OH, LORD! IT’S MONDAY! BUT WHAT AM I LEARNING?

The Monday Morning Attitude, or spirit if you prefer, is one of those places and moments where we can do more than learn–we can mature! But learning, or as I prefer–maturing, doesn’t just happen automatically. It takes a conscious and dogged determination to choose to learn from it. What’s that saying? If we don’t learn from our mistakes we are destined to repeat them–over and over and over! And the Monday Morning Attitude is a mistake–because it steals from us the joy and wonder of the life God intends and desires for us to experience. So, this morning I thought I would share with you some things I learned on our recent road trip on the trike; since one of my dear friends wants to hear about it. (BTW, this morning I came up with the name for my new bike. My old one was Therapist, and this one is Counselor!)

  1. Don’t wear black jeans on a hot sunny day! Man, my legs felt like they were cooking on a smoker grill! I remembered an old lesson: the color black draws in heat!
  2. Watch out for others! It may have been in Amory, Ms., and there was a tractor mowing the sides of the highway. And this idiot decided to pass that tractor on a double yellow line as we were approaching it. Idiot may not sound like a very “Christian” term–but at 66 years old I call it like I see it!
  3. Stay off the interstates! Not because they are dangerous for a bike. No, it’s because you see so much more of the beauty of God’s creation on the two-lane roads.
  4. Take the time to talk to other people! On more than one stop, we had people wanting to talk about our bike. Some had questions, and others had stories. Rather than being impatient to get on down the road, we listened and talked. Shook hands and bumped fists! It was great!
  5. Don’t worry if you miss a turn, enjoy the ride! We missed a turn and saw parts of the countryside that we probably won’t see again. The adventure of not knowing exactly where we were didn’t keep us from enjoying the ride!
  6. There are some rough roads out there! I mean tooth-rattling, bone jarring roads. But we found out they aren’t everywhere. So we hung on until the roads became smoother. And we saw a lot of the beauty of God’s creation.
  7. Don’t speed! No, I didn’t get a speeding ticket! Speed limits are for our safety and the safety of others. Besides, we saw some beautiful flowers that otherwise we would have missed.
  8. Eventually, you will find a road that will take you to a familiar place! Remember us missing a turn (or two, or three)? We found a sign that pointed us to a familiar place. It was from that familiar place we knew how to get back home! So watch for the signs!

What should have been about a 3 or 4 hour drive, turned into an all day adventure! And we loved every mile (long miles) of the journey. We didn’t take a lot of pictures with our phones, but we took a lot of pictures with our minds. Here’s one from the phone:

The Mississippi River, taken by yours truly

Adding this picture reminded me of another lesson I learned. It’s hard going against the current, but sometimes you have to go against it to get to where you need to be! We couldn’t help but notice the strong currents on the Mississippi. We watched some tug boats going up stream–and they weren’t going as fast as those going downstream because they were going against the current. But I am confident those tugboats and barges arrived at the destination. By the way, why do they call them “tug” boats when in reality they are “pushing”, not tugging, those barges? We may never know.

But one thing I do know is that when we learn and mature through what we experience and what we see, then we can say, “Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall be do together?”

Which One Are You?

There are a plethora of ways to sort out people. But there is just one of those ways I want to speak into this morning, and it goes like this: There are only 3 types of people. Those who watch what happens. Those who make things happen. And those who wonder what happened. The point of these distinctions is be someone who makes things happen! I always thought it was better to be someone who made things happen. But being a bit of a radical rebel, I have changed my mind.

Why can’t we be all three, in appropriate proportions, of course? It hit me yesterday morning as I was sitting in one of my hunting stands. I was watching the sunrise; sunrises are a great way to begin the thinking processes in our minds. So, let me apply my personal theory that we need to be all three types of people.

First, there are moments we simply need to watch what happens. Think about my sunrise–I didn’t cause it to happen–it just happens like clockwork. Watching led me to see the beautiful colors and remember the faithfulness of God. Being a new day, there are some things I need to make happen under the leadership and power of The Holy Spirit–such as my growth in grace towards holiness. Then that sunrise caused me to wonder–to be surprised that the God of all Creation loves me and reveals Himself in ways that are so mysterious to me.

You do not have to be just one of these types of people. Each one brings more of God’s grace and presence into our lives. That grace and presence is what changes our lives and leads us in an entirely new direction. It will comfort us when we are hurting. Encourage us when we are struggling. Guide us when we are unsure. I leave you with the words of the most prolific songwriter ever, David:

Lord our Lord,
    your name is the most wonderful name in all the earth!
    It brings you praise in heaven above.
You have taught children and babies
    to sing praises to you
    because of your enemies.
And so you silence your enemies
    and destroy those who try to get even.

