Places where I’ve Been

I have not been to Israel

To touch its Holy sites

Nor to the Sea of Galilee

Where You taught your disciples

But Your voice that calmed a storm

Has spoken in my mind

And Your hands that healed the sick

Have gently taken mine

And the Lord of all the earth

Has walked with me today

To forgive my sin

Renew my Hope

And give me Life

Teach me His Truth

So I could learn His Way

Eternal Returns

I got short changed at the farmers market. I lost my leys in the parking lot(I think). We went through the train museum at a run and I am still a little sore from surgery. What a great day! But if I had spent the day alone and come home with my keys my money and my rest I would have missed out on a slice of God’s love. I am thankful because any day with our grandchildren is an investment with eternal returns!

The Biggest Mountain

… if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you Matthew 17:20b

Maybe when you have heard this verse mentioned it was used in the context of a surgery to be faced, a marital crisis brewing or a financial disaster looming on your horizon. But a mountain also represents any impossibility that separates us from God’s plan for our lives. What is the biggest mountain that separates us from God? Today’s encouraging  news is that moving that mountain has nothing to do with its size but it has everything to do with our small faith in a big Savior!

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord Romans 8:38-39 new-alaska-pics-4

No mountain can separate us from God’s love because of the cross of Jesus. Our sin which loomed like a giant mountain in our path has been removed and cast into the sea of God’s forgetfulness. It will no longer be remembered anymore forever. When one day we open our eyes in eternity with God we have the wonderful assurance that this biggest mountain of all has been moved! Since He has moved that giant mountain we joyfully use our mustard seed faith to face any small mountain today!

Did Jesus come to end poverty?

“For Mother Teresa, poverty and sickness were gifts that provided the opportunity to develop one’s connection with God. Her mission was not so much to alleviate suffering but to ensure it happened within a framework of religious belief.”    George Gillett from The West’s big lie about Mother Teresa in Salon Magazine January 3.2016

In his article,Mr. Gillett takes issue not only with the “saintliness” of Mother Teresa in specific, but also with what he sees as questionable motives in all Christian missions and charity. He asks some hard and some very pointed questions about poverty, suffering and why Christians see value in the spiritual side of their work. Initially I was offended by his seemingly heartless attacks on Mother Teresa. Then as I paused to reflect I realized that his opinion as expressed in the article was really only another voice in the growing secular chorus of doubts as to the purpose of Christian work around the world. Criticizing Christian charities may have become popular because it gives people a politically correct sense of moral outrage. But maybe it would be better if we can all take a breath and ask ourselves why poverty is a wrong to be righted and just what should be done to deal with it.

Going to the Bible’s account we find that Jesus was all for us giving to the poor. When he was approached by the rich young ruler and asked about eternal life Jesus said,

If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.            Matthew 19:21

Jesus absolutely saw great value in a no strings attached giving to those in need. But coupled with that command was a higher call, “Come,follow me” Alleviating suffering was only a part of life’s journey, but the goal was farther up the road. Life’s purpose could only be discovered after giving, if we take up our cross and follow Him.

When a man came to Jesus who asked Him to to judge fairly about the division of wealth, Jesus responded quite differently than a person who simply aims for social justice.

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth  Luke 12:15

In Jesus’ view, the central issue of life had less to do with economics and everything to do with relationship to God – the creator of life. No amount of money, education or ability could compare to the value God placed on a single strand of hair on our heads.Nepal and India 260

The mission of Christian work will always minister to human suffering wherever it is found, but success cannot be measured by meals given or vaccinations administered. Success is when a single human heart is awakened to the immeasurable love of God. While the world all around us seems continually to demand we do, say or give something of value, God comes to give true worth. The worth God has placed in us can only be measured by the sacrifice of His only Son on the cross. He sees beyond our small horizons of pain, poverty and hurt and looks to the finish line of this life and into the vast reaches of eternity safe and warm at His side.

 

 

Resolving Conflict

Euodius and Syntyche I beg you by name to make up your differences as Christians should! And, my true fellow-worker help these women. They both worked hard with me for the Gospel, as did Clement and all my other fellow-workers whose names are in the book of life Philippians 4:2-3 (JB Phillips)

grandkids_crop Anyone who has struggled to be a better parent knows that not every day is all hugs and kisses. Maybe life would be boring if it was! The definition of parenting is nothing if it is not conflict resolution. Paul takes a moment in his letter to the Philippian to focus on two people who he loved but who were butting heads in the church.

First Paul steps in and rather than choosing sides he does what any good coach would do in the heat of the game. He calls for a time-out! Sometimes the best thing we can do in working through conflicts is to put the “I”m right – he (she) is wrong” attitude on hold and just take a time out. Sit down on the bench for a minute a day or a week and let everyone’s tempers cool down.

Secondly Paul points out the good in both of the warring parties. They had both worked with him in building the church in their city. They had given themselves to the same goal and put in time and effort for the sake of the gospel. Maybe the first thing we can do after cooling our jets is to take another look at the other person and remember back to when we once worked together for something good. Once when I was breaking up a fight between our boys I had them sit down on their beds until they could tell me a list of three good things about their brother. You should have seen the look on their faces! You would have thought I had sentenced them to a year of hard labor! But remembering the good is the first step back to peace in a home.

Last Paul moves the focus from the past to the future. He reminds them that the most important thing of all will come on that blessed day when their names are read out from the book of life. Our life is a story that has its conclusion on the day when we enter into eternity. The importance of who gets their own way today will suddenly seem small when placed alongside of the view from heaven. The very one we may be at odds with today will be the person with whom we are to share eternity.

In less than two weeks it will be Easter Sunday, That is the day when the greatest conflict of all was resolved. Three days after His terrible suffering on the cross, Jesus was resurrected and came to show the scars in His hands. There written in His own book of life were the marks of a love that restored us to God and offered us a path we could walk on together forever!