coffee shops. Today I drove downtown Tacoma and found a
new place to study, and no it was not a Starbucks. As soon as I went into the
coffee shop the newness of the place caused me to be a little more aware of my
surroundings, which caused me to once again be grateful that I get to do this
for a living! To top it off, my friend Cindy walked in to get some lunch as she
works right next door—a nice unexpected surprise.
The reason I went downtown was to meet a new friend of mine, Eric, for lunch. I
normally don't meet anyone for lunch on Thursdays as it is study day, but not only
did I enjoy getting to know Eric better, I was able to eat at a new restaurant.
Changing my pattern and schedule was far from a distraction to my study day
today; it completely refreshed me.
Let me encourage you to occasionally shake up your schedule and change your
pattern. It can refresh your work, your relationships, your outlook, and give
you some new perspective.
By the way, the coffee shop is called the Rain City Café; check it out.
I read on Twitter today that famous movie critic, Rodger Ebert, died today and saw
that someone referenced an article he wrote a short while ago entitled, "I Do Not
Fear Death.” The title peaked my interest so I followed the link and was saddened to
read that, as a former Catholic, he was well aware of the concepts of heaven but had come
to believe that after death it is just over. He writes, "Someday I will no longer call out,
and there will be no heart beat. I will be dead. What happens then? From my point of view,
nothing. Absolutely nothing." He talks about life being basically about the memories you leave behind, about trying to bring happiness in the world. Though he basically believes there is
nothing after death, he also gives a sense that there is this other worldly quality to life. He
found a peace in that he lived, loved living and then will die. The end.
I am so saddened by that. As I contemplated his thoughts, some questions came to my mind:
· If there is nothing after life, what is it in mankind that is constantly searching for answers
regarding the afterlife?
· If there is nothing after life, where does the moral imperative to be good or kind come from?
· If there is nothing after life, where does that "spiritual" and "mystical" side of life that he and so
many people write about come from?
· If there is nothing after life, why has mankind always been fascinated by the stars in the heavens?
· If there is no afterlife, I get finding peace with that, for then at least there wouldn't be judgment,
but where is the hope?
Oh that men and women everywhere would not just settle for being at peace with death, but would come to the Hope of Jesus and heaven.
"Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:25-26 - Do you believe this?
Historically this is called Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday which commemorates the Last Supper.
At the Last Supper Jesus brings His disciples together to further reveal to them what was about to happen in regards to his coming death, burial and resurrection. The word "last" in my mind generally is not a great word—"last in line," last in the class," "ast in the race," "last one chosen," "last chance," "last one," etc. So most of the time in my life the word last is not happily used or applied, and in the case of the last supper it can be seen as an unhappy situation or circumstance as well, but because we know how the story ends, the "Last Supper" is really the beginning of the greatest event in History.
The great thing about Jesus is that there are a whole lot of "lasts" or "endings" that His resurrection power has erased from my life. You may have found yourself believing that for you it was all over, that you blew your last chance. You may feel that the clock has run out and the game is over, but with Jesus as long as you have breath it isn't over. Peter thought it was over for him after denying
Jesus three times, but Jesus had the last word on that and He declared to Peter, "Feed my sheep," and He restored Peter.
Thank God the "Last Supper" was just the beginning for us all.
This weekend we enter Holy Week. This week we remember and celebrate the wondrous provision of our forgiveness through Christ’s death and resurrection.
This is historically how Holy Week played out in Jesus’ life:
· Sunday - He enters Jerusalem as King
· Monday - He cleanses the Temple
· Tuesday - He debated the Jewish leaders and speaks of His coming again
· Wednesday - He rested
· Thursday - He had the last supper with his disciples and Judas betrays him
· Friday - He is crucified and dies upon the cross
· Sunday - He arose from the Grave!!
The work of Jesus for us reminds me of the old hymn, "To God Be the Glory." The first verse reads like this:
"To God be the glory, great things He hath done, So loved He the world that He gave
us His Son, who yielded His life our redemption to win."
What a great Salvation we have! It doesn't matter what is currently going on in your life and mine when we have the Good News of Jesus’ love and care for us. He was beaten, bruised, speared,
wiped, nailed, mocked, and betrayed all for our sakes and His glory.
Celebrate Him this week.
We haven't had much of a beautiful spring as of yet. I can only remember a couple of nice days, and we’ve had more days that have felt like January than what we would expect for March. But
though it doesn't really feel like spring lately, the vegetation, grass and trees seem to know it is as they are budding and blooming everywhere. Spring has a powerful pull on nature. It is working in spite of what we feel the weather is telling us.
What are you waiting to spring forth? I am not speaking of nature or the weather now, but of our lives, our relationships, our hopes and dreams. It can so often feel like there are not any signs of the things we are believing for coming to pass. We see no movement or action on our behalf.
I think sometimes what we have in mind is the full bloom of late spring and summer and don't see the early blooms and slight changes of early spring. Spring is doing its thing long before we
visibly perceive it.
"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" Isaiah 43:19
I am listening to this song titled, "Be Still and Know." Here are some of the lyrics:
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not be in want
He leads me and comforts me in the chaos of the storm
His mercy never leaves me
He catches every tear
His promises unfailing in the darkness
He is near
I will fear no evil
You are always there
Be still and know that God is with us
Be still and know He is our refuge and strength
I will not be shaken I will not be moved
For I know that You’re beside me
My eyes are fixed on you
The words printed are not near as moving as hearing the words set to music and performed by a talented singer, but the words stand alone as TRUE. What is it about being still and knowing He
is with us that is so very often, so very hard to do? Probably because in the midst of the storm, it is hard to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, just as Peter found out when he took his eyes off Jesus and began to drown.
One of the key tricks of our enemy, the devil, is to distract our vision, to cause our focus to be on everything but Jesus. The devil will even use good things like loved ones, friends, nature,
etc.—anything to keep our eyes off of Jesus. But one comforting fact that I have found to be true is that, though I have a tendency to take my eyes off Jesus, when I realize that I have and look to set my eye on Him again, He is always right there. I don't have to go find Him. He is not playing hide and seek with us.
Be Still and Know.
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