Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Birth Announcement

The announcement of the upcoming birth of a baby can be a life changing event. Think about what we read in Luke 1.

It begins with Gabriel sharing the good news with Zecharaih. Zechariah was old, he had prayed along side his wife for years that a baby would come into their lives. It seems that the time had passed. And then The Angel shows up and says, "Guess what?!!!!"

Zechariah had a hard time believing this news... and so The Angel said, "How about you listen for 9 months, and I will get back to you?" Of course we know how that story turned out. John the Baptist was born..and life was never the same.

The Gabriel goes to the virgin Mary...That must have been a very interesting assignment for Him. "Hmmmmmnnnn.. I wonder how this is going to go over?"

We know the rest of that story too.. Jesus, the Son of God was born.... and life will never be the same.

Both birth announcements were part of a grander plan in which God placed two people, one completely human and one who was both human and divine, on the earth to change things...

As far as I know, an angel did not appear to my daughter Elizabeth recently... but she does find herself "with child." Its pretty exciting... knowing that this child has the opportunity to change the world for God. Elizabeth and Nathaniel will make great parents.

Oh, by the way, there was no "You've got to be kidding me" from Charlie. So sermons will continue for the next 6 months... and I will get more and more excied to see who God brings in to my life... in the form of a little baby. Pretty exciting stuff.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Get out of the way

It is late on Monday night. Today, in between a couple meetings, I have spent time at the hospital ministering to a family who is suffering. This morning, I talked with the husband at length as he tries to get his arms around the fact that his wife's health is suddenly failing, and there seems to be little or nothing he can do about it. It truly is a situation where she is in God's hands... He knows it, and he has been incredibly strong and tender at the same time. I don't know if I would be that way or not. But his heart has no anger, just a combination of sorrow and gratefulness for 33 years of marriage. Strength and Tenderness... qualities that only could come through the love of God. Tom has that.

Tonight, I went back. I took Pam with me. Over the years she has not done alot of this with me, in large part because she has had a job that she was not always able to break away from, and four kids who needed her attention. But now that we are semi "empty-nesters", she has been getting out more and connecting with people in need in a more visible way. I love this new stage of life from this perspective. I have NEVER been disappointed with her, when she enters into ministry in this way. Tonight was no exception. She brings a calming influence, a spiritual strength, an encouraging lift, and a peaceful look. Later in the evening, I was running out of gas and feeling it. So I came home, but Pam stayed.

What was interesting to me was the combination that God brought to the situation. For during the time we were there Nancy came by. Nancy is a Cancer Care Nurse that looks at what she does as a calling... a ministry... She waited till her kids were out of the house, and then heard a call from God to step out on faith and go back to school. Her purpose in life is to glorify God by helping people in these very difficult situations like cancer. She said to me, " It is an honor to help someone through this into the presence of Jesus." I had never really thought of it that way before.

I watched Nancy and Pam work side by side to comfort and strengthen the family. And I realized that even though I am the "preacher", they were bringing something that I could not bring. I can't put my finger on it, but I knew that when I left them with the family, that it would be not only okay, but better.

It reminds me that God gifts his children with special abilities that can not always be predicted. It can not always be coached. It can not always be understood. He just does stuff like this to show that He will use anyone who is willing, at any time and any where. I like that about God. No seminary degree was needed tonight. No resumes. No special doctrinal statements. Just words of faith. Just reminders that Jesus died for people so that when we face the moment of death, there is a way to God. There was no special choir , except for the family members that sang " When we all get to Heaven." and "I can only imagine." There was little in the way of chatter... some tears...but really tears of hope and joy...mixed with some sorrow and pain. There was scripture, and hope, encouragement to her that it was all okay... and when she saw Jesus, she could go.

Its just the thing God specializes in... For he knew from the Garden on that all human being would face a physical death. And in His Grace, he uses people , sometimes surprising people, sometimes suprised people, to bring just the right word, the right touch, the right song, and the right kind of joy to such a situation like this. And In His grace, he provided his Son... whose sacrifice was exactly what we needed for a time like this.

That is a combination that can't be beat....

And to think... no one even asked the preacher if it was okay 0:).He just brought the two ladies together and said to me, "Get out of the way."

I love God for that.

Catching up

Has it really been a month since I last posted? Lots of stuff happening... Let's see... where do I start???

Well, how about some good news? Our oldest daughter Elizabeth is pregnant!!!! How about that! She is 12 weeks along. So that puts her "due" date around June 1. This is going to be great fun. We already have the pics of the baby at 11 weeks (They are ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!) Lizzie and Nathaniel will make great parents... although I have told them that they are in for the ride of their lives!

Our church building continues its progress toward completion. Here is a big surprise for you construction buffs... the completion date keeps moving! Oh well, I am thankful that God has worked it out where there is not a real strong pressure to move out of our current building... so it can be done right and we can watch God work his timing in all of this ( That is the big lesson for the whole project.) So when are we moving you ask? Stay tuned.

We have had to make some major decisions in the past month, many with great pain and angst. The biggest one in my mind has been the decision of the Elders to close Our Little Saints Preschool at the end of this coming school year. This preschool has been such a huge part of our community and church for 28 years. Building restrictions in Phase I have limited what we can do in a "weekday" situation. So with that we have had to take it as God's leading and begin to look at new ways to minister. But that does not minimize the pain that such changes create. So we are trying to be sensitive to how God is working here.

There is alot of change going on here. But I am so proud of our Staff, Elders and congregation who have kept the big picture in mind and see the opporutnities ahead, even though they are requiring alot of different directions and programming.

I just got back from Oregon where I found my parents doing relatively well. I love being around them and watching as they compensate for each other and struggle together through increasing health difficulties. They have big decisions to make in the coming months... so pray for them.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving... We had our Thanksgiving banquet last night and it was PACKED OUT. Great food, entertainment and lots of laughter.

I hope that you have occassion this week to take some time and think about your blessings. I know that Pam and I have done that and will continue to do so, as our family grows... and as we experience both the ups and downs of life. The best blessing? Well, its that no matter what comes our way, we are not alone. I take great comfort in knowing that God is my refuge... and my strength.