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Archive for September, 2014

Good words

Mark's Blog

Dr. Tim Spivey is my son-in-law, and not just because of that, I have great respect for his work. This particularly insightful post meant much to me today, so I wanted to share it with you. 

DontgiveupWe MUST orient our energies and ministry around health, not pathology. We must spend our focus, time, and missional energy on the spiritually growing rather than those who refuse to accept appropriate responsibility for their spiritual growth.

Let me explain.

It’s easy to spend most of one’s energy worrying about those who aren’t there, virtually forgetting about those God has gathered. It’s easy to spend too much energy focusing on disappointments rather than blessings, or negative feedback over calling and the encouraging voices and signs all around us.

This pulls us off mission as much as anything, because we focus on Satan’s accomplishments rather than God’s provision. It tears down our faith, beats…

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Living a legacy

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Today seems to be all about tomorrow. Sometimes, it’s working today to help pay for tomorrow. Other times, it’s all about paying for what’s already been done, whether by you or by someone else. The results, the ones we can remember, see, taste, and touch, are known as legacy.

Our society today, big and small, is hung up on legacy. Will anyone remember me beyond the headstone that may or may not mark an eventual resting place for the carbon material on loan to me from planet Earth? Christian author Max Lucado recently wrote a book calling each to “Outlive Your Life”, and one is left to wonder how.

There’s a song by Nichole Nordemon that expresses the sentiments as well:

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Years ago, my family gave me a little book called “A Father’s Legacy”, its pages intended to provide a history of the person that was me. I’ve yet to complete it. In some ways, it feels like it would be just a collection of words and stories. Would it really equate to legacy?

Earlier this week, I was asked to say some words and prayers at our local church. As I pulled my late father’s Bible from the shelf, reading something from Jesus’ life recorded in Luke felt right.

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And there it was: the very words I was looking for had already been underlined years earlier by my father’s own hand. That is legacy. That, and so much more.

What I choose to do today may be leaving a legacy, be it good or be it bad.

What is say.

What I choose to not say.

What I take time to stop and do.

What I choose to bypass, put off, or ignore.

When I am kind.

When I am not.

When my deeds draw someone toward Jesus.

When they do not.

I will likely never be famous after my days are done, and that’s most likely a good thing. But living my life is leaving a legacy in those I touch.

Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?

Like words underlined in an old Bible, our actions tell a story that will impact others in days yet to come.

We are blessed to live, this day. We are blessed to bless others by how we live, both in this day, and from the ripples created by our decisions this day that will be felt far from our point of impact.

That same old Bible I mentioned contains an inscription written years before my birth by my father’s great aunt, a woman I never knew. And yet, her words reflect her larger legacy. May what I choose to do and to say this day be so worthy.

May that be this father’s legacy…

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Quiet mornings

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It’s been a quiet morning, like so many before, and we assume like so many yet to come.

And yet, another September 11 morning started in just this same way until the actions of a handful of angry misdirected men, and the responses to those actions, changed our world forever.

May we live, love, and laugh today and all our days as if they could be our last, and may the world be free of the type of evil that breaks quiet mornings.

Until then, one song rings true:

Jesus is Lord
My Redeemer
How He loves me
How I Love Him

He is Risen
He is coming

Lord, come quickly!
Hallelujah!

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Winds in the east, mist coming in.
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
*

Once upon a time, in a land far away, I dreamed of things being different. “Once upon a time” was both long ago and possibly and unfortunately not so far away. Perhaps it was only yesterday. As the family and I sat down the other night to watch a few minutes of the movie “Saving Mr. Banks”, I was reminded of that and so much more.

Not so long ago, in a land much farther away, some friends and I climbed a mountain. But, things indeed were different: different from my prior experience, different from my visions of the moment, and different in the result. You see, you can’t escape the winds, no matter how hard you try. And, to quote another song, the funny thing is “It’s OK”.
IMG_1889I had been on this mountain before, but the chosen path was changed. In fact, were it not for the winds of change, we would not have been on this path, this day, at all.

It was just about a week ago that my friends were nearing the summit of our climb. I say “my friends were”, because I had long ago lost sight of them, and was beginning to wonder if I would ever reach the summit myself. The path was steep, I was likely not fully prepared, and there was the wind. As I hiked alone, knowing those friends had gone on before me to reach the top, the wind became suddenly and painfully strong.

The gusts were powerful. The sensations were cold. My mouth was dry, and my tongue was numb. It felt as if the wind would fill the very jacket I wore for protection and would sweep me right off the side of that mountain to an unfortunate landing below. I thought I wanted to quit, to sit down, to give up, and to hope my friends would be back for me later, having experienced the summit without me.

But, it didn’t. Quit, that is; the wind didn’t quit.

I didn’t, either. Quit, that is. I pressed on towards the summit, finally reaching it to the buffeted sound of cheering from my friends as they endured that very same wind.

As we descended the mountain later that morning, I reflected on what we’d just experienced, and was reminded about how life can be. Windy, that is. But, enduring the wind makes for a great story. Sometimes encountering that very wind makes the story possible to begin with.

As I said, I’d been on this mountain. My son and I have traversed its slopes twice prior, and the mountain has taught us to expect the unexpected. Fog, snow, lightning, hail, and rain from a sunny sky have all accompanied our experience here. Wind had, as well, but nothing like the wind this day.

Two of my friends from this day were supposed to have climbed a different mountain with us just a few weeks ago, but winds of change prevented that moment. My father entered his last days of life in the very moments that we were to embark on our journey with these friends, and we had to say no that day. But, you see, enduring the wind makes for a great story.

Sometimes, I might suggest, encountering that very wind makes the story possible to begin with.

Those friends went on to plan this most recent adventure, and they brought two new friends with them. Had it not been for one of life’s windier and most uncomfortable moments, we would not have found ourselves together this past week, nor would I likely have been inspired by the outcome.

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As we all drove home together, life’s winds continued to blow, this time in the form of car trouble. It blessed us yet again with the reminder of how other people will go out of their way to help when you need it the most and expect it the least.

Which brings me back to the inspiration from “Saving Mr. Banks”. Long ago I used to dream that life could be simpler, and wished that my days could be more like the 1950’s, when it seemed that life had fewer distractions, fewer interruptions, and maybe fewer hardships. But, as I often learn later in life, I was wrong to feel that way.

Mr. Walt Disney himself even had hardships back in the 1950’s. The demands and fast pace of today have only replaced the equally demanding world of yesterday, and there are things we have learned and overcome today that could not be said of a prior “simpler time”.

Winds in the east, mist coming in.
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
*

Indeed. Let those winds blow. Life’s outcomes lie ahead, and I’m sure some great stories are right there with them.
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*lyrics from Disney’s Mary Poppins

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