How Level are You?

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 26: 7-9a

The way of the righteous is level;
you clear a path for the righteous.
In the path of your justice, LORD,
we wait for you;
with all our being,
we long for your name and your acclaim.
At night I long for you with my whole being;
my spirit within me watches for you.   (Common English Version)

Have you tried to fill an entire wall with pictures of different frame types, sizes, differing picture sizes in different frames, matted and non-matted?  I have.  We tried selling our house about this same time last year.  When the price of our new house kept going up and the real estate agent wanting us to drop our price, we decided the house was fine.  We just needed some upgrading, new paint, new furniture, and maybe even a new kitchen.

I had personally emptied the whole house of all of the “personal” things the agent said were not needed.  I had everything boxed up and in the garage, ready to be moved.  We were essentially packed up to go except for the furniture and the dishes in the kitchen.  When we decided to keep the house, I painted the inside by myself by hand as some sick form of cardio rehab.  I then proceeded to paint the outside of the house and start moving the stuff in the garage back into the house.  I made an executive decision to completely redesign how my office would be.

I am not sure now if there is any place for any new pictures, as all of the available real estate on the walls either has shelves on them or pictures.  When handling the picture-hanging task, I needed one row at the top of all of the walls to be the same level and distance apart.  That would be the row of the fire engine pictures of each engine company in Boise, some seventeen pictures.  My big level was too clumsy to try do each individual picture, so I downloaded a level on the phone.  It gives me the degree differences from zero in any direction and has a graphic looking like the bubble level I had in my other hand.  After hanging a couple of pictures, the big metal level would be used to ensure the whole row was level.

After getting all of the pictures hung, I made sure they were as close to zero degrees as possible.  The wall now has fire engines, wedding pictures, my seminary diploma, a cross, framed Lincoln and Ford posters, and other memorabilia that signifies to anyone that this room belongs to me.  Add to this mini-museum the shelves of books, diecast fire engines and diecast Lincolns I have, and WOW!, there’s a lot of stuff that still shows this room is me and me alone.

Isaiah is telling the children of Israel in a song how trusting in God forever has its rewards.  The passage I have quoted from today tells the audience that the journey we take with God is level.  In my instance of crossing the river, it would be where God has a level crossing for us to take, where the water has calmed and formed some deep pools, and the rocks we are crossing on are clearly visible and flat (level).

Isaiah takes it a little further than just giving us a level playing field.  It involves a trade-off between us and God.  It involves a covenant, which by terms means that we promise God something in exchange for God promising us this level pathway.  The exchange is simple:  love your journey.  Do not disregard the bumps, falls, spills, mistakes in judgment, and all of the other things that show that we are human.  However, make them a part of the journey that you are on so that you can wait for God’s justice in your life and in the lives of others you touch and reach out to.

When the day is over and night comes, business is ended for the day.  The phone stops ringing, e-mails stop flowing, and things quiet down.  In the slowing process we can wait for and long for God, watching for something special to occur to keep our journey level.

During this time of Advent, we spend a lot of time waiting and watching for God’s action in our lives to bring forth a new knowledge, a new depth and height of relationship with God and our fellow neighbors, a new star in the sky, a new song in our hearts.  It is the time when the dear Savior nears (hmmm, could sing a song with those words). It is the time when Jesus is revealed in our lives and in our journeys.  Where there is darkness, Jesus levels the field so that we see light.  God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a lamp on our path.  Our longing and waiting is to see what the next adventure in the Church year will give to us.

For some reason, this year I am excited about Christmas.  I have always loved giving more than getting anything, but this year we, as a family, are also seeing the people in our city who are struggling.  We give to charities that will help them.  Perhaps being so sick and unable to accomplish everything that I want, God has shed some light and hope in my journey to see others less fortunate even than I am.  But God has also given me the ability to do something with an expectancy that perhaps someone else may see God’s light, God’s hope, and God’s Son, Jesus.

The Church year starts with Advent – the season of hope, peace, joy, and love.  A season we have to use our spiritual “levels” to make sure the wall of our heart shows who we really are as Christians.

