Monday, December 21, 2015

A Lesson in Gift Giving

Matthew 2: 1 - 12

      After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' " Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him." After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Opening Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove; descending on us, reveal your love. Word of God and inward light, wake our spirits; clear our sight. Surround us now with all your glory; speak through me that sacred story. Take my lips and make them bold. Take hearts and minds and make them whole. Stir in us that sacred flame; then send us forth to spread your name. Amen.

We all love getting gifts. The gifts I love getting most are handmade gifts. They are just a bit more personal than something bought in a store or a gift card given. My most treasured gift is this blanket. The friend who made this is an artist. Knowing her makes me appreciate the statement, ‘starving artist’. For most artists there is not a lot of money. What makes this gift mean so much to me is it comes with the label of sacrifice. She sacrificed time, materials and money to make me this gift and never expected anything in return. Knowing the sacrifice that people make to give the many handmade gifts I have received over the years makes them all that more precious and greatly appreciated. We can look to the Wise men and find that they sacrificed too. I want us to look at the gifts they brought the Christ child, and learn what is required of us when we give gifts. We will then consider how great a sacrifice we the church are called to make, not just at Christmas, but year round.

The first gift mentioned in scripture is Gold. Gold is a gift for a king.  By this gift we know that Jesus is our King. His kingship is different though. Jesus is to reign by love, not by force and to rule not from a throne but from a cross. When we bring any gift to Jesus we must submit to Jesus before we can be friends with Jesus. In the same vain Ephesians 5:21 says we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. What does that type of submission look like? In John 13 we find Jesus having his last meal with the disciples before he is to be crucified. What he does is give us an example of submission and being a servant to others. Here we have a basin and pitcher. 

This is to remind us of two things. First, the time Jesus washed his disciples feet and secondly that we are called to do likewise, to wash each other’s feet. Let me ask the first of three questions that we will revisit later. How can we submit to one another when we are filled with hate, fear or indifference towards others?

The second gift mentioned in scripture is  Frankincense. Frankincense is a gift for a Priest.  By this gift we know that Jesus is our Priest of all priests. In the Latin priest means bridge builder. Jesus is a bridge Builder between us and God. As Christians our gifts to each other should shine a light on Jesus as our bridge builder. To do this we must resist fear of others and love everyone so Jesus can continue to be the bridge between us and God.  This Advent wreath reminds us that within every believer there is a light, a light that comes only from God. 

By loving our neighbor we shine a lite on Jesus for others to see. So how do we know we are to love each other? Ephesians 4:32 says to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. In John 15:12 Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. And finally in Luke 6:31 we read, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The 2nd question I have for you is, How can we give gifts of love when we shut our doors to the stranger or when we call for the death of our enemies?

The third and final gift was Myrrh. Myrrh is what is placed on a deceased body before it is buried. By this gift we learn that Jesus is to die. Think about that for a moment. Jesus was born into this world to die for every one of us. He was born to die, and the wise men knew this. We as a Christians may not be at risk of dying in  America for our faith but we are called to take up our cross daily, to be in the world and not of it. But most importantly, as followers of Christ we are not to live a life of violence and seek to inflict pain on anyone, especially if it ends in taking a life. This Cross reminds us of Jesus Sacrifice.

Jesus could have avoided the cross, he could have rose up like a mighty warrior and defeated the Roman Empire, but he died on the cross. We are called to nothing less. So when you are called to lay down your life for another but you chose to arm yourself and defend yourself from a perceived enemy, you are not living according to the teachings of Christ. My final question. How can we remember and honor Christ’s death if we are armed and ready to kill?

