The Glory of God

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6;3

I have seen many glorious things: beautiful mountains, oceans, and forests. I have seen the Grand Canyon and the redwood forests in northern California. I have seen sunrise over a bayou and sunsets over a sea. It’s a bit sad that we’ve become so urban. We think skyscrapers, stadiums and the like are glorious, impressive sometimes, but not glorious.

I have seen other really glorious things: my bride walking down the aisle, my children and grands and greats, still red and bruised from the birth trauma, taking their first steps, or laughing for no good reason,  and newly baptized converts, gloriously changed and miraculously healed, gloriously saved.

I think what makes something glorious isn’t its beauty. It’s something so spectacular that the sight of it changes you. Isaiah said that the whole earth is full of the Glory of God. I don’t always see it. To those who don’t know Him, the world is void of glory. Through His grace, eyes are opened. The more you know Him, the more glorious the world. The more you recognize and appreciate His glory, the more you know Him.

Sometimes the glorious isn’t beautiful at all. A man, naked, bloody, and dying on a tree isn’t pretty but it is truly glorious. Sacrifice, difficulties, and pain aren’t pretty either, but they are sometimes glorious in that they are life changing and point to the creator God whose love is beyond our understanding. He shows himself sometimes in us when we fight beyond capacity, give beyond means, and care beyond reason. When we love as He loves, his glory shines through because only He could do that.

It’s a glorious world, if we will just look, appreciate and in a small way understand.

Memorial Day

I hope you have a nice memorial day weekend. Let’s just take time to remember why it’s a holiday. We remember those who have died that we might be free. I was in the military for eleven years, so I am a bit sensitive when folks just use the extra day off to grill, swim and get a little high. I was not called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice, but I know those who did. Might I suggest that when we say grace this weekend we take time to thank God for those who gave all.

It would also be great if we remember Jesus who not only died for us, but did so willingly and in the most painful way possible. His death not only made it possible for us to be free, but for us to be eternally free.

Thanks to all who sacrificed and special thanks for He who sacrificed the most for the most.

Last Day of School

I am excited for my grandkids today because it’s the last day of school. My strongest memories are of the last day of school and the summers that followed. The school  year seemed to last for a year and the summer for about a week. On the last day of school, however, it seemed that we would be free for ever. The summer held so much promise.

I grew up in Crowley. As a kid we lived a block from the courthouse and the library. Summers were hot and air conditioning not common. The library was air-conditioned. In fact it was the coldest building in Crowley. Every summer they had something called the Summer Reading Club. There were contests for reading the most books. You got to put stickers on a big chart for every book you read. We would go to the library in the heat of the afternoon and would spend hours picking books and leave with a stack. We would go home and try to find a cool place to look through and or read the books.

We, of course, didn’t have a swimming pool. It was a great treat to go to the “public” pool to swim. I can still remember the smell of chlorine poured into the pool to try to counteract whatever the kids were leaving in the pool. We would ride bikes to the pool and were plenty hot when we go there so jumping in the cool water was great. The problem was it was just as hot riding home and there was nothing cool to greet us there, except maybe a trip to the library.

In Crowley there were good city parks with lots of trees, swings and slides. We would sometimes ride to the park. There was also a Frosto that served the coldest root beer in the world in huge funnel like containers. That was a great treat on the days we had a little money.

It didn’t cool off much at night. We had an attic fan. The trick was to sleep by a window that was open just the right amount. It had to be opened enough for the air to come through but not so much that the flow was diminished. It still seemed we woke up in sheets damp from our overnight sweats. We went outside early to try to get some fun in before it got too hot and it was time to go swimming or to the library.

We sometimes got to go on summer trips with my aunt. She sometimes took one or more of us on her summer trips. My favorite trips were to Mexico and once to Colorado. We didn’t have a car. Yes, I’m not making that up. We walked or rode our bikes everywhere. We didn’t have weeks at the beach or in the mountains. Trips only happened when someone else took us. Summer vacation sure has changed.

I’m excited for my grandkids, but I’m not sure why. There is plenty of air conditioning and lots of electronics to play with indoor. I don’t know if kids go to the library anymore or if there are any public pools left. Modern parents surely wouldn’t let their kids ride bikes alone to a public swimming pool or a park on their own. Maybe I’ll try to think up some summer adventures that might give them a taste of what summer vacation really used to be like. They weren’t expensive or ‘fabulous” but they sure were fun.

 

Binge Netflix

I’ve spent the weekend binge watching Netflix and listening to Cajun baseball and softball on the radio. The baseball and softball have been uplifting, the Netflix not so much. I’ve watched movies about a mentally ill and drug dependent soccer mom, a boy running from the Nazis for years on his own because he was Jewish,  the Civil war near its end,  as renegade Yankee soldiers terrorized the South and the women without their men to protect them, and two homeless people falling in love, one a drug dependent woman, the other a repentant terrorist.

Seemingly ordinary people can be incredibly stupid, unbelievably evil, and completely self-destructive.  Those expected and empowered to help are often incompetent, over-whelmed, uncaring or just plain evil.

Of course these hurting people need Jesus, but more importantly those of us who think we have Jesus need to be more like Him. We need to quit being unthankful and whining about every little inconvenience. We need to take off the blinders that keep us from seeing the hurting, pain and loss around us. Where’s the Christianity that is recognized by its loving and not its self-righteousness. Where are the followers who do more than they say?

On Sunday we will go to church, consider how much better we are than those who don’t, listen to how we should work hard to be holier, write checks for someone else to do ministry. On Monday we will adjust our blinders, harden our hearts and spend our time complaining about the government, and shaking our heads about how tough our lives are. Wouldn’t Jesus be proud?

