Friday, June 26, 2015

Waves of Grace

Romans 5:1-2  "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God."

It's one of those news days...breaking news, historical news, world events and change.

Sunbathers in Tunisia, their beach towels soaked in blood, a mosque in Kuwait blew up and something happened in France...

Washington D.C. glows like Skittles, a rainbow decision.

A dangerous, escaped prisoner, maybe two soon, brought down.

A flag may no longer fly in the South.

A President sings "Amazing Grace" before a grieving city, a city that knows these words by heart for many decades.

And I reel it back in to my little circle.

Should I get a new swimsuit and try out the pool? Should I let another summer go by without the refreshment of a swim?

I retook my driver's test after missing one-too-many the first time around for a renewal I had let slide. I can proudly say I am legit now.

I have big lizards in my yard.  They're pretty cool.

I live...I mean love, the pictures on social media, of every one's vacations to wonderful places,  and then there is Pinterest.

My tomatoes are doing well;  my peppers not so much.

I can't go to Disneyland now until late August.

Did I use too much water today?

I'm looking for that bright yellow, black-winged oriole (I think) to come back in my yard long enough to get a picture. I've seen him twice, swooping in for a drink of water.

This is what he looks like!  

And then there are the prayers for my outer circle:  A third job lay-off,  an abusive ex., two young mothers and their addictions, prodigal adult children, debt, cystic fibrous, cancer, depression, suicide, pain and recovery, chronic disease.

...and the President sings "Amazing Grace..."

 I have it... and I know it... and I live it... and I cherish it!

Only because He Gave It!  God,  through His Son deemed it so for this broken world. I believe. I read His unchanging Word.

And I need to give more of it. Be it. 

For the little circle ripples out to the bigger circle, whether a boulder hits the surface or a pebble.

Waves hit the shore, from sea to shining sea.  My water fountain for the birds ripples in the winds of change. God so loved the world...

Amazing Grace Lord, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. 

Waves of Grace, wash my eyes out to see more of You in all my circles. For you friend, I pray for peace, love, compassion, healing, provision and protection. I wish for you to know Amazing Grace and seek His purpose within your own circle. May God not hide His face from us, but empower us to be salt and light. Amen.

Casting Crowns: If We Ever Need You Lord 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Commencement Speech

James 3:17 "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy."

Can you hear it? Pomp and Circumstance, learned and practiced for many years by orchestras everywhere, bellows itself out into anticipatory crowds of anxious and somewhat relieved parents. They sit, with all the extended family, awaiting their offspring's march to the stage and listening for the calling out of their full and complete name --on the receiving end, a high school diploma.

But it's not the end,  as we know so well.  It is the beginning of dreams and goals, of adulthood and  responsibility, of passion and heartbreak, of moving out and breaking off, of signing up and heading out, traveling, exploring and innovating.

What is it we wish most for this new batch of young idealists?

Purity. Culture bombards us every nano-second. The flat screens decorate almost every social gathering place. The ear buds hang from anatomy, the smart phone and social media... well, you know. Every one's opinion is broadcast, twittered, posted. Freedom of speech is an awesome privilege, don't misunderstand me. Are we so engaged in other's views that time is not spent in hearing and knowing our own thoughts?  Nothing seems private any more. How does one keep themselves pure,  uncompromised, steadfast and grounded?

 Wisdom desires Discipline. Wisdom honors Righteousness. 

Wisdom knows Grace. 

Peaceful. To be full of peace, one must not dwell on controversy, on decisions, on pet peeves and unmet expectations, on hypotheticals and tomorrow's issues. Definitely, don't watch the evening news or get involved in politics. How can we keep the peace, live in the world but not be of the world and strive to make a difference? Seems impossible, for planning ahead is a part of wise decisions. God did not create us to stay inside the cocoon. Peace comes from confidence and knowing what we believe in is greater and sovereign. With God, nothing is impossible. It is a learning lifestyle captured with continous prayer, and celebrating the Giver of Peace.

Wisdom seeks Trust. 

Gentle. Words sometimes are brash, harsh, wounding. The lack of words hurts deep as well. Gentleness is polite, respectful of self and others. Gentlemen and Gentlewomen smooth out the wrinkles, blot away at the stains, and clear the rubble with their smile, helping hands and controlled speech. Gentleness has others, their neighbors on their mind.

Wisdom covets Compassion.

Reasonable. To be reasonable is to be selfless, to know our agenda doesn't have to win out always. Reason has perspective and willingness to look at all sides. Reason does the research. Reason listens. Reason is why;  it's the times we just don't know. Reason is patient. Reason waits. We are the Reason.

Wisdom uses Understanding. 

Full of Mercy and Good Fruits. What is left in the wake? Encouragement and empathy comes alongside another and bolsters one up. Passion produces productivity towards positive change where before, hope had no meaning. A branch is pruned and the buds of spring produce fruit that feeds a village. Leaders develop new leaders, seeds of a lasting legacy.

Wisdom creates Inspiration.

Unwavering, without hypocrisy. No one is perfect. without mistakes, without some regrets, how can we learn? Forgiveness, front and center, the Lord above is full of Grace. Trustworthiness, Compassion, Understanding and Inspiration; may His Light become bright and shine upon the roads ahead. What do we want for our graduates? To be true to themselves and true to one another, to find Grace, find their own Spark in His Plan.  

Wisdom reflects Integrity.  

Solomon, the most wise among wise men wrote in the Book of Proverbs (9:10), "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." For this senior class, my hope for you is Godly wisdom and in that you may receive, grace, trust, compassion for others, understanding, inspiration and a life full of integrity. Whatever your path, with these traits, your legacy will make an ETERNAL difference and I am celebrating all the possibilities God places now before you.

Dear Lord, lead these young adults through the desert of uncertainty and into the promised land of your sovereign grace and will. May new leadership with a heart towards Your plan rise above and make You known. Keep them grounded in Your Word, surrounded by accountability by their peers and prayer warriors of the faith of their fathers as they develop their own story, chapters of Your wise counsel. Thank you Lord for the energy of our youth and the big world you've put before them. Help us not to give up when we see the deterioration of culture, but pray for these dear ones that seek to do Your Will, to make a positive difference in this world. May integrity of heart and soul give them strength for all their days ahead. Thank you Lord, Amen.