May your Christmas (forget the politically correct, as this is a Christian blog) season be one of renewed vision in your journey.  May God open your eyes as well as you heart to be bigger, greater, and more proud to be serving Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.  Amen.

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What Follows You?

Scripture Reading:  Revelation 14: 6, 14b

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.

…. “for their deeds follow them!” (NIV)

Today is Thanksgiving Day.  I have a lot to be thankful for other than the fact I have made it to another Thanksgiving.  I have a wonderful wife, daughter and her family, friends I have coffee with, my church, and the faith I have in Jesus Christ.  There are a lot more things of which I am thankful, but those are the main things.  It is the things that create community for me that make me feel the strongest in my life.

I have grown up in churches of every different type and am now settled in a denomination that is progressive in its view of Christianity.  I am a minister of those same views.  The gospel that I preach is the same gospel that Jesus Christ preached.  The goal of all of Christianity should be an intentional spreading of the gospel to fulfill the vision that John saw of the angel spreading and eternal gospel.  That message reaches everyone, though, not just the people in the churches.

Politics aside, Idaho has passed a measure allowing gays to be legally married.  I believe that God loves everyone, including the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, black, white, Latino, Basque, and any other peoples.  These people are the same people for whom the gospel is intended.  This is just one means of justice being accomplished through someone’s deeds who felt it time that marriage include all people.

As I am writing this, my wife is cooking the turkey, getting the dressing made (she does her own dressing), getting the vegetables and potatoes cooked, and getting the table ready for dinner.  However, we acknowledge that there are those to whom there is no table, but a cold sidewalk under a bridge.  There are those who have lost their homes and wander the streets looking for a place.  The lines are long at the shelters today that are offering their time and deeds of love to providing meals, sometimes the only meal this week, to those in need.  We have given to the local food bank, the Interfaith Sanctuary, the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, and other charities in our area as our deeds of helping to provide someone a good holiday experience.

And that is the essence of this eternal gospel we preach.  It is a gospel of knowing that Jesus would be doing the same thing.  And, the works that we do and the gospel that we preach contain deeds that will follow us.

Some people will never know what deeds they have done until after they are dead and someone mentions the deeds in the funeral (see verse 13 and 14a).  But that person may not have known their deeds.  I believe that the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ, our faith in Jesus, our help from the Holy Spirit, and a God who will provide our needs compels us to be “deedful”.  The holiday season coming up after Thanksgiving seems to be commercialized to a high level this year.  However, if we are “deedful” and give with our hearts and love, then the true holiday spirit comes out.  And, if there is an occasion to do a good deed to someone who has nothing or little, then let us make the gospel which lives within us the one that does deeds to everyone.

May God bless you with the spirit of generosity to everyone this year.

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Firmness in God

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 24:  13

But he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

This passage of Scripture is where Jesus tells the disciples what the end of times would look like.  Since the writer of Matthew is recalling events that occurred in the past while that person was following Jesus, the writer may have felt that those times were already started.  Mark writes the same (almost identical) passage in Mark 13.  For scholars, this means that the writer of Matthew used Mark’s passage in the same place prior to the crucifixion of Jesus.

The placement of this passage also may indicate, at least to me, that the disciples and the writers of the gospels may have been feeling that the end was near for them, as Jesus had already told them three different times that he was going to be betrayed and crucified in Jerusalem.  For the disciples, knowledge that a Jew was going to be crucified meant that Jesus was going to become a curse, and for them, that might mean all of the things Jesus had prophesied.

The point, though, is Jesus told them that the person who stands firm to the end will be saved.  That is a reassurance that for those of us who hold firm to our faith, not just beliefs, but the faith that moves us to worship God will be saved.  We will not be moved, as the psalmist said, as our anchor and position is guarded by what Jesus has said and the actions that we perform in the name of Jesus.

