Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What Matters?

How long had Amber been kneeling next the sheet of plywood? She set her paint brush across the top of the can and made an groaning sound as she stood. She rubbed first her knees, then her lower back. Finally, finished.

The 4’x8’ sign she just finished lay flat on a piece of canvas waiting to dry and be hung by the stage crew. Thousands of empty chairs faced her below the stage where she stood, by sunset they’d all be full. Dear God, I pray all this honors You… She continued to pray silently, imagining the place filled with people seeking God and preachers and singers being used to share His love and save lives. She prayed for them all.

One of the stage crew was walking backwards as he helped carry a large speaker across the stage. He didn’t see her and bumped her out of her reverie. She stepped back to keep her balance and set her foot right on top of her freshly painted sign which read:



The background was painted white; the blue letters were inside a big red heart. Her foot slid on the wet paint across the center of the heart smearing the words so they couldn’t be read.

The man carrying the speaker had at first blurted out, “Whoa, watch out!” But then saw the sign and said, “Oops…” he made a small chuckle, “sorry.”

When the other stage hand carrying the speaker saw tears welling up in her eyes he said over his shoulder as they continued to walk, “Don’t worry about it, we didn’t really need that extra filler piece anyway, just go ahead and go and I’ll get rid of it for you.”

She just stared at the sign, now blurry for two reasons; her foot, of course, and the tears that wouldn’t stop pouring from her eyes. God, isn’t there anything I can do? She sat cross legged in front of the sign and put her elbows on her knees. I can’t sing. She buried her face in the palms of her hands. I get so nervous in front of people I’d never, ever be able to preach or teach. I’m not very pretty and my body’s not that great. I just thought maybe—she sniffed, lifted a shoulder and wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her tee-shirt—maybe, I could do just this one thing. But even that didn’t work, maybe I don’t—she starred at the smeared word MATTER.

Nevertheless, she reached for a brush and started again. She prayed for forgiveness because her mind kept wishing a hernia on those two stage crew. An hour later she stood and stretched and once more looked at the sign. Finally finished, again. She looked out at the empty chairs, up to the sky and back to the sign, God, it’s all yours, do what you want with it.

She half expected the sign to be thrown out or not be used because maybe the paint wouldn’t be dry. But, to her surprise when she looked up on stage, there it was. It was way off to the right side, above a set of drums, hanging in the background. Just like me hanging in the background not making a difference.

It’d been a week since the big event. Her sign was long since forgotten, probably thrown in a dumpster. Big name speakers and famous singers graced the stage and the alter call evidenced a move of God that made it all worthwhile. She felt good. In her small way she, via her sign, shared the stage and perhaps helped be a part of what God did that night. And for her, that was enough.

But then it came. An e-mail from the event coordinator, she almost deleted it because she didn’t recognize the name.

Dear Amber,

I received your e-mail address from your pastor. I hope you don’t mind that he gave it to me. 
We haven’t met but I want to thank you for the sign you made to grace the stage during our event last week. You may have thought it trivial, but once you read the letter we received I think you’ll realize that nothing done in God’s service is trivial.

I’ve scanned a copy of this letter for you to read:

To whom it may concern,

I attended your religious service in the park last week. I wasn’t really sure why I went but I live in the neighborhood and the noise and lights drew me.

The only thing I was sure of that night was that it was to be my last night.

I can’t go in to all the reasons why my life had come to that point but I had planned to take my life after I left your service, I already had a note written and a perfect plan. My mind was made and nothing was going to change it. Nothing changed as I sat and listened to every word of every song. Nothing changed when I listened to the fervent words of the preachers and the emotional prayers of the pray-ers. I left still intent of doing what I had planned. Not one thing I heard mattered. That was just it, nothing mattered. I didn’t, what was said didn’t. So I wanted out.

Except, when it came time to pull the trigger I closed my eyes and saw this stupid sign. It was a sign that didn’t matter. It was hidden off on the right side, out of the lights. But I couldn’t get it out of my head.



I can’t explain it but that sign saved my life. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

He paints

HE paints…

gates, buffet & trump are paupers compared to He.

Yet, He shows up—not because He has to, but at His pleasure.

And He paints; i know, for others. But i like to think, perhaps just for me.

