Wednesday, February 27, 2013
On my blog page there is a section called "My Blog List." One which I wrote about in my last posting comes from my sister; the other from my friend, Jim. Years ago when we were much younger pastors in Columbus, Georgia, Jim traded his farmers cap for a cowboy hat and made the move to Texas. Jim and I have known each other for most of our ministry. We almost knew each other even earlier. One of my favorite stories from Jim came when we discovered that we both lived a part of our boyhood years in Waycross, Ga. As I was telling Jim I went to Morton Elementary School, he announced he went to the same school by saying to me, "You lived on the poor side of town, too!" I can still remember his laughter which was a big as Texas as I said, "I guess I did."
Somehow my life has been graced with his friendship. After being taken in different directions in ministry, a few years ago we discovered a re-connecting which has been a great personal blessing. Jim's blog is named "Jim's Daily Awakenings" and is really a daily radio spot in Houston during drive time. What folks hear as they drive midst the rush hour some of us are able to read in a quieter, more peaceful setting. Not too long ago the blog was nearing 5000 subscribers. I am sure that number is by now seen only in the rearview mirror.
The postings come daily. All are obviously brief, but each one carries a great message. Sometimes they cause me to laugh. Sometimes I am caused to give serious thought to my own human condition. Some are stories with a message. Some enable me to see a guy who is like myself, not there yet, but trying to get where God is taking him. Jim has the ability to be transparent enough to be seen as real, but not so much that you only see him instead of the Christ he is lifting up. As I said about my sister's blog, check it out. You might even want to subscibe. I guarantee blessings!
Monday, February 25, 2013
In the sidebar of my blog is a section entitled "My Blog List." While I look at a number of other blogs, there are two listed there as a way of encouraging others to visit and read. One of them is my sister's blog. She started with "Healthy Solutions" almost four years ago and writes out of a lifetime commitment to exercise and nutrition. Over the years she has worked as a fitness instructor and personal trainer which naturally enables her to share insight about another passion--eating sensibly and healthy.
Anyone who visits her blog will be able to look back over some of the different postings and find something which is pertinent to the present moment. Her topics are straightforward, what you read as a topic reveals the content of the posting. Some are about exercises for the young whose approach borders on radical and others are for older adults who need a different approach. As one who struggles with the right kind of eating, I appreciate the way she writes about good nutrition without getting out the guilt club.
I wanted to take a moment to point you to "Healthy Solutions" once again. Sure, part of the reason is because it is written by my sister. But, secondly, it can be a helpful and encouraging blog for anyone to read who wants to be serious about taking care of the body God has given us to use and take care of for a span of time. The Old Testament has major sections which deal with a right eating program for the Hebrews. So, being concerned about how we treat our body and what we put in it is more Biblical than most of us recognize. Anyway, check it out. I guarantee it will be helpful and even inspiring.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Yestereday afternoon I went up to the Rocky Ford Church to consecrate the Sacrament so that it could be offered today by a Local Pastor who will be participating at a Ladies Prayer Retreat. When I finished the prayers, I broke the bread and dipped it into the cup. While I understand the Sacrament is to be shared within the body of believers, no one else was present. Suddenly, as often happens when the bread is broken and the cup is filled, something holy took place. In a surprising way the presence of God seemed to fill the space around me. In a unexpected and surprising way, a blessing of grace was poured into my own heart.
Over the years of serving the Sacrament I would take only the smallest of piece of bread and hardly touch inside the cup since there was no real break between the act of receiving and the act of serving. It was a way of insuring I did not get choked, or swallow the wrong way, or get something hung in my throat which would hinder as I moved from receiving to serving. It was a practice I developed as I moved into larger congregations and even in a much smaller setting, I find myself still placing similiar restrictions upon myself. However, this afternoon for some reason I did something so different. I broke off a large chunk of bread and dipped deeply in the cup and received this Sacrament so freshly consecrated. Slowly, I brought it to my mouth and slowly I savored every taste of it, every grain of it, until it was gone. Not only did I savor the taste, I sensed and savored the overpowering smell of fresh bread and juice as I placed it in my mouth.
I savored the Sacrament in a way that speaks of something not experienced in such a long time. For a few moments I continued to kneel in that place suddenly made holy by the presence of the Spirit. There I was taught by the One who really teaches that grace is not served in meager portions and when received, it is to be slowly savored as one who is truly grateful.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
When Senator Marco Rubio lunged for his water bottle the other night, he might as well have quoted that well-known American who said, "That's all folks!" Preachers know when it's over and at that moment it was over. However, like a lot of preachers who know when it's over, the Senator kept on going. And as expected at that point, no one is talking about what he said. Instead, everyone is talking about that awkward, but obviously much needed drink of water. Someone should have put his water closer and we might be talking about his words instead of his thirst.
I know. As the preacher at Richmond Hill UMC, I had someone who always kept the water close. Few were the Sundays over my seven years there that a pitcher of ice water and several glasses was not on the top shelf under the pulpit. If my mouth got dry or my throat got scratchy, there was water conveniently close. I did not need it every Sunday while preaching, but when I did, it was indeed a blessing. It was always there because it was a ministry of care by a layman named John. He took care of his preacher by praying for him from the hallway and by providing water for him just in case it was needed. He never got discouraged if the water was not needed on a particular Sunday. He simply provided it again the next week and the next and for seven years.
When I watched the Senator reaching for water, I remembered the many times I reached for water from under the pulpit. And I remembered John and the gift of his ministry. Most folks would never think about meeting such an ordinary mundane need. Maybe it is because it creates no spotlights. When pew sitters saw their preacher reaching for water, they probably just figured the preacher put it there knowing it would be needed. Most never knew its presence was an act of ministry prompted by the Holy Spirit.
Monday, February 4, 2013
It was 1970 when it happened at Asbury College. The details are etched as in stone. Snow on the ground. February 3. Tuesday morning chapel in Hughes Auditorium at 10 AM. A spontaneous service of witnessing started when one of the Deans invited students to come forward. In a short time students started leaving their seats to go the altar. One after another after another. The eleven o'clock bell sounded signaling the end of chapel and the start of the next class. No one paid it any attention. The Holy Spirit was at work. For a week there were no classes on the campus. Around the clock day and night there was someone at the microphone sharing what God was doing in their lives. Around the clock people were at the altar. For seven days. Revival. Holy Spirit.
It was my last quarter at Asbury College. I was one of those who knelt at that altar in Hughes Auditorium on that Tuesday afternoon seeking God in my life with an urgency never before experienced. It was an altar moment unlike any I had ever experienced and one unlike any ever experienced since. A divine work took root in my heart in those moments in such a way that my walk with God was forever changed. More than being about a moment, it has been about a lifetime.
One of the truly amazing things remembered is the way God used the story of the Asbury Revival to bring revival to one campus after another. At Olivette Nazarene College a few of us from Asbury told the story of what God was doing and then watched as He brought people to the altar to accomplish even more of His work. But, what happened there happened not because of us, but because it was the way He was choosing to work across the world. When others told the story, it was Pentecost again in that place. I am so grateful for those days. I am so thankful I did not miss them. My life is different because of them. Praise God from Whom all blessings do indeed come! Praise the Lord, great things He has done!