 Can we submit to one another when we have hate and fear in us towards others? Or can we love our neighbor if we tell them there is no room for them when they are in need? And finally, can we honor Christ’s death when we seek to end the lives of others? The answer is a simple but resounding No! So what have we learned about sacrifice by looking at these three gifts? Sacrifice involves submission, love, and honor. Yet in our current climate the media tells us to hate and fear those who are different, whether it is by race, gender, economic status, religious background or nationality. At no other time in my relatively short life have I encountered a time that to live by the teachings of Jesus is so completely counter to the culture I live in. With this awareness comes the fear of boldly proclaiming the gospel for fear of reprisal from another of a different political persuasion. But then I remember what the angels said, and throughout the bible, I am told to ‘Do Not Fear.’ To believe in Jesus and have him live in your heart is to reject fear and throw off the chains of hate. As Actor Mandy Patinkin says, ”fear is poison of our lives”. When we hold onto fear our faith is weakened and there is no room for Jesus. With no room for Jesus we are unable to experience the peace that passes all understanding. The wise men had reason to fear while on their journey. Herod was clear that they were to inform him of where the baby Jesus was. But as they traveled an angel spoke to them in a dream telling them not to go back the way they came. The angel was warning the wise men that Herod was planning to kill this newly born child. No doubt as they worshipped their king that their fear disappeared but I imagine that as they left and went a different way the fear came back. The Wise men took great risk by not returning to Herod but for God’s will to be made known on earth they had to ignore the order of their political leader, Herod. As Christians, we too may have to ignore the message of elected officials if it is counter to the teachings of Jesus. What is that message? Jesus came to fill us with Joy and he teaches us to this day to love our neighbor and our enemy. To feed the hungry, house the homeless, heal the sick, welcome the foreigner. We live in a diverse country, and that is wonderful, but I still hear messages of banning, deporting and even kill them before they kill us.  Church, we are at a crossroads and we have a choice to make. It is a choice between nationalism and God. It is the choice to let go of fear or hold onto hate. It is a choice to let Jesus’ birth fill us with Joy and Peace. To love unconditionally, to extend hands, to open doors and borders. It is a choice to show the world that we believe in the RADICAL gospel of Jesus Christ. A man who died for us and did the impossible by rising from the dead. The impossible of this world is possible with God. I believe the hour has come for us to boldly embrace the call Jesus presents before us now.  For truly, as Jesus himself said, “The harvest is ripe but the workers are few.” Mary welcomed Jesus into her womb to birth him into world. Will we welcome Jesus this Christmas into our lives? Will we do as Mary did? Will we give our Savior the chance to transform not only our own personal lives but our country and our world? If we are to do this we must submit to one another. We must love without condition and we must honor EVERY life. I would have said this may not be possible in 2001 when we were attacked by terrorists, and I was filled with fear. But today, I do believe. I believe the impossible is possible, I believe that the God that raised Jesus from the dead can raise us out of our fear. In the words of  Austin Channing Brown -

“I believe in the death of injustice, in the life of hope, grace, mercy, and love…. I believe there can be healing where there is violence. I believe reconciliation is possible- hearts can be moved, minds can be changed, politics broken.   - Austin Channing Brown with The Impossible

 I also believe in a new way of thinking: May this become our new prayer: May all beings be happy. May all beings be free from suffering. May my thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute to the happiness and free for all beings.  Can you live so that all are happy? Can you chose your thoughts, words and actions in a way that they promote freedom and happiness for all? This is what Christ is asking us for. This is the gift we need to give him. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Whether I have just finished a workout, or eaten a piece if chocolate or cheese I love a tall glass of water. It is my favorite form of nourishment.

What brings you nourishment?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Great Delight!

I love Christmas for a lot of reasons but one is the Christmas tree. There is just something about a Green Tree inside the house. I went this past Saturday, with a friend, to pick a tree, cut it down and bring it home. It took only 1 hr and 20 minutes to do all that and get it up in the tree stand in my apartment. Every night I go home I just smile every time I see it then I promptly turn on the light. Here is my tree.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Am I hopeful?

My challenge is to write about something hopeful or something hopeless. If I am honest there is one thing I feel hopeless about but not defeated. Despite a lack of courage in humanity to address a serious problem in America I still believe that what we refuse to do God can and will take care of.

