Thursday, October 8, 2009

Looking for the Good

Everything happens for a reason. I have heard that stupid saying so many times in my life I sometimes want to grab the person saying it by the shoulders and shake them until I see some sense come into their eyes. “Why is this happening,” I would say as I shook them.

But seriously, I think many people ascribe everyday things to God’s will for their life and I maybe even believe that even if they found a salamander in their soup at an upscale restaurant they would say, well there’s a reason for everything.

We are not, nor is the life we live, on God’s marionette strings. We live in a fallen sinful world. Things happen, good things, bad things, everyday ordinary things just happen. I think that when things are good or uneventful, we live our life in our little zone and just carry on. It seems that only when adverse events happen that we fall back on the---well, everything happens for a reason---mantra.

When my alarm went off this morning just as it does every morning, I didn’t sigh and say, well, everything happens for a reason. I just got up, thanked God for the fact that I have a job, and went to work. When I had my Cheerios for breakfast I didn’t believe that I was having Cheerios, instead of Captain Crunch, for a reason. I was just eating.

Looking for the good in everything is wonderful counsel. Things can drag us down if we let them. We all know Romans 8:28, For we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. It doesn’t say, only good things will happen to those who love God. So, yes, the things that happen in our lives can work together for good, but that doesn’t mean that something was deliberately directed to happen by God in our lives. I believe it means that, Life is going to happen, good, bad, happy, sad, rich, poor, sickness, health, it just happens. Not for a reason. It just happens and God can use those events, whatever they may be, for good, if we let him. He wants to. Sometimes it’s hard to see that good in the midst of the challenge, but if we love God, he can and does use our life events for good. That’s the key. Love God and believe he can use those things. Not the other way around. Not believing that God made something happen for a reason and so we just accept it.

I don’t believe for one minute that the Lord pointed his all powerful finger at my wife and gave her cancer. I don’t believe he took her from me to teach me a lesson. I’ve said before that I believe disease, murder, child molesting, drugs, alcohol, and all those things are part of the fallen world we live in. I do believe that He can use my loss, and I can be used by Him, because of my loss, but only if I love God. Only if I believe that what has happened, just happened as part of life, and trust Him even when I can’t see Him using that.

I know that many were touched deeply by the way Karen lived her life as well as the way she lived, and passed away from her cancer. Trusting God, still believing in his faithfulness, and still living her faith. I also know that people have been watching me to see how I continue to live. It isn’t always easy, and I have failed in many ways, but I have never been angry with or blamed God. I still have my faith. I still believe he can use me in great ways if I let him.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Whenever I was away from the house for a bit and then came home, I always asked the kids if Ed McMahon had called when I was gone. Of course they always said no, and until I explained it to them one day, they never had a clue who Ed was or why he should call. They and their generation are way too young to have known Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon and the Tonight Show. They never really knew about his spokesman role for Publishers Clearing House and the prize patrol. Audrey sent me a text the day the news broke about Ed McMahon passing away. She said, well, he won’t be calling now for sure.

As I thought about this week’s topic, and how I was going to approach it, I started thinking about the role Ed played on the tonight show. I wondered how I could somehow use that in some kind of analogy of our lives as Christians. I know, I stretch the limits of my brain into often uncharted territory, but that’s me and how I do things.

Of course Mr. McMahon had his personal life, his hobbies, his goals, and his family, but on the Tonight show, his entire function and goal was to never draw attention to himself but to always make Johnny look good. He wasn’t to be in the spotlight, he was to always keep the audience and the focus on the Host. There was never room for personal pride or boasting as the sidekick. He introduced people to Johnny in his patent intro, Heeeerrrrrrrrrreesss Johnny! And then Carson ran the show.

Isn’t that what we should do as Christians, bring the attention of others to focus on the real leader? When people of our generation thought of Ed McMahon, they automatically thought of Johnny Carson. My point is, when people think of us, shouldn’t they automatically think of the Lord? Our lives should point them in that direction. Do people think of Christ, or what a Christian is, by our not taking pride in our selves but rather exuding who the Lord is in our lives?

