Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Invisible People

Have you ever noticed how many invisible people there are in the world? Probably not. People are invisible because we fail to notice them. Case in point, this past week in Erie, police discovered the body of a woman, in her home, who had passed away in April. You might think 5 months is a long time for someone not to notice this 'invisible person', and you would be right. Yet this lady passed away in April of 2008. 17 months ago! Her utilities had been turned off, her mail had been returned to sender and they canceled delivery. If she lived in Chautauqua county, her property would have already been listed in the newspaper on the delinquent tax rolls. Her husband had passed away several years before, and with no children of their own, and being among the last of her peers, no one noticed when she simply 'disappeared'.

The shut-ins at church, the elderly neighbors, the people we see week by week but never seem to notice (cashiers, tellers, attendants, etc.) - these are the invisible. They are off our radar, and often out of our thoughts and schedules. Many times, we can be invisible to those around us. We can feel alone even though we interact with many people throughout the day.

I see in scripture that the invisible people in his day were important to Him. Matthew 5 starts out with what we call the beatitudes.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

Blessed invisibleness. I guess when we feel invisible, it is good to know that God still knows our name and watches over us. But I also think that there are many blessed people out there that we might not consciously avoid, but maybe we ought to start consciously looking for. It is hard to feel invisible when you can make a difference in someone else's life. Empathizing with someone else helps avoid empathizing with (ie. feeling sorry for) ourself.

Keep looking up! He's coming soon!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Living Up to a Legacy

This past week, a dear friend of our family passed away. He leaves behind a wife, 7 children & their spouses, and 25 grandchildren. I say passed away, but only his body passed away, and he'll get another one of those that doesn't have the limitations that his previous one had. We know from scripture that his spirit has been promoted into the presence of the Lord. He was a godly man and a definite follower of Christ.

The funeral was this past Tuesday, and through the magic of Facebook status updates, pictures, and even some of the words that were said, I was able to enjoy the feeling and content of the funeral. A common theme was that the children desired to live up to the legacy that their father left them. They want to be children that bring honor to their father by living out the faith he lived out and taught them from an early age.

It got me thinking about being proper children. The desire that is there to live up to the expectations and example of our parents often drives some of our decisions and especially at a time of loss encourage us to make good decisions. God's Word tells us:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies,
bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you,
and pray for them which despitefully
use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your
Father which is in heaven:
for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
- Matthew 5:44-45

Talk about a legacy! When we see the sun shinning, it should remind us of the living legacy of our heavenly Father. When we see the rain falling, it also should remind us of our heavenly Father's living legacy. I guess that takes away our complaints about the weather. If we thought about how each natural gift of our Father is given on the good and the bad, and each sought to emulate that pattern in our lives, we would grow more and more toward living up to the legacy of our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to the Future

Whether it be Science Fiction or popular movies or prime time television, our world seems to be obsessed with the future. Paid advertisements claim to be able to give you a look into the future to help your investment strategy. Science Fiction dares us to dream of a time when transportation will be clean, cheap and effortless. Television and movies prompt us to consider what we would do if we knew what the future held.

Two examples really stand out in my mind - "Back to the Future," all three movies make us ask the question "what would change if I knew the outcome?" In the first movie, Marty sees the results of his temper and is able to overcome it. In the second or third movie, Biff knows the results of every sporting event and is able to make it rich betting on games. In another example, a new show is being advertised where the whole world passes out for 6 minutes and sees their future. While I have no plans to see the show, the plot it seems has to do with 2 things. First, can I make secure / avoid the future I saw, depending on whether they liked it or not. And second, is it possible to take advantage of the glimpse of the future to benefit mankind (or any particular man)

While interesting, the premise of both the movies and this new show are not "way out there." We can see the future of certain tendencies and behaviors - where they will lead us to, and we can chose to change them and modify our behavior to achieve a more desirable outcome. We can also make sense of the future to help us "bet on the winning team" or take advantage of the future we know is coming.

Perhaps you've already figured out where this is going. I've been reading in the book of Amos - Prophetic material telling Israel what they could expect, why they could expect it, and how they could turn the tables of judgment into blessing. "For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:" (Amos 5:4) Do we not still have God's promise of blessing, growth, and benefit when we follow him? We can chose what response we receive from God.

I'm also preaching through the book of Revelation. Having just finished the messages to the seven churches, I'm entering into chapter 4 - "Come up hither, and I wil show thee things which must be hereafter" (vs. 1b) Not simply the outcome of every major sporting event, or just a snapshot of my life in 6 months or a year, but a fairly complete picture of the end of the world. God is still on His throne, a look at where people end up based on their response to God in this life, and even God's final plan of how He seeks to get man's attention. Everything we need to know to make wise choices today.

Maybe, like Marty McFly, all you need is a glimpse of the future God has in store for those who reject Him - to change your thinking and therefore the outcome of your life. God is not willing that any should perish, He wants all of us to come to him. Or maybe you are a Christian and yet the cares of life, the pleasures of this world, or just pride have pulled you away from God and you are experiencing his correction as Israel in the book of Amos - the solution for all of us is to "Seek the Lord"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Well, it's official! When it comes to blogging, I am a slacker! I've passed the one month of no posts mark. It was a busy month, but certainly one that was full of opportunities for learning, and looking up. Yesterday was day 71 of work on the addition, and the last day for the contractor. He has 'finished' the project. With all the contractor stories that I have heard over the years, I would have to say that we are among the fortunate ones. I have not always felt fortunate in the process - the list of undone things and steps I 'helped out with' along the way so that some things actually got done has been staggering at times.

My biggest lesson over the past 71 days? The reality of joy in the life of the believer. Joy is not a reaction to circumstances in life, joy is a choice based on God's work (past, present and future) in our lives. Firstly, we have joy because of what Christ has done for us - made us acceptable to God through his shed blood on the cross. Second, we have joy because we know that God is working things for our good, perfecting us through joy and trials in life. And finally, we can have joy because of what we know is coming. Eternal life in heaven with all the blessings that go with it, certainly. But on this day, the future joy that stands out most to me is in Philippians 2:6:

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"

This is one long term construction project going on in my life. But the joy? When God is done, the work will be finished! No floors to polyurethane, no doors to repair, no walls to patch and paint, no trim to fix, no furniture to move, bars to put up, shelves to install in closets, . . . well, you get the point. God has His 'punch list', and it is complete! He will not forget or miss anything, His work in us will be accomplished according to His plan, and right on schedule.

Joy? It's a choice. Some days are joyous because of the circumstances that come with them, but all days are joyful for the believer because of what Christ has done, is doing, and will do in our lives. To God be the glory for His great gifts!