Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What You Know

I admit it - there are plenty of things that I do not know. I love learning and discovering new things. One of the ways I do that is to hang out with my Grand kids - Ella, my almost 9 year old Granddaughter, is a storehouse of information and knowledge. We often say in our family that if we don't know the answer we just "Ella it" (not Google it). She often knows the answer - for example, when I asked her about a "sloth", she asked "Do you mean a two toed sloth or a three toed sloth?" Silly me I thought they all had five toes! My Grandson, Owen, is an expert on cars - he has hundreds of Hotwheel cars and can show you and tell you the unique features of each. I often say "Wow!" when he shows me something that I did not know.

So, as you can see, I don't know everything. But I do know many things and I have learned that it is helpful to others to live from the foundation of what you do know.

I know that honesty and integrity are essential to a good life. I know that commitment is the glue that holds my deepest relationships together. I know that hard work and sacrifice are their own reward. I know that love and forgiveness are critical to daily living. I know that I live daily by the grace of God.

People are always asking me questions about things that trouble them or they don't understand. I consider those questions very seriously. When I attempt to answer, I do it from the foundation of what I know, not from what I don't know. Sometimes I will mention a favorite scripture that has spoken to me on the subject or share an experience where I learned how to cope with what they are facing -- sometimes my answer is to ask if I could pray for them. All these responses come from my place of "knowing".

What we know is a powerful anchor for our daily lives - rather than focusing on what we do not know, I find that what I know is a rich resource for me and others.

Jesus is described as living from the foundation of knowing - he knew that he had come from God the Father and he knew that we would return to the Father and he also knew that God would grant him great power to make a difference in the world. (Read John 13) Then from that knowledge he acted - he lived. Which included taking the role of a servant and washing his disciples feet - he could do that because of his foundation of knowledge.

So take what you know and act out of what you know and be a blessing!

Just thinking, Steve

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Did you see the story about the guy in a little town in Wyoming who is the only resident of the town? The population number on the sign is 1. He is also the Mayor - he won by one vote. He owns the only gas station, only grocery store, and general store in town.

Just one. There have been several towns that have claimed a population of one over the years - one town in Maine, one town in New Hampshire, and another in Indiana. One of those towns had a 300 percent increase in the latest census - they now have 3 people in town. People are beginning to complain about the rapid growth and the crowding.

While it is quite a novelty to live in a town with a population of one, how can you call it a town? A town is where people live - where they work together, worship together, and even argue on occasion. We were designed by our creator for community not for isolation.

There are times when I want to be alone. Time for quiet, reflection and to unwind but being "alone" most of the time by choice seems rather strange and unhealthy.

As difficult as it can be to live in community with others, it is the place where our faith, our love, and respect for others is demonstrated. We need each other.

The one another calls of Christian faith are numerous: Love one another, serve one another, encourage one another, forgive one another, and many more. Each one is a reminder that we are not alone and that we have a responsibility to care for one another.

We are designed for mutual love, fellowship, and care for each other - where 2 or 3 are gathered together God is present and at work.

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Best Rest

Like many of you, I have had a very busy week. Last night when I crawled into bed I was aching tired. I slept all night without stirring a single time. Long days and late nights make any of us tired. My life is not like that all the time but sometimes it is.

There are different kinds of fatigue. Staying at the hospital with a sick family member is about as exhausting as anything that I have ever done. I remember how tired I was when I played High School football and we would do those August "two-a-days" - grueling work outs that lasted for hours in the blazing heat. That was a deep, bone tired, with sore muscles and the dread of the next day lurking just around the corner. Waiting up for your daughter to come in from her Prom night is brutal and then when she arrives home safely you are so tired and wound tight you cannot sleep.

A good nights rest is wonderful. It does help to recharge us but sometimes we need to find rest for our souls and our psyche. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ...you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

An old hymn from my childhood has echoed in my head lately:
Peace, perfect peace,
By thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus---
This is rest.

There is a rest - a soul rest - peace, perfect peace that comes from just doing what Jesus has called us to do. Even when we are physically exhausted this kind of rest is the best.

Rest for your soul...so good.

Just thinking, (and resting)

Friday, July 8, 2011

What Funerals Teach Me

I have a full and rich life. I get reminders of this almost daily. Sometimes I think more about living at funerals than any other time. In my line of work, funerals and memorial services are a common experience - I have conducted three funerals in the last 10 days and attended two other memorial services. I have now conducted more than 450 funerals in my career as a minister. This is certainly not a record but it has left a genuine impression on me. One Lutheran Pastor that I read about lived and served in Europe during a terrible outbreak of the plague. He conducted an average of 10 funerals per week for a period of more than 3 years. Wow - that I cannot imagine.

I know that it may seem strange to say that I think about life at funerals but let me attempt to explain. Death is an amazing reality check. It speaks to us if we will listen.

It reminds me that each moment on this good planet we call Earth is a wonderful gift and I better get about living or I may miss an opportunity for joy, for rich relationships, and to make a difference in this world. I think I can honestly say that I am not afraid of death. I don't have a death wish - I have so many things I want to accomplish, experiences that I want to share with my sweet Linda and my family, especially my Grandchildren. My faith has helped me put death in its place - death will not have the last word - life wins! That belief enriches my life now.

I know that death causes sorrow - I have gone through the transition of death with both my parents. I miss them much. They both lived full and rich lives and now enjoy life without limitations - this I know.

So how should we live with the reality of human death there in the shadows? Live full - live with passion - live with faith - live the moments - live now and forever more!

Jesus spoke to me long ago and said, "I am the way, the truth and the life.." (John 14:6). As I continue to understand how powerful that is, life becomes more of a treasure with the passing of each day.

Just thinking, (and living!)