Monthly Archives: April 2010

Getting Lost

I am not afraid of getting lost anymore. Those who know me best know that I am like a compass. I am under the firm impression that I am always facing north. This usually leads to me finding all sorts of new places to explore. Some places are better than others. I understand the phrase, “We need to turn around.”

I do get Lost, though. The TV series Lost is coming to a conclusion this month after six (count them) six years. For all of this time, viewers have tried to follow the adventures of an airplane load of passengers who crash-landed on an island somewhere. The plane was lost. The passengers and the viewers are still totally lost. The story is so complicated there are whole hour episodes given over to “Previously on ‘Lost.’” Lost is a “Twilight Zone” science fiction, time-shifting government/corporate cover-up, spooky computer game, cowboy version of “Baywatch.” Characters have died, babies have been born, some dead people are still alive, and some characters are living parallel lives as if they never were “lost” at all. SPOILER ALERT: I think something will be found at the end.

People love to get lost and try to find clues to draw their own map of the way out. The joy of getting lost is part of the adventure. Getting lost always leads to something being found. I read, in an un-attributed source, that over a typical American lifespan we spend three years on the telephone, eight months opening junk mail, and one year looking for things we have lost. If we are not careful, we can spend a lifetime being lost. I’m not afraid of getting lost for I’ve learned that it’s all right to turn around. It also helps to have a destination, a current map, a GPS-compass, and someone to navigate the journey with you.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Go from lost to found.  And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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It’s All About the Call

One night as I prepared to go to sleep, I asked a question of God concerning my future. I asked what God wanted me to do with my life. Then I asked, “Do you want me to be a minister?”  I was clearly impressed with the answer, “Yes.” This happened on March 16, 1964. I have never forgotten that night or that call. Sometime later I clearly heard one of my teachers say that the bottom line for doing ministry is remembering and being faithful to your call. That no matter what you face in life or what challenges beset you – remember your call.  

 When it comes to ministry, it’s all about the call from God. I believe God is calling out to everyone on earth first to find salvation, and then to serve God. That is the call. Some hear and act on the call. Some hear and run from the call. Some hear and purposefully ignore it. For others the call is overwhelmed by their circumstances and the challenges of life. But I believe God continues to call out to us unless we say, “Stop.”

 I was licensed to the Gospel Ministry by my home church almost exactly three years later. A few months after graduating from seminary, I was ordained to the ministry 37 years ago next month. My mentors and friends in ministry participated in a beautiful service where I was set apart, consecrated is the old term, for the vocational ministry. The challenge of the sermon by Dr. James Dunn was to follow the call of God until God says stop. He gave me a written copy of the message that I cherish dearly.

 This Sunday, April 25, we will take the time to set apart, consecrate, two men of God that we have seen mature and grow in the faith over the past ten years. Francisco Gaona has served for many years as one of the deacons of our church ministering to our Hispanic families. He has been serving as co-pastor with Rev Ariel Benitez as they have launched the ministry as a free standing church. Alexander Flores has matured as a young adult in our midst demonstrating a heart for God and service. This is one of the most meaningful times in the life of any congregation. They have answered the call and have demonstrated their giftedness to ministry before God’s people. Will you stand with them?

 Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Answer the call. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Suffering to Live

Actor Michael J. Fox’s latest book is called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned. (All new books out today seem to have titles that long.) The cover photograph is of an upside down skateboard and the feet of someone flat on his back lying just outside the picture. It’s an image gleaned from the first “Back to the Future” movie. Michael J. Fox’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease at the height of his career changed his dreams of the future forever. His book reminds us that our plans and dreams for ourselves can be instantly changed forever either by accident, circumstances, choices, illness or neglect; that we must step up and engage in living fully today; and that happiness is a personal choice of our own making. One person’s suffering can be another person’s challenge to live.  Are you prepared to live a different dream, a different future?

This all reminded me of the old sermon illustration called “Ten Lessons from Noah:”

1: Don’t miss the boat.

2: Remember that we are all in the same boat!

3: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

4: Stay fit, then when you’re older you can do something really big.

5: Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.

6: Build your future on high ground.

7: For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.

8: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails and the cheetahs were both on board.

9: When you’re stressed, float awhile.

10: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs who were committed and willing to learn; the Titanic by professionals who thought they already knew it all.  (Unknown Author)

The challenge for us is to really live with, through and because of the One who suffers with, through and because of us.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Don’t miss the boat!  And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Little Stones

I have been annoyed by it for some time, but now I seem to be getting angry also. It is the same problem week after week. Someone is not being responsible, and really, someone is just not being kind to me at all. I’m starting to take it personally. I don’t know what to do about it. It is a mystery to me. It bothers me most when I am mowing the grass or edging the front lawn. And it’s been going on now for over two years!

Someone is throwing their cigarette stubs in my driveway at home. Dorothy has assured me that she is not the one doing it. I’ve asked her. None of my neighbors smoke, yet a cigarette lands in my driveway or front yard three or four times a week.  My neighbors do not have this problem. We live in the middle of the block. Our street is so wide that there is a median designed to hold twelve parked cars way out in front of our house. And none of our neighbors host that many parties. I have drawn up a very short suspect list: the mail carrier, the newspaper carrier or the UPS guy (we do get a lot of delivered packages). One other possibility would be someone who might walk around the neighborhood every day.  Most people who are walking for exercise do not smoke at the same time. The newspaper carrier never stops to throw the paper. So I am really down to the mail carrier or the UPS guy. The UPS guy changes all the time, so now I am left with the mail man. Does he always light his cigarette at the same place, at the same moment so that he is always ready to throw it a away at my house? Doesn’t seem likely. I’ve never seen him smoking. Ever. The mystery deepens.

If I can’t fix it, change it, or confront the culprit, all I can do is face it, deal with it and wait for the culprit to change. Waiting for someone else to change so my life will be better means I have to change my attitude. If I don’t it could become the little stone that rubs a blister that becomes infected and cripples my walk and makes me sick. Anger and grudges are tricky like that. The only way to stop the blister is to remove the stone. How do I remove the stone? I have to quit waiting for my life to get better when someone else changes, and just forgive them today.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Take out the stone.  And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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