Is it worth all the work?
How much difference does it make?
He's discouraged as his church continues to decline.
She's frustrated by the people she helped; they returned her generosity with resentment.
He poured his heart out for a friend in need and it seemed to make no difference.
What do you do when you want to quit?
I don't love Valentine's Day. Sorry. We don't go out to eat on February 14th. We don't do roses, chocolate, or gifts.
I bought my wife flowers last week. A spring bouquet with tulips, daffodils, and a sunflower. Why? Because she likes spring and sunflowers.
And because I said something stupid.
Love is the long, perilous work of giving your life to someone else. It's more than flowers on one day. It's the act of selflessness every day. It is not proven in the diamonds and gifts. It's proven in the times we utter regrettable words. The times we mess up, struggle to be happy, and want to scream.
I've learned something from mentors married for decades:
It's easy to buy chocolate and flowers. Try loving someone for 60 years.
The following is what I believe about love. It's an excerpt from my book, Loved & Sent. Happy Valentine's Day :)
The older I get, the more I’m tempted. Tempted to be:
I have to admit, the more I mature, the harder it is for me to worship. To trust. To pray.
Today I have more control over my life than I’ve ever had. I have more financial security. More independence. More freedom to make my own decisions and choices. But with more control comes more temptation. The temptation of power and pride. The temptation that I can do it on my own. The temptation that I don’t really need God.
The older I get, I sense God calling me to be younger.
Here's my audacious goal: By the end of this post, you will be younger.
They are Syrians.
They are Muslims.
They are refugees.
They were at our 5:00PM Christmas Eve services last month.
Recently settled in St. Louis, a family of Syrian refugees was invited to our church. During communion, a dear woman in our congregation brought forward one of the children. Tears were streaming down her face. "Will you give him a blessing?"
The boy was six or seven. His bright eyes were intent upon me. I wasn't sure what to say. I wasn't sure if he could understand me. I said, "Jesus came for you, and he loves you."
As I walked back toward the altar, something struck me. Of the hundreds of people in the room, this boy had the most in common with the holy family. Jesus and his parents were wanderers in Bethlehem and refugees in Egypt.
I stand with this boy and his family. Here's why:
Have I been playing it safe?
Am I too comfortable?
Have I taken appropriate risk?
At the beginning of a new year, I wonder if I'm too risk averse. Faith has NEVER been a safe proposition. By its very nature, faith involves uncertainty. And uncertainty requires risk.
If there's nothing to risk, it's not faith.
C.S. Lewis once wrote, “I don’t believe that good work is ever done in a hurry.” As we face a New Year, we all have “good work” that we’d like to accomplish. A turn of the calendar is a restart on resolutions and relationships. You have a lot of good things you want to accomplish in 2017.
But there’s a problem. You’re in in too much of a hurry.
God has a way of doing things right under your nose. He does something in plain view, but you miss it. You're too frenzied to notice.
Driving to school, to practice, to the store, to . . .
Working extra hours.
Binging on Netflix.
Scrolling through your Facebook feed.
Committing to things you should have said "no" to a long time ago.
We got a post card last week from the pastor of a large church in our area. I think all of the St. Louis metro area received it. I snapped this picture.
The postcard looks more like a Macy's ad than a church mailing. The pastor's family is stylish, laughing, and quite simply . . . perfect.
I don't know this family. I'm sure they're great. I don't know anything about the church. I'm making no judgement about the ministry or why it was sent. But I will make a judgement on how it's received.
The room was packed for the preschool Christmas program. I was sitting near the aisle with my camera in hand. My son Joshua was Joseph that year and his friend Claire was Mary. I was prepared to document the entire event.
The procession commenced. As the kids walked in, I spotted Joseph and Mary, holding hands. Totally precious.
I fumbled with my camera, trying to capture the moment. Unable to get the cap off the lens, I reached for my phone to get some video. I was looking down . . . pushing buttons. By the time I was ready, the kids were already up front. I missed the entire entrance.
But there was Joshua, in his Joseph garb. He picked me out of the sea of faces and waved. “Hi, Dad!” He didn't care about the pictures. He just wanted my attention.
At that moment, I made a vow. "I’m going to stop documenting this event and instead simply be at this event." This applies to much of our life, especially in December.
We are obsessed with doing at the expense of being.
Dear Presidents and Governors, Princes and Rulers,