I look at your heavens,
    which you made with your fingers.
I see the moon and stars,
    which you created.
But why are people even important to you?
    Why do you take care of human beings?
You made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You put them in charge of everything you made.
    You put all things under their control:
all the sheep, the cattle,
    and the wild animals,
the birds in the sky,
    the fish in the sea,
    and everything that lives under water.

Lord our Lord,
    your name is the most wonderful name in all the earth!

Psalm 8 (NCV)

Acts Of WHO???

Well, here I go again on another Journey. It seems I’ve become a bit slack in my spiritual discipline of reading the Word. I was looking at my Bible on the desk and it was like I heard, “You know, it’s been a while since we talked. Don’t you think it’s time to catch up?” So I reached over and took it; then I found me a journal to write in, and an ink pen. That’s all: the Bible, a clean sheet of paper and a pen. No commentaries and not even Google to help me look up words and thoughts. Just me, The Book, and of course, the Holy Spirit.

Speaking of which (the Holy Spirit, that is), I’m wondering right now why did I have to have all those commentaries (because I started this journey with Jesus before the internet was so readily accessible)? And why do so many today have this book, that website, that author along side THAT Book? Over the past several years, I discovered to my amazement, that the Holy Spirit actually helps me understand what I’m reading! Who could have ever imagined such a thing? Well, God could.

Back to The Book. Where would I ever begin such a journey? There are so many books to choose from. One would think I would have to spend a lot of time deciding which book to begin with. This time, I had no trouble. He, the Holy Spirit, whispered, “The Book of Acts.” So that’s what I’m doing. I’m not reading a chapter a day–nothing against people who read the Book that way–just reading until I sense Him saying, “Let that sink in for a while.”

And this morning my Companion and Comforter said, “You know, you’ve been talking, I mean talking a lot, about starting back to regular blogging. Why not share what you’re discovering? After all, I did give you that gift of writing.” So who am I to argue with the Wisdom of The Ages.

Today’s entry is simply about the title applied to The Book Of Acts. It’s been titled “The Book Of The Acts Of The Apostles.” For many, many years I’ve insisted that those earliest editors misnamed this Book. I wish right now I could borrow Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean and go back to that first group of editors when they came up with this title and ask: “What are you thinking? It’s NOT the acts of the Apostles. It’s the Acts of the Holy Spirit in surrendered people!” Gee whiz, guys. You’re better than that! Think, man, then listen to that title. A bit short-sighted, don’t you think?”

Why do I think that it’s an inaccurate title? I’m so glad you asked me that question. To read Dr. Luke’s stories with the title “Acts of the Apostles” taints your thought processes, and it’s easy to conclude that what happened then, was “limited to a handful of select special people and not really for me or my time.” Calling it the Acts Of The Apostles limits what this Book can do in you and I.

First, it relegates it just another History Book. Now, I love History more than most. I blame it on my High School History teacher Ronald Pettus. He is a collector of artifacts, many of which he brought into the classroom. He filled my little mind with more than memorizing dates–but left me hungering to know more about the people and the times. This is a priceless tool in understand THE BOOK! If we see Acts are only a history book of a select few people, we’ve missed the point of Dr. Luke’s work.

Second, we slam the door shut to the potential of the Holy Spirit using folks like us. There’s more going on here than dates and geography. If we agree that the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are all about Jesus (and they are), then Acts MUST be all about The Holy Spirit, and it is. Each Amen on that? The Book of Acts opens up with Jesus telling those first disciples about, guess who? The Holy Spirit! And in Chapter 2, all Heaven breaks loose on earth. And it all happens because of and through the power of The Holy Spirit!

Now, I want to add a little side bar comment about the current state of the church culture. For the last century, more emphasis is put on human understanding and abilities rather than The Holy Spirit. I see it in my Tribe as Progressives try to tell me they know more about what God wants and expects than the Bible. Add to this that so many in churches want to hear what someone else says about the Bible rather than read it for themselves.

The result has been that a powerful Stallion has been reduced to a gelding. People are following today, an impotent message about an impotent life. And once again, Jesus weeps. So staring tomorrow, I will share from my personal journal some of the insights and wonder I am discovering as The Teacher, teaches me.

And remember, Love God with all your heart. Love others and way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!

Not All Good Things Must Come To An End

Image result for goodbye

Well, it’s time to pack up and leave.  I wouldn’t call it graduation day from this special classroom, but then again, maybe it is.  Graduation means that one has learned the required curriculum and is now ready to apply the lessons.