I live in Boise, ID.  Last year was the 150th birthday of the city.  The celebration continues even through this year with many books coming out of the different formations of neighborhoods that eventually became part of the Boise proper.  I am going around taking pictures of the buildings that are still standing and pictures of places where buildings used to be.  That is one reason I like Boise so well is the fact that there are still so many historical places still standing – firm as the day they were built – for us to enjoy.  Though the purpose of the building may have changed to something else, like the old Central Fire Station is now a fondue restaurant, the structure remains the same.  You can still tell that at one time this was a fire station.  I read of Cottonwood Creek running in front of the station.  Now, it is covered to prevent flooding in the downtown area.  But, I visualize a muddy road with a creek raging down the street.

God, in the great love that is given to us through Jesus Christ, has established a firm foundation.  As the disciples marveled at the temple and all of the buildings associated with it, Jesus said that he was the cornerstone.  Though the temple was completely destroyed in 70 CE people today still go to the one part of the wall that remains to place their prayer requests.

If we, as the people of God, or Christians, can stand firm in the building in which God has placed us, a place of awe and beauty showing the Creation of God and the beauty of Jesus Christ alive in our hearts.  We will intentionally serve God with actions proving that we are standing.  The town I was raised in did not restore the old historic buildings that make up the downtown core.  Instead, they would tear the buildings down and replace them with new modern buildings.  Today, there is no history when you walk down the sidewalks.  There are no books about the history of the town, because the city wants to move beyond the memories of the good and proceed to something new.

Our lives in Christ are based on a firm, solid foundation.  This foundation is the rock on which we cement our lives and fasten to.  By standing firm in the things that Jesus has told us, we become part of the great building that Christ is building.  It is a community of people who hold the same intentional beliefs and have a faith that is resolute in its standing.  I was reading today where many people in the Arab states build their houses to resemble small mosques, because they want to continue the feeling of community in their homes that they have when they attend mosque.

Today is Sunday.  I will go to church, but my intention is that church continues on for the rest of the week.  Sunday is my day for recharging at church, meeting friends I only see on this day, having coffee and fellowship with the congregation, meeting the pastor, hearing a sermon in which I purposely listen for God to tell me what I should expect for the next week.

How about you?  Do you need a recharging in your life with Jesus Christ to remind you that you are firmly set, saved, and part of the greater community of Christians throughout the world?  What are your intentions for the next week?  I hope they are not just to get by, but to do something awesome to show what an awesome God we serve, and, that we are part of the greater intentions that God has for us.

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Religion and Politics

Scripture Reading:  Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I do not believe in mixing religion (or more, one’s faith in God) with the political.  We are one week from the mid-term elections, and we see political ads attacking one another with a vengeance.  I have not seen, though, anyone promoting hospitality, generosity, soft words, meditation, prayer, or anything else that would promote a real neighborhood-like community.  That must have disappeared somewhere in the 1960s or 1970s.  I think too many people, including the Church, have been side-tracked to look at the political realm and what one can gain for themselves than seeking that which is for the betterment of all around them.

Jeremiah is prophesying to the children of Israel, who are at this time of writing captives of the Persian empire.  Cyrus, king of Persia, though, has given the children of Israel the freedom to worship God, live peaceably among the Persian peoples, and create their own communities.  However, they did not do that, but complained that the political system was keeping them from worshipping God.  Jeremiah has come and sees, instead of a hopeless system, a day of hope and a good future.  And, that is what he is preaching to the people of that day.

Today, we still have that same promise from God, though.  God has plans for each of us individually and collectively so that we may prosper in the middle of the stormy climate around us, giving us hope and a future.

For those who are following this blog, you may know that I am terminally ill.  In the state in which I live, I have the option to stop treatment and let the illness fulfill its course to let me die.  I have peace that one day that decision will be made, and I have peace with God if I make that decision.  As depressed as I may get I still see some future and some hope in living another day.  Perhaps, as long as I am alive, there is still God’s work to perform.

I was told by a politically-motivated person the other day, that if I make that decision it is still suicide with a result of going to hell.  I replied that someone sitting in the armchair position with no experience or compassion for humanity cannot make a judgment about someone else’s experiences.  I have been a Christian since I was six.  When I prayed and asked Jesus Christ into my heart (that’s the best way I can describe it), I felt a change.  I always felt that God has called me for a special purpose.  God gave to me a future and a hope, regardless of the condition I am in or the people surrounding me.

