Founders’ Day

IMG_0507It was Founders’ Day Weekend in Dripping Springs, Texas. Think barbeque (a LOT of barbeque), a big midway sporting rides I can’t imagine strapping myself into, and vendors selling all sorts of items from farmhouse tables and hand-carved knives to kettle corn and batter fried Oreos.

On Friday night we went to a parade that would surely rival any other in small town America. Picture this:

  • a marching band, heavy on the brass section.
  • a chiropractor driving a pickup truck lined with fake skeletons (I kid you not!).
  • simple floats filled with kids of all ages throwing candy and koozies into a crowd of waving watchers with plastic loot bags at the ready.
  • hundreds (thousands?) of people cheering as their neighbors paraded past.

On Saturday we toured the competing barbeque booths, willingly tasting their creations, often for free. I ate more meat than I usually eat in weeks! Tony helped judge the best brisket of the festival. Steve tried smoked rabbit (but don’t tell Elizabeth). That was all great fun, but then came Sunday.

The web advertised, “Join the community as all the churches of Dripping Springs come together to worship our Heavenly Father.” I’ve got to admit, I wondered how that was going to work. But, boy did it ever work! Here’s how:

  • We met outside, sitting on folding chairs, in bleachers or standing to the side.
  • We sang old hymns and new, the words printed on simple pages handed out by volunteers.
  • We prayed, mostly in English, with a bit of Spanish thrown in.
  • We listened to Scripture in a variety of versions.
  • We gave an offering for the poor, collected in plastic buckets.
  • We took communion, served by some in robes and some in shorts and plaid shirts.

And it was awesome. Nobody talked about differences. We just talked about Jesus, and worshiped him and wished we could go on all day. Turns out, no surprise really, that all Christians have a great deal in common, and we celebrated that.

Now, look at that first photo again. Here’s a zoomed in version. Seeing that shirt was one of my favorite parts of the whole festival. It was true on Sunday, and it’s still true today.

Church founders day

The photo’s a little blurry, but the says words say “The CHURCH has left the BUILDING.”

We are the church. We have left the building. Let’s all go be the hands and feet of Jesus together today!

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What’s in Your Cup?

teacup pixa 5 16 18Last Saturday I went to a ladies’ tea at church. My church. Do you know what a big deal it is feel at home in a church here already? A quarter century at NorthWest Bible Church was a tough act to follow. (Stop doing the math. I’m older, but not old yet!)

My friend Lea Castillo gave the devotional Saturday. I loved it and asked her to allow me to turn her notes into a blog. She kindly agreed, so all you read today comes from her heart and her story.

Do you have a cup of tea (or coffee, or…) by your side as you’re reading this? I hope so, but if not, just conjure one up in your imagination. Now look inside.

Is it half full? Half empty? Maybe it’s nearly dry or overflowing. You’ve already heard that familiar lesson before about perspective and positive attitude, so let’s take a look at your cup in a different light…

Your cup of tea is enough.

Today, whatever God provides you will be enough. You may be clueless as to what’s heading your way, but our Lord knows, and he will always provide what you need to live this day.

Sadly, we do this awful thing, you and I. We oh-so-often evaluate our “enoughness.” We ask ourselves, are we

  • good looking enough?
  • strong enough?
  • smart enough?

Then we evaluate the sufficiency of our situation, wondering if we have enough

  • money.
  • time.
  • opportunity.

One morning, when I finally had a chance to sleep late, my “not enoughs” badgered me into an unwelcome consciousness. I was losing my battle for peace and rest when, to make matters worse, a bunch of birds started making a racket outside my window. They just wouldn’t stop. And then, they spoke to me. Okay, not exactly, but God used them to get my attention and to remind me of this verse:

Look at the birds in the sky. They do not plant seeds. They do not gather grain. They do not put grain into a building to keep. Yet your Father in heaven feeds them! Are you not more important than the birds?(Matthew 6:26 NLV).

That’s when divine logic kicked in:

  • The birds always have enough.
  • I’m more important to God than the birds.
  • So I will always have enough!

And with God’s enoughness, I can face anything that life brings. On some days, the “tea in my cup” may not be as sweet as I’d like. It might not taste the way I was expecting, but God is still giving me enough.

We who question our enoughness are in great spiritual company. Even Moses did it. God’s answer?

“I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you'” (Exodus 3:13-14, NIV).

Our Lord is with us! The next time your cup looks empty, remember:

God always fills it—fills you—with enough, because he is enough.

No Bones About It (by Beth Smith)

skeleton-2883761_1280 bones 1 16 18

Have you heard these expressions?

  • “Man! I am bone tired today.”
  • “I can feel it in my bones.”
  • “I’ve got a bone to pick with you.” (Uh, oh, that usually starts an argument.)

King David mentioned his bones in the Bible: “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony” (Psalm 6:2).

When confessing his sins to God, David referred to his bones again: “When I kept silent (before I confessed) my bones wasted away through my groanings all day long” (Psalm 32:3 AMP). When he was restored, he expressed his gratitude by saying, “With every bone in my body I will praise him: ‘Lord, who can compare with you?’”(Psalm 35:10 NLT).

Let’s think about how to have healthy bones in a scriptural sense. David has already given us one way: we confess our sins and then let God forgive and cleanse us.

Here’s another daily requirement for our bones. “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3: 6-8).

A third necessity for healthy bones is found in Proverbs 17:22. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” If we don’t want dry bones, we need a cheerful heart. How do we get one?

