Thursday, February 23, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Words are building blocks in our lives, erecting a solid foundation and sturdy walls to house a developing self or a flimsy shelter that cannot withstand the onslaught of life's prevailing winds. I think often of the impact our words have on those we love.
My friend, Kelly, whose wisdom spilled over onto this page before, is living life after brain tumor surgery last summer. Observe the manner of love of her two-year old:
Simon was asking lots of questions about my hair. I told him that Mama is growing her hair long because she doesn't feel very pretty with short hair. Simon held my face in his hands and said, "Mama, you are a VERY pretty girl. You are a VERY pretty girl with short hair. And I love your neck!
May we, too, gently hold the faces of those we love--caressing literally or figuratively--as we speak honest words of truth and love into their lives. We all need someone to speak the truth into our insecurities and to call us out of ourselves sometimes.
"And a little child shall lead them..."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Needs and Wants...

“God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.” ~ C. S. Lewis

As trite as the message board illustration can appear, its visual clarity has lingered with me lately. The image of offering to meet our human needs publicly--for all passersby as well as identified believers--stands as a ready snapshot of God's freely-offered grace. Though our faith will not be reduced to bumper stickers and posters, we may let an image remind us of what scripture takes volumes to say: we are beloved.

God has used the Law and the prophets to call us to relationship and to draw us unto Himself, and continues to draw us through the Spirit.

A favorite statement of faith is known as the Modern Affirmation:

We believe in God the Father, infinite in wisdom, power and love, whose mercy is over all his works, and whose will is ever directed to his children's good.

We believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of man, the gift of the Father's unfailing grace, the ground of our hope, and the promise of our deliverance from sin and death.

We believe in the Holy Spirit as the divine presence in our lives, whereby we are kept in perpetual remembrance of the truth of Christ, and find strength and help in time of need.

We believe that this faith should manifest itself in the service of love as set forth in the example of our blessed Lord, to the end that the kingdom of God may come upon the earth.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Vow Remembered

Most of us live with a manageable level of daily fears or dreads as part of the rhythm of life. Daily reminders of God's word to 'fear not' help keep our focus away from what we fear and clearly on the One who gives strength to overcome life's challenges.

Some folks encounter terrifying, bewildering circumstances when what we fear actually comes to pass. One such person weaves in and out of my week with spontaneous appearances, a ready smile and good joke. He works nearby and pops in occasionally. I had seen him for many months before I knew the rest of the story that I share with you here.

You may have heard that we have presently a generation characterized by refusal to commit. To anything.
Ours is an age when commitment means as long as I want to do it.
When faithfulness means as long as I'm interested in you.
When vows are reduced to empty promises and hollow posing.
Shattered dreams and broken lives testify to the ravages of this mindset gone mad.

Hal's is similar to a true-story inspired film that is playing on the big screen right now as The Vow, except that his is not a Hollywood romantic comedy. He is walking it out day by day by day. We see few examples of his kind of faithful devotion in the face of hardship, so I choose to spread the word. If you want to know what commitment or integrity looks like, read further.

Thanks, Hal, for more than a faded snapshot to remind us of a great man. Your story plays reel to reel. We need more men and women like you in our lives! Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Day for Real Love

Don't be conformed to this world, to the pressures to consume, to buy, to display with lavish gifts, unless it comes from the heart.
The tenderest gesture--the warmest lingering hug,
the kindest words spoken with great love--
will gently wrap like cords around the lives of those who receive them entwining us to one another.

Love one another in truth and in deed. Be genuine in all your affections.

If you do not have the love and affection you long for for those presently in your life, seek after it diligently. Ask God the father of mercies to restore unto you the desire to love and the ability to act on it in ways that would be pleasing. We have seen it done thoughout the years and know it to be possible to restore lost and broken relationships.
To bring life out of death.
To give a garland of beauty instead of ashes.

And when such love is withheld by those we love, and the heart is broken, turn to the only Lover of our Souls who knows how to restore us. Know that there is One who loves with a perfect love, Who alone can meet our deepest needs.
Who stands ready to do so each day.
Who will never leave us nor forsake us.

Let not our hearts be troubled.

We will see the swirlings of commercial pageantry on this Valentine's Day followed by, 'Whad'ja get?'

Seriously? Is that what love has been reduced to? Millions of dollars of cards and candy and tidbits have replaced faithful love and commitment?

Accept no substitute when it comes to what you and I choose to GIVE: Let love be your aim.

And share that love generously!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Morning Has Broken, Like the First Morning...

I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. Psalm 145:2

Each day offers a new beginning, a chance for living ever more fully into our true selves, by God's grace. Each day presents the opportunity for experiencing the presence of God in a fresh way.

Will we notice it?

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1

Monday, February 6, 2012

Twinkies and Pringles and Stuff that Lasts

There is a widely circulated tale that the shelf life of a Twinkie is infinity because of all the additives and preservatives it contains.

"This urban legend is false, although Twinkies can last a relatively long time (25 days or more) because they are made without unstabilized dairy products and thus spoil more slowly than most bakery items. In reality Twinkies are on the shelf for a short time, a company executive told the New York Times in 2000 that the "Twinkie is on the shelf no more than 7 to 10 days," Wikipedia reports.

Now the iconic Twinkie is in the news again with Hostess' business reorganization, and its future may be in jeopardy. Can it survive the present economy?

Likewise, I have it on reliable authority that Pringles chips will float on the water when tossed from a canoe and not become soggy and sink, waterlogged. Ever. Or almost forever.

What is in this stuff?

We are shaped by what goes inside us as well as what covers us.

FEED on things of substance.

NURTURE one another in that which will sustain life and offer food for the journey.
A junk food diet will play out when real life hits, and we will not have the essentials needed for coping with all that life is sure to present to us.

COVER with prayer our own frailties as we seek wisdom and the courage to change where needed.

CHOOSE TO LOVE as a way of life.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. ~ I Peter 4:8

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Way With Words

Our mind is a garden, our thoughts are the seeds
The harvest can be either flowers or weeds.
~ Author unknown

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8

I am beginning a new study this week for young moms in our group focusing on the words we use and harnessing the power we possess in our speech. Harnessing, not stifling. As in:
Now if we put the horses' bridles into their mouths, that they may obey us, we turn about their whole body also.
~James 3:3

Never doubt that something as simple as talking can have such lasting effects in the lives of others. As we habitually speak words that heal, teach, affirm, instruct, guide and delight, we learn to make conscious choices about our words which then become a natural outpouring of what is in our hearts. Likewise, words of condemnation, of name-calling, labeling and blaming wound the heart and linger in the mind long after they are spoken.

Our challenge is to learn something new about how we take appropriate responsibility for this dynamic and grow in faithfulness as we mature. We want to reduce the collateral damage from our speech and live life with fewer regrets. This is one small topic but large area of life that meets us daily where we live.

It's all about choices. Let us take responsibility for our choices and not be content with the childish, "That's just the way I am" excuse.

All photos copyright by Rob Kiser, used with permission.