Tag Archives: family

Derek Redmond in the 1992 olympics, His father raised him up

This is an earthly Father…. with a heart filled with such love one is amazed and brought to tears….

He would not be kept away from his son who was down, hurt and to weary…..

His son was hurt and his heart was burdened, and he sat there on the track until his father came…

His father who raised him up to continue his race……”You don’t have to do this” the father said… the son…”Yes I do”… the father “The we will do it together”

This earthly father carried his son until he got him near the finish line, then he released him to finish his race by himself on his own two feet. 

He gave his son the greatest gift that day… he gave himself and exemplary love….

He gave other fathers a great gift that day as well…. an example of how a father should be…

How much more will our Heavenly Father do for us…. in different ways.

He is all forgiving… all loving… perfect

He is filled with justice… our wrongs will be cured and our injuries will be healed.

Oh, there have been so many times when He was with me but there were only one set of footprints in the sand…

Those were the times he was carrying me… lifting me… being the air beneath my wings…

Raising me up so I can stand on mountains….

Calling me out of the boat to walk on stormy seas…

My Heavenly Father raises me up to more than I can be….

I’ve stood on mountains, I’ve walked on stormy seas, I been lost in abject wilderness,

But you raised me up Father….

I am strong when I am on your shoulders….

You raise me up to more than I can be….

Oh my Father…. You raise me up.

 

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Jake Olsen… A true Christian Inspiration

When I saw this video,  I knew I had to share it with my readers….   here it is the Jake Olsen story…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX0ovhkgR7s

Thursdays can be for complete regeneration

Regeneration… renewal… realization of the reality of grace…..

And the symbol of it all was something as mundane as a truck… a thing… a gift…

Such worries… such fears… me… a person who tells others of the grace of God… of the protection… of the shade of his magnificent hand…

Yet, much of my summer was spent in worry… the deepest darkness… from the moment last May when I stepped out of a wreckage of twisted metal… an engine soaking me in fuel beside me… still running… electricity still sparking between bits of metal in the still running  engine…my body soaked with fuel…. and I walked away….

Suddenly I found myself relying on the kindness of strangers… thy grace of people who did not know me who I did not know… help from the blue.. human love expressed for another human being in need…

On that same day a job had ended… that I loved and needed… that made up part of my life… I had just driven away from it 15 minutes before…. and then the crash… the unbelievablility of it all… it felt like shattered light… beyond comprehension… no job, no vehicle, not enough money… A period of rest suddenly turned into nothing but questions…

Then two hours later… I drove home in a new vehicle… that I thought to have only a few days… when I got home I lay down saying “enough for the troubles of this day”… tomorrow will take care of its own troubles.. and I slept…

When I woke the next morning I took stock… not able to see how to get to the end of it… a month passed.. another month… a third… 

Endless grace… for every worry, I received a gift… I was at least wise enough to pray… and with every prayer an answer came… not always the one I thought best… but an answer… every time I needed something it came…. finally I decided to stop worrying, especially after I preached a sermon on laying back in the current, on the hands of God….

Nothing about which I worried came to pass… Money came when it was needed… this was the summer of photography… word of mouth… the kindness of strangers…

I am standing in a grocery check out line with a photography magazine… a lady behind me with four kids in tow asked me if I was a photographer… soon there was a beautiful afternoon recording the lives of a beautiful family… then another… and another… all from a smiling exchange in a grocery check out line… what are the odds… incalculable…  

Paperwork can always go wrong…  it did over and over… soon I am paying for a vehicle myself without enough money to do so.. yet, things kept coming… grace upon grace… blessing upon blessing.. 

Lord were you teaching me to lay back on the current… were you teaching me to lay in your magnificent hand… were you teaching me about your love… Lord, I am a miracle guy… it all has meaning to me… I see you behind the veil… though I can only perceive your shadow, I see the work of your hand…

Then all the right things came together in a way I could never have predicted… it required a change of hearts… it required a plentitude of grace…

So I have learned this summer that I can lay back on the raging current and your strong hands will be there…. not one thing that gave me worry came to pass… not one thing that caused me to wake in a sweat at night arose to show itself…

I am home now… all the financial issues are gone… a beautiful vehicle… a near duplicate of the one I had carried my mother in to her last visit to the doctor, her last visit to see her precious nieces and nephews… the relatives who loved her so much… the one I drove to the hospital when one of my dearest friends called me to say “she’s gone sweetheart, she’s gone”… the vehicle I drove home to walk through the door to the home that had been hers also… truly alone for the second time in my life… the vehicle that had carried her for the last time to visit the resting place of my father, her husband and the place she was to rest  only 34 days later her body so tired at 92…  and that I was nostalgic for because it had taken me through so much… It was something that had been such a precious part of my life that was now gone in twisted metal… important only to me… holding precious memories…

When I went to visit a sales lot to look at a car, a compromise, a substitute… the salesman said “wait, I think I have something that just came in you might like”…. I went back to wait in the office…

A few minutes later he turned the corner…. a transcendent moment…. the truck he drove was exactly a copy of the truck I lost, in color, in interior… but better….

