Monday, November 24, 2008

I Love The Rain

I love the rain. Sure, it can make life a bit of a hassle. Especially, on those days when you get caught out in it unprepared without an umbrella. Or, when traffic moves at caterpillar speed on your way to and from work. But, still I love the rain.

Sure, I like listening to it fall outside. For some reason, it just has a calming effect. Then, there are times I like to just stare out the window and watch it fall. I even like playing in it. Yes, even as an adult. But, all of that pales in comparison to the real reason I love the rain.

Every time it rains, I am reminded of a story I heard a few years ago. It seems that in 1937, a young lady who already had several children discovered she was pregnant with yet another. She had no desire for another child and had found someone who would be willing to help her abort the pregnancy. She somehow convinced her husband to pay for the procedure and one morning she woke up to find the cash for the procedure laying on the kitchen table. However, it was pouring down rain that morning and she didn't want to get out in all that mess. The story goes on, I've been told, that after that day, she just decided to have the baby.

To think that a little rain saved a little baby's life is a pretty powerful story, but that story carries a lot more weight when it touches your life on a more personal note. That young lady was my grandmother and the baby was my Dad. To think of what might have been, had it not been raining that day. I stagger to think that myself, my 2 bothers, my 2 sisters, my 2 sons, my 4 nephews, and my 3 nieces, all could have been aborted on that raining day in 1937. I just thank God that on that morning in that little town in West Virginia, the heavens opened up and poured down rain.

As you can imagine, its hard for me not to be reminded of that story, when it rains. Sure, I get upset from time to time when I'm inconvenienced by wet weather, but somehow, someway God always reminds me that it was a day like this in 1937, that my life as well as the lives of those I love dearest were spared. So, is it any wonder why I love the rain?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lessons From The Land Of Uz

A few thousand years ago in the land of Uz, there lived a man whose life gives us some pretty powerful lessons. While reading his story this past week, I was hit with a pretty big reality check. The story begins by telling us of this man named Job who seemed to have the perfect life. He had a great family, big house, and lots of stuff. Then we are given access to a conversation between God and satan concerning Job. God brings up Job and actually brags a little bit about him to which satan replies by saying that Job only loves and serves God because his life is so great. Satan tells God that given some calamity in life, Job is certain to view God quite differently.

As I read this, I began to think about myself. I pondered for a moment how often I truly fail this very test. I started to think how quick I am to get a little miffed at God when things don't go my way. When prayers seemingly go unanswered or when I'm not seemingly under a "blessing cloud." Perhaps, you're like me. You find that praising and thanking God for all He's done comes really easy when life is good, but it becomes quite difficult when life stinks.

If we are honest with ourselves we'll admit that in those moments we are doing little more than throwing a fit. Ok, perhaps we don't lay on the floor and kick and scream like we did when we were little, but our heart attitude is not all that different. We want something and we don't get it, so we pout, get an attitude, and want God and the rest of the world to know it. Sounds like a fit to me. Crazy isn't it. The very thing we discipline our kids for, we somehow justify when we ourselves do the same thing.

God is good. He is always good. He can't act outside of good, because that's who and what He is. That being said, bad stuff still hits our lives. We live in a world that is broken. We live in a world at war. A war that is constantly raging between good and evil. Between the forces of darkness and the forces of God. Those who sit around with the idea that they are immune from bad stuff happening to them have a "Disney" outlook on life. It isn't real. Its a fantasy world that is destined to come crashing down one day.

Job's life was great, but calamity and tragedy hit hard. Like Job, it is in those moments that we truly find out about our heart. It's here we find out a lot about ourselves. In those moments, we find out if we are little more than an adult who still has the same heart as a spoiled child, or if we have outgrown the mindset that the world should cater to our every desire. Finding the ability to look beyond the garbage in life and maintain a heart of thanksgiving toward a God, who remains good through it all, shows growth and maturity along our journey. On the other hand getting ticked off at God, angry with everyone else, and mad at the world shows that we have many more mile markers to go on our spiritual journey to maturity.

Count on it, bad stuff will hit your life. Friends will wound you, relatives will upset you, and this world will hammer you. Its how you react when it hits that makes all the difference in the world. Job's life in the end was better than it was in the beginning. I truly believe that is largely a result of how he handled the calamity that hit his life. Just remember in the middle of it all, God still remains God. In the midst of life's hardest struggles, His goodness, grace, mercy, and love can still be found. If you can find nothing else for which to be thankful, those alone are fuel enough to bombard the heavens with your gratitude.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Life Is Good. It's Real Good!

How often do we go through life taking for granted all the good in our life? So often, with me anyway, I can easily focus on the few things that are not meeting my expectations. The things that are gnawing at me, and frustrating me to no end. Those things that don't go the way I want, end up the way I had hoped, or cause me some kind of inconvenience. For whatever reason, there they are constantly bombarding my mind and clouding my outlook.

Yet, at the same time, I am surrounded by blessings everywhere. I've come to learn that it is no accident that our eyes gravitate toward the negative. It is the strategy of our enemy, to distract us from all the good in our life, by magnifying the bad that we encounter. We only need to understand that strategy and make a decision to not allow ourselves to dwell on everything that is wrong.

It is true that my life is surrounded by negative things. Things that don't go my way. But, when I take a moment to focus on all the good, I quickly realize that my life is good. It's real good! I've got a wife that is the greatest. Two boys that I consider second to none. Brothers, sisters, Mom, in-laws, nieces, nephews, that all rock. Yep, nobody at odds with one another and everyone walking in healthy relationship with one another. Now, is that awesome or what?

Then there's the beautiful VW that is paid for. Debt that will soon be paid off, a place to lay my head at night, clothes to wear, and food to eat. I feel as though I have more quality friends than I have had at any point in my life. My wife and I are leading a new church that is touching people's lives. Every time I breathe I breathe in freedom because of the country I was born in. I have running water, hot water, A/C, and electricity. I'm telling you my life is good. It's real good!

But beyond that, God has blessed me abundantly in other ways. As bad as I get, I'm always loved by Him. His mercy covered me and protected me from the judgment of a just judge. His grace restored me to a position I don't deserve and could never have earned. When I fail, I find that same grace working in me and for me. His blood washed my sins away forever, and He chooses to not bring them up ever again. He rescued me from a life that was destined for hell. He empowers me to live the type of life I could never live apart from Him. He showers me with blessings I don't even have to ask for. His goodness is evident all around me. I'm telling you my life is good. It's real good!

Perhaps, you find yourself like me sometimes focusing on those things that are negative. If so, take a few moments out and begin to focus on all the things in your life that are good. You'll begin to see that even though bad stuff is hammering away at you, there is so much more that is good. Trust me, it'll change the atmosphere around you.

There is so much more good in God than there could ever be bad in satan or this planet we live on. God's goodness can never take a back seat to anything or anyone. God is good and His goodness is evident in your life if you'll take time to look for it. Truth is that wherever you find yourself today, your life is good. It's real good!