Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympic potentials

What a start to the Olympics.

Watched last night.  Amazed by the creativity, multi-dimensionality, generation-inclusivism, historical sensitivities, and....the Queen!  Even the touches of faith. (a hymn sung by children.)

Amazed, as always, by the nations in parade....the world is at this event, and the world (2 billion) is watching!  Astounding.

In my quiet time this morning I found myself drawn to some thoughts that seemed to come together as if orchestrated:
  *the female athlete reflecting on the truly wild and uninhibited behaviors that can occur after hours in the Olympic Village.
  *the reflections of some athletes as to their God-gratefulness, and sense of destiny in being able to participate in the games...seems like God has done some strategic placement.

And I found myself drawn to pray for the Olympics...that God will use it to show up in the lives of people, establishing His Kingdom presence in their lives and doing a transforming work, rather than the possibility of promiscuity and evil taking place.  "Impenetrable" countries with heroes returning home with new sensitivities to Christ.

I reflected too, on the ways I have often thought, in a limiting way, about prayer.  Like, if I was present,  would I be more effective?   Does praying for the Olympics from the other side of the globe really affect anything?

And in the words of Jesus I found ample answers:
  "Pray this way...Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Mt 6:10
  Prayer is a key element in the release of laborers - Mt 9:36-38
  "Have faith...whatever you ask in prayer (including moving mountains) will be done."  Mt 21:20ff
  It is God we petition, and He knows no limitations.

So, as we watch an amazing gathering and all the competitions - let us all participate through prayer.

Together, let's make a difference.  Shapers of the events...not just spectators.

Prayer - the great determiner of outcomes.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Self Talk

I've discovered and practiced this a bunch and found that it really helps.

Self talk.

Self coaching.

Muttering and mumbling to myself.

I can be anywhere doing it...for it is mostly interior.

Stuff like:
 "This is really not that important.
     "Won't matter in a  month.
       "Not a biggie..
         "Cool your jets...humility is big in the Kingdom.
Too often I have found myself prone to make a quick and thoughtless defense of whatever I just quickly think or feel, to based on my ego, my own values, my own sense of what's worth it, my own shortness of patience or energy.

Self talk lets me slow down, think twice and most often, make a better conclusion.

I tend to be careful, thoughtful and conservative.  Notice my self talk tends to be calming, generous, faith-filled.

Maybe your self talk needs to be something like...
   Oh, just do it
   Now, friend, not later
   Serve, don't wait to be served.
   Hold it...better think about that one.

Self talk...

Read Psalm 23 this morning....and writing this on the heels of that, makes me wonder how much of this   Psalm and perhaps so many of them, was self talk....while out on the hills swatting flies and tending sheep.

I think so...maybe the whole thing.

Self talk...a way to better focus on what is really of value.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Traveled to Nebraska in these last two weeks.  A terrific time with so many people...fine events.  Wonderful!

Events to be savored and treasured for a very long time.

One encounter:  Jackie talking to a cherished friend....telling her about the stresses being experienced by some of our new friends.  And as she was talking, the friend, took out her checkbook and began writing....a very large check to a person she had never met.

  "Give this to them....and tell them that God has prompted me and wants them to know He loves them."

A very large check.

So we came home excited at the  moment that would come when we would be able to give this gift to our Colorado friends.

That time came soon...and with the explanation above, the gift was placed in their hands.

Opened, it brought deep emotions to the surface and joy on the faces of the children.  And expressions of faith about how God cares and moves in unusual ways to provide.

As well....a quick idea of how this gift was in time to meet a need that had arisen from the blind side just days ago.

I stood there with tears....and and in waves of joy.  Celebration.  Hugs.

It is more blessed to give than to proof.

Are your hands closed to the needs around you?

Take this note as a nudge and pass on the blessings in your life....even to total strangers.

"It is in giving that we receive".....words from a treasured and much proven prayer.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Two Coaches - Two Outcomes

Two football articles in the sports section of this morning's JOURNAL STAR - Lincoln.

One about Penn State and icon coach Joe Paterno....and the continuing debacle over the Sandusky horrors and the impact on everyone in "Happy Valley."  The embarrassment and lingering shadow over Paterno's career.

And the other, as former star NU fullback, Ricky Simmons, tells his story.

After a championship run at NU he went into pro ball....but fell into a cocaine habit.
  Finally, he ended up in jail.
    Forgotten.  Ruined.  Alone.

And then one day, a letter arrived from Tom Osborne, icon coach at Nebraska.
With these words:
 "Dear Ricky, I know your parents believed in you. I believe in you. Upon your release, if there's anything I can do to help you, feel free to contact me.  Tom Osborne."

