I Am. I Will. He is.

god is

I am disappointed in the decision Friday by the Supreme Court regarding marriage.  I am disappointed that many of my Southern friends/family have been more passionate about their right to fly a flag than about other people’s right to just live and breath. I am disappointed that in France and Tunisia another attack on human life was made in the name of Islam rather than in “submission to the will of God and obedience to His law (definition of the word Islam)”  which will only fuel the discussion of more war in the middle East. I am disappointed that some people don’t want to talk about the race problem in America and others think that is the only problem that we need to discuss. I am disappointed that we have millions that are hungry, hundreds of thousands that are orphans, tens of thousands of families without a home and the majority of us only are obsessed with what rights we personally do or don’t have. I am disappointed that it is raining today, that I have to go to work tomorrow, that the Astros lost last night, that I am not as fit as I used to be, that my kids are growing up too fast, that retirement is coming to soon, and that the part in my hair just doesn’t part right anymore.

But today is Sunday – the Sabbath day. It is a day to rest and be kept as holy. So I will not live in my fear and my disappointment and my desire to be a sideline critic with half truth, social media cracks on everything. I will not be fooled into thinking that love wins or loses because love is and love does. I will not attempt to win anything or take back nothing that I think belongs to me as an American. I will not judge others or be tempted to speak with contempt about our differences. I will rest. I will be renewed. I will worship the One true and living God. I will not let other people’s emotions and rhetoric bate me into debate, discussion or a divisive spirit. I will be the child that God created me to be, live the truth He speaks into my life, love the way He filled me to share, and walk in the light that only He can provide for this journey. This is the Lord’s day and a day like no other.

Church please hear this before you get in your cars to head to church prepared to grieve, gossip and regurgitate the weeks devastating events.

