Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Psalm for the Elementary School Drop-Off Line


The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be late.

He leads me beside the curb to release the little children unto Him.

He makes me sit patiently near green lawns,

He leads me beside quiet sidewalks,

He refreshes my yeti.

He guides me along the RIGHT paths for RIGHTeousness’ sake.

Yea, though I wonder why that car intendeth to cut in line -

and break all the rules - and make the traffic move even more slowly -

and be all selfish and oblivious all in one sharp turn of that Realtree steering wheel!

My shades mask the evil. My nod and my rolling pace shall prevent them!

Surely goodness and mercy … are in the car in front of me [gasp!] Because they LET.THEM.IN!!

 

OK. First two weeks of public school drop off were a bust. I mean, we were never late, and I did everything exact and correctly. But my attitude and thoughts and words … in front of my kids …

As parents we received strict and articulated instructions to line up and only enter circle drive from ONE direction. Thank you, kind friends.

Each morning, as I am so patiently and dutifully complying, I am faced with a mini-procession of insubordinate ignorants who demand to arrive mid process, then make their unjust and abbreviated way to the front. But [verily I say] I will not be trespassed against!!! Easing forward, allowing my front license plate to gently greet the next car’s back tag with a purposeful kiss.

“Don’t even think about it, mister. How rude!”

“Oh, No ma’am. Not today. So selfish!”

“Yes, the line starts way back there, Smart One.”

“So you think – with all these cars lined up on THIS side of the street – you are going to be the revolutionary one with a fantastic and time-saving strategy. Shimmy Shimmy, my friend.”

“Oh no you don’t! You are a rule breaker!! Jesus doesn’t like RULE BREAKERS!!”

 

And that’s where my precision and correctness hit a heart-changing low.

Jesus actually LOVES rule breakers. I know this because He said Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as [I] forgave you. (Eph 4:32)

As I obsess about your inability to behave, I lose sight of what I have become: a law breaker.

In car line, I am also “rude” and “selfish”.  Love is patient. Love is kind. It is not rude or self-seeking… (1 Cor 13) And though I am tempted to toss out a toddlerish “But SHE was rude FIRST!!”, I am compelled to realize I will not answer for your poor choices. I will only answer for mine. And based on the past two weeks, I have some answering to do.

And so, to the daily handful of motorists who are either sincerely selfish, or simply uninformed (and therefore literally know not what you do), I forgive you. And I apologize. I called you names in my head, and sometimes in my car. I was wrong. I need forgiveness too.

(I mean, we would all just love it if you turned from your wicked ways, and stopped acting like you are the only individual who has somewhere pressing to be shortly after drop off. Or please, for the love of all things mild-mannered in the morning, please read the handbook, or get better instructions from your daughter-in-law who sent you with the preshies today…)

And I bet Jesus would just love it if I turned from my wicked thoughts and stopped acting like I was the only individual who was worthy of patience and grace. Or please, for the love of all things mild-mannered in the morning, if I could more quickly refer to the Holy handbook, or heed the wise counsel of my daughters who sit and listen today .

Here’s the good news for all of us. If we humble ourselves, He is faithful to forgive. He answers for us. He is the answer. And HEY! I don’t need you to change your ways for me to find joy. I just need to change mine. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

The school has given us guidelines. And it will be my distinct and honorable pleasure to adhere to them. [I salute you, fellow first-born overachievers!]

I also know that our Creator has given us guidelines. But they are not NEARLY as easy to follow.

Simple? Yes. Easy? Evidently not.

Christ, the ultimate Firstborn has achieved for us: salvation, grace, and everything we need for life and Godliness. And He will procide true pleasure and joy, each time we choose the right way. Even when – ESPECIALLY when we are trespassed against. For if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:15)

Jesus replied, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. Everything hangs on these two commands. (Matthew 22:36-40)

Even elementary school car lines.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Meditation on Proverbs 3:5-6

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,"

Confidently place your hope in God...

The One who made you,

who loved you first,

who has plans for you,

who is working everything according to His purpose for your good.

"and lean not on your own understanding."

and don't depend upon your own intellect or discernment.

Don't rely on your own personal interpretation of life's perceived circumstances.

"In all your ways, acknowledge Him,"

In everything.