It is with that purpose, hope, and any future I have left that I continue to serve God.  God, to me, is a living force – the one that drives me to continue day by day.  I ask God each morning to point me to the dream that God has for me, so that on the day I leave this earth I will know that I have faithfully executed all that God has given me to do with the gifts, talents, and abilities that I found in Jesus Christ.  I feel like Paul, as he knew his death was coming, in making sure that I fulfill the promise I made to God in the little Sunday School room when I was six.

I disregard what other people are thinking, saying, or judging of me.  I hope that those who are reading or following this blog will also think the same of yourselves.  Instead, think of the hope and future that God, not the political systems around us, has provided for us, act on that, and put our faith in something that has a real substance and not just words.  Words and judgment are easy to dish out.  That is the human nature.  Action and love toward each other are harder.  They require our attention on God.  Will we be the people that God has given a future and hope to and act on that promise?  I pray that it be so.

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Deep Conviction

Scripture Reading:  1 Thessalonians 1:  4-5

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.  You know how we lived among you for your sake. (NIV)

One of the fun things that I do on Sunday is to try to outguess what the pastor is going to preach about that morning.  I have never succeeded.  The reason is that I do not know the congregation as well as the pastor does.  While I am a licensed minister on staff at the church, I am not involved in the day-to-day activities.  My powers of observation are limited to how people behave, act, their needs, desires, and so on.  All that I know about them is what I have personally seen, heard, and know from interactions with them.

Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica twice.  Thessalonica was a seaport town, one of the biggest in the period of time that Paul was writing (about 60-80 CE).  As most seaport towns it was rough, rowdy, dirty, and full of markets by the ships selling their daily goods.  There was a church established there that Paul wrote to twice.  Paul starts out in his greeting by explaining to the church there that the gospel of Christ was not an advertisement for the goods to be sold, nor was it a book to read, nor a story just to be told.

Instead, the word of God, or the gospel, contained power because the Holy Spirit gave it the power, but that power resulted in a deep conviction.  Literalists would like to state that the conviction is the convicting power (as for a criminal) to punishment if the believers did not believe as Paul did, or have a fear of punishment, as a lot of people do today.  Fear to serve God is no service at all to Christ or to Christianity.  God, instead, wants people to serve God because of the love, the deep conviction in what Christianity entails.

More than going to church every Sunday, Christianity is summed up in the end of the verse:  “You know how we lived among you…”  It is the life of our lives exemplified daily in how we walk, talk, and speak the good news to our families first, then our neighbors, our church communities, and the local areas in which we live.

The other day new neighbors moved into the house next door to us.  I was out in the yard putting away the garbage cans and saw the neighbor putting her garbage can away, too.  As I always do when we get new neighbors, I introduced myself.  I found that she and her husband were Christians, her husband being a pastor at another local church in the city.  However, we were able to talk about our lives in Christ, prayed for a few moments, and were glad that we had some good neighbors.

I cannot guess what anyone who studies the Scripture is thinking about or how that Scripture applies to their own individual life, just as I cannot guess what the pastor is going to preach on Sunday.  However, I can see by their life of action in Christ, their word, the power of the Holy Spirit residing in them, and the deep conviction with which they live their lives.  And that, I believe, is what Christianity is all about.

The Mercury 7 astronauts had a public event for the press before the first launch of the Mercury capsule.  One of the astronauts said that it was with deep conviction that they believed in this program as a benefit for the entire United States.  I believed our deep conviction of what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives is the witness we need to show those without Christ in their life how a Christian is supposed to live.

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Believing on the Promise

I started this blog as a means of still being creative via the sermon route by using the Revised Common Lectionary to challenge me to study, research, and pray before writing.  It was originally meant as an exercise to continue my ministry in some sorts by being active.  And, for some who read, this may also illuminate your life, enlighten you, challenge you, or give you strength for your own journeys.  That is my goal, my purpose for this blog.

But, it is time for a commercial:

My daughter, Hope, has two college degrees, is a technical writer for a large company, and has written two books.  One of those book is Comma:  A Memoir of Believing in the Promise of Every Moment.  It is available at Amazon.com (click the link to be directed in a new tab to the page.  I am also told that it is available of the Russian Amazon.com site, also.