For He is…

Love – 1 John 4:16
Spirit – John 4:24
The Holy One -Psalms 16:10
The I Am – John 8:58
God Almighty – Exodus 6:3
A Miracle Working God – Galatians 3:5
The Creator of the World – John 1:3
Calling Things That Be Not As Though they Were – Romans 4:17
Infinite – 1 Kings 8:27
All Powerful – Jeremiah 32:17, 27
All Knowing – 1 John 3:20
Ever Present – Psalms 139:1, 13
Unchangeable – Numbers 23:19
A Covenant Making God – Hebrews 10:16
The Everlasting Father – Isaiah 9:6
A Father of Lights – James 1:17
A Father of Mercies & God of All Comfort – 2 Corinthians 1:3
The Author of Salvation – Hebrews 2:10
Full of Power – Romans 13:1
A God Who Raises the Dead – 2 Corinthians 1:9
A Quickening Spirit – 1 Corinthians 15:45
Mighty to Save – Isaiah 63:1
Our Maker – Isaiah 54:5
Our Heavenly Father – Matthew 6
The Justifier of the One Who Has Faith in Jesus – Romans 3:26
Meeting Our Needs through Jesus – Philippians 4:19
Giving Us the Peace that Surpasses Understanding – Philippians 4:7
Jesus of Nazareth – John 19:19
The Door of the Sheep – John 10
The Way, Truth & Life – John 14:6
The Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6
The King of Kings & Lord of Lords – Revelation 17:14
The Lamb of God – Revelation 5:6
The Bread of Life – John 6:48-58
The Bright & Morning Star – Revelation 22:16
The Light of the World – John 8:12
Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14
Wonderful Counselor – Isaiah 9:6
The Great Shepherd of the Sheep of Sheep – Hebrews 13:20
The Head of the Church – Ephesians 1:22
Jesus – Matthew 1:21
The Same Yesterday, Today & Forever – Hebrews 13:8
Our All Sufficiency 2 Corinthians 3:5
The Word – John 1:1
Dwelling in Us – 2 Corinthians 6:16
Easily Touched – Hebrews 4:15
Faithful & True – Revelation 19:11
A Sure Foundation – Isaiah 28:16
Upholding All things by the Word of His Power – Hebrews 1:3
Watching Over His Word to Perform It – Jeremiah 1:12
A Rewarder of Those Who Diligently Seek Him – Hebrews 11:6
No Respecter of Persons – Act 10:34
The True Light – John 1:9
The Author & Finisher of Our Faith – Hebrews 12:2
Mediator of the New Covenant – Hebrews  9:15
The Truth – John 14:6
Working in Us – Hebrews 13:21
Greater in Us Than He That Is in the World – 1 John 4:4
Unto Us Wisdom, Sanctification & Redemption – 2 Corinthians 1:30
For Us – Romans 8:31
Never Leaving Us or Forsaking Us – Hebrews 13:5
Always Leading Us in Triumph in Christ – 2 Corinthians 2:14
Faithful Over His House – Hebrews 3:1-6
Ruler of the Kings of the Earth – Revelation 1:5
Our Lord & Our God – John 20:28
Our Life – John 11:25-26
Our Savior – Luke 2:11
Our Redeemer – Isaiah 48:17
Our Teacher – Matthew 28:18
Our Healer – Isaiah 53:5
Our Deliverer – Romans 11:20
Our Resurrection – John 11:25
Our Justification – Romans 3:26
Our Strength – Philippians 4:13
Our Righteousness – 1 Corinthians 1:30
Our Peace – Ephesians 2:14
Our Advocate – 1 John 2:1
Our Faithful High Priest – Hebrews 9:11; 10:21
Our Bridegroom – Matthew 9:15
Our Hope of Glory – Colossians 1:27
Pleased to Give Us the Kingdom – Luke 12:32
Equipping Us – Ephesians 4:11-16
Giving Us Revelation Knowledge – 1 Corinthians 2:10-13
Giving Us the Keys to the Kingdom – Matthew 16:19
Giving Us His Name – Mark 16:17-18
Giving Us the HOLY SPIRIT – Luke 11:13; Act 2:38-39
Anointing Us for Service – 1 John 2:20
Filling Us With Wisdom & Spiritual Understanding – Ephesians 1:17
Giving Us His Armor – Ephesians 6:10-18
Providing Us Angels – Hebrews 1:14
Faithful to Complete the Work He Began in Us – Philippians 1:6
Rich in Mercy – Psalms 136
Giving Us All Things to Enjoy – 1 Timothy 6:17
Saying Well Done My Good & Faithful Servants – Matthew 25:21
Receiving All the Glory – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Worthy of Praise – Psalms 18:3

The Alpha & Omega, The Beginning & End -Revelation 1:8

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, o Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  – Psalm 19

You Can’t Be Trusted

trust me

Believe me when I say this- you can’t be trusted. And neither can I. Trust is a hard thing to give and can only be done when we know someone can keep it. Keeping trust with someone over something requires that the something is placed in an escrow of protection in order to keep it safe and sound and ready for use when needed. We start out trusting very early in life and then lose the ability to trust a little more each day. Babies are expert trusters. Adults need remedial classes constantly. Sometimes I wonder if I will even be able to trust anybody over anything by the time I am 99.

“ I trust you God. As far as the East is from the West I trust you that much. It is me that I don’t trust. Sometimes I am trustworthy, but sometimes – many times – I am not able to really lean into me to do the right thing, say the right words, or act the right way. It’s not you. It’s me.”

This is likely a conversation that many of us have with ourselves and God, but with nobody else. There is safety in telling God that we don’ trust ourselves. There is solid process and perhaps healing in telling that truth to ourselves. We just don’t want anybody else to know that we don’t trust the man/woman in the mirror.

I learned this lesson hard this week.

