The King James version of the 23rd Psalm says that he leadeth me beside the still waters. That came to mind yesterday as I drove to Stillwater. The Oklahoma version…not the Biblical one. The long drive gave me lots of reflection time on what has been a very rough stretch of personal highway. Joni and I have been walking through the valley of the shadow of death during the first three weeks of this year. Yet we have been able to say, like the Psalmist, that we fear no evil for He is with us. Still, when you go to three funerals in three weeks you tend to think about larger life issues than the eighteen-wheeler blocking the passing lane.
Today’s post will make the subject uncomfortable. He might even be a little angry at me. Men and women who serve God with humility squirm when they receive praise. But I don’t care. I have to tell you his story. One of the problems with our cultural Christianity is that we too often confuse giftedness and godliness. Someone may be gifted at speaking or writing or singing and we elevate that person in our spiritual estimation. God uses gifted people to be sure. But I am learning that God can use a regular person who is truly reflecting Jesus in ways that are supernatural.
A few days ago I wrote about sad news in my life and one of those topics was a dear friend who had entered hospice care as she was finally losing a long battle with cancer. Yesterday I logged into my friend Susan Flickner’s website to check on her and I found these words.
Susan is now at rest in the arms of Jesus.
Susan was fifty-four years old. Today I listened to a song by one of my go to guys when I need some musical comfort. Andrew Peterson has a song called Lay Me Down. In this song Peterson sings about how his final resting place could be anywhere because something else will happen when you lay him down to die. Here are the lyrics from this awesome song.
I love to collect the stories of people who do stupid things. I am reluctant to call them stupid people because I am very likely to join their ranks at any given moment.
Parker T. Hall Houghtaling was struck in the head by a New York subway train four years ago as he leaned out to see if the train was approaching. Amazingly, he suffered only bruises, cuts, and a shoulder injury.
I am looking outside my window in North Texas and watching a smattering of snow flurries. There is a thin layer of ice on the patio table and the wind chill factor reached single digits overnight. Gloomy cold winter days like this are offset by the promise of spring and summer. And the first harbinger of spring is that pitchers and catcher report to spring training in 34 days. I am not sure why baseball has been on my mind so much recently. The last three posts have featured a baseball theme or reference. While not quite a Cal Ripken like streak that is a bit unusual for January posts. Today I was thinking about how the church could learn a lot about how we view one another’s spiritual gifts from a former baseball player.
Most of us don’t really appreciate the legacy of pioneers. They take the risks, endure the hardships, and suffer greatly to pursue their goals. The rest of us, the settlers, come along and enjoy the fruits of their sacrifice. Such a pioneer was Martin Luther King. Today we have set aside a day to consider the pioneering work of Dr.King. Many people have benefited from the hardships that Martin Luther King endured to communicate the message of racial equality.
Thanks to everyone who so graciously expressed condolences and offered prayers during my Mom’s illness and recent death. God continues to gently teach me as I begin to absorb that both my Mom and Dad are gone from this world. Several weeks ago my niece told me about a song by the group Diamond Rio. The song is called “God only cries for the living” and I have been visiting that tune pretty regularly recently. Here are some of the lyrics from the song.
God only cries for the living,
‘Cause it’s the living that are left to carry on.