The Kingdom of God is a Party

It was Wednesday, January 24 and we were on our way home from my nephew’s wedding via San Diego.  We were doing our morning walk in Mission Bay Park when we encountered a guy named, Mike, and his guinea pig, Chocolate.  As we approached Mike, he was sitting on a rock near the shore in Mission Bay Park. At first glance, I thought that he might have been living in his car because there were some towels and other things by a picnic table near him. He appeared to be somewhere in our age range.  As we got closer, I could see that he had something on the rock beside him. Moving closer still, it appeared to be some sort of animal.  I thought it might be a real small dog or a cat; but it turned out to be a guinea pig named Chocolate. Continue reading

Merry Christmas! He’s a much bigger gift that you could ever imagine!

tempe-n-bearHave you ever gotten a gift for Christmas for which you hoped but never imagined that you would really get it? Surprise! You got it, and it was so much bigger and better than you could have ever imagined.

The other night my friend, Bill, told me that his granddaughter had won a 94 inch FAO Schwartz teddy bear at a local department store.  He showed me this picture of his granddaughter with the bear.  Look at the size of the gift and the size of the child!  Now, I’m not sure of what she was thinking when her parents told her that she had be given a giant teddy bear; but this bear was a whole lot larger than any teddy bear that she had ever seen.  What does a little girl do with a giant teddy bear?  My answer: she loves it as she begins to realize just how big it really is. Continue reading

God’s Interruptions – part 2

In my Advent devotion, I encountered this thought: “When we surrender to God’s interruptions, we can rest in the knowledge that He always has a higher purpose for our lives.”  God reminded me of another Christmas interruption …

To the best of my recollection, it was just after noon on December 23.  I was just winding down my day at the church office.  Since our congregation didn’t do a Christmas Eve Service, I didn’t have to prepare for that. We did an evening Candle and Carol Service earlier in the week. The poinsettias from the poinsettia display had been delivered to the shut-ins, and gifts had been distributed from the Deacon Fund.  I was hoping to have a good handle on my next Sunday message before I left.  My plans to have a “relaxing” Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Bev and other family members was about to happen.  Then the phone rang …

Bev took the call. It was Joan, the Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She needed some help. Their organization and the Salvation Army had distributed all their Christmas baskets, and she had just discovered three families that really needed help for Christmas.  Could our congregation help? I don’t recall if Bev placed her on hold and asked me the question or just responded, “Yes.”  At any rate how could we turn down Joan? She had helped so many people that we had referred to her.

So here is a list of three “families” who needed food and any other help we could give them before Christmas.  I knew that it was going to be my job to deliver whatever we could put together. I was not happy about the situation … why couldn’t people have planned ahead and put their name in for a basket?  Why did they have to interrupt my well planned day? I groused to God and to Bev; but I knew what Jesus would do, and I was supposed to be one of His followers. I would do it, but I wouldn’t be happy about it!

Fortunately, there was food in the church’s food pantry which could be supplemented with gift cards provided by the Deacon Fund that still had money in it even after all it had done already for Christmas.  I think there were still some poinsettias from the display.  So we gathered all that God had provided, and I set out to find three families in different parts of South Bend in the days before a GPS.

It’s been quite a few years since this happened; but I remember two of the three situations distinctly.  One family was an elderly man and woman of color.  He had kidney failure, and she was his caregiver, who helped him do peritoneal dialysis at home each night. The second family that I remember had a child with serious health condition, and the prognosis didn’t look good.  The third family was in a similar situation of need.  At each home, I got a warm grateful reception, and an opportunity to bring Good News and express God’s care for them in a tangible way and through my prayers for them.

It was such a moving experience that it was all I could do to contain my tears of repentance and joy until I was in my car after the last stop and headed home for a warm supper. Once again God had interrupted my day to express His love to people who were struggling, and I had become both blessing and blessed.

God’s Interruptions – part 1

During Advent in addition to my regular devotional reading, I like to read Scripture and thoughts that focus me on Jesus’ first coming to earth as a baby in Bethlehem and also on His anticipated coming again in full power and glory.  Advent is meant to be a time of preparation … not just to celebrate Christmas or the festival of His first coming but to help individuals and the church prepare for His Second Advent.

In yesterday’s devotion, I encountered this thought: “When we surrender to God’s interruptions, we can rest in the knowledge that He always has a higher purpose for our lives.”

According to my personality profile, by nature I am a highly structured person. I plan things out and work the plan. I get annoyed at interruptions, and yet if I am willing to accept it, God wants to interrupt my life for His higher purpose. As we approach Christmas, I’d like to share a couple of interruptions from years past where God interrupted, and I paid attention long enough to be a blessings and to be blessed. Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #67

Mark 8:11-13 –  The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.”  13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side. NIV

By now Jesus’ ministry was in full swing. He had healed many people, raised a person from the dead, and performed many other miracles. Just before these Pharisees came to Jesus asking for a sign, He had fed 4,000 men plus women and children using seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. After every one was done eating, His disciples gathered seven baskets of leftovers!

Now these guys wanted a “sign!”  We are not told what “sign” would convince them that He was the Messiah. Evidently, they had something in mind. Jesus refused to play their game. All the signs were there, but they refused to see or even investigate them. As Ray Stevens wrote in Everything Is Beautiful: “There is none so blind as he who will not see.” Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #38

Matthew 21:16 – “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”  NIV

What were the children saying that upset the chief priests and teachers of the law so much that they wanted Jesus to put a stop to it? Were they cursing God? Defaming the Temple? Mocking their elders? No, the shout that the children were making in the Temple courts after seeing Jesus heal people that upset them was:  “Hosanna to the Son of David,”  (Matt. 21:15 – NIV) Continue reading

Time to post again!

For the past year, I have been saving all sorts of ideas to post on this blog; but I have just never gotten around to actually posting them. I figured that I’d get around to it sooner or later.

Well, last week I awoke in the middle of the night with some chest discomfort, and long story short, I ended up with a heart cath and having a stent placed in an artery going to my heart.  Praise the Lord, I’m recovering and feeling better.

However, I happened to be reading the Book of Ecclesiastes at the time in which Solomon reminds us that we can’t always be certain about what will happen next. One of my favorite verses is: “Anyone who is among the living has hope – even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!”  (Ecc. 9:4)

He, also, encourages his readers to “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.”  (Ecc. 11:1)  So I figure that this live dog better start casting some of his bread crumbs out if he is ever going to do it!

I want to share at least a thought a week about a Bible passage, song lyrics, notes from the Life Application Bible that I have been reading, or just some random (hopefully Holy Spirit led) thoughts I have been having.  Blessings