Friday night a week ago I took the Ballard 5 to Baskin Robbins for ice cream. We love it there and since Blue Bell is retooling its business these days we will likely become more frequent in our visits. I love “World Class Chocolate.” Sugars likes “Birthday Cake” and momma likes some kind of cookie dough mix. The boys made their order and I paid the bill. While we sat outside and enjoyed our cream, Lily – a 20ish girl I had never seen before – aimlessly walked by and nearly bumped into me. She was talking out of control, walking in front of cars without looking, cussing a blue streak, threatening an unseen person and acting as out of control as you can imagine. That was when I wondered if I could trust myself in this situation to do the right thing for Lily.

She walked off from us while I flagged down security and told him to follow her. I was afraid that she might do something to customers on the sidewalk, but I was most afraid she would walk outside onto FM 1960 and get run over. I feared that when I sipped my morning coffee I would hear local NBC tell me that a pedestrian was killed overnight in NW Houston. I knew I couldn’t trust Lily to take care of herself and remain safe.

When I got in my car, going home just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. We circled the area and found Lily creating a stir at Starbucks. I parked the car and went for her. From the moment I walked up to her and asked if she was ok until the time that the police/paramedics arrived Lily was kind and gentle with me. Something had happened to her and she was sick/traumatized/under medicated/ high/ or just plain crazy. Maybe all of the above. I talked to her for an hour waiting on help while she rambled on and on about people she knew, but didn’t seem to know their location presently. I watched her paint her leg with mascara, try to recharge a calculator she thought was a phone, and clean her ears 10 times with dirty swabs she would find in the bottom of her purse. Lily was pitiful in that condition, but I knew she was somebodies daughter and she needed help. Thankfully first responders came and helped her. That night while they did their job I knew I had done my job. You know, that Christian job to help the hurting and helpless. I had been a good missionary and God had to have noticed. On that night I proved that God could trust me with important work for the kingdom and I could trust myself to put others first and be the good neighbor that I have been called to be.

It would only take a week to undo that level of trust.

Last night I sat in a community outdoor theater in the park district to watch a very high quality stage production by a youth theatre group. I was a bit hot and bothered because the seats were right in the sun and because my kids were whining about being hot and bothered in general. That didn’t say it, but I could hear them thinking, “Dad, last summer you took us to NYC to watch Les Miserables in the Amsterdam Theatre and tonight we sit in the sun to watch Hairspray while fighting mosquitos and having to drink water from the fountain. No fair.”

While this scenario played over in my head I barely noticed the lady sit down next to me and push her bag under her seat. It only took a minute to realize that not only was this person next to me and alone, she was most likely homeless and carrying everything in the world she had. Just like Lily the week before. This girl was silent and said nothing. Neither did I. Not one word for 2 hours. During the first act she put a few Lay’s potato chips in her mouth and ate a cup of salsa. She then washed that down with a mix of a couple of partial drinks – coffee and water – she had brought to the seat. I am certain she had picked them up from the trash on her way to the East section, Row X. That was her dinner.

And I did nothing. I didn’t ask her name. I didn’t ask if I could get her a bottle of cold water or some more food to bring nourishment. I didn’t ask if she needed a ride anywhere. I didn’t ask her anything. I just watched the theatrical production and laughed along right on cue. Epic fail. Don – you can’t be trusted!

One week I respond to someone in need and feel I can trust myself to live a life on display with God’s love. The next week it never crosses my mind to bear any witness at all that I even noticed my sister in her time of need. With $100 cash in my pocket and enough credit to buy every ticket in the theatre I offered her none of it. Worse than not being her provider I was not her friend. I never acknowledged her. Not necessarily in a rude kind of way, but in the “I’m too busy to be bothered with your problems right now” kind of way. When our human nature takes over we lean on our expertise to judge, protect, isolate, and ignore the pain of others. That can’t be how we are supposed to live. That can’t be what God had in mind when he created us and recreates us in the image of Christ. That can’t be the way people of trust respond in situations that need the most trustworthy of the kingdom to respond to people in need.