1 John 2:16, For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

There is a Home Improvement chain here in the north that Mary and our California friends probably haven’t heard of, called Ziggys. They have a jingle in their advertisements on TV and Radio that is impossible to not sing along with when it comes on. You just do, you can’t help it. Ziggy’s Ya Ziggy’s. And how many of us have never emulated Mr. McMahon’s intro of Johnny. We just did, it was just one of those things.

Pride would be, drawing attention to ourselves and our deeds and thinking that it's all about us. We don’t have a jingle or catch phrase to introduce people to the Lord. What we have is our lives. We are the front man. Will people automatically think Christian, in a good way, by your introduction?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thoughts on Matthew 24

Like many people, I buy a lot of things on-line. I get books and music, and many other things. There is a hot sauce company in Arizona that, to me, makes the best hot sauce ever. I buy it by the case, usually twice a year. Sometimes though I purchase things that are more important both in cost and what they mean to me. All the major shippers now have on-line tracking. Once you place an order you are given a tracking number and all you have to do is log on and see where your package is every step of the way. Maybe it’s in St. Louis on Tuesday, and Denver on Wednesday and the scheduled delivery date to you is Friday. The thing is, all you have to do is look where you are told to look and interpret what they are telling you, and it’s easy to see what’s happening and what you can expect next.

In Matthew 24, the disciples are pressing Jesus to tell them how they will know when he will be returning and what they need to look for. He tells them many things and signs that will signal his coming. There has always been, and until his actual return, will always be much conjecture about the exact time of Christ’s return. Matt: 24:36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

We can’t know, but we can be ready. We have the Word and we have prayer and we can see the things happening in our world. We are charged with living our lives in certain ways. Pick up the Word, log on, and expect to be delivered on time, His time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hold on to Your Dreams

Dreaming and setting goals is always laudable, it's always good to do. When I mentor the kids at the high school its one of the first things we talk about; goal setting and planning. We also talk about failing at our goals. So if there is a chance that we will fail, should we then not set the goal? Those who truly fail are the ones who never begin. So you fail, so what. Pick yourself up, set a new goal and keep going. The growth comes from the process, not the end result.

You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away

Build it anyway

You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way

Dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain't good
And when I don't always turn out like I think it should

I do it anyway, I do it anyway

You can love someone with all your heart, for all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away

Love them anyway

You can pour your soul out singing a song you believe in
That tommorow they'll forget you ever sang

sing it anyway

I'll sing, I'll dream, I'll love

(from Martina Mcbride, anyway)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

How Do I Find Peace in My Life

The topic for this week asks the question; how do I find peace in my life? As I thought about this I began to ask myself; why don’t I have peace in my life in the first place? Why do I need to seek peace? I think that for the most part I get caught up in my own life, my own agenda, my own way, and forget to seek, or listen to the Lord.
Often, I have discovered that when I seek the Lord’s will and direction in my life, and spend time in prayer in that matter, He is faithful to give me that direction and his will. When I then know what it is I should be doing and choose another path I lose the peace that comes from being in the Lord’s will.
I’m not sure if what I am doing is placing the Lord in a superannuated position, acting as if He doesn’t know what’s best for me, or not, but it would seem that way. Only when I begin to follow the leading, and continue to seek Him and pray, do I then begin to experience that peace again.
It’s a thin line I walk many times. My humanness and sinful nature constantly battle for my will. It’s who we are as humans. We have to choose to find that peace, even when the easiest path serves our nature and is more appealing.
I struggle, I fail, I get back up again, I grow.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Your Choice

