Archive for October, 2019

The Quiet Life


“Certain locals may grow brave wings knowing the silence and the stillness are two different things, one whispers and the other one sings.”

Charles John Quarto


Listening to “Small Towns” by Jim Ratts and Runaway Express; reflecting on ministry, life, and friendships. As I was reading through the lost art of CD jacket design and the always magnificent productions that Salli assembles, I ran across this quote from Charles John Quarto.

While I am certain that those from small towns can truly understand this phrase, I am almost as certain that everyone can. I talk a lot about spending 15 minutes of alone time with God; praying, studying scripture, or just listening. During these times you can discern the difference between silence and stillness. But I wonder if you experience the whisper and singing from the same as others around you?

When you find yourself in the middle of silence, does it whisper to you, or sing? Maybe it’s different depending on the situation. I can only imagine as a parent of a young child and finding that silence during a nap and the song that sings in your heart to hear nothing audible. But then, I am reminded of those who have lost a spouse that has spent the last 50 years side by side. The silence when the services are all over and everyone has gone home must be painful. Is this the whispering that is heard?

And what about those times that we are actually able to just be still? Psalm 46 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.” There have been multiple times that I was able to be truly still, attuned to all my senses, listening for that still small voice. It was in those times that the voice I heard was not that of a whisper, but one of song. The melody rings in my head, surrounding me, and providing assurance that I was not, and never will be, alone.

What are your reflections? Silence or stillness? Whisper or singing?

Climbing the Ladder…

artwork-797_1920Last Sunday in worship we talked about trying to simplify our lives by eliminating “overwhelmed, overscheduled, and exhausted” from our vocabulary. If we are able to do this, we should feel some relief from this out of control lifestyle that is taught by society. One of the illustrations that I used towards the end of the message included a ladder (which I climbed during the service). This ladder is significant in that it can be viewed as a success monitor for work, but also for church life as well. We feel as if we need to climb the ladder of success at work, but also to “prove” our worth within the culture in churches.

You see, the more involved we are, the better Christian we are right? So we join the trustees, choir, participate in missions, offer our tithe, and so many other things that we “do” in order to be the right kind of Christian, or to at least be viewed by others as a good Christian.

When we do these things, we can view it as climbing that ladder, trying to become better in our faith. The problem comes when we realize that no matter how much we do, or how involved we become within the church, we never seem to reach the top of the ladder. But the amazing part of this, is that we don’t have to reach the top on our own merit, because God came down the ladder. God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ to us, so that we don’t have to “do” all of those things. The relationship has been reconciled through Jesus Christ, not in the things we do.

Afterward, I had a few people ask me about this and I realized that I should have explained a bit further. Here is what I was hoping to get across. We don’t have to do anything to earn God’s grace, it is a gift, freely given to each of us. Our works do not save us, God’s grace does. Now, what I’m not saying is that since it’s not through what we do, then we shouldn’t do those things. We should. But the difference is in the attitude. It’s a change of heart.

We understand that instead of doing things within the church because we “have to,” we begin to do all of those things because we “want to.” It’s a change of heart, and that’s what God desires for us. So keep serving wherever God has called you, but serve because you want to, not because you have to in order to earn something. This is God’s economy.

Jesus & The Kid’s Table

Jesus at the Kids TableI was recently blessed to help by serving on a “Walk to Emmaus” retreat where many were introduced to the kid’s table during the Lord’s Supper. Yes, a little leeway applied here. Much humor presided at this table, but upon further reflection, so much more was presented. Love, grace, acceptance, and joy were present. So many differences were expressed through behaviors, appearances, and attitudes, but all were welcomed.

I attempted to portray a shy, fearful, and outwardly emotional child. As this drama began to unfold and the scene was set, the shyness began with innocent eyes and a quivering lip. The response from the audience was that of immediate care and evoked compassion. No words were spoken, but the response was definitely felt. We had playful kids, disgusting kids, and loud kids. But no matter, when the image was placed behind us from Stephen Sawyer, we all got it.

Jesus tells us to let the children come to him; noisy, playful, disgusting, and shy ones. Children of all colors, cultures, social class, economic standing, ones with behavioral struggles, challenged in physical and emotional ways are all are welcome at the table with Jesus. What are those song lyrics again? “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” Guess what? We are all God’s children, and we all belong at the table. Everyone!

Maybe the kid’s table is truly the table to be at!

Sometimes it’s worth taking the time to wonder…

Are You Watching Closely?

hummingbird-691483_1280The other morning, I walked out onto the front porch at home and received a wonderful message from God. You see, as I came out to spend my 15 minutes alone in reading, prayer, and listening, I was drawn to the vines that divide the property to the east. These vines seemed to be growing where they might not have been wanted as they were covering a hedge of arborvitaes that were devastatingly affected by the bitter cold over the previous winter. When we first moved in, I noticed the bushes and wondered about talking to the neighbors about removing them, however, over the past month this vine has taken over the hedge and has brought new life to this area of the yard. Isn’t amazing how God can bring this new life to things that seem dead, covering them in fresh life? As intriguing as this was, there was something else that really caught my attention.

There are some flower buds on this vine and there was a hummingbird flittering from bud to bud, no doubt drinking in the nectar from the flowers. It was beautiful to see God’s creation at work. I am in awe of these tiny birds. Their wings beat so fast, so continuously, that you can almost get the illusion that they have no wings, just a blur of movement. Even though they are working so hard to hover, it seems effortless for them. But then something happened…

There are not many times that I have witnessed this, but the hummingbird landed on one of the branches. The continuous motion of wings, paused. The hummingbird rested.

I wonder how much this resembles our lives of constant motion. I wonder if we, like the hummingbird, feel that we need to keep moving. There is so much work to do, so many places to go, so many people to talk to, so many activities to attend, and the constant reminders from society to keep our wings beating. We need to keep our social media post current, showing just how good things are, how busy we are, how connected we are. Wings, constantly moving, even when we seem idle. Some of us have become so good at this, making it look almost effortless.

But what would it look like to stop for just moment like that hummingbird? What would happen if we take the time to pause and listen, reflect, gain encouragement and strength, and then head out to do the will of God? I thank God for that little reminder within the life of this little hummingbird. God’s messages are all around us, every day.

How are your 15 minutes going?