The canvas is large. Biggest one i’ve ever seen. If i don’t come early i miss it. It starts low, small, dark. Just a sliver of orange or pink, purple or yellow…really i don’t know—because He uses colors which have no name.

i always watch for the brush stroke. i’d like to see just one being made, and The Hand that makes it. But i can’t—my eyes too slow. Little by little, line upon line, stroke upon stroke, so slight i can’t see the change, but the colors begin to glow.

If i keep my eyes on His work i see dark translate to light; formless change to crystal clear.

And i hear His following, groupies if you will. They sing. They’re good, too—professionals, i’ve heard He pays them well. Like the painting, they begin soft, quiet, slow. First one and then another. Most whistle.

As colors increase so does their song. With each stroke of His brush the choir grows. Stronger. Louder. Until the atmosphere explodes with light, color and sound.

Indescribable incandescent light dances off water and shimmers through trees. Over and over He splashes color. Over and over i snap the shutter.

So bright i close my eyes. i whisper, this is Your best piece yet.

Light warms my skin and i feel His peace. i think, perhaps for others. But i know, just for me…

He’s more than enough. He shows up and it’s His pleasure. If i don’t look, and i don’t listen—i can miss it. He uses those with no name. He works, tho’ i can’t see. If i listen, i can hear His song. And if i watch, i can see His picture…

and know it was painted,

just for me.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wisest Parental advice I've ever heard

The other day I highlighted something and I’ve been reading it every day since. It’s hard. It’s simple. It’s the wisest parental advice I’ve ever heard.

King David said it to his son, Solomon a long time ago, but it applies to me and you right here, right now.

David said: “My son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28

Parenting is hard, yes. Complicated? It doesn’t have to be. To break it down, David said something like this:

Ten Commandments For Parenting.

1) Know God intimately.

Like when you’re in love; think about Him all the time.

2) Worship & serve Him

Sink or swim, trust Him. Say to self: there’s only one God—and I’m not Him.

3) With your whole heart and willing mind.

Don’t worry about being perfect. Just be willing to want to do it right.

4) The Lord sees what’s inside.

Your thoughts are on His speaker phone.

5) He’s not hiding.

He wants you to find Him. If you’re looking—He’s showing.

6) If you reject Him—He will let you.

If you love something set if free. God is love.

7) This is serious.


8) You are chosen to build a Temple.

You are the temple. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NKJV)

9) Be strong.

Pray. Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.

10) Work.

Do your best. Leave the results to God.

David summarizes by saying:

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the LORD is finished correctly.”

Lord, thanks for making it simple. Now, help us to handle the hard and be the kind of folks you’d like us to be. Amen.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Behold the Mona Lisa...the bass & the dart board

Behold the Mona Lisa a beautiful work of art; a masterpiece. The original mind you, not a copy, not a forgery--the real thing. Now, let’s hang it here on this wall, between a largemouth bass and the dart board. It’ll cover up that stain on the wall and never mind the dirt and cobwebs; we’ll just hang her right over the top.

What’s that?

Sure a few stray darts may pierce the pic—but so? Everybody will see it hanging there.

There’s nothing to hang it on?

I know, just hold it up there against the wall. Let me grab my hammer and we’ll pound some nails right through the corners. If you don’t nail it down around here it’ll get stolen.

Sound crazy? Can’t believe I’d hang a masterpiece in such a place? Do you want to know what’s worse?

Well, dear precious sweet innocent lovely young ladies, you are the masterpiece. You are the priceless work of art. You are the one of a kind beauty… and you are doing this to yourselves.

What should be protected, revered and reserved for private showings of highest class and intimacy is flashed upon a filthy wall for others to drool over or throw darts upon. What should be secure is open and stolen; leaving you empty. 

It’s not that you can’t. But why would you want to hang yourselves on the filthy walls of facebook and internet?

You hold the beauty of the horizon. The sun rises and sets for those who appreciate her beauty. She always rises in the morning in the east and sets in the evening in the west. Those who appreciate her beauty will find her. And she doesn’t go out of her way to find those who don’t.

Your beauty will shine for those who will rise to see it, there is no need to flaunt and flash so you’ll be noticed.

Dress like a princess dear lady and you’ll be found by a prince.

Dress like a hooker and you’ll be found by a pimp.

What do you want?

Please know you are more than skin. You are heart and soul, and that is where your real beauty lies as a diamond in the rough.  