It takes a lot for me to lose hope but that fact that we have had more mass shootings than we have had days this year has forced me to face a new reality. For me the new reality in America is that an individual's rights are more important than the basic human right to live. I don't know how much more hopeless you can get than that. I pray a lot! I pray but nothing changes and no laws are amended in the interest of preserving lives. I really need Jesus right now. I also pray for his return. For him to return and reign in peace where all will know the peace that passes all understanding. I pray for a time when we will lay down our weapons and take up war no more. I pray, simply pray. And nothing changes. I wonder how much more I have in me to keep praying. That frightens me because I don't want to be that person that loses hope, but I am afraid I am becoming that person.

Thank God for devotionals. Thank God for Advent devotionals. Devotions that remind me that Christ is coming. Scriptures that remind me what Chirst is going to do when he returns.

Jeremiah 33:14 - 16

" 'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 
" 'In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land.
 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.'

Luke 1:68 - 79

"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. 
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David
 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 
salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us--
 to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 
the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 
to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 
because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."

Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

God, forgive us!

December 2, 2015 was the 336th day of the year and with the latest mass shooting in San Bernadino we have had 355 mass shootings. More than 1 a day this year. 

"Dear Lord, we come to you in the name of your son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. We come asking for forgiveness. Forgive us for turning to violence and hate. Forgive us for letting the right to own a gun trump a person's right to life, liberty and happiness. Forgive us for thinking thoughts and prayers will fix everything. Forgive us for not valuing life. Forgive us for talking rather than doing. Forgive us for turning away from you. Lord God, instill in us love of not only neighbor but of enemy as well. Lord make us instruments of your peace. Lord shine your light through us unto all the world that everyone may know you are a God of love and peace and that Christmas is about that love and peace coming to reside here on earth. God bring us, your children back into your fold. Have mercy on us, forgive our sins."

Romans 13:8 - 10  Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ordinary moment

Ordinary is defined as not being special and having no distinctive features. Today I want to share with you an ordinary moment  I experienced yesterday, and in fact, I experience every week. I will warn you now. You may find this boring. So why do it? This is the prompt for the 2nd day of 25 days of writing, to write about an ordinary moment I had yesterday

Every Tuesday of each week I drive to Craig County, VA from Salem, VA as a part of my job. I drive one way to my location and drive back another way. AS is my custom, on the way to Craig County I stop at the Dollar General on 220 just before I turn onto 606 (or 605) can't remember. I just know how to get there. Don't pay attention to street names or number. AT the Dollar General I buy a Fanta Orange and a pack of Hostess cupcakes. It's my afternoon snack.

What was your ordinary moment yesterday? Is a regular occuring moment?


I have taken up another challenge. For the next 25 days I will write a post each day. This post is one of two.

What brings me peace?

Several things. here is a short list.

1 - driving in the mountains

2 - drinking hot water with lemon juice and honey

3 - listening to music

4 - giving and receiving hugs

5 - following asleep

What brings you peace?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


In Matthew 25 Jesus gives us a command to serve the 'least of these'. Currently, I believe, refugees would fall under this category. For those who are interested in helping those who find themselves fleeing their countries of origin please read the below entry and click the link at the end to learn about the resources at our disposal.

"As the Syrian refugee crisis continues to grow, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship wants to resource you as you and your congregations and communities discern how best to respond to the more than 4 million Syrian refugees seeking safety in Europe, the United States and other countries around the world. As our government leaders debate how they will respond, the welcome of the stranger is being challenged because of fear and a poor understanding of the difficult journey Syrian families face when fleeing their homes." Click here to read the rest of the article.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hallelujah! It's a good day!

If you feel like dancing while watching this, go ahead, dance it out.

It is good to be alive, don't you think?

Thursday, November 19, 2015


In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Parisians did something amazing, and probably unexpected to most of us westerners.

A twitter campaign #PorteOuverte was started to let people who were impacted by the attacks, where an open door was, a place to stay that was safe.

This is a stark contrast to the response American Governors have had. 30 Governors, as of 3 days ago have said they will not accept any Syrian refugees into their state.

There are strong opinions on both sides so let's look at what scripture tells us on how we are to deal with refugees and our enemies.

