Monday, March 22, 2010

A Servant Heart

A servant heart? Where? When? Really?

Yesterday at A Restoration Church I saw a servant heart in living, stunning action. Most of us were buzzing around like worker bees cleaning up, resetting the rooms where we worship, putting up, washing up. All the servant hearts were in full blown motion!

Then I saw a most amazing thing! My friend who mostly tools around in her power wheelchair - and who often sits in the middle of the hubbub and bemoans that she can't help - found a job she could do. Her hands shake, and she has trouble gripping things. Yesterday she found something to do and it was amazing to watch!

She got the sponge mop and began "joy sticking" her way around the room pushing the mop, stopping wherever there was a tougher patch. There she rubbed a little harder.

Another friend with MS that is beginning to advance pretty rapidly was packing and even carrying bins to our storage area.

Another friend lost her husband just a few weeks ago, but she brought the main dish yesterday and stood at the sink washing dishes until the last one was clean and dry.

My friend who has just recently joined us for worship started to leave, stopped and jumped in to help - quickly and efficiently.

We have a fellowship meal together after worship. Our 6'6" Ukrainian pianist and friend who just loves to eat good food doesn't get his food or sit down until he's pushed keyboard, speakers and other bulky items to the storage area.

AND there were others - all pitching in to do whatever their hands found to do. Almost everyone was putting Ecclesiastes 9:10 into motion: "Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might."

BUT the MOST amazing snapshot of a servant heart I saw was my friend in the power chair - the one with the biggest excuse to just sit and wait - mopping the floor in two big rooms. WOW!

Heart Ache

My heart aches this morning. Things are happening to rock my world - seismic changes on a Richter scale off the charts! Where to turn, what to do?

Here's where I'm going to camp out:

Proverbs 21:1 - The king's heart is in the hands of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases!

Anyone wanna go camping with me?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Paddy's Day!
I've been wearing green today and thinking about rainbows. That black pot filled with gold at the end of the rainbow just probably isn't ever going to happen - at least to me. That started me thinking!
There was gold at the bottom of the first rainbow. I'm talking about the first one God painted in the sky. God said the rainbow would forever stand as a symbol and reminder that God's grace covers all the ugliness sin has, does or ever will cause. That's the real gold at the end of the rainbow. It's called grace! It is a beautiful thing!
And whenever you or I ever trace a rainbow through whatever storms come, we can stand firm on God's promise to give grace greater than all our sin!
It's a promise from God's heart to mine and yours! Think about that today!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Showing Mercy and Winching Trees

The snow fell with a vengeance February 5-6, 2010 in Pittsburgh - two feet and more over the next days and weeks. I looked out our living room windows late that Friday evening and saw a huge tree lying across three cars parked in front of our garage. Fortunately enough snow fell before the tree did that there was little or no damage to the cars.
By Saturday morning almost every evergreen in our yard was flat on the ground under the weight of the heavy snow.
Now a month later enough snow has melted that yesterday with great effort and a cable winch we were able to get one of the biggest trees upright and anchored to three of our neighbor's trees until we can make more permanent arrangements for anchors.
During the last month, we up-righted some of the smaller evergreens and braced them with ladders, a push broom in one case and various rakes. The ladders, rakes and push broom are still bracing trees. The presentation is more than a little strange.
Yesterday as we were winching the largest tree slowly up, up, up until it was mostly standing straight again, it occurred to me that we were in the middle of a life parable.
People - like our evergreens - get crushed and flattened by the weight of life. People crushed by their life circumstances need someone to come alongside to "winch" him or her up-right again.
It is hard work reaching out hand and heart, spending the time and effort necessary to "pull up" a crushed, battered, storm ravaged friend.
Today my body feels the effects of all that effort yesterday. My neck is so stiff I can hardly move. My back hurts so bad that I cannot stand straight. I'm walking carefully and slow.
Caring about others, showing mercy can be hard work. Progress may be slow. The effort may be painful BUT - in the end - it can make all the difference! God calls us to care. God calls us to do the hard work of showing mercy!
Our trees remind me of all the crushed people in my world who need a loving heart and a helping hand to stand up again.
Getting up and standing tall once again isn't over with one effort. It is an on-going process! It's like our neighbor's three trees anchoring the one tree.
Showing mercy is hard work! Showing mercy is more than a bandaid. Showing mercy can be costly BUT - in the end - it's worth it all! AND it's what God calls us to be and do!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An Old Book and Tears in a Bottle

Far from being a musty, dusty ancient book, the Bible is an incredibly honest letter from God as up-to-date, relevant and direct as any media presentation. God talks quite honestly about how He responds to things He doesn't like. Proverbs talks about seven things God hates, and it's not a pretty list:
  • a proud look
  • a lying tongue
  • hands that shed innocent blood
  • a heart that devises wicked schemes
  • feet that run to mischief
  • a false witness who speaks lies
  • anyone who causes strife between brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19)
That's a list of seven but the list goes on! God hates divorce, sin, spiritual snobs and more. God haes the mess we make of the beautiful creation He planned and spoke into being!

Joni Eareckson Tada writes, "Besides sin, God has a strong distaste for suffering. ... In Judges 10:16 God is watching the Amonites beat up on God's people. The Jews cry out in prayer and toss out their idols. Finally - here's the line - God "could bear Israel's misery no longer." His tenderness was roused by human anguish. ... Suffering to God, is distasteful, to say the least. God is truly grieved at how we've ruined the world and abused each other. This grief is partly why He gave the Ten Commandments: Don't murder, He says - I hate unjust killling. Don't commit adultery - I despise seeing families ripped apart." (Joni Eareckson Tada, When God Weeps, p. 80)

When we come teeth-rattling smack-up against all the ugliness of life in all its unvarnished glory, GOD CARES! When we face ugly, condescending pride raining on our heads or lies spoken in dark corners to damage our hearts and reputations or evil hands that shed innocent blood or hearts that just delight in dreaming up evil schemes or feet that run to mischief and destruction or a false witness who speaks lies or ANYONE who stirs up trouble between "brothers" - It's in those painful life situations when we suffer that we are most likely to find God's hand reaching out to wipe away our tears!

When we cry bitter tears over unjust treatment at the hands of others, God comes in to take our side, to stand with us, indeed to take careful note of our tears. God told King Hezekiah, "I have heard your prayer and I have seen your tears." (Is. 38:5, 2 Kings 20:5) Psalm 56:8 tells us that God keeps track of our tears - both written and visual records. God records each tear in His "Tear Journal." God keeps a few of our tears' DNA for His tear bottle (lachrymatory)!

Why does God care about my tears and yours? Can it be they speak a special language that reaches the very heart of God? It must be so! The same caring God is also the One who promises to wipe every tear away on that wonderful day when He also makes everything NEW! (Rev. 21:5)

Our tears either drive us further into the darkness of our own pity parties or they propel us into the loving arms of Jesus!