The last few days I had been nostalgic, thinking remembering… not praying for or asking for something like this to happen… that seemed small….

But, then everything started to fall into place… I drove home that afternoon in peace… realizing that something inexplicable had happened… I am a miracle guy…. I accept it for what it is…. what are the odds that I would be given back the same vehicle… but better… right down to the color  of the markings on the gauges….

Silly…. maybe…it’s just a truck… but only the Lord could have known what that particular truck meant to me… deep in my soul I know and feel and accept a gift…. that I didn’t deserve but turned me back onto a path….

So this Thursday, I am regenerated… I am full, I am happy and at peace… not because of a truck, but because of a gift that my soul knows was God saying I care, I know you and I love you…..

Thursdays can be for regeneration…. Thank you Lord….

Christian leadership and Monday Thankfulness

Christian leadership… how different from what most people think of as leadership…

Christian leadership picks up the heaviest weight before the followers begin to lift… A Christian leader forgives before the forgiven thinks to ask… A Christian leader does instead of asking, shows instead of telling, runs to the fight before others can gather their minds… is honest with himself before others know his secrets…

Jesus Christ fasted before others… he was the one who walked into the desert without fear… he went where his enemies were waiting… he simply did … and other followed…

His followers walked his path because they wanted to be like him… though they could never hope to be like him…. they looked at him and saw what they wanted to be and so they tried… they looked at him and saw a person they could love because they were sure he loved them…

A Christian leader walks the walk… others follow because he shows them they can…

a Christian leader lives a life that shines a light on greatness…. it is a life that others want to live… as many have said “I would rather see a sermon then hear one any day”.  His very life is a sermon… wordless, but full of truth…

A Christian leader goes where the sheep are… and they follow… he does not condemn… nor is he placed here to rebuke…  as multitudes followed Christ because his very life was miracle… multitudes will follow those who imitate Christ…

I am thankful for all Christian leaders…

I am thankful for family…

I am thankful for lives well lived…

I am thankful for men who inspire sincere tribute upon their passing…

I am thankful for sons who say goodbye to their brothers with a heart of Christ…

I am thankful for simple uncomplicated faith…

I am thankful for men who come together to worship and discuss what the Bible says to men….

I am thankful for praise…

I am thankful for forgiveness

I am thankful for small expressions of kindness

I am thankful for kids who bump hands with you out of respect…

I am thankful for inspired teachers….

I am thankful for spirit filled preachers…

I am thankful for the brave who go to where the disasters are and where everything is dangerous…

I am thankful for those who spend hours in prayer for people thousands of miles away…

I am thankful for those who honestly read and understand the message of the Bible then teach it to others…

I am thankful for Grace…

I am thankful for bagpipers who play Amazing Grace beautifully…

I am thankful for family tradition…

I am thankful for the dreamers who make dreams come true…

I am thankful for memory…

I am thankful for Christian men who are not passive…

I am thankful for Christian men who accept responsibility…

I am thankful for Christian men who accept leadership…

I am thankful for Christian men who wait on the reward of the Lord…

I am thankful for the long road trips when I can think…

I am thankful for quiet moments when my heart can listen…

I am thankful for thousands who will protest the death of the unborn…

I am thankful for men who are transparent to their brothers…

And finally may the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic find peace, safety, food, shelter and water coming their way in time.  May the leaders who have the power feel the movement of God within their hearts to offer every possible help to those who have been effected by this devastation.  Let us not forget our brothers and sisters in times of trouble.  Amen..

 

 

 

Thankfulness and grace

I turn into the driveway…. all is dark, quiet… the world at peace…. I turn off the engine…. silence

No sound of war… or of crying… no sound of gunfire… of violence… of death…   I look at my home… now going on 15 years being my home…  and I love it… and I am thankful for it… it is there before me in the peace of night…

And I think of the grace that allows me to have it…  the phrase that goes through my mind on this Thanksgiving eve is how did I come to this home… this life… all the blessings in the last year when it seemed that I would sink below the waves at any moment… that a hand reached out to me every last-minute… often unexpected… every time unasked… but a hand came. 