Product Details

This book is a daughter’s look at her experiences with her father (me) through her life so far.  I have been ill most of her life starting with diabetes, kidney failure, a double organ transplant, cancer, and now dialysis.  She has had to go to the neighbor’s house with her friend to spend the night as I was admitted to the hospital.  She has had to see the many times the ambulance has had to come to the house to take me away.  She has also spent many hours (too many) waiting in the Emergency Room.  She has watched me fall off of a wall and have paramedics come to put me on a longboard and take me to the hospital.

But the book goes into her ability to find strength, and unknown to her, strength to me by being their.  Just as her mother, both have been with me in all of these times of ill health, problems, and emergencies.  And, it is in those moments that I know that I am truly loved by two beautiful women, and mostly loved by God, who created me and knew me before I was even in the womb.

This book is good for those who are suffering and are feeling alone, for those who have a loved one who is dying and is the strength source for them.  You will laugh, you will cry, and you will pray.  My hope is that by reading this book and perhaps passing it on to someone you know who is struggling in life, you and them may find that in life, whether good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, there is someone who provides strength to you.

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Shining Stars

Scripture Reading:  Phillipians 3: 14-16

Do everything without complaining or arguing, that you may be innocent and pure, as God’s perfect children who live in a world or crooked and mean people.  You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, as you offer them the message of life.

I cannot think of a story in history where anyone accomplished anything by sitting and complaining or arguing with someone else.  I do know of what happens.  Boise had a developer who had great plans to build the tallest building in the city.  He dug the hole, laid some foundation and footings and strung some rebar.  Then he brought in some arguing and complaining.  The result was that the “hole” remained for years and was aptly name “The Hole”.

Some years later a bank came in that was certain in their planning, had their ducks in a row, and the money to back the building project.  That building now stands where the hole once was, the result of meeting and agreement.

Though I am sick, my wife and friends always remind me that I have today.  Today, being a Friday, I got in the car, drove around, took some fire engine pictures, and visited some friends.  Sure, I am walking in a great amount of pain, and I cannot drive very far, but I gauged myself and feel pretty good at what has been accomplished for today.    However, I must remind myself, or be reminded by those around me, that I am still on the top side of the grass for now, so enjoy something, be productive, and live while I still can.

I have found that complaining and arguing do not produce anything and surely does not represent the innocence that God would have us show forth in our lives.  It is through this innocence that the light of God illuminates our lives, and we then shine as stars.  Together, as a large group of us stars, we light up the sky.  And, just as at the time of the birth of Jesus when the angels appeared in a great light and sang to the shepherds that the Savior of the world had just been born we project a great light that shows the message of Jesus continuing to save people who come in contact with us.

If we take just a moment or few out of our day to read the Scripture and pray, we have nothing to complain about.  God will also provide wisdom in our words when someone wants to start an argument.  In our words we carry either life or death.  We can talk about the life we have and how great it is and how God is working in it, or we can talk about death.  In talking death we really turn people away from the light that we carry within our hearts.  It is about as effective as a screen door on a submarine.  Peoples’ lives will sink without seeing the light.  Without the light, people are more subject to tripping and falling on uneven ground or rocks in the dark.

With our lives as shining stars filling up the sky with light, we are able to see the path that God has put us on, the direction God wants us to take, and the obstacles ahead so that we can avoid them.  Today is Friday.  A lot of people thank God it is Friday because of the weekend.  We should thank God it is Friday because we are like stars that are helping to light up the skies around us.

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Welcoming Children

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 18: 4-5

The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child.  And the person who welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me.

The school year is now in its third week in the area of the country in which I live.  I have encountered many children to whom I have asked about their excitement to going or returning to school.  I have received many answers.  They wish summer was longer.  They are excited.  They are scared. They are looking forward to renewing their friendships from the previous year.  They are terrified that they will be bullied again this year.  If we think about it, those are the same answers we face to almost everything we face in our day-to-day living.  In both cases, though, we go on with fear and trepidation into the halls of the unknown, at any age, to continue our journey of life.  We shed the fears, the excitement, the unknowns, and dive headlong into a new learning experience.