Fear Not

Lot’s of times I write a post and then, for some reason never publish it. I am going through some of those old posts now. This should be fun:

At our house, the power frequently goes out.  It’s creepy. The only light in our house comes from candles, a flashlight and our “electronics” phones and i-pads. Fear of the dark is one of our earliest and most basic fears. I remember as a kid having to have a night light on. The darkness hid monsters under the bed and in the closet.

What makes darkness so scary is that it makes so much unknown. Fear is all about the lack of security. If we can’t see we are insecure. It’s what makes the future scary. We can’t see it. It’s unknown. It’s why medical procedures, new experiences, even new people can be fear producers. When we are kids we are fearful because it’s a big unknown world out there.

Growing up doesn’t eliminate fear. In fact as we learn more about our world, we discover frightful things we would never think of as kids. There is unemployment, terminal illnesses, terrorists, and the government. Will we every find love, if we find it will they love us forever? Security is an illusive thing and fear seems inevitable.

It’s why the bible tells us 365 times not to fear. Like FDR told a frightened nation in a dangerous time, fear itself is the real enemy. We just need unshakeable security to eliminate fear. That’s not possible in the natural.  That’s only found one place in the relationship we were created for, with our God. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5.

In Christ there is no darkness, even when the lights are out, we are secure. We know we are forever loved and forever safe. Got to love the light, the Light of the World. In Him the power is never out.

Acknowledged Presence

When I returned from my morning errands I  noticed an old friend was back. We have about a three-foot alligator who lives in the drainage ditch in the back of our property. When the weather is just right, he pulls up on the bank and suns himself. I haven’t seen him for several weeks and he has grown a bit. It may be time to call the Department of Natural Resources to come pick him up.

I wonder where he is for the weeks that I don’t see him. Just because I don’t see him doesn’t mean he isn’t there. He might slip a little further back into the swamp but I suspect he isn’t far away. He probably sees me more than I see him.

It’s kind of like that with God. I know that He’s always around. I know that I am headed for a face-to-face meeting with Him in heaven. It just doesn’t always feel like it. When I “feel” His presence my fear and anxiety is minimal and my joy and comfort is maximum. I just have to learn to teach my feelings to match up with reality.

I know there are good ways to do that. I can recount how in the past I didn’t feel His presence at critical times, but as I look back I can see his footsteps in the sand, sometimes walking next to me, sometimes carrying me when I couldn’t take another step.

I know if I take time to consider his creation I will see His reflection in the beauty of what He’s made. You can not look about at the green on the ground and the blue in the air and not have some increased sense of his presence. You can’t look at a grand child’s smile or feel a loving squeeze on your hand and not know He’s not just there but that He’s working for your good.

Even in the darkness of the world and the despair of the lost, evidence of the nonrecognition of Him in the world, you can feel His real presence in the lives of those of us who love Him, trust Him and excitedly await our face-to-face meeting.

Go To Grandpa

My granddaughter’s school had a great tradition. The eighth grade graduates would take an airplane trip to Washington D. C. My granddaughter was unlucky enough to graduate the eighth grade in 2001. Parents that year were nervous about airplanes and trips to Washington. D. C. Her class got a bus trip to Colonial Williamsburg. As you might imagine, chaperones for the trip were hard to find. I volunteered. It took us two days on the bus to get there and two days back. It was likely because of that trip that I got the reputation as “go to grandpa.”

I have memories of running into a Wal-Mart from the bus to pick up movies so the kids would have something fresh to watch. I remember the rain poured down the entire day we were at Williamsburg and the kids had to dodge the rain running from exhibit to exhibit. I don’t have a lot of memories of my grand-daughter from that trip. I think I was wise enough to know to give her space. What eighth grader wants her grandpa around?

Ever since then I’m the one the grandkids call when they miss the bus, have a midweek doctors’ appointment, or need a babysitter. Having an at home law practice made being the “go to grandpa” possible. You should be aware that I was not a go to dad. I was in the Navy for eleven years when my kids were young. That included two tours in Vietnam, then law school, a year internship and struggles to get a law practice going. I’ve been a better grandpa than I was a dad.

There are times when I wish I had devoted more energy to billable hours, building a larger client base and saving up for retirement. At those times I review memories of bus trips, rescuing grandkids from missed buses, and holding hands at doctor appointments and remember I wouldn’t trade being a go to grandpa for anything, except maybe having been a go to dad.

The Sweet Spot of Dependence

I am convinced that God keeps his children, those who really try to be His disciples in the Sweet Spot of Dependence. That’s the place where we can  most easily put all our trust in Him. This spot is easy to establish for the poor, the prisoner, and the desperately ill. Those folks know they can do nothing to advance their situations and thus dependence on God is easy. The church always flourishes in centers of poverty and persecution. Not so much on the sunny side of the street. Dependence on God is easy for the poor; It’s tough for the rich. Those with money and power and resources fight the illusion that they are in control of their lives. That’s a truly dangerous place to be.

The sweet spot of dependence isn’t static. It’s dynamic, moving as our life situations change and our relationship with God adjusts. God will challenge us in various aspects of our lives as we move forward. At some points it may be our health that turns us to him. At other times, rebellious children or unfaithful spouses turn us to dependence on God. For those without independent means, finances is always a dependence trigger.

The proof is overwhelming. Remember the packed churches after 9-11. There are no atheists in fox holes. Look at the pained prayerful expressions in hospital waiting rooms and the hallways of court houses. Stressors challenge our independence and force us to contemplate our dependence on Him.

I always smile when I hear folks, often Christians, say that God won’t send us more than we can handle. That’s so wrong. God will always send us more than we can handle. just so we will give up trying to handle things on our own and turn things over to him.  It’s no wonder that we should rejoice when times are rough; it means God is loving and near.