Ricky's words about what happened in that moment:
 "I fell to my knees right there in my prison cell and turned my life over to Christ."

It was a God event, and his life began to change dramatically.

Today, his smile in the picture posted with the story is one of peace and confidence. He is standing by a life-size bronze statue of Tom Osborne coaching a young and ready player.

And now Ricky is a licensed drug and alcohol counselor in practice in Lincoln.

Two coaches.  Two responses.  Two results.

It's really do reap what you sow.  There is no really hidden stuff.

The influence of one can make a huge difference.

The smallest acts of kindness can be the trigger of so much.

Christ, invited to be Lord, brings pivotal change to life.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


"Come and die..."

"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther's, who had to leave the  monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time - death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call.
 Jesus' summons to the rich young man was calling him to die, because only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ.
  In fact every command of Jesus is a call to die,  with all our affections and lusts.....Every day (we) encounter new temptations, and every day (we) must suffer anew for Jesus Christ's sake."
   Bonhoeffer, THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP - p99.

Bonhoeffer was on that road....death to his own freedoms, death to a hoped-for marriage, death to family times, death itself.  It was for him a gradual diminishing of everything around him...and a great amplifying of the presence of God in his life.

Actual death before 40 - at the hands of a firing squad.  Nazi mop-up operations at the end of a lost war.

BUT  today his writings and biographies are devoured by people hungry for a deep authenticity with Christ.  In extreme times he found the way.  In our comparatively "easy" times we can learn much from his life.

Good spiritual food for our souls this day.

The best biography: BONHOEFFER - Eric Metaxas - Thomas Nelson - 2010
Other important reads:  THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP - ETHICS - LETTERS AND PAPERS FROM PRISON - LIFE TOGETHER.....all in print and easily available in any comprehensive book store.


Monday, July 9, 2012


Savoring today the special moments of yesterday.

Last night, for instance, after a wonderful meal and table fellowship with good friends, the idea was struck: how about if we went downstairs and sang a few hymns?

With that we did - the six of us - took up some hymnals and began paging through to find some that we all could sing.  Some sat down on the carpet, others stood together, hymnbooks opened and ready.

We began, albeit a bit scratchy, but punctuated between songs by - "wow, it has been a long time....."I still remember...."amazing words....and more.  Laughter as we broke into parts, and held certain notes out - as we remember doing on songs like - "You ask me how I know He lives..."

We sang for a long time.

Along the way, some of us dropped out for a time, to manage the depth of spiritual response that this was eliciting.

"We must do this again..." was the conclusion of it all.  Great joy.  Enriched fellowship with one another and our Lord.

Driving back home, I reflected on the strengths of what we had experienced.
*The memories stirred by the experience were very strong.
*The common ground revisited with delight.
*Singing together in parts and through much content was bracing.
*Covering such theological diversity - the cross, eternity, the blood, the call of Christ on our lives, His matchless grace, His great victory over sin and death - stirred us deeply.
*The continuing call to faith, and to personal commitment pushed us forward.

Hymns....a storehouse of treasure worth rediscovering.



Friday, July 6, 2012


Today I return to blogging. After a long break, I am stirring again within and sense that I would be faithful to the Spirit within by resuming writing these pieces. I have been prone to try to outline the way ahead, but instead sense that I should come at this as I did prior, with simple trust that the journey, and present sense of God at work will be enough to guide a process that is helpful to all.

 So, welcome back. I look forward to our journey together in the days ahead.

Since completing our assignment at Church at Briargate, a great feast of time has resulted in wonderful family gatherings, great nights of hospitality and a chance to read at length.

 The quest for what I should read (along with the scripture) seemed addressed by the strong urgings of others to read BONHOEFFER - by Eric Metaxas -Thomas Nelson-2010. I resisted for a time, in that I have read other accounts of his life, but finally picked up a copy at Barnes and Noble and began anew.

It is a remarkable biography.

The writing seems so matched to the quality of his life and I found myself underlining a lot of thoughts and insights that the book contains. At the end of the book I sat quietly, very moved within and praying earnestly that God would get beyond the me factors and bring honor to His name through my life at whatever cost.

So moved in fact that I got my dog-eared copy of his, THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP and have begun to reread it with renewed hunger.

 From the early pages of that book, this quote: "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price...the kingly rule of Christ, for which a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him." p.47

 I commend to you Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who stood against the Nazi regime, and stood with Christ, and spoke truth easily misplaced, and paid for it with his life. See you again, soon.