Jesus was making this example known to the people around him.  In Luke, we find a similar story, in which the disciples try to keep the children from approaching Jesus.  Jesus’ ministry was to all people, not just the disciples, not just to the Jews, but to all people including the children.  Jesus takes it a step further by telling the people around him that unless we become like the child, we can never achieve greatness, and at the same time we must welcome all of the children of God in order to be inclusive enough to be known as welcoming Jesus into our lives.

Christianity is not an easy life.  We must work for it using the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has given us.  We must prepare ourselves, as teachers have to prepare themselves for their new classes, to welcome the child(ren) of God into our lives.  It is by welcoming the unknowns, the people we know, the people we work with, and the people in our neighborhoods that we welcome Jesus into their lives.  It is by our example of our child-like spirit that we welcome people to a world of excitement, new learning, inquisitiveness, questioning, the constant “Why’s?”, some crying, some fear, some reassurances, and some belief.

Years ago in college I took a public speaking class.  One of the points the professor made that was when we talk to a group of people, we must appeal to the child-like spirit in them.  We do not treat them in a childish manner, but we look for the opportunity to illuminate their understanding so that they recognize and then enjoy what is being taught.  Then, we reach the audience to which we are speaking and engage them.

Isn’t that what we do with children?  We engage them in an activity, they learn, and in turn engage someone else with that same activity.  Have you ever watched children after the last day of school?  They play school, replaying the role of the teacher because they now know the material.

Jesus is telling us that we must welcome children – all children – with welcoming arms.  They, too, are looking for a way to cross the river of their life’s journey and are faced with the same challenges and fears that we, as adults, face.  For we, too, face the river with the same fears that a child would.  If we help someone else in their journey, will we not receive the same help from another person who sees our distresses, fears, and anxieties in life?  Who knows, the next person we meet, whether it is in the grocery store, at the drive-thru restaurant, at the bank, or even next door to us, may need that welcoming arms which Christ has given us.

Let us focus on being the welcoming arm in our community.  I used to be an EMT for a fire department in a nearby town.  I did not want to be an EMT to see people suffering or broken.  I wanted to help people and let them know that someone else was there to calm them, start them on the path to healing, and see that they were sent to the proper recovery so that they can resume their life.  Let us commit ourselves to the service of Jesus Christ, our Savior, and welcome all into our life with our child-like spirit, recognizing that Jesus Christ is in our midst.

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Friends Forever

Scripture Reading:  Romans 16: 1-16

Paul is giving his goodbyes in his letter to the Romans to those who have influenced his ministry while he was in Rome.  Some of those influences were help in the form of people giving him work, working for him, working for the ministry, conducting their own ministry to the approval of Paul’s message, and other influences that helped to create the Paul we read about in Romans.  Paul may have had some of these people as friends from previous acquaintances or knowledge, but Paul had not been to Rome, yet.  His letter was written as a prelude to his coming, as he had heard great things about the church that had been built up there and the works coming from that church.  So, Paul is addressing people that he knows or has become known to in the course of his work.

Some of us have a lot of friends.  These friends are found with the people that we work with, people we know from church, people we meet in our neighborhood, people we associate with in social circles, and other sources from where we get friends.  Some of those people become best friends, and maybe even best friends that we keep in contact throughout the rest of our lives.  Others we eventually lose as distance occurs between us, loss of contact throughout the years, or our directions and careers carry us away from each other.  Some people have no friends, tending to be by themselves, learning on their own, building their own personal framework from which they obtain their own strength.

When we really think about it, though, we all have people who have influenced our lives.  They may only offer an occasional word of encouragement or a bite of strength for us.  Some may offer constant companionship and words of wisdom in everything they say.  My wife is considered to be my best friend, confidant, and companion, from whom I receive my most precious moments in life.  She also helps encourage me to continue my journey across the river at the place that God has put me, telling me that I can and should continue to cross, even when the waters look too rough for me.  I have friends in my pastor, my church acquaintances, and a few of the neighbors in our block.