Tomorrow I will feast… too well… in the warmth of family, in love, in joy… what did I do to deserve this wonderful life… a home, more than enough, wonderful and meaningful work, a soft bed, warmth when I need it, cool when I need it… in a moment I will open the door and a little bird will screech its welcome… a loving, devoted dog will jump with joy…

There will be music if I want it…. silence if I want it…. sound if I want it… water when I want it… food when I want it… presently because life continues as it does… with life… and with death… I will be alone for a time… the one I took care of for so long is gone… out of pain, out of sadness… living in a home God created for her where she is living in perfect joy… 

But there are others… a loving family around the world… electrons away from me…  all I must do to hear their voices is cause electrons to move along wires… invisible signals through the air… and they are with me… 

Good friends invite me to join their family celebrations… members of my family call me to come offer thanks with them… I am not alone… I am surrounded with love… with friendship… with caring… so I will be with my family because I need to be with them… what a blessing to be able to choose between offerings from those who love me…

Then I have been given two great churches in which to worship and to serve… to minister… one small… one large… one in the country… one in the city…  both places where I meet God… Both places of great joy and friendship…

When I drove into my driveway… I was 30 minutes from the place I have been given by grace to work… where I have friends I have known for greater than half my life with whom I work… with whom I teach….

The building in which I work is new… state of the art really…  and I think of something else….

That I am one who has in a world where so many have not…. so many will not lie down on soft bedding tonight… millions will not be able to eat their fill… more than there fill tomorrow… millions who could not walk in a miracle where we have ever kind of food to choose from brought from every part of the world… 

And I have to ask why?   ….   Why was I born here in this most magnificent of countries?… Why was I born to the parents I was given?  …. Why do I have friends who are actually friends, who care, who would mourn, who did mourn with me a year ago when my mother slipped away into eternity with the Lord…

Why was I born here and named John?   Why was I not born in another country to parents who would beat me, where I would not have had enough to eat, not enough water to drink, nothing to learn or to hope for and named John?

I was given grace.. it was amazing grace… I was given all of this… why?  Just so I can be thankful?  Just so I can celebrate as across the world 18 children will die each minute as I will laugh tomorrow with my family….

And I think that I was given this so that I could give it away…  to those who are given much, much is expected… 

Father am I giving much as I have been given much… As I give Thanks am I pleasing you?  Do I love my neighbor as myself?   Do I really?  Will you be able to say to me “Well done my good and faithful servant”?  Will you say it?  Will I deserve it?   Oh, Father why am I not the child in the pictures with the swollen stomach whose equally weak mother brushes away flies from my near lifeless eyes….

So how do I thank you father?  Do I thank you in eating myself so full I must rest?  Am I honoring you?  And are there ways I can still honor you?  Father, what can I do? 

When I thank you for the food I will eat tomorrow will I be really pleasing you Father?  Will you look down on us and say well done? 

Oh Father in this season that starts tomorrow help me find some way each day to help someone…  so I can thank you for the opportunity… help me to feed the hungry… help me to clothe the naked…. help me find homes for the homeless…. Help me to find a way each day to do something that will help someone…. to love them as I love myself… for in that is true Thanksgiving…. giving with thanks for what we have been given.  

I lay here on the couch with the little dog laying on my chest feeling so blessed but also feeling that I have been given much and so I must give much… as I’ve done before to find that there was great joy in giving freely and without reservation.  

Please dear Father give me a thankful heart filled with

thankfulness and grace…..

Of love, family, friends and for those I love so well…

I sit here in my study doing something that seems to me to be absurd…. I am trying to think of those things for which I am thankful.    Why am I reaching so hard….why is nothing coming tonight…. I can’t have run out of blessings…

Blessings are eternal…they happen to us every minute of our lives….so I try one of my favorite ploys listening to music while I write… God is at work…

I go to my YouTube account where I have discovered the Kelly Family….Gaelic Folk and gospel singers….Catholic, but still gospel to my ears and heart…. and the song starts….  It is an anthem of worship to God, thankfulness for those things we sometimes forget… and adoration for Mary…

This is a simple family…now singing without their mother who died long ago of cancer, and their father who has also passed on.  And the song continues…..

“The Sky….the mountains….to the rivers… to the valley… to my hometown…to my country… to the place where I was born… to my mother…to my father…to my sisters…to my brothers… my friends…to myself and those I love so well….”

Where is the magnificence there?  Where is the transcendence?  This is thankful ness for the simple things we all take for granted… today I took some more pictures that are still on my camera phone… I will put them up soon… they are all of simple things just as this song sings of simple things that we “love so well”….

