Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Morning Thoughts

Sunday morning thoughts …

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

To pray for the increase and spread of God’s kingdom … to make such a prayer the foundation of all other prayer – Jesus my LORD!

Every prayer hastens the day … every prayer strengthens the spiritual ligaments of creation … every prayer saves someone somewhere.

I find my soul too often ambushed by “practical” questions – “How does this work?” “When will it happen?” “What difference does my prayer really make?” and so forth.

Are these not the questions of Hell? Are these not the whispered doubts of the Snake in the Grass?

To pray for the increase of God’s kingdom … “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” that “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7).

“And all these other things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

Jesus my LORD.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Thomas Merton’s autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, is a remarkable book – the journey of a lifetime, his journey into faith and into the heart of God.

Tom’s younger brother, John Paul, pays him a visit at Gethsemane. John Paul is a pilot in the Canadian Air Force and will soon be deployed to England to defend that nation against Nazi bombers.

While visiting Tom, John Paul is baptized and receives communion.

Tom notes how peaceful John Paul has become – putting into place the final piece of life’s puzzle – that of grace. So much good can be done without grace, but without grace, the good cannot ease the soul’s hunger, but only mock it.

Grace is the finishing touch of life.

The next day, John Paul has to be on his way. Tom walks with him to the monastery gate and watches his brother step into a cab. As the cab turns to leave, John Paul looks back and waves, and Tom can see in his face that slight indication of knowing “that we would never see each other on earth again.”

I read those poignant words and stopped, tears welling up in my eyes.

Life is so precious! God be praised. And may the abundant grace of God keep us all!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Failure - It's Just a Word

I'm adding to the earlier piece about failure, because I "failed" to make clear a critical point: namely, the word "failure" is just that, a word, just like chair or warm, without any clear content.

But we use the word specifically when we conceive of ourselves, our efforts, as failures.

Or when we label someone "a failure."

How do we know?

The point of our faith: only God knows the difference between good and evil, between failure and success.

Our task: render up to God the data of our lives, just as they are. Only God knows for sure, and in the end, God is at work in all things for good.

None of us are what we shall be in Christ. But until that time, we press on, as Paul did, to the upward calling, forgetting what lies behind.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

You're a Roaring Success

When was the last time you failed?

Tough question.

What are the criteria? And who’s to say?

Remember, the original temptation was to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, a tree that belonged exclusively to God!

Why? Because we’re not old enough, smart enough, or tall enough to know and see all the possibilities, all the pathways, all the intricate ways in which ideas and patterns are interwoven.

God’s love and kindness prevail, moving all of us along the pathway of Life. “I have come,” said Jesus, “that you might have life, and have it abundantly.”

Here’s the point: “Failure” is word that’s impossible to define and never accurate. So, why even use it?

The Snake in the Grass told Eve: “You’re a failure! Something is missing, so pluck the fruit.”

The next time you hear those whispered words, duck and run, and remind yourself that you’re just fine … you’re a work in progress, and your Heavenly Father is at work in all things for good!

When it comes to life, every day we’re here, every day we laugh and love, every day we make it, every day we smile at someone and wish them well, every day we can muster a compassionate thought and utter a small prayer, we’re a roaring success!

“Thought for the Day” – Pastor Tom, January 22, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

People Are Amazing

People are amazing … time and again, I have witnessed folks knocked to the ground by difficulties and sorrows impossible to describe.

Like getting kicked in the stomach … the diaphragm is momentarily paralyzed, and one can only lay on the ground gasping, wondering if normal breathing will ever return.

Yet in a few moments, the diaphragm recovers, and I’ve watched so many incredible people, knocked down and gasping for breath, crawl through tragedy and make it out the other side.

Has life changed for them? Absolutely. Does sorrow linger? You bet. But the soul is resilient because God made it that way. Not a rock, not a chunk of steel, but soft and tender to feel the blows of life, as Jesus did. To be human is to be frail, subject to the ill winds of a storm. But also, to be incredibly strong and durable.

You will make it. Because of the way God created you.

Satan would have us believe otherwise. The original lie: “You’re not up to it. God slipped up. So pick the fruit.” We often believe that lie, don’t we? But it’s just a lie, and not worth considering.

I believe in people, because I believe in God.

And I’ve seen enough to know that what I believe is right and good. People are gifted and creative, strong and faithful, loving and kind, able to endure intense pain and enormous disappointment, only to make it through, come out the other side with wisdom, a deeper faith, a greater love for God and for others, and a whole new appreciation of who they are and what they can do.

You are an incredible creation of God!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Donna asked me last night, “Ever make resolutions?”
“Sometimes,” I said.

“How about you?”
“Not really, but maybe I should.”

This morning, the first day of a New Year, I’m wondering about resolutions … I haven’t made any, nor will I.

But, then, maybe I should.

Yet I think, we live in a culture that promotes dissatisfaction with just about everything.

Dissatisfaction empowers consumerism!

Buy the book, sign-up for the workshop, join the gym, and so forth. And next year, when little of nothing of this has worked, there’ll be more books, workshops and gyms. The pot of gold exists, doesn’t it, just over the horizon?

I’m all for reading, expanding our horizons, and even going to the gym, but I’m also for contentedness … an essential appreciation for life and its realities – for counting our blessings and taking the time to name them carefully and lovingly, and for making the best of things, because the best of things is inherent in the essence of life because God created the heavens and the earth and said, “Oh my, they’re good!”

Yes, reach higher and push harder, but put a leash on the manic pressures that turn these positive strivings into obsessive discontent and dissatisfaction, driving us to pluck the fruit from the tree and committing the “original sin” – “something is genuinely wrong with me, God blew it, and I’d better get it for myself, because no one else will help me.”

Appreciation, contentment – powerful, powerful, states of mind and heart.

You’re terrific, you’re wonderful, you’re good and kind. You’re all of this and more. You’re capable and bright; you’re wise and compassionate. You handle whatever comes your way, and you’ve got great friends and family standing around you.

And most of all, you belong to God!

A long time ago, God made a resolution: “I will never ever let them go.”

Now that’s a resolution we can live with!

Happy New Year!