Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The bottom book shelf was long overdue for some attention. It had no books, just stuff which needed a place to be piled. Chaos ruled on that shelf and since it was long overdue for straightening up, it became a Saturday morning project. I found some great stuff, some forgotten about stuff. I found old report cards from grammar school, a class picture taken in the first grade, and some old family pictures given to me by mother when she was, no doubt, doing some cleaning of her own. There were two real surprises. My first Bible was on that shelf. It was one of those zipper Bibles with pictures of important Biblical moments. When I unzipped it, I found the second surprise. Folded up inside was my baptismal certificate dated April 21, 1957 and signed by the man who would later become my step-father.
It made me think about people who have to produce a birth certificate to prove they are alive. In some places it is not enough to simply stand in front of someone who wants an official document. So, now I have proof of my baptism. It is nice to have it, but I wonder if I need it as proof that my heart has been changed since I gave it to Jesus. What if someone looked at my life, heard me say, "Yes, I am a believer in Jesus," yet, needed the official document as proof that what I was saying was actually true?
What we know is that the proof is not the paper, but the heart. Surely, there have been those moments when my life was more than proof for anyone who wondered, but what I must also confess is that there have been moments when my life was reason enough for those looking to wonder if Jesus really did make life different. As I remember those moments when heart and actions seem to be in conflict, I am made aware again of how grateful I am for this grace God so freely offers to us. I am sure you are as well.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Lighter Side

People respond to blogs in numerous ways. Some on the blog, some in conversation, some through email and then there was this one from MQ who gets the prize for the most unusual response!

Monday, September 22, 2008


Every job has its perks. The Game Warden gets to stay in the woods a lot. The Teachers get off all summer. The President gets to live in the White House. Recently as I was sitting in the Sanctuary during the middle of the afternoon, I realized that being able to be there is one of the perks of this job. When the phone is ringing or the stress level seems to be rising, I can get up and go into the Sanctuary for a moment of quietness. Many have been the times when I have found the solitude of the Sanctuary to be just the right place for a devotional time or prayer. Few are the weeks which go by that I do not avail myself of this wonderful perk of working out of a church office.
Quiet places are hard to come by. Jesus seemed to find them, but we struggle to find them and if we find them, we struggle to get there. A quiet place is an important place for all of us. Our lives are bombarded with so much noise, it is a wonder that we do not suffer from hearing loss. Certainly, being bombarded with so much noise and motion all around causes us to suffer an inability to hear the still small voice of God as He seeks to speak to us and make Himself known. While I am grateful for the more than occasional use of the Sanctuary, I also have places in my home which are associated with quiet spaces. The computer desk (computer off) and a chair in the living room are a couple of those places. I wonder where you have found quiet places to nurture you in your walk with God.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Recently I read an article by John Eldredge (author of Wild at Heart, Walking with God). It had to do with prayer being dialogue instead of monologue. In the article he kept defining prayer as conversation with God. Most of the time our prayers are more about us doing the talking and God doing the listening. I have never really enjoyed being around people who dominate the talking part of the conversation to the point that there is nothing for me to do but listen. While I may not be a great conversationalist, I do like for my participation to not just be the listening part.
Since I grow weary of one-sided conversations, it should be no surprise to think that God might become weary with them, too. The scripture contains Words like Psalm 143:7 which says, "Answer me, quickly, O Lord," but seldom do we hang around to listen for any divine speaking. We limit God's speaking to speaking through other people, circumstances, or the scripture. That we might actually hear Him speaking in our inner being is not really the expected thing.
Yet, Eldredge kept saying, "Learn to listen." He kept saying we might be surprised if we did. He even gave a few pointers about how we can learn to hear this voice of God. Writing out his conversations with God is the primary way this happens for the author. He says, "The process of writing things down requires focused attention." He really got my attention. Maybe I have been talking too much in my praying. Maybe there really is something to this idea that God intends for for two-way conversation to be normal. After Eldredge's article, I am ready for a little experimenting in prayer. Maybe you are. If you would like a copy of the article, send an email request to bstrickland@coastalnow.net and I will send it to you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Lord of the Storm

Hurricane Hanna is out there, lurking around. Speculation abounds about the time and place of landfall. For the first time in many years, evacuation looks like a real possiblity for this area. At this point, all we can do is wait and see. As I was talking to one of my daughters, she said, "You need to think about what you would take with you." Somehow the word "evacuate" had not really become real until that was said. I guess I was figuring we would get in the car, go spend the night somewhere, and come back the next day. It may not be quite that simple.
So, "What would I take with me?" What is so important that I would want to make sure it was not lost forever. At this point, I don't know the answer except to realize that most of the stuff accumlated in life is not really all that important. Sure, there are things I would hate to lose, but there is not much without which I could not live. Maybe, I should rephrase what was just written. Re-reading does that sometimes. The real truth is there is nothing accumualted without which I could not live.
Suddenly, I am aware that Hanna has become more personal than Gustav. This storm could impact life here in a way I would rather not think about. While we wait and see, it is important to make some decisions concerning leaving just in case. But, it is also a time to be praying to the Lord of the Storm. He has a record of stilling storms and delivering people who are caught up in them. Now there is something without which I could not live! Maybe you can join me in praying to the Lord of the Storm.