In all your methods and means and manners and modes...

In every action and every choice...

be careful to

realize the truth of God's character,

express gratitude for His mercies, and

recognize His sovereignty in your life.

"and He will make your paths straight."

The Creator and Sustainer of the universe

will exert comparable power and

incomparable kindness

as He

prepares, shapes, changes, and produces a pathway

for you to traverse

according to His perfect guidance.

Friday, June 03, 2016

No Pomp Nor Circumstance

A meditation on


Romans 8:38-39


as pages turn in God's unfolding story


For I am convinced


I have pondered these things, and I stand resolved (on humbled knees)


I believe 


that neither death


all the scary things that could possibly happen but haven't yet


nor life,


all the experiences and interactions that happen every moment


neither angels nor demons,


all the good and evil intentions hidden in plain sight


neither the present


these people and priorities we currently choose


nor the future,


these decisions and dreams we currently pursue


nor any powers,  


anything or anyone that has influence over these choices and pursuits 


neither height


the thrilling victories and soaring accomplishments


the thriving relationships and simple pleasures


nor depth,


the gut-punches of failure and moments of defeat


the hurtful betrayals, the stubborn silence, and the humility of seeking forgiveness


nor anything else in all creation,


all the things I shudder to consider


all the ways the world is fallen


all the folks who come and go


all the freedoms offered you by the Creator


none of it


will be able to separate us from the love of God


It is impossible to sever or interrupt or alter the free-flowing, life-giving grace


that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


the One who is making this impossibility a reality,


the One and only - who deserves our attention, allegiance, and affection.


Choose Him. Follow Him.


This is Love. This is Life.


This is my constant prayer.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Your Attention Please

It’s a pain to maintain, right?
I cook. Folks eat. I clean.
I wash. Folks live. I wash  again.
I buy. Folks consume. I buy more.
Sometimes I just want to push pause: “Everyone just have a seat, and stop needing food and shelter!”
Many tasks I prefer to avoid, or at best, delegate to others. Toilet cleaning, yard work, stain soaking, gardening, sweeping the crumbs – every hour on the hour hello. Ultimately, these things are my responsibility, though. And it is to my gain to maintain.
But it just seems like so much. Don’t we all contribute to the mess? Couldn’t it be everyone’s job? Nasty pots, overgrown lawns, ruined garments, thorny weeds, cluttered spaces. This is the result of it being “everyone’s job”.
Because “every one’s job” becomes no one’s job.  The only way to work effectively as a team is to divide the labor and complete the joy.
In our church, the people who have been doing the “job” of ministering to young adults have moved on to their next assignment. And yet our task remains … to be maintained by those ultimately responsible.
It’s unrealistic to push pause on all youth ministry until the next leader is discovered. Ministering to young adults has now become “every one’s job” -which, if we’re not careful – will become no one’s job. No one has to do it all, or even a large part of it. But if everyone contributes a little something, the young folks won’t miss a beat, and we can all find fulfillment in a job well done.
The most selfish part of me wishes we could just toss some cash around, and check it off.
But we don’t need money. We need investors.
You may need to choose Sunday mornings. You can encourage meaningful conversations. You can serve the breakfast and take out the trash. You can give side hugs and happily listen to the lives.
Perhaps you will choose monthly Sunday evening fellowships. You can offer snacks and a safe place. You can enjoy watching the fun. You can engage with enthusiasm.
Maybe you can provide food for these activities. Munching facilitates mingling. Mingling builds community. You can change the world with cinnamon rolls and pizza.
You might invest a week at summer camp. Sharing life with these amazing young adults will inspire great things for years and lifetimes to come.
You can pray. Pray for the leaders God is raising up, calling out, and sending our way. Pray for these precious young people who’ve been entrusted to us. Pray for a hunger for the Lord, protection against the enemy’s schemes, and courage to stand firm.
It can feel like a pain to maintain, but it is for our gain to maintain!
Unlike the chores around my house, every single one of these tasks is ENJOYABLE.  And instead of being UNdone the minute they are done, these efforts have lasting, eternal value!
Undoubtedly, God is leading you to do something. Step up. Raise your hand. Push Play.
Be a part of the blessing today.