Friendship is important in that we have such an abundance of sources for inspiration.  We have examples that play as role models for us in our daily living.  We have people who offer us words of wisdom, and at times, words of warning.  Sometimes we may consider ourselves friendless, and it is this section that I write to remind us that we are not alone in our journeys.  We have people who are like the clouds that surround us with the presence of God which in turn puts the presence of God into our own life.

Paul closed most of his letters by mentioning those who had helped in that particular part of his journey, the people in the location he was at who had an effect on his life.  Regardless of where we are in our particular journey, there are people who affect our lives and create in us a boldness, richness, faith, and belief that we can cross regardless of the circumstances that we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, feel with our feet and hands, and taste with our tongue.  It is through the friends in our lives that we are able to live and move and have our being in God.

So, the next time we see or meet someone that we know, maybe they are there for us to grow in God, to experience a different aspect of God, or just to lend a hand in whatever God has given us to do.  Truly, friends are forever.  Jesus showed that by giving his life for all of us, as a friend would give his/her life for a brother/sister.  Let us give thanks to God for the friends in our lives and salute them for their parts in our lives.

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A Destiny to Faith

Scripture Reading – Hebrews 11: 23-29  (You can read this account of a faith story of Moses in this section.  Hebrews 11-13 is a definition of faith by examples.)

We read, see, and hear every day on computers, newspapers, magazines, TV, and the Internet (or even our phones) stories of non-descript people doing incredible things.  A story on the news last night highlighted a warrior’s mother who has started selling different pieces of wearable jewelry and bracelets in honor of those who have served in the armed forces in the past or currently.  I looked at some of her creations and was inspired by the hope she carried that her son will return safely and alive.  Her hope inspired a substance that could and should also inspire others.  It inspired me.  I looked at her website (http://www.bands4courage.com) and thought I would take some time and consider what I would want to wear to commemorate my support for the troops in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – a token to show that I, too, have hope for the mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers that are overseas, not knowing what the next minute will hold for them other then hope.

And hope is the essence of faith – a substance believed in but not seen.  Faith is a belief in the unknown.  Each day that we wake up we are given another instance to walk in the unknown, knowing only that the light that lights up our path is the Word of God.  The woman mentioned above had no idea that she would become the week’s hero of the television station airing the show about her.  She was just doing something as a hobby, hoping to inspired belief and hope in safe returns.

What we do as Christians in not merely a service every Sunday, a Bible study here and there, and volunteering for the local bake sales when they are needed.  Instead, Christianity is an action whereby we show the Christ spirit within us.  We extent whatever hospitality we have and make sure that our neighbors, our friends, the people we meet on the street or in business, and those we love around us are treated with respect and given gifts of what we have to celebrate their entrance into our lives.

For me, the U.S. flag, the Air Force (which I was never able to join), and other symbols of our country in which we live and have the freedom to write and believe as we do are symbols that somewhere, somehow, someone is positioned in a position of danger to protect those things that I believe in whether they willingly or were given orders to be there.

Jesus was given orders to die on a cross, but Jesus’ actions did not stop there.  On the day of resurrection, Jesus became something new to the disciples and others who were following Christ.  They realized that death was no longer the victor, but the resurrection power of Jesus Christ became the tool with which we base our faith, hope, and love.  How we act and live that life should be an intentional part of every day for us.  When we get up in the morning, we need to take and inventory of all that God has blessed us with in our lives so that as we live and move and have our being in this world, that inventory becomes our tool bag, to be used to help others around us remember.

The word “remember” is one of the most-often used words in the Bible.  God wants us to remember the beginnings, the middles, and the current situations we are in so that we may strengthen someone else’s hope, thus strengthening their faith.  If we would remember all of God’s grace, the love of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, perhaps something will stir within us a compassion and a passion to keep on traveling across this river of stone in the river of life that God has given to us.  As the waters of the river are stirred in different directions, but to the same end, let us ignore the waves and ripples that may upset us, and instead look to Jesus for the guidance and direction we need to make it safely across in our own journeys.

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