I can’t be trusted. And neither can you. None of us can. Our flesh is weak and our spirit is confused. We most often want and pursue what accommodates our life and our desires. Everybody else is on their own unless their point of need intersects with a moment of convenience in our schedule or budget. The public would be foolish to put their trust in us to be generous Samaritans and we are plain old stupid to trust ourselves to do the right thing for someone that we are not related or aligned with. That puts the homeless, orphaned children, battered women, the mentally ill, the socially isolated, the terminally ill, the helplessly addicted (and others) in extreme places of unfortunate strain because those that could and should help them can’t be trusted to really help them. Those who need to be able to trust us most find that we only show up when we sense a bit of guilt or are getting a t-shirt for our involvement. It seems that our service to others and acts of kindness are almost always about us/me instead of the one needing the help up or the hand out.

We just can’t be trusted. We need help, a lot of help. You might even say we need a miracle.

Thanks be to God. Our help has come, is coming, and will come again.

Proper 6 B / 2 Corinthians 5:

So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil. 11Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences.

Transparency Training

This time of year, it seems everybody is excited about getting outdoors. Summer is very near and (hopefully) good weather will allow for us to move our life from the inside to the out. For many of us the last few months have been full of looking through the window and trying to remember what outdoors is like. In many ways we have lived through the months as window shoppers in a winter wonder land imagining a beach, a park, a baseball field or a golf course. Of course looking through a window is not the same as actually playing outdoors, but thankfully glass makes it possible to put the imagination into action on even the dreariest of winter days. Windows help us see outside and allow light to penetrate our indoor existence. Windows help us see the world in a new way as walls and doors are stripped of their isolating power. Windows change our world because they are transparent.

window

Transparency is really the goal. Windows are just the tools that makes transparency possible.  No one wants to be a window, but it seems that everyone should desire to be transparent in their relationships and interpersonal dealings. The ability to be and live transparently will make our world vastly different, as the warmth and clarity of light shines into and then through us towards others. Transparent leaders permit others to see them as they are instead of hiding behind walls or mirages of togetherness. Without transparency reality is tainted and relationships are fake.

People who are not transparent will never make the deep connection with others that is necessary to build a strong support network. Parents who are not transparent with their children raise their kids to walk in the shadows and hide who they really are. Leaders who are not transparent will never be fully trusted and will find followers abandoning their ship.  Refusing to be transparent in life will guarantee that you will always be a solo act. Life without transparency is like riding your bike at night on a highway full of cars with no street lights while wearing a blind fold and no brakes. Danger and downfall looms straight ahead.

So where does one start when wanting to be more transparent? The starting point is not to be “all out there” with every thought, word, and deed.  Transparency is not spilling your guts to everybody or in every situation.  Transparency is born when we are committed to honesty, humility, and reflection with ourselves. In other words, we can never expect to be transparent with others until we are transparent with ourselves. Transparency starts with self-awareness as we take a look and evaluate what we see in our heart, our mind, our soul.  Simply put: if you want to be transparent outwardly, begin with a deep inward look.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Are you “present” when you are with others or are you consumed with your needs, desires, problems?
  • Are you on guard with people you meet? What about with people you have known for a long time?
  • Do you have an agenda with every conversation to get something for yourself or have something your way?
  • Is your success in life (family, work, etc.) dependent on others failing or falling short?

These may be more than enough questions to make us aware of how ‘self’ affects our relationships with others.  Transparency calls for us to set aside our ambitions and our agendas if they affect others in a negative way.  Cultures that value transparency (work, family, church, etc.) recognize that something greater than the achievement of one person or one segment of society is at work.

Transparency requires training because it is much more natural for us to be closed and guarded.  Transparent leaders train themselves to be authentic witnesses of help and hope to others because success is never a solo act or accomplishment.  Transparent leaders train themselves to live around a window that lets others see them for who they are and what they are like inwardly. Transparent leaders train themselves to remember that they are only a window to the Source of True Light ready to shine through them into a world stumbling in the darkness.