Saturday, February 18, 2017

Expressions of Love

Tuesday was Valentine’s Day.  There was an abundance of flowers, cards, food, sweets, and gifts to acknowledge the day.  Our grandkids had parties at school.  People seemed to go out of their way to be nice and kind.  It was a day to stop, remember, and express love and appreciation to the people who are near and dear to us. 

Larry prepares my breakfast every morning.  On Valentine’s Day he somehow managed to cook the turkey bacon and curl it into the shape of a heart.  It was a thoughtful and sweet expression of love.

Today family and friends will gather at First Methodist Church to witness the marriage ceremony of my nephew and his beautiful bride.  Erich and Kelley will express their love and commitment to each other as they begin their journey of a lifetime as husband and wife.

During these days of war, uncertainty, and unrest the chorus of the song, “What the World Needs Now is Love” by Hal David reminds us:

What the world needs now is love sweet love,
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.
What the world needs now is love sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.

Every day could be Valentine’s Day if people knew and had a relationship with the Source of Love.  I John 4:8b states that “God is love.”  May we be willing to express and act on that message of love all year long.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
I John 4:9, 10

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13

We love because he first loved us.
I John 4:19

Do everything in love.
I Corinthians 16:14

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Super Bowl LI

Super Bowl LI (51) is now in the books.  The committee and people of Houston were wonderful hosts and the weather was amazing. 

Some Super Bowl observations:
* Once a year we are given the opportunity to brush up on Roman numerals.
* Football is just part of the Super Bowl experience.
* Even if your team was not in the playoffs, there was much excitement about the extra activities as well as the game being played in Houston.
* Much planning, effort, attention to detail, time, and people were needed in order to have a successful event.
* There was much pride in our city for a job well done.
* Thankfulness that President and Mrs. Bush were both able to recover from their recent illness and hospital stay so they could attend the game and participate in the coin toss.  Even though he has tossed the coin at several games, President Bush still practiced beforehand so he could perform his task well.
* It was moving to see the respect, applause, and standing ovation given to President and Mrs. Bush as they entered the field for the coin toss to start the game.
* Vice-President Pence invited two Wounded Warriors and their dates to be his and Mrs. Pence’s guests at the game.  They were flown to the game, along with the Pences, on Air Force II.
* With all she had on her agenda on Super Bowl Sunday, Lady Gaga chose to begin her big day by attending St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and receiving communion.
* The half time show avoided political controversy and focused on patriotism and entertainment.
* Drones added an unexpected addition to the halftime performance, thanks to Intel and Disney.
* Predictions do not determine the outcome of a game.
* It takes teamwork to play football.  No one player can make all the plays.
* Never ever give up.
* The game is not over until the final whistle blows.
* Matthew Slater, of the New England Patriots, used his interview time to explain how to become a Christian.
* From football greats to Lady Gaga, people mentioned, recognized, and expressed appreciation for their family.

 We are all part of a game called life.  It is important to play by the rules, be intentional in our goals, work as a team, play to win the prize, and make certain the right leader is being followed. 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
I Corinthians 9:24

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14

 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 25:57

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Glimmers of Hope

With all the turmoil, violence, harsh words, disrespect, and rudeness that seems to be on display these days, a few stories have surfaced that offer glimmers of hope for the days ahead.

Ashley C. Ford is a writer in New York.  Recognizing that there are thousands of students who are served substitute meals each day because they owe money on their lunch account, Ford wanted to make an impact.  She recently tweeted, “A cool thing you can do today is try to find out which of your local schools have kids with overdue lunch accounts and pay them off.”  All across the United States, hundreds of people have heeded the call, gone to their local schools, and helped pay off lunch debts.  This is a cause near and dear to Ashley Ford’s heart because years ago she was one of those students served the alternative lunch.  Ford replied, “The point was to do something that helps your community.”

Kirby is one of the young men employed to work for the Super Bowl.  Last week, as he was riding the last metro rail of the evening, his wallet slipped out of his pocket.  Not only did he run the risk of losing credit cards, cash, and other items, Kirby would also be without his driver’s license if the wallet was not found.  Even though he had completed the training and worked all week, a valid driver’s license was needed in order to be cleared to complete the tasks on Super Bowl Sunday.  A temporary license would not be acceptable.  One of the rules for the driver’s of the metro rail is to check for any left belongings after they have completed the last run for the night.  Fortunately, the driver was responsible about performing that requirement.  He found Kirby’s wallet and turned it in with everything still in it.  Because of the driver’s honesty and work ethic, the wallet has been returned to the owner and Kirby is set to continue his work for the Super Bowl game.

