If you are reading this on the day, I sent it out, you are reading it on what has been traditionally called “Ash Wednesday”, the day that begins the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is a day to remember your sins, your brokenness and desperation before a Holy God. It is a time of repentance that commemorates a season of preparation for the most Holy of holidays, EASTER.
I am sure that many of you have not thought about when Easter Sunday is…well I have. I guess that is kind of in my job description 😊. I have a few things ruminating in my heart when it comes to this special day. It is the day that changed everything! It is the day that we celebrate Christ raising from the dead…
I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I am learning as we go through the book of Acts. There are several themes that jump out at me each time I open one of those power packed chapters; Like, “Victory”. It is so obvious as we enter the narrative of Luke’s account of the Churches early beginning, that God’s Kingdom and Church are unstoppable. The Jewish authorities, beat, threatened and warned in order to stop it, Saul murdered and tortured and tried to stop it, King’s persecuted and even martyred in order to silence this “new thing” but nothing could keep this message contained. In fact, the more they were persecuted the further the message of Christ spread. It was like trying to put out a fire by fanning the flames! You can’t help but to see that this Kingdom Agenda of God’s is victoriously unstoppable.
Believe it or not it was just a little over two weeks ago that we committed to a week of fasting and prayer; for some reason, it seems like ages ago to me. I think I moved on too quickly…to the next thing. “OK…I’ve done that, what’s next on my list?” …check! Admittedly, the things of God can become nothing more than a spot on our big “to do lists”.
A couple of weeks ago in a sermon I preached on Isaiah 9:6:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
I’m sitting at my dining room table, surrounded by books, a journal and a couple of my daughters with their laptops open as well. We have been contemplating the new year and reviewing journals from last year.
My day was spent lazily listening to the rain, snacking on unhealthy foods and enjoying the company of my shrinking family as the young adult kids slowly leave for their own homes/dorms…
This time of year brings with it a myriad of feelings and emotions. Joy. Sadness. Warmth. Guilt. Thankfulness. Loneliness. Love.
I am supposed to be sitting down writing a blog, but my mind is all over the place. Honestly, it has been a season of many highs and lows; from one of my daughters getting engaged, another daughter/niece shortly ready to deliver a baby boy, to walking through life-changing decisions with another adult child, a growing church and all that comes with that, battling weeks of asthma issues and the realization of aging…hmmm…sorry for unloading. In no way do I want this page to be a downer, but too often we as believers in Christ quickly move to the “Praise the Lord’s” without lamenting and acknowledging the difficulties as well.
I have often dreamt of saying those words… especially recently as the lottery jackpot totaled 1.6 BILLION dollars. B.I.L.L.I.O.N. I found myself thinking, “Lord, I know I am not going to play the lottery but maybe a close relative or friend could win; just the relative or friend that would share😉. I’ve thought about what I would do with all the money…buy a new home…new car…pay off debts…kids’ college…weddings…and of course give to the church and other deserving ministries. What would you do with a winning that size? Let me ask another question, “Why do we even take time to dwell on this?” “Why play the lottery?”
With my eyes closed and my memory engaged, I can almost smell the Sunday dinner that my grandmother used to cook; fried chicken smothered in dark gravy, collard greens, sweet potatoes swimming in butter and Brown n’ Serve rolls. Not the traditional meal for our health conscience world today 😊. Nevertheless, this memory and many more are tucked away in my heart, ready for retrieval at a moment’s notice…
As I have been studying and reading through the book of Acts, my life is truly being challenged. I am in a state of unrest. Good unrest. Questions like, “Where is the power of God displayed in my life?” “Am I living an ordinary life?” “Am I living an explainable life?” are all ruminating through my heart and mind. And these questions are wreaking havoc!
I recently had breakfast with Hunter, a young man who attends our church. We met at a trendy, house converted coffee shop in downtown Franklin. I ordered a healthy hipster breakfast…NOT.
You cannot imagine the excitement of an inner city kid, who’s single Mom just informed him of the incredible news that they would be going to the local amusement park in the morning. The place he hardly ever went to because African Americans weren’t allowed in the park unless they were employees or had a private party after hours. But now in the early seventies, times had changed. They could freely attend the park. There certainly would be no sleeping that night! Dreams filled with a kid’s imagination of all that would take place; mapping out in his mind the rides he would experience AND the rollercoasters he would ride…Oh, the rollercoasters!
Anyone who has spent time in my presence has heard me say that I love mornings, (provided
I‘ve had a good night’s rest) :) . Especially if everyone’s still asleep, the morning is even better;
the freshness, the newness. I have no trouble getting out of bed, holding a conversation,
listening to music, first thing in the morning. I don’t really need time to warm up or to get
going. One of my daughters, who will remain nameless, is NOT a morning person. She doesn’t
want to talk, engage in conversation or be greeted with enthusiasm, in the mornings. She says
that is rude and annoying. I’ve heard her often say, “Just give me a moment.” “Let me get my
coffee.” ; It seems that it takes her an hour or two to really feel like herself.
Have you ever had someone ask you, “If you had an opportunity to go back and talk to the younger you, what would you tell yourself?” What an intriguing thought and question. Have you ever pondered that? What would you say to “yourself”. Of course we know this is not a possibility but it does give way to thinking about life’s lessons and the things that we have learned. As I alluded to in part 1 of this blog, the older you get, the more life you have to look back on. And with 56 ½ years behind me, there seems to be many lessons learned and a lot to talk about ☺
God does all things good in His time. Not ours. 6 and half years ago we started what was then the Church at Antioch. And I had a young man jump in the waters with me and serve full-time as the associate pastor…being interpreted, do whatever the Pastor cannot do or do whatever needs to be done. Logan, had to become a jack of all trades. But his heart and his wife’s heart were in Portugal. As you know they left about three years ago, to go and serve there…
I woke up on July 9th , walked into our kitchen and announced to my kids, Rhesa and Ryland, “Today is my ½ birthday, where’s my celebration?” “Come on…I’m 56 and a half and I want a party.” They looked at me as if I was “one fry short of a Happy Meal”. ☺ I sounded, like a little kid, I’m sure.
Legendary NFL Head Coach Vince Lombardi, was known for his motivational quips and quotes:
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Another one,
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will”. So true! But the one I believe to be the most notable is his statement that , “Winners never quit and quitters never win”. I actually grew up hearing that quote, from teachers, my step-dad, even my band teacher.
It was just one of those mornings. Not a bad, “just one of those mornings”…but a good one. I woke up earlier than I had planned and decided to go workout; something that I had really neglected to do faithfully these past few months. I don’t know what it was but I just felt like it was going to be a great day. I rolled down the windows in my Buick Lesabre, turned up the radio and was on my way to Planet Fitness.