character personified

My late mother-in-law possessed a rare spiritual depth. Her passing leaves us respecting her all the more as we reflect on her life and the impact of her ministry. Her quiet spirit may have caused some to miss her insight and wisdom. Her dislike of the limelight kept others from knowing who she really was.

Those who knew her best are the ones who sing her praises the loudest. Her children honor her. Her husband discusses the depth of her spiritual commitment. In a private conversation with his sons-in law, he said, “in all my years of knowing her (58+ years of marriage), I never knew her to do anything that the scriptures would classify as sin.” This is not to assert that she was perfect. She would be the first to attest to her failures. But it is a statement of true godliness and spiritual integrity. I would say that “they just don’t make them like that anymore”.

Mary Haynes was a woman of true character. She is a great example of the work of God’s Spirit in the life of a willing person. The gap that her passing leaves will not be easily filled.

We are in the middle of celebrating the life of Letha’s mother, Mary Haynes. Mary went to be with God on Tuesday. Her funeral service was held tonight. It was a meaningful tribute to a wonderful lady. Prayers for her husband, Dave and her entire family are greatly appreciated.

disappointed with God!?

During a recent conversation with a leader in our church, I heard a startling comment: “some are walking away because they are disappointed with God”. This comment was made in response to a conversation we were having regarding the opportunities that the church is being presented these days. I am of the opinion that the current economic recession creates lots of ministry open doors, because people are becoming more aware of their needs. You know the drill, when people are in need, they turn to God. I have to say, I was a little taken aback when I heard the comment from one of our leaders. Not that this is anything new, since the beginning, people have walked away from God when things did not go their way. But to hear this statement made about people of OUR church…I have to say, I was disappointed.

As I reflect on my past experience, this topic (why doesn’t God do something about this hard time I am going through?), has come up countless times. People of all segments of our society ask this question. The bad thing is, apparently many people will walk away from God if they don’t get the answer they want. Apparently, some in our faith community are so let down by God because He won’t fix our economy, that they are walking away from their faith.

My question for these people may go something like this:
Whoever told you that God would do things the way you want, make life easy for you, or say yes to all of your prayers?

In an effort to show compassion, I am reminding myself that people are hurting. Some have lost loved ones even though they prayed for a healing. Some are alone and lonely. Some are being persecuted. My heart goes out to these people and God is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

But because I know some of the individuals being referred to by this leader, I know that some can’t afford the mortgage on the house they never should have bought in the first place. Some aren’t making 6 digits anymore. Some can’t afford to put gas in their gas-guzzling SUV. And God is not coming through for them. So they are disappointed with Him and considering walking away.

Scripture tells us that God is all-wise and He is sovereign. He will do what needs to be done. If His plans do not match up with ours, something needs to give – and it will not be God’s plan that gives.

Take time to read the following extended passages (all NIV) and then note the concluding comments.

Isaiah 40:6-8, 12-26, 28-31 A voice says, “Cry out.”And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? 14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? 15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. 16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. 17 Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. 18 To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to? 19 As for an idol, a craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. 20 A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot. He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple. 21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. 24 No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. 25 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Job 38:1-40:1
38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: 2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone- 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? 8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, 9 when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, 10 when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, 11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? 12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, 13 that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? 14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. 15 The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken. 16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? 17 Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death? 18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.
19 “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? 20 Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? 21 Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! 22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, 23 which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? 24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? 25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, 26 to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, 27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? 28 Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? 29 From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens 30 when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? 31 “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? 32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? 33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up [God’s] dominion over the earth?
34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? 35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? 36 Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind? 37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens 38 when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together? 39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions 40 when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? 41 Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?

Job 39
“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? 2 Do you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth? 3 They crouch down and bring forth their young; their labor pains are ended. 4 Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return. 5 “Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? 6 I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. 7 He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver’s shout. 8 He ranges the hills for his pasture and searches for any green thing. 9 “Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Will he stay by your manger at night? 10 Can you hold him to the furrow with a harness? Will he till the valleys behind you? 11 Will you rely on him for his great strength? Will you leave your heavy work to him? 12 Can you trust him to bring in your grain and gather it to your threshing floor? 13 “The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork. 14 She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand, 15 unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them. 16 She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers; she cares not that her labor was in vain, 17 for God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense. 18 Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider. 19 “Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? 20 Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? 21 He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. 22 He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword. 23 The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance. 24 In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. 25 At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, ‘Aha!’ He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry. 26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south? 27 Does the eagle soar at your command and build his nest on high? 28 He dwells on a cliff and stays there at night; a rocky crag is his stronghold. 29 From there he seeks out his food; his eyes detect it from afar. 30 His young ones feast on blood, and where the slain are, there is he.”