I realize that for a while I was caught in that human trap of looking for transcendent blessings in grand things… thats not really how God works… he blesses us with the small things.. the daily things…

“Give us our daily bread”… I have eaten my daily bread for which I am grateful.  Something simple… and so the song goes…  the first blessing named is “the sky”….  can the sky be a blessing…

Most certainly yes it is… protected as we are from the ravages of fierce solar radiation and winds coming off the sun that would kill us if it werent there…..provided with beauty that we fail all to often to look at for any length of time… Oh well, ho hum… it’s just the sky… may we never forget the miracle it is or that blue is a difficult color to find anywhere else in the universe….

Then comes “the mountains, to the rivers, to the valley”…our surroundings… the beauty we see everyday… whether it’s a small bush… a “burning bush”  as they all are we are told….or a grand tree… or mountains if we live near them.. they are all part of Gods immaculate plan for us.  We live in a pale imitation of Heaven, but it is an imitation of it.  And people at their best can be angels unaware…..

“To my hometown, to my country, to the place where I was born”  comes next… for me that is Houston, Texas where I was born in Memorial Hospital, now Hermann Memorial.    For the Hermann family who gave so much of their wealth to the building of a magnificent medical center where thousands upon thousands are healed every day….

Then the things that really are important in this world… “to my mother, and my father, to my sisters and my brothers, to my friends, to myself, and to those I love so well”….

To those I love so well…. not only my family, my friends, but also my students, the people with whom I work, the people I see everyday…the men at Lakewood Church, the kids at Lakewood church, the pastoral staff…..all of those are people for whom I am ever thankful… to the kids in my youth ministry… those boys from my youth ministry who carried my mother to her final resting place with such grace, gallantry and love….

And finally Mary, the Mother of Christ Jesus, and Jesus himself… God and Man being one… and his perfect gift to me…

So I say with Sancta Maria….. I am thankful for

The Sky

The Mountains

The Rivers

To the valleys,

To my hometown

to my country

and the place where I was born…..

And my mother, and my father, and my sisters, and my brothers, my friends and myself, and those I love so well….

And Mary the Mother of God, Jesus Christ himself  God and Man made one….  What better things to be thankful for this day….

Here is the song… listen to it with reverence and thankfulness….

For Fall and For the past…

A couple of days ago I took a short drive back into time….to places remembered….places loved…places that shaped part of me….

My Childhood Home

How do you say thank you for the place where you were loved by two of the best parents anyone could have had as a child….
A father who worked himself literally to death for me
A mother who held herself back so I could succeed…who let me leave home to learn to conduct orchestras…
A beautiful brown dog named dusty who was a chaser of ropes…. He was my companion from the fourth grade until I was in college… I was blessed to sleep outside in the yard with him during his last three days until I had the courage to help him in the way he needed help….
The friends who played dog and boy games with me… we spun a rope for him to chase until he fell exhausted… we boys would lay one our backs watching the sky spin above our heads….  to spun-drunk to stand up…
The family who lived there…the extended family who also called it home…to many to name…to loved to forget….how I miss the daily contact with them even though so many years have passed….
And I grew up….. 15, 16, 17, 18… my first job…. now a place in ruins… a pipe mill….
 

The Mill

 

A distant past

 
My uncle…a good, good man…. spoke a word for me…. word from a respected man among the men at the plant…
His word was good enough….and he job was mine…..
I swept floors…. counted sheets of steel bound for the Alaskan slopes….
Learned to weld a bit….  my uncle was a good teacher….
Learned to get up in the dark every day…. work overnight…. to appreciate being dirty…for it mean money…
Learned how to speak the language of men who wrestled 60 foot sheets of steel…
To live with grit….
And to make we want to go back to college….
And I drove on that day….
 
My Aunt and Uncles House

 And I saw another house that day…. My Aunt and Uncles House…  where I was also a loved child… who loved to be held in my Aunt Isabels lap… her tenderness…her love…. Where I followed my Uncle Orival out into his garage where he taught me the names of tools… where I bothered him with questions… which he always answered with great patience…. where he took time to show me what my own father would have shown me had he lived…  this was a house where I leaned to like tomato gravy…  where I acquired brothers even though I was a single… John, Jerry and Dennis… One left far too early… Jerry and Dennis are still my brothers… I helped them bury their parents…as they helped me bury mine… we are now the eldest generation…. we now try to carry on with the courage of our parents… who did the best they could do with what they had…which was very little….

And I drove on looking not for blessings but finding them any way….

Fall Grass

And I drove ….  enjoying the fall air…cool…fresh… fragrant…  passing the brown fall grass… noisy with the cacaphony of birds….thankful for the beauty of the seasons change….  soon to be Thanksgiving…then the celebration of our Lord’s birth.. Christmas….. And I continued to find things for which to be grateful…..

Colors of Fall

 

Blue