What does scripture say on how we are to treat a refugee?

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)


He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)


“As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. (1 Kings 8:41-44)


No stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler 

(Job, discussing his devotion to God) (Job 31:32)

He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he  passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:29-37)
What do scriptures say about how to treat our enemies? 
I include this question because many cite that the Syrian refugees are our enemies. If this is true then it is important to look at what scripture says about how we are to treat our enemies
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:38 - 39
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:20 - 21
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Luke 6:27 - 28
Themes the permeate these verses include love, open doors, mercy and welcoming the stranger. If I take what these verses say I have to go out on a limb and say that the Christian church needs to look at the example Paris is giving, as it relates to refugees and anyone in need for that matter, and ignore the words of the American Governors.
We have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ by welcoming refugees who are fleeing war torn countries. Let's follow Jesus' and Paris' example,

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Some Laughter and Encouragement

Enjoy this latest video from Kid President\

Be yourself and help someone around you. Let's make this world better.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Let go and Let God.

We are really good at creating divisions between each other but God wants to erase those dividing lines. Let's let God do that. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

In Need of Peace

ISIS terrorists strike again

CNN - ISIS' affiliate in Egypt says it brought down Metrojet Flight 9268. And U.S. officials are more confident that terrorists bombed the Russian plane, killing all 224 people aboard.

CNN - A pair of suicide bombings struck southern Beirut on Thursday, killing 43 people and leaving shattered glass and blood on the streets, Lebanese authorities said.

CNN - ISIS claims responsibility for Paris attacks

I really could use some peace, couldn't you? The thing to realize is that as we ask that question we need to understand that we are the answer. We can continue to spread the hate, vilify all Muslims, and call for war. But then we will only get more of what we have gotten. In times like these my mind returns to two famous quotes.

If we want things to change we must start with ourselves which leads me to one question for the Christian Church? Will we be a religion of peace?

A dear friend of mine, Dr. Steve Harmon, who is also my former theology and ethics professor of mine wrote so well the choice that is before us. I share it with you now, with his permission. Read with a heart that is willing to be challenged and shaped by God in this very moment.

Regarding much being voiced by American Christians in the wake of the horrific violence in Paris: We advanced and acted upon similar rhetoric post-9/11, and ISIS is one of the things we reaped. Responding to violence with violence does not participate in the shalom of the reign of God; the cycle of retaliation will without exception only continue to foment more violence until some party decides to stop, regardless of the actions of the other, and respond in non-violent ways that do live into the shalom of the reign of God. And that may well be a cruciform practice of following our Lord, as it was for the martyrs of the church for whom the ultimate victory of the nonviolent, suffering Lamb was encouragement in the book of Revelation. Over the next two centuries they lived out what Origen encouraged with these words explaining to critics of the faith why Christians did not serve in the Roman military: "For we no longer take up 'sword against nation' nor do we 'learn war any more,' having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader." We should do likewise, or we will continue to reap ISIS and its successors in the cycle of retributive violence. Rather than denouncing another religion as failing to embody a claim to be a religion of peace and demanding violent responses to such failures on the part of some of its adherents, let's be a religion of peace.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Checklist

Please take a moment to re-read this verse but insert your name where you see a blank.

"________ is patient, ________ is kind. ________ does not envy, _______ does not boast, _______

is not proud. __________ does not dishonor others, ___________ is not self-seeking, _________ 

is not easily angered, __________ keeps no record of wrongs. ________ does not delight in evil 

but rejoices with the truth. _________ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always 

perseveres. __________ never fails."

When you insert your name do you slow down your reading? Do you question the validity of each statement when we say our name in context? We are all human and no one is perfect but we should always strive to live fully these qualities of love as we live this life with everyone?

Now that that the Presidential election is in full swing I think this would be a valuable checklist to use often to be mindful of how we treat one another during this politically divisive time as well as all the time.