It has been two years since I lost Karen and still, I struggle trying to find my direction in life. Some give me counsel to move on and others have told me that it takes one year of recovery for each five years you were together before you are ready to move on. That would make it a five year healing process.
Sometimes I have these flashes of inspiration and direction and I feel like I finally have it all figured out. Then after a few days and second guesses I have reverted back to uncertainty. Sometimes I think God is leading me in spirit and giving me clues to his will for my life, and then I think maybe God’s real message to me is, I’m not ready to make those decisions yet. I do think however, that one message is very clear and that is that I need to be in school. The how’s and where’s and what’s seem to be vague, but the drive of the spirit is very strong.
I know what I want to study, I know what I want to do with that degree, it’s the, if I may revert to a couple posts ago, stepping out of the plane that trips me up. Choosing to listen and obey.
I have faith that if I earnestly pray and seek the Lord then all these other answers will be revealed. Its interesting that in my quiet times this week I read about Abram, and God calling him to leave his ancestral homeland and move on to a new place. I don’t compare that of course to my particular place in life and don’t believe God is going to make a great nation of me by obeying. I just find myself thinking how very hard that must have been for Abram, stepping out into the unknown. Unknown land, unknown people, and unknown future except for the promise of God. He could have made a different choice but didn’t.
There are so many unknowns and fears in my life, so many choices to be made or avoided. My dearest friend champions me. She pushes me, questions me, gives me food to think on, and also respects my uncertainty and emotions. She has the answers to many questions that I haven’t even thought of. Mostly she keeps me tracking in the right direction. I believe God has placed her in my life for many reasons and He uses people like that in our lives to reveal Himself.
I have choices to make. Everyone does in some aspect of their own life.
I just had to say that.
Its been an interesting and at times very emotional ride. It is what it is, and where it ends up has yet to be determined. Our life is all about choices isn’t it? Our whole life is about the choices we make. Good or bad, choices determine our direction and our future. What will mine be? What will yours be?

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Matthew 6:26, Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than that?

Many times during the course of Karen’s illness I worried about all the medical bills, losing Karen’s upholstery business and that income, the work I was missing, and many other things. Also during that first year, Audrey was trying to make college decisions and I was sick with worry about how in the world we were going to pay for that.

Karen wasn’t well enough to make those University visits during Audrey’s senior year of high school and so Audrey and I did them by ourselves. The money always seemed to somehow be available for the medical, and the other things but I had no idea how we were going to fund college.

As we made those visits and asked those questions and prayed it seemed that the answer kept coming back to Eastern Washington University. It just seemed so clear to both of us that this was where God wanted her to be. I didn’t have enough money to fund an in-state education, let alone an out of state university. I must be reading God wrong I deduced. That can’t possibly be where Audrey is supposed to go.

One day at work, all day my spririt was so troubled and I was praying and questioning and crying and praying some more. I will never ever forget in my life that afternoon when I came home from work. I called Audrey and Karen into the dining room and with tears in my eyes I said. I don’t know how we are going to pay for it. I don’t know the answer. People may think I am a flake and out of my mind. I don’t know anything except that somehow, by faith, Audrey, you are supposed to go to Eastern. We both knew that but couldn’t get our minds to grasp what our hearts knew.

On that day when the decision was made, I could literally see a black cloud lift from that dining room, and our house and our hearts. Things started to happen and in some of the most incredible ways, God provided again and again and again and it really was the right school and it has been evidenced in many ways and many times.

Why do I not trust sometimes when I know what the answer is. It’s a struggle I deal with many times.

For the last several years there have been several nesting pairs of geese just up the river in a field each spring. When they begin to nest, the adults come down each day and walk up the beach and poop in the yard. It’s early in the year and I always just figured they were fertilizing the grass down by the beach so I never really cared. I watched them a lot one year and I noticed that in a few weeks, after the chicks had hatched, the adults bring them down the river and up on to the yard. Usually there are 20-30 chicks depending on the year. It occurred to me as I watched them that where the adults had been pooping for a few weeks, there were now bugs for the young to eat. It’s so incredible to think that there was a plan and a purpose all along. I saw poop, God saw a plan, even for the birds of the air. I’ve had those hard days and scary days and times of worrying when all I could see was poop. I just need to assure myself, as do you, that we need to trust God and his awesome plan. Even when we can’t see it, we have to know that it is there.