Archive for July, 2014

Plan A or Plan B

Cheryl wrote this column to help me recently when I was sick for two weeks. Enjoy this wonderful side of my God-minded Bride. It was published in the Rhea County Herald-News, July 30, 2014

Plan A…everyone’s got one. Usually Plan A goes off without a hitch or maybe with a tweak. But there are those times when Plan A won’t work. It’s then that having a Plan B comes in handy—if you have one. It just so happens that there was a Plan A for this past Sunday.

Plan A: Awaken to a lovely Sunday morning, grab a cup of coffee, and watch the sunrise from the front porch. After a while eat breakfast, shower, and go to church to worship the Creator of the sunrise that was just enjoyed.

Reality: Awaken with a churning stomach…

A tweak: Crawl back into bed, pull the covers over the head, and let someone else enjoy the sunrise and freshly brewed cup of coffee.

We all know there are times in our day to day lives where what we have planned is not what is happening. My mom used to quote: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” It is from the poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns. And so, this is the case for the usual writer of this column. He had his plans but they went awry. He was under the weather, really, really under the weather and it is now the eleventh hour. The deadline for this column is Monday. Is there a Plan B?

But isn’t life often like that? Plan A doesn’t happen and we start searching for Plan B. We are challenged to be flexible in our plans by choice or by circumstances. We often hear someone say, “I have a Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work.” Plan A is always the preferred plan. Somehow though Plan B might work just as well, it is not as good as Plan A.

Plan A, what makes it a guaranteed success? Is it even possible? Yes. Scripture says: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)
Hummm…This verse tells us Who has Plan A. It’s the Lord, not us. We might think we have Plan A but compared to the Lord, ours is only a human attempt and therefore only Plan B. How do we implement Plan A?

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) Think about this…If we delight ourselves in the Lord, then surely we will want to do things His way. Oh my, that must be Plan A. In doing things His way we have the desires of our heart—to be in His will.

A clever saying I heard recently is, “The best place to be is in God’s will.”

So, John being really, really under the weather must be God’s Plan A. And me writing this column is Plan B…or is it Plan A?

In Glory

Sunrise, July 31, 2014

“When Christ who is your life appears, then you will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:4

I woke up this morning to a shrouded sun, hiding behind our old friend Graysky. While gray sunrises and days have rich value all their own, we look forward to the sun’s bright, full, life-giving appearing when we can bask in its warmth and gifts of life.

Sunrises sound like Colossians 3:4. I can’t get this verse out of my gut. As you have opportunity, chew on this dense verse of promise. “Christ…your life…appears…then you…with him…in glory.”

Wow.

Exhilarating!

Sunrise, July 30, 2014

“…who commands the sun, and it does not rise; who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea; who made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiases and the chambers of the south; who does great things beyond searching out, and marvelous things beyond number…?” Job 9:7-10

With the slightest of pink behind a cloudless horizon, the sunrise was fall-like and exhilarating today—again. God commanded the sun to wake up and we are blessed.

Job’s questions to his well-meaning but unhelpful counselors and patient God are good process and questions. Father, thank You for receiving our doubts and questions and agonies—crudely expressed—and not counting them as sin.

Invigorating!

Sunrise, July 29, 2014

“In them [the heavens] he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber…” Psalm 19:4-5

This morning’s sunrise was invigorating and energetic—a summer oasis of cool breezes lightly swirling while the sky grew in intensity. The early, buffy gray clouds gave way to backlighted, peach flavored slices of brilliance and joy. Don’t you love peach season each year?!

The coming out of the sun was a savory gift from God this morning.

Engulfing!

Sunrise, July 28, 2014

“He made the storm be still…” Psalm 107:29

Today’s sunrise and sounds were unusually calm. Did the middle of the night, window-rattling storm last night reset all alarm clocks and the world hasn’t awakened?

Absent of the intense, rapidly changing variety of colors that come with clouds in the foreground, the sun’s glow of early pink and then bright yellow filled a perfectly clear sky. Engulfing!

Psalm 107 is a recall of God’s history of hearing and rescuing us, and saving us from ourselves. The Psalmist invites to be wise, for “If you are really wise, you’ll think this over—it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love” (107:43. The Message). God’s “deep love” is the often repeated “steadfast love” of Psalm 107—“his enduring kindness toward his people and his willingness to forgive them even in the face of rampant unfaithfulness.”

