I have been accused on more than one occasion of being too optimistic. My friends have teased me to take off my rose-colored glasses and sulk with them from time to time. Certainly I do not begrudge my friends to have the luxury of griping once in a while. We all grouse about something that is unpleasant or uncomfortable. Yet, I have never seen a good reason to be mostly negative about life.
Being real does not mean that we are required to complain. Nor does it mean that we have to confess something about our weaknesses. It is sufficient that circumstances alone will make life “weak-kneed”. While we cannot change those circumstances we can choose our disposition while living through those moments.
These pages are about those days. Some of the situations are funny while others are sad. Some of those are just nothing special at all yet, even as we live those days we can come out of them with a smile and a load of cheer.
Abandoned? Betrayed? Fired? Victimized? Disillusioned? Disappointed? No one plans for these painful moments in life. They happen no matter how much we try to live a life that is free from troubles. People are a part of the problem. Sometimes we are tempted to think that life would be great if it were not for people. Yet, life is all about people. We need them and want them. It is just certain ones that we could do without.
Then there are troubles that put a hitch in our step. There are circumstances beyond human control that crowd into our lives, uninvited intrusions of the painful type. Sometimes it is loss. Other times it is missed opportunity. We watch as good things happen to others. Now, we purse our lips and wonder why we could not be the fortunate ones just once.
One treasure in life that we who have lived through the agonies of life can know better than anyone who has never had difficulty is hope. We can choose to search for the bright side. By sheer determination and unabashed faith we can resist the urge to quit and choose to never give up. Instead, we optimistically keep going and believe. Life will get better. Never give up. Always hope.
Every day the sun comes up, moves across the sky and then sets in the West. It makes this same repeated journey every 24 hours and does so right on time. Life follows the rising and the setting of the sun. When we are joyful or grief stricken, the pattern or every new day is relentless. Keep up with the dawning of every new day. When the days keep coming live each one with all of the enthusiasm that you can pour into your responsibilities, your routine and your daily regimen.
Yes, you have been hit hard. Everyone has. Get up and get going again. It is the best way. Let your past be your wisdom for the future. Live today with the insight of the past and make today count for your forever. In the aftermath of trouble, disaster or pain you are better prepared to live better, wiser and with great insight.
Use your past as new skills to meet the future days that are coming your way. Rise up and live with a greater fervor. Determine to pass on your knowledge to the next generation. Give them a leg up beyond just what we can do humanly. Now, see that faith is at the center of life. Choose faith as your great asset to make each new day a day that will be a part of your forever.
Take Another Step
Baggage is a part of everyone’s life. After we choose to live by faith we leave those excruciating days behind and take the first step into a new tomorrow. That first step is critical but it is only the beginning of our continuing journey. Taking another step is essential. It is easier than the first. With trepidation we were afraid pain would ambush us again. Eager to discover what else lies ahead, it was time to take another step.
Ready to take on life again? We have all been through tough times. But, life is worth living again. Walk with me. The sun keeps going up and down and I am not willing to waste any more days. I will learn to live with the scars, the baggage, the memories. Join me as we see God every day in our routine. Let’s take another step back into life together.
Determined to Finish Well
My life is now marked by the introduction of little Lucas and Eva. They are my grandchildren. I am a grandparent! It is both thrilling and sobering. What most amazes me is how much and how quickly I have fallen in love with human beings with whom I have never had a single conversation. Then, a realization of my mortality becomes more vivid in my daily routine was well. The sun keeps coming up at the same time and step as accurately as well. Fewer of those days are ahead of me. For my grandchildren and my children I want to make each day count.
It is not time to slow down, whine about regret, hide from difficulty or run from adversity. Live each day to the fullest with the grace of God because we have far fewer days ahead than we have already lived in the past. Press on with enthusiasm.
Messy Church “Living 1 & 2 Corinthians”
The local church has had problems from her inception. The local church is about people from all different background trying to discover unity in Christ and enjoy an amazing fellowship with one another through the Spirit’s power. But, it is not automatic nor is it easy. In many ways it is very messy. Yet, God promises that His church will overcome and even the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. In the local church is the personification of the Lord Savior Jesus Christ. He will insure that the local church will flourish into eternity.
The privilege of preparing pastors to shepherd the local church has occupied the majority of my professional career. Whether it was spending hours in the classroom or mentoring pastoral interns or walking through challenging pastoral duties together, those times of training the next generation of pastors fill my memory with treasured moments. Our conversations were intense, filled with emotion and fundamentally formative for us all as we formed our shepherding values.
We pastors are a special breed. What we do is no longer the position it used to be; it is shifting from decade to decade. Once we were one of the most educated citizens in the community and due to our prominence one of the community’s leading citizens. Now, we are the “Mr. Nice guy” who spends time with hurting people, doing social work and delivering our weekly monologue to a scant crowd in a largely empty or rough-shod building, at least according to one diminutive yet loud slice of our region.
But, those who are born-again and have been redeemed have a largely different perspective. They are desperate to satisfy a new craving in their lives. They hunger after truth that will make a difference in their complicated lives. There is a longing to find answers to the deep questions of life. No one wants someone else to live their lives for them, but everyone needs a guide or at least will live by making fewer mistakes themselves if they have someone to guide them.
Having served in pastoral positions in both ethnic and non-ethnic churches has reinforced my resolve to emphasize the common ground that Christianity has put forward as one of its most important tenants, namely, all Christians are member together in the family of God. We are sisters and brothers together in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, while this is true, racism has been present throughout the church’s history. However, the presence of this problem does not need to continue. Ironically, the solution the problem has also always been a part of the Church’s theology. When Jesus Christ reconciled the world to Himself it was not to a different lord for each ethnic group. But, He reconciled each individual regardless of racial background to Himself as the one Lord of all.
The church, formed out of this reconciliation to Christ should practice the same acceptance of whoever has been reconciled. God does the inviting. The guests simply enjoy not only having been invited but also the thrill of enjoying others who are invited guests as well. When there is personal selectivity that marks the make-up of a church along racial lines, then, there is an appearance that the guests have taken over the prerogative that exclusively belongs the host. Since every Christian enjoys a new relationship that has been established with Jesus Christ; then, every Christian can also enjoy a new relations with one another regardless of race. That is the message of the Gospel. This should also be the testimony of the church all of its members.