Well, everything that we brought is packed up, leaving nothing behind that we didn’t bring.  Well, minus the foods we consumed.  We packed nothing that was here.  Well, except some sand.  It seems that no matter how much you shake, some of that pesky sand will stay with you.  And here is the final exam, which I passed.

The lessons I discovered here at the beach, are still true in Fayette, Alabama.  What I soaked into my mind and heart about the Truth of God on the beach, is still the Truth in Fayette.  And the faithful God who revealed His Heart to me on the beach, still longs to reveal that Heart to me wherever I am.  I do not have to be in some special place to hear God’s heart.  Every moment of every day contains something to see about God–His Heart and His Desires for each of us.

So, I carry this with me–some sand and the truth that to see and hear God, I only need to be ready–to open my eyes, my heart, and my mind.  This doesn’t mean I can give up our vacations, excuse me, our spiritual retreats.  For like Jesus modeled, we need times apart from the ordinary routines in order to find that time of cleansing and refreshing.  I prepare to go home–but like those Wise Men who found the Christ-Child, I go home a different way–because I am a different person.  I am a different person because I made the decision to seek and listen to The Master Teacher.

Classes aren’t really over.  It’s just the location of the classroom has changed.  And thought the classroom changes, the Teacher remains.  If I ever doubt this, I’m sure I will find a grain of beach sand somewhere in the car, in my home–and I will remember that God still has much to teach me.

Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way God loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

A Lesson From The Pelicans!

God is a Great Teacher; the best ever.  I say this because He uses so many “styles” and “ways” of teaching the lessons we need in order to be equipped to live life the way it’s designed, by Him, to be lived.  In my journey, He has used our children, grandchildren, TV commercials, billboards, signs, and even my own life experiences.  Not just my good experiences, but especially the not-so-good experiences.

I have found, and continue to find that the world around me is God’s Classroom where timeless treasures and wisdom await my discovery.  This week is no exception.  We are on our annual summer spiritual retreat–at Ft. Morgan Beach.  Nothing like having the toes in white sand while listening to the waves to help us recharge our spiritual batteries–unless it’s at a cabin in the Smoky Mountains in the Fall.  God uses nature to teach me something about Grace and Life in His Kingdom through the pelicans.

I noticed them yesterday, and remembered other times when they would be in search of something to eat.  As they would be gliding over the water, they suddenly folded their wings and dived into the water–like an old World War 2 dive bomber.  No reluctance.  No hesitation.  Head long as fast as they could go into the water.  They saw their next meal and went after it with abandon and no hesitation.  I’ve never seen a pelican pull up out of that dive.  Not to say it’s never happened; I’ve just never seen it.  Watching them yesterday and thinking about seeing it happen so many times, it got me to thinking about what it should mean to us as followers of Jesus.

Here’s the Lesson He is teaching me:  We, as followers of Jesus, should pursue our purpose of bringing the Kingdom of God into hearts and lives with the same abandon as those pelicans pursued their meal.  When a pelican spotted a fish, it folded its wings, and without hesitation, pursued that fish.  What if we, when we see someone in need of life and God’s love, in desperate need of the Good News of the Kingdom, surrendered without hesitation, to reach out to them with the love that has reached out to us?  It seems that we are so good at excuses of why our effort will not make a difference.  And in those moments when we do let go, we find a reason to pull up at the last moment in fear that it won’t make a difference.

Here’s another thing I noticed about those pelicans.  Sometimes they were successful in catching their prey, and sometimes they weren’t.  And when they weren’t successful, they took to the air and tried again.  What if those pelicans decided, “Well, I missed that fish, I might as well give up.”?  They would starve; so they get back up and try again–with the same abandon and commitment as before.  And this is our lesson as followers of Jesus.

Any sense of reluctance or hesitancy on our part, needs to be surrendered to Him, and without focusing on will we be successful or not, we follow the example of Jesus.  Who dived headlong into our broken messes as one of us–from heaven to earth–in order to fulfill His purpose of redeeming us from our sins and transforming us into the life we are created to live.  Knowing that some of us would accept this new life and some of us would reject this life, He came anyway.

We need to abandon–give up–our reluctance to pursue this life of total surrender to Jesus and the purpose of the Kingdom of God.  Pelicans teach us how–fold back those wings and dive headlong to the water–with the love and compassion that Jesus shows us.  And if we fail?  Do what pelicans do.  Get back up and go at it again.  Not every attempt ends in failures.  Just ask those pelicans!

28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us.  We want to present them to God, perfect[a] in their relationship to Christ.29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.”  (Colossians 1:28-29 NLT)

Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him.  Now, please excuse me, it’s time to go back to the Beach Classroom.