In January, the Mayde Creek High School men’s JV soccer team played in a tournament in College Station.  Before the game, Coach Ryan Allred was informed by the opposing coach that he was going to be playing a young man with Down Syndrome during the second half.  The player would be wearing the #17 jersey.  Coach Allred talked with his players and asked them if they would be willing to let the player score.  They immediately responded with a yes.  With one minute left in the game, player #17 made his appearance in the game.  The coach reminded his players that the young man was on the field and playing.  One player dove to the ground as if he had missed the ball.  Others followed suit as the player dribbled around them.  The goalie missed defending the goal and the ball went in for the score.  The young man threw his hands up in the air and excitedly ran to the sideline and jumped into his coach’s arms.  All the players were cheering for #17.  After the game, the team was walking to the bus which happened to be parked close to the player’s car.  The Mayde Creek players started chanting # 17’s name and telling him he played a great game.  Wonderful leadership and examples were set by the coaches and players that day once again proving that winning at life is even more important than winning a game.

Even though I don’t have a Twitter account, I can ask you to join me in for looking for ways and opportunities to serve, bless, and minister to others this week and make a difference for God’s Kingdom work so that others can know the eternal living hope through Jesus.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
I Peter 1:3-5

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4 

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
    when it is in your power to act.
Proverbs 3:27

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Luke 6:45

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
Ecclesiastes 3:12

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
I Corinthians 10:31

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Above and Beyond

Tim Hadley is a principal in the Pekin Community School District in Packwood, Iowa.  Recently Jackson, one of the students at his school, shaved his head in support of his grandpa Rick who has cancer.  After arriving at school the next day, some of the students made comments about Jackson’s appearance and made fun of him.  Instead of just punishing the students who spoke disrespectfully, Mr. Hadley took the opportunity to teach all of the students the importance of treating others with respect.  The students gathered for an assembly and sat on the floor.  Principal Hadley explained to the students that he had heard of the unkind remarks that had been made to Jackson about his shaved head.  He asked the students how many knew someone who had cancer and almost every student raised their hand.  Mr. Hadley then made a point of acknowledging Jackson and commending him for honoring his grandpa in such a special way.  After speaking on the importance of respecting others, he called Jackson up and asked him to shave his head, too.  At the conclusion of the assembly, the principal reminded the students and teachers that in their school, “We’re family.  We support each other.”  Tim Hadley went above and beyond to make a young man feel valued and to teach his students a life lesson in a way that will not soon be forgotten.

Linda is the Community Relations Director at Colonial Oaks, in Pasadena, where my mom lives.  She is also a member of our home church and a family friend.  After a month in the hospital and rehab, Mom had progressed enough from her strokes to be able to return to her assisted living “Home.”  Due to her limitations, Mom needed to be moved to another area of the facility.  Knowing that it might take some adjusting, it was recommended that family give the staff three to four days to help Mom get acclimated before we came to visit her.  I am continuing to learn that when you love someone you need to be willing to do the hard things, not necessarily what you would choose to do, if that is what is best for them.  Mom was transported back to Colonial Oaks on Thursday morning and taken to her new room.  On Friday morning, as well as other times, Linda has checked on Mom and thoughtfully texted pictures of her smiling, happy, and participating in activities, knowing that would ease our hearts and minds.  Linda and the personnel have gone above and beyond what they had to do to love and care for Mom, as well as her daughters, during these days.

The late Christian humorist Grady Nutt reminded us that going above and beyond, going the second mile, is “That spirit that opens men to the grace of God.”  It’s time to lace up the shoes, heart, mind, and spirit and be ready to go above and beyond what is expected.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Doing the Right Thing

As I was driving out of the neighborhood one day this week, I stopped at the stop sign at the end of the street.  Being a rule follower, I made sure the car had completely stopped and the turn indicator was on before I proceeded to turn.  Then, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a policeman sitting in his car halfway down the intersecting street.  Even though I had already stopped, I made sure the car was at a standstill before turning the corner.  Although I try to make a practice of doing the right thing when driving, I double made sure I was following the law since the policeman was watching.  

Integrity is said to be doing the right thing, even if no one is watching.  The choices I make and the things I do should be consistent, whether I have an audience or not.  Since God is always with me and sees and knows everything, my actions, words, and deeds should be a constant and consistent reflection of His presence.

Dearest friends, when I was there with you, you were always so careful to follow my instructions. And now that I am away you must be even more careful to do the good things that result from being saved, obeying God with deep reverence, shrinking back from all that might displease him. For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants.
Philippians 2:12-13

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20b

Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 12:28

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
James 4:17

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
    who walk in obedience to him.

Psalm 128:1