Thursday, July 30, 2009

Good Works

I am amazed at all the good work that is going on in our world. When I go to the hospital to visit people, I hear about all the groups of people who are seeking to serve those in need. Some bring food and snacks for both the patient and the family - some come with helpful information including maps and brochures about hospital services - one man arrives with his table to give a free massage to family members and patients to help relieve some of the stress - volunteers provide a children's center to help the long hours and days at a hospital pass without added pain.
Food pantries serve those in need throughout the community, support groups help families dealing with Alzheimer's, Divorce Recovery, Grief Recovery and more. Volunteers tutor kids after school and help them get their homework done before supper time. The list goes on and on.

Doing good is good for you. I have neighbors who retired 20 years ago and they are going strong. They stay busy and engaged by serving others through their church and many community programs. Life has meaning when it is not just about me.

I love seeing people who are eager to do good. Some just love to complain about all the deadbeats and all the people that are lazy -- to hear them talk there is nothing good going on in this world. My life has always been enriched by the people who love to do good works. One man I know has been teaching children to love reading for 25 years - he is changing the world one child at a time. Who can place the value on the gift of teaching a child to love reading?

Serving others has its own reward. It's not about money or promotions or more power and that makes it like a breath of fresh air! The personal satisfaction your receive is like a energy sport drink after you exercise - it gives you a charge - only it lasts longer!

Go out and do good works - use your unique gifts - it is a practical way to express your love for others and for your Creator, who blessed you with the gifts you have to share!

This old line from scripture says it well:
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (I Peter 4:10)

We are all just "grace givers" because we have been given grace in such abundance!

Just thinking, Steve

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Astronauts and Astros and Old Walter

It has been forty years since our Astronauts took those first steps on the moon. I remember what a triumphant feeling we had on that day. If we could do this, we could do anything.

In my little hometown, I remember one older woman's reaction to it all. She did not believe it. She thought the whole thing was staged in some studio somewhere. "God never wanted us to go to the moon" she said. I was a believer. I knew it happened. We were Americans. We could do anything we put our minds to. She remained a skeptic.

My brother and I would climb up in the live oak trees in our front yard and dream of flying - flying into space. I recall laying on my back in the front yard at night and seeing the bright moon above and thinking someday I will go there. It was a day of high hopes.

Sometime in the mid 60's we came to Houston and went to an Astros baseball game - I remember the people who seated you had spacesuits and space bubbles on their head. I thought they were real Astronauts, just working a second job. The Astros beat the Dodgers - now I knew anything was possible! The "Toy Cannon" Jimmy Wynn hit a home run that seemed to go into space before it came down.

No one enjoyed the space adventures more than Walter Cronkite, the CBS anchorman, just laid to rest this week. Old Walter was speechless when he saw it all unfold.

The current recession seems to have drained most people of all hope. I remain a hopeful person. My hopes are grounded in more mature realities these days but hope is an anchor for my soul. People without hope become desperate. They begin to die, little by little until despair simply overwhelms them. Hope is not wishful thinking - it is a Christian virtue -
Faith, Hope and Love - the great trio that sing a beautiful song together! (I Corinthians 13:13)
This hope has been poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit and it does not disappoint!(Romans 5:5)

With hope the challenges of today can be met with courage and the future can be embraced with joy! Got hope? I hope so.

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wedding Chaos

Summer is the season of weddings. My career as a minister has made weddings and wedding events a part of every summer for more than 30 years. I have conducted more than 360 weddings and one thing is always predictable - the unpredictable.

If you ever watch America's Funniest Video's you notice that most of the funniest clips are from weddings. This is not surprising to me. Only on rare occasions has any wedding that I have been involved with gone smooth. There is something about the combination of a nervous bride, a bored groom, and a temporarily insane MOB (Mother of the Bride) that results in varying degrees of chaos. Some of what happens is just funny and everyone laughs and enjoys the unexpected surprises. Other problems are more serious; like the bride who was late to the wedding - an hour late and did not tell anyone where she was! On one occasion, their was a fist fight in the parking lot between the old boyfriend and the groom - not good. One wedding started with the groom fainting and literally falling to the floor as the bride was coming down the aisle. I could go on. The other stories will be in a book that I will write someday about weddings entitled "Stay Away from the MOB!"

I find comfort in the fact that the first recorded miracle in the gospels is at a wedding. (John 2) Jesus turns the water into wine. Most weddings would go smoother if someone was present who could perform a couple of miracles. In this story, Jesus saves the day because the worst thing that could have happened is for a host to run out of wine. Urged by his Mother, Jesus turns a disaster into a genuine celebration to remember! By the way, Jesus did turn the water into wine, not grape juice, which is what I was told by my dear but misinformed "teetotaler" parents. I don't think grape juice would have been so joyously received by the wedding guests.

Getting married is very popular these days. Some people like it so much they do it several times in a lifetime. One woman told me that she had out lived three husbands but was in the market for a good man - she had just celebrated her 90th birthday when she shared her hope for the future. It would be my luck that the groom or bride would "pass on" during the ceremony.

No wonder Jesus never got married and Paul advised people to be single.

All kidding aside, being married is the great joy of my life - the girl who said yes more than 35 years ago has made my life a dream! Marriage I love - weddings send chills down my spine!

Just thinking, Steve

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Looking for Beauty

I am discovering again and again that we choose what we see in life. Some people seem to only see the ugly side of life. I challenge myself to look for beauty everyday. When I look closely I see it in abundance.

Here is just a sample of the beauty I see:

A husband holding the hand of his dear wife as they listen to the news about her biopsy.
Children playing together at a neighborhood playground with sounds of laughter in the air.
A young mother kissing her little baby, talking, and smiling, as the little one coos with delight.
A Father and Son working in the yard together, stopping to stand in the shade and drinking ice cold tea.
A nurse being especially gentle with one of her patients who is frightened and alone.
A cool rain in the early morning hours after months of dry weather.
Listening to the corny jokes of my six year old Grandchild and laughing with gusto!
Watching an armadillo snooping around my back yard, looking like something prehistoric.
Seeing a hawk take flight as I top a steep hill on my morning run.
Observing a family as they search for shells together on the beach.
Seeing the joyous smile of a young couple on their wedding day.
Eating watermelon with my grandchildren on the Fourth of July.
Seeing the sweet smile of my wife as we walk along side the Gulf of Mexico together.

Life is beautiful. Do you look for the beauty?

Jesus said of the woman who anointed him with perfume, "She has done a beautiful thing."
Others only looked for ugliness - Jesus saw the beauty. (Mark 14:6)

Give it a try. It is the ultimate in an "attitude adjustment".

Just thinking, Steve