Monday, November 9, 2015


Let me just state that I am one of those Christians that prefers to hold off on Christmas till after Thanksgiving. I have several reasons for this, one being that in the church calendar Advent does not begin till after Thanksgiving in America, but lately one reason keeps surfacing. We as Americans could use a lesson on giving thanks.

When I look at my facebook feed I do see my friends who post something they are thankful for every day but I also see a lot of people complaining about things many would call "First world problems."

While children continue to die in our country, daily, by gun fire people are upset over a red cup.

It is easy, at least for me, to let things upset me. It takes practice to learn how to be thankful. I, personally, have found it helpful to have a gratitude journal. Each night before going to bed I write in my journal all the things I am thankful for that happened in the day. I have found ti changes my perspective and when life throws me lemons I am able to make lemonade and keep on moving.

Will you join me? Will you engage in the practice of giving thanks? Try it out a gratitude journal and let me know how it helps you.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post today. God Bless!

* What am I thankful for?

1 - for 43 years of life

2 - my ministry at HopeTree Family Services

3 - for rain

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Why Christian? My response + others

I am a Christian because I am a part if the Human Race.  1 Corinthians 12: 12 - 31

I am a Christian because I have been redeemed from shame through Christ's shame on the Cross. John 19:23

I am a Christian because, like God, I still believe humanity is till good at heart. Genesis 1

I am a Christian because I don't want to know a life without my creator.

Why are you a Christian? Why do you continue to believe in a Creator that chose to become human, walk this earth, die on a cross and rise from the dead?

Click here to read why other's say, "Why Christian?"

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Catch up

Since I missed posting yesterday there will be two entries into this one blog post. The second will have an intro with a link to a  previous post from a year ago with a message worth repeating.

1st Entry

On Judgment

We are all human

We are all sinners

We are all fallible

We all have skeletons in our closets

Is this why Jesus admonished us not to judge and warned us of God's 
judgment being measured in proportion to how we judge others?

Part of me  thinks yes.

A verse will you?

Romans 2:1

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, 
for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, 
because you who pass judgment do the same things.

Judging comes from a place from superiority. In order to cast judgment, deem someone as good or bad, we must elevate ourselves to some sort of sainthood, as better, have you. I also think judgment comes from place of insecurity. We as humans don't want to admit the four declarations I made above and in order to avoid doing so we go out of our way to demean and demonize others so we can feel better. It's all about avoidance. The problem with avoidance is, as long as we do it, God is not able to either love us or forgive us. Scripture is clear that until we seek forgiveness for sins and the forgiveness of others God is unable to forgive us (Matthew 6:15). Why do we deny ourselves the free gift of forgiveness that God has for us? I don't think I can answer that for you. I believe only as individuals can we answer that ourselves. May you be able to seek forgiveness, forgive others, and judge less. This world could certainly use a lot less judgment going around.

2nd Entry

Here are your Horses 

After my initial post for November, "Back on the Horse", a co-worker was upset that it was not about horses so here is a post on horses. Click here to read more.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Back on the Horse

Well, it's been awhile since I have been here. Really have had no interest in writing a monthly blog much less a daily one. But I also resist discipline and regimen so I am going to try something new. I received a challenge to write one post a day to my blog for the month of November. I already missed yesterday but I said I could commit to 29 days and will do so. For today I leave you with this image I came across the internet over the Halloween and All Saints Day weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Prayer

Lord God, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. Lord my heart is heavy as I and others grieve the loss of fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ in Charleston, SC. In your word you state that in your body there are many members and when one cries the entire body cries. May every Christian around the world cry over the loss of these nine lives in such a heinous and horrific way. I pray for the loved ones left behind as they plan funerals in the midst of their grief. I pray that the community that is Charleston, SC will surround the members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. That they will be a source of encouragement, support and love. Lord, in your word you also taught us to love our enemies. I pray for the man who has committed this violent act that has taken lives. I pray that he will be convicted by the Holy Spirit, that he will both turn himself in to authorities and to seek your forgiveness. Lord I pray that every person he encounters going forward will be a witness for your love and that he will come to the saving knowledge that God can turn his life around. Lord God you turned the life of Saul around, a persecutor of Christians. and If you can cause Saul to become Paul we know you can transform this man from the killer that he is to a man that would proclaim the good news to all. Lord God, inspire and compel us to live lives of love that we would live boldly the good news of Christ knowing that through us you will draw all of humanity unto you and this world will know peace. In Jesus Christ's name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

At Home?

