Monday, June 25, 2012

The crux and beauty of the Christian experience is that the creator of the universe chose to intersect humanity in the person of Jesus… “Emmanuel: God with us." But when I am at the beach experiencing the vastness of the ocean and sky melding at the horizon, hearing waves lick the shore and seagulls calling to one another, feeling the sand between my toes and ocean breeze on my face while smelling the salt air that’s when I feel as if I’ve intersected heaven and met God on His turf.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Treasures of Darkness

"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." ~ Isaiah 45:3 

Last night our electricity went out around 6:30 pm.  (Fortunately supper had just finished cooking.) The power company called with an automated message stating they knew there was a problem and they were on it.  Power should be restored by 9:30. (It didn't come back on until 1:43 AM, but that's beside the point.) Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy the occasional power outage. Admittedly, I miss my air-conditioning (especially in the summer when I'm having hot-flashes), stove, refrigerator, internet, and TV, but "treasures of darkness" can be found if only we look for them:

 1. Peaceful silence. One just doesn't realize how much background noise there is until the power goes out. 

 2. Spontaneous Family Game Night. Watching reruns of Criminal Minds might have been on the agenda, but since it is no longer an option play a game on the patio and enjoy each other's company. 

 3. Star gazing. The Stars are NEVER so bright and beautiful as when the clutter of electric lights is removed. 

 4. Breath-taking light shows. Watching a distant thunderstorm at night is an awe-inspiring event when all other light-sources are gone. 

 5. Candlelight. Few things are more peaceful and mesmerizing than this. 

 6. Nature's Lullaby. There's tranquility in falling asleep to the symphony composed by crickets and frogs. 

 Power-outages can be viewed as major inconveniences, or they can be seen as opportunities to take a break from our fast-paced, over-stimulated life and just enjoy God's creation and each other. The former is a curse. The latter is a treasure.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Super Bowls

World Cups

Singing Competitions

ACT and SAT tests

Yearly Medical Exams

Beauty Pageants

Annual Job Reviews

Band Contests

They all have at least one thing in common – they are all forms of evaluations, ways to see how someone (or some group) compares with another. It’s a way to answer, “How am I (or “How are we") doing? Is my diligent work paying off? Do I need to try harder? Do I measure up?” (I’m sure the Patriots are contemplating that today.) From our one-minute Apgar score to weekly spelling tests to our last mammogram or colonoscopy our lives are spent being evaluated. And we are okay with that. We like to know if we measure up to a certain standard of intelligence, health, beauty, physical prowess, or financial stability. (Especially if we DO measure up and excel.)

Now, I could use that intro as a segue into a discussion of “Who sets the standards by which we are evaluated?” I shall, however, refrain from that today as something a bit heavier weighs on my mind, and that is The FINAL evaluation. The ONE that REALLY matters. I’m not talking about getting into heaven. (My faith in Jesus guarantees a spot.) I am talking about the final verdict on how I did living out my faith before getting to heaven. Will I hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant?” Or will I be the one Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 3:15 who made it as “one escaping through the flames”? More importantly is there a way to know HOW I’m doing BEFORE my last breath? Is there a life scale I can step on? A checklist to keep track of? A chart to consult?

Actually, there is something better.

We have a letter from God telling us what pleases Him. And from that we can form a checklist of sorts.


On a scale of 1 – 10, rate yourself in the following areas. (1 being “Never” and 10 being “Always”.)

1. How would you rate your faith? (“1” means you have none. “10” means you have unwaveringly trust God in every aspect of your life.) And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6

2. How well do you act justly? Love mercy? Walk humbly with God? And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” ~ Micah 6:8

3. How often do you share your food with the hungry? Provide shelter for the poor wanderer? Clothe the naked? Take care of your family? “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: 
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, 
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— 
when you see the naked, to clothe him, 
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” ~ Isaiah 58:6-7

4. How do you rate yourself in caring for orphans and widows? (“1” is rare and “10” is always.) “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress...” ~ James 1:27 a.

5. How readily do you forgive? “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” ~ Matthew 18:35

6. How often do you sing and praise the Lord? I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. 
This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs.” ~ Psalm 69:30-31

7. How often do you share? And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” ~ Hebrews 13:16

8. How often do you pray? “The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.” ~ Proverbs 15:8 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-3

9. How pure are your thoughts? (“1” is not very pure. “10” is having the mind of Christ.) The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him.” ~ Proverbs 15:26

10. How often do you show love? Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” ~ 1 Peter 4:8

There it is, a checklist to see how close we are to hearing, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Further searching would probably uncover some other items that could be added, but I’m pretty sure #10 is the key to everything because: “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40

Well, that is enough to keep me busy. At least God didn’t leave us hanging; He did give us a study guide and assurance of His help along the way. (How often does the creator of a test give you the answer sheet before hand?!?!)

Let me leave you with this blessing:

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” ~ Hebrews 13:20-21