Job 40
The LORD said to Job: 2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”

Let it be said:
Sometimes you reap what you sow, sometimes it is raining on the just and the unjust.
God knows what you need more than you do.
God will have the final say.
God is faithful, no matter how your life turns out.

oldest person dies

AOL carried a story last weekend about the death of the world’s oldest person. The Portuguese woman, Maria de Jesus, was 115 years and 114 days old when she passed. Obviously, there are probably older people alive in the world of whom there is no record but this lady held the title, at least for a while. She has now been supplanted by 114-year-old Gertrude Baines, who lives in a Los Angeles nursing home.

Gerontologist Dr. Stephen Coles of the Gerontology Research Group at the University of California, Los Angeles says, “There are now only 82 women and nine men verified as being 110 or older”.

I am thinking that the title of World’s Oldest Human is one that is not all that coveted because it is in all probability very short-lived (pun intended). How long can Mrs. Baines wear the crown? Those 82 women and nine men are nipping at her heals. The pressure must be intense.

Seriously, 100 plus is incredible. I guess it takes excellent DNA and very healthy living to last that long. Not to mention God preserving you from disease and accidents.

I’ll be 50 this year – about half way there!

divorce sale

On the way home from church yesterday, I saw a sad sight. On a big sign in the front yard of a guy’s house were the words: “DIVORCE SALE”. The guy was sitting in a lawn chair surrounded by household items. Many of the items were kids things, like a stroller and a high chair. I am only assuming that he was cleaning out his house in anticipation of or in recovery from a divorce.

I thought the sign was strange and I thought it strange that someone would actually advertise that they were getting divorced. I have heard of divorce parties and I know that Hallmark sells “Happy Divorce” greeting cards. I just don’t get the humor in that. And my heart sank when I saw the sign and the sale.
I am not judging the man but the entire thing just caught me off guard.

Another family bites the dust. More kids have baggage they will carry around the rest of their lives. Another failed marriage. Too sad.

a kid hero

On Friday ABC News covered a great story about a kid who is making a huge impact on the world. 11-year-old Zachary Bonner has been working on behalf of the needy for some time now. As Founder and Director of The Little Red Wagon Foundation, Zachary regularly raises funds, works hands-on in many community projects and reaches out to connect lots of hurting people with the assistance they need.

Check out this cool video that features Zachary’s work and be inspired:

If an 11 year old kid can do this, what could you and I accomplish?

regret last year?

The first day of the new year brings renewed optimism and hope. It should also bring some introspection about how we did last year. Undoubtedly, most of would like to be able to change a couple of things that didn’t go so well for us. Regret may play a part of how we process 2008.

I had an interesting conversation last week with my brother in law who is a funeral director. He remarked that regret is the toughest emotion to process during times of grieving. He has worked with hundreds of families who were in the process of saying goodbye to loved ones. The obvious common emotions are sadness, loneliness and depression. According to him, the core of sadness and aloneness is love. Because we love the person we have lost, we are sad. But the core of regret is usually bad decisions and conflict. If we are not careful, words or behavior that we wish we could take back will drive us crazy.

I suppose that is may be too idealistic to hope for a year of no regrets. It would be awesome to be able to look back at ’09 and realize no rotten choices that result in the nagging feeling of “I blew it”. Maybe I can get through today, maybe even this week, without messing up to the point of regretting my behavior. An entire year – well that’s probably over the top.

Just a little advice – some things I hope I can remember this year:

Don’t communicate with people you love while you are angry. I’m not talking about the “silent treatment”. I am talking about keeping your mouth shut when you should.

Don’t let your guard down concerning integrity and morals. One slip and your character and reputation is toast.

Don’t mistreat people. They are not dispensable.

Don’t neglect to communicate love.

Don’t be in such a hurry that you forget to do the basics.

2008 was pretty good, maybe 2009 will be better.