When you don't feel at home when you are home, it is not pleasant. That is where I am at with my current home where I have lived since November 1 of 2014. Whenever life gets difficult and problems arise I have the habit of asking God, "What are you trying to teach me here?" Most of the important things God has taught me have come from some of my most difficult times in life and I know this time is no different.

So here is the issue, a little background for you. I have asthma and a month ago a built in air freshener system at the apartment complex I live at was turned on. One morning as I will leaving for work I enter the main lobby and immediately started to cough and wheeze, I was having an asthma attack. Up until that day in March it had been 13 years since I had an asthma attack. I took necessary measures to eliminate things in my home that trigger asthma attacks and to avoid those things as well when I went out in public and I have successfully managed, with one prescription, to keep it under control. When I reported the incident to the apartment manager he spoke with his supervisor and they turned the system off. I was happy. That is until yesterday morning.

Fast forward, on Wednesday, April 15 I once again went through the main lobby, leaving for work and felt myself begin to wheeze. I emailed the apartment manger to find out if the system had been turned back on. It had been and he had not been told. The management company has offered to move me to another apartment in the building but that is not going to solve the problem given the mailboxes are in the common area where the air freshener is being pumped into.

Needless to say my home has become a detriment to my health. Not a good thing. It got me thinking about Jesus and the disciples. They didn't have a home, they traveled and depended on the kindness of strangers to give them a place to rest their head. Jesus even spoke twice about not being at home. Read below:

Luke 4:24 (NIV) 
"Truly I tell you," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown."

Even when Jesus was home he was not at home because he was not accepted

Matthew 10:14 (NIV) If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

The reality is we will never be at home on this earth. If we live fully into our faith in God then we will never be comfortable living here and our soul will long and yearn for our real home, Heaven.

So how do we live with this dissatisfaction with our earthly home while waiting for God to bring us home? I believe it is my fully trusting in and leaning on God. That is what our Lord wants, for us to fully depend upon him to get us through this life till we enter the next one.

*if you are reading this I would appreciate prayers as I try to resolve the above issue with the Property Management company. Thank you.

Monday, March 16, 2015

I went to church

I must qualify the title. Yesterday, I got up, ate breakfast dressed for church (or worship) and went to the church that I am a member of. Service was great. (I say this because I have a habit of picking apart a service and naming all the things wrong with it. Yes, I am a perfectionist)

But when I say, "I went to church," in the title I am referring to my experience at a Roanoke city restaurant, following service. Allow me to share it with you now.

Church at Thelma's Chicken and Waffles

Thelma's Chicken and Waffles is my favorite Roanoke restaurant, amazing good ol' Southern food. As I was waiting for my food I observed the host seating a man at a table near me. The man had a torn t-shirt underneath a suit coat that had a silk flower on the lapel. It is unclear to me if he was homeless but with some slightly unkempt hair I discerned that this man struggled from the basic necessities of life. 

He never ordered from the menu, but my server, brought him two plates full of food. As I ate I continued to observe the man and his interactions with the server. As he ate he placed a $1 bill and a handful of change on the table. During one encounter with the server he said to her, "It's all I got but I want you to have it," and he gave the the $1 bill and change on the table. 

As this went on a feeling of hopefulness came over me but also an awareness. The interaction between the man and his server was the epitome of church. The church is not a building with four walls. Church is not something we go to it is something we do. When we love our neighbor, see their need and meet that need we are being the church.

I don't know if that server is a Christian or not but it really doesn't natter. We are not called to wear a label signifying our faith. What we are called too is to be in relationship with our neighbor. Thelma's Chicken and Waffles' reminded me of that and I wanted to continue that reminder to you as well.