Your Creator has made you a one of a kind masterpiece to shine as beautiful as the sunrise and set, so don’t flash—shine.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

photos courtesy of photobucket

Friday, June 14, 2013

The bass & the bird & the worm

This is not a fishing story. Well, actually it is a fishing story. But, it’s not your normal fishing story where the teller stretches the truth. This really happened just like this:


I’m sitting at the end of a long wooden dock. Long, like two hundred yards long. It runs along the shore of the inlet at Lake Istokpoga Marina. That’s my fishing pole leaning against the wooden rail. Yeah, I know the string is blowing in the wind with nothing on the end. That’s because the biggest bass I’ve ever seen in my life just snapped the line.

Now I’m trying to figure out what to tie on. I don’t have anything like that fat rubber worm I had on there. I just caught it, too. Yeah, caught it—not bought it. A couple of casts before I snagged the bass, I snagged someone else’s line and pulled in that fat white rubber worm. So, I figured I’d give it a try. Sure enough, about three casts in and that big honkin’ bass struck—and stole my newfound fat white rubber worm. So, that’s why I’m sitting here with line blowin’ in the wind trying to figure out what I should use.

And I’m also wondering about that bird, too. It was like something you’d see in a movie. I was sitting here minding my own business, fishing. I had just cast that fat white worm out and all of a sudden this black bird flew up and sat right there on that rail. I could’ve reached out and touched her with my pole. She just sat there looking at me. And then she started squawking real loud, like she was mad about something. Reminded me of some folks I’ve known. I looked around thinking maybe she had a nest full of youngins. No, didn’t see any nest; just a bunch of cobwebs and fishing string all tangled up in the open framed roof that covered this end of the dock.

That bird kept right on squawking for about fifteen seconds or so and I said, “What in the world are you squawking about?” And then, WHAM my pole bent over and about pulled me outta my lawn chair and into the lake. It did pull me to my feet, which scared the bird off the rail. I started cranking and got the fish close enough to the dock to see it surface, telling me it was the most beautiful bass I’d ever laid eyes on, other than maybe one hangin’ on a wall at Bass Pro Shop. I got excited and set the hook again, he didn’t like that and dove down under some lily pads. About that time my line snapped and he was gone.

Which brings me back to sitting here in this chair wondering about what I ought to tie on; maybe I oughta ask that bird.

I may sound crazy, and perhaps I’ve been hanging around kids under six too long or watching too many kid movies but, I’m wondering if that bird hid that big fat white worm and was mad because I found it. So, she squawked at that big fat bass and told him to get it back.

I donno—it just don't seem normal...whaddayathink? And if you could think of some life lesson or moral-to-the-story I'd sure be obliged, 'cuz I'm still sitting here scratching my head wondering what I'm gonna tie on.

long dock

where bass is still hiding

chair where I sat & rail where bird sat

sign in front of dock -as opposed to abnormal & unsafe?

Monday, June 10, 2013

When I grow up I wanna be a...

“Johnny said he wants to be a pilot when he grows up.”

All the parents clapped politely, Johnny’s parents clicked pics, and on it went. One by one each student walked to the front of the room, an award was hung around their neck and they turned to pose for a quick photo op while Mrs. Brooker, the teacher, told us what they wanted to be when they grew up.

And that’s how the kindergarten graduation goes.

We waited for our granddaughter’s moment. I wonder what she wants to be.

There were plenty of pilots and doctors and a few super heroes. One said he wanted to be Spider Man but if that didn’t work out he’d like to work at Walmart. Some said they wanted to be soldiers and the applause from the parents was a little stronger. Two said they wanted to be teachers and Mrs. Brooker’s voice smiled and she bounced on her toes a bit as she said it.

I watched parents puff up when their child announced they wanted to be a doctor or lawyer and other faces turn red when they said they wanted to be Bat Man or a Power Ranger.

Nevaeh, our granddaughter, waited her turn, and as usual God in His way of teaching me patience had her situated at the very end of the line. By the time she got to the front there wasn’t a profession that hadn’t been duplicated at least once—until hers, it was one of a kind.

They hung the medal around her neck, she turned and I snapped the best picture I could from the bad angle at which I sat. Mrs. Brooker smiled, “and when Nevaeh grows up, she said she wants to be a…mom.”

The room fell silent as everyone held their breath to see if they’d heard her right. And then a few quiet chuckles and polite applause.

I couldn’t have been prouder. And the way I figure it, she’s got it right. I just pray her priorities don’t get twisted and tangled into thinking that her occupation is who she is.

Nevaeh in line--end of line that is

Getting award! Ya!
Nevaeh photo op. Principle & Mrs. Brooker

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.