  • Rely on the Lord for help, and be confident in him.
  • Live by the wisdom found in God’s Word.
  • Be kind and merciful to the poor.
  • Reverently worship the Lord.
  • And follow these wise words of Paul, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

We want to keep our bones healthy, and we don’t want to be boneheads. So let’s get some back bone and bone up on God’s Word. Let’s confess our sins and let God cleanse us. Let’s trust God and keep our confidence in him alone. Let’s seek a happy heart. We can do it! The Bible tells us so!

Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus

cross pixabay 4 24 18

Now and then, when I was a teenager back at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, I was given the honor of turning down the lights in the sanctuary just as the congregation got to the last line of this great hymn. Picture this: The pews are filled at the Sunday night service. It’s dark outside, but bright inside, as the final hymn begins. Then the lights go down just as all in attendance sing, “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” The backlit cross at the front of the church now stands out in stark focus as a hush falls over the room. A little dramatic? Maybe, except that I still see that cross in my mind’s eye and feel that hush in my heart, often just when I’m about to forget about God’s glory and grace.

We can’t dim the lights on the rest of life as easily as I could turn that rheostat back then. Would that we could! Maybe instead, we need to shine greater light on the glory and grace that surrounds us. He is everything. Our full supply. That’s what Helen Lemmel was trying to convey when she penned these lyrics.

O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

Are you, like so many of us, troubled by “the things of earth” today? Is your heavenly vision a bit blurred? Take a breath. Take a moment. Remember whose you are and who He is. Enjoy the right you have as a child of God to fellowship with the Creator of the universe. And let those things that trouble you fade in the light of his glory, with the realization that, while you may not be able to see how right now, his grace is and always will be enough.

The Ring’s the Thing

The RIng ad 2018Okay, true confessions here: I resist change. I prefer to think of myself as someone who is usually content with the present circumstances. That’s a good thing, right? But, yes, “slow to embrace change” certainly describes me as well. I was the last of my family to get a cell phone, the last of just about anyone I know to upgrade to a smart phone, and still don’t really know how to use hashtags…

And for Christmas, our kids gave Steve and me The Ring. Nope, not the kind for your finger, but the kind for your front door, a newfangled doorbell. They were so excited about it. We travel. We hang out in our backyard. This would be the perfect way for us to keep track of all visits to our front porch by friend and stranger alike.

We delayed. The instructions said, “5 minute installation.” Sure, that’s what they all say.

Then came that moment when we realized that pretty soon one of our kids was going to ask, “How’s The Ring working out?” We were going to look, well, resistant to change!

And so, we installed it. Actually, it only took a few minutes over the promised five. But it was a little difficult to figure out how our newly installed gadget actually worked. After all, this was something NEW! So, leaving our frustration behind, we took a walk. On the way back, our phones told us we had missed a visit from Nick. (Video included.) A quick call, and we were off to see our sweet grandson and family.

Ding! Ding! Ding! One could say that as the doorbell rang, the lightbulb went off. That gadget is not about catching the latest Amazon delivery right away (although it has helped us do that too.) It’s about never missing an opportunity to engage with the other people in our lives. And engaging with others is a big part of what life is meant to be.

So here are my challenges to you today:

Are you embracing change as God puts it in your path? Just do it!

And are you looking for ways to engage with the people he has put in your life? They need you, and chances are you need them too!

Curious About George?

George Muller Wikipedia 2018Born in 1805, George Müller started life as a thief. Yep, a thief. Later, though, as a Christian, he established much needed orphanages in England. Here’s how dire the situation was: “When the new Orphan House was being built, nearly six thousand young orphans were living in the prisons of England because there was no other place for them to go.”[1]

George wanted to help those children. He also wanted to convince people that God answers prayer. Thus, as part of his MO, he never asked for funding or publicized his needs. “He knew that God could incline the hearts of men to aid him, and he believed that if the work was of Him, He would meet every need. Thus, in childlike simplicity, he looked to God, and all that he needed was furnished as punctually as if he was a millionaire drawing regularly on his bank account.”[2]

What can we learn from George? His autobiography describes these steps toward a life of faith:[3]

  • Expect to have difficulty in this world, for it is not our home, yet all difficulties may be overcome by acting according to the Word of God.
  • Carefully read the Bible and meditate on it…Become acquainted with the nature and character of God. But be warned—the work of the Lord itself may tempt us away from communion with Him, yet public prayer will never make up for closet communion
  • Maintain an upright heart and a good conscience. Do not knowingly and habitually indulge in things that are contrary to the mind of God.
  • Don’t shrink from opportunities for faith to be tested. These allow us to see God’s help and deliverance, which in turn increase our faith.
  • Let God work. When a trail of faith comes, stand firm in trusting God. He will prove his willingness to help and deliver at the perfect time. The longer the wait, or the greater the need, the greater the enjoyment when at last the answer comes.

Wayland Lincoln, penned the words below as closing remarks for George’s autobiography. They are the perfect way to close today.

“No Christian, however poor and humble, should despair of doing a noble work for God. One never needs to wait until he can obtain the cooperation of the multitude or the wealthy. Let him undertake what he believes to be his duty, on ever so small a scale, and look directly to God for aid and direction. If God has planted the seed, it will take root, grow, and bear fruit.” [4]

(And one more thing, lest any of you think it is too late in life for God to use you. Check out this quote from Wikipedia about George: “On 26 March 1875, at the age of 70 and after the death of his first wife in 1870 and his marriage to Susannah Grace Sanger in 1871, Müller and Susannah began a 17-year period of missionary travel.” Wow!)

[1] Müller, George. The Autobiography of George Müller. Whitaker House, 1985, p. 219.

[2] Ibid., p. 8.

[3] Paraphrased.

(4) Muller, George. The Autobiography of George Müller. Whitaker House, 1985, p. 230.