Humm…

The Name

Sunrise, July 18, 2014

“Let the name of the LORD be praised,
both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised.” Psalm 113:2-3

Each day and in every place the sun’s appearance and exit gives occasion to applaud the name of God. I commend Psalm 113 to you to see some specific ways God, who is “enthroned on high,” has “stooped down to look on the heavens and the earth.”

The sun is hidden this morning, but His name and kingship and acts of grace are evident everywhere—most of all in Jesus Christ our Lord, who took our place on the cruel cross.

Today Father, help me to look for people and occasions to declare Your name.

A Slow Gaze and A First Fish

Sunrise, July 9, 2014

“Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in him” (Psalm 111:2).

I studied a gray sunrise today. Yes, the sun peeked through a thin spot. But a slow gaze uncovered layers of gray clouds, some moving fast and some slow. It was a sweet time of delight and praise and praying through several Scriptures.

The delight is in the God of wonders. In context, His works are deliverances and provision and ultimately His salvation. We tend to zero in on the works not the Worker of wonders. Psalm 111:2 is a good reminder and focus.

Sunrise followers: We are returning two oldest grandkids to their rightful owners tomorrow and will be off-line for a few days. It has been a sweet time in many ways, but the highlight of this visit for me will always be the privilege to take Wilder fishing and watching his joy at catching his first two fish (25# new state record Bass who fought for 3 hours on 2 pound test line)…He’ll have a different fish tale to tell.

Miss me.

The Sky is Busy with Hiding Places

The Sky is Busy with Hiding Places
Psalm 108:4

Father in heaven,
The sky is busy with hiding places this morning.
Where there is a dance in the early sky.
Today you peeped from behind
a curtain of countless blue billows—
each lush with pink.

And then,
like a lover’s dance in the dark,
you playfully hid for a moment.
Yet your light was there—here—
and is inescapable.
Smiling, you then fully embraced the day.
You cannot hide anymore.

There are no hiding places from your embrace:
“Your steadfast love is great above the heavens,
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.”

Oliver’s Yelp

“Give us this day our daily bread” Matthew 6:12

I am tired…all five of my grandkids have been visiting. Really, they are wonderful kids and I delight in their different personalities, gifts and ceaseless energy.

The kids range from nine months to ten years old. Depending on their maturity, they have different ways to express their needs and wants. Of course, Oliver, the baby, has only one way to let us know he is hungry. I bet you know what that is. His life is uncomplicated by the many unnecessary ideas and distractions we take on as we age. He is completely dependent on his parents to feed him—and he has the lungs to prove it.

In recent weeks we have looked at the early words of the Lord’s Prayer, which are all about the Father—guarding His name, His reign as King from heaven, His rightful will on earth as it already is in heaven. In today’s verse Jesus teaches us how the Father touches our most basic needs.

For Oliver and us bread is a “daily” need. Daily was an unusual word, and no doubt Jesus had in mind the necessities of life, not just food. Praying this in the morning directs us to dependence and alertness for that day; praying it in the evening sets the stage for the day to come.

Jesus’ hearers must have been thinking the question we have, too—And what about tomorrow? The Master Teacher answered it later in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore, do not be anxious, saying ‘What may we eat?’ or ‘What may we drink?’ or ‘What may we put on?’ ” This is not an invitation to forget to harvest the fields or go to work or save like the wise ant for the winter (Proverbs 6). Since we have a choice, let us chose to be an ant and not a sluggard.

Jesus used everyday things to teach us and to point the way to greater things. The lesser things are the life-essential things that come from God’s hand. Later, in contrasting manna in the wilderness with Himself, Jesus would say “For the bread of God is the One coming down from heaven and giving life to the world” (John 6:33). Linger there for a year or two.

The Lord’s Prayer shows us—in the good sense—we never stop being a child. Joy comes as we are dependent instead of obsessive in creating security; trusting the Father instead of worrying; asking instead of assuming. Most of all, every slice of bread, every meal is a reminder of the everlasting life Jesus offers to those who trust in the Bread of Life for eternal life—our greatest need and joy.

Oliver’s yelp is a heavenly chorus.



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