Washed Away…Rejoice!

mud We had quite a rain storm with flooded streets and mud all around. I was attempting to get into my car when I looked up and there it was…a rainbow! Wasn’t terribly bright was rather subdued. But that didn’t matter the message was there just the same.

Fourth-century bishop Gregory of Nyssa wrote, “God has imprinted the image of good things of His own nature on creation. But, sin in spreading out over the divine likeness, has caused this good to disappear, covering it with shameful garments. But if by life rightly led, you washed away the mud that has been put on your heart, the Godlike beauty will again shine in you.”

Today why not shine! Let the mud of anger, resentment, jealousy and depression just wash away. Let God’s light shine through you this day. He loves you, He likes you. We are His children rejoice!

As you walk the path today remember you are forgiven. So…maybe today is the day you invite someone back into your life. Invite them to church knowing that we, you and I, ourselves would be lost without His grace.

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“Reflecting the Lord’s Glory?”

I was at the coast last week and ate lunch on a pier near Avila Beach California. The restaurant has tables that you can peer through and see the water beneath. They accomplish this by use of mirrors to reflect the surface below. Very unique but not very exciting since the sea life didn’t cooperate. All that could be seen was the encrusted pilings.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

But do we? Are we a living advertisement for our Savior? Are we a loving reflection of His grace? Or do we stomp through life grumping and griping about our day looking and sounding like a crusty old stick in the mud? Stop! Think about what you are reflecting to the world.

Fourth-century preacher John Chrysostom wrote, “This is the rule of most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good. For nothing can so make a person an imitator of Christ as caring for his neighbors.”

On the path today care for someone. Pause and reflect upon God’s love for you which then translates to others. Don’t know about you but I really don’t want to turn into an encrusted old saint stuck in my ways. Please dear God help me reflect your grace. God bless your walk today.

“Jump Up…”

pathFor my morning devotion I was reading Matthew 9: 1-9 in The Living Bible. I was struck by the phrase, “…jumped up and left!” When they bring the man on his mat to be healed Jesus heals him and tells him to go home. The Bible says, “…he jumped up and left.” Then Jesus sees Mathew the tax collector and calls him as his disciple. The Scripture notes, “Matthew jumped up and went.”

Thomas Merton wrote, “There is, in a word, nothing comfortable about the Bible-until we manage to get so used to it that we make it comfortable then we are perhaps too used to it and too at home in it. Let us not be too sure we know the Bible…just because we have learned not to have problems with it. Have we perhaps learned…not to really pay attention to it? Have we ceased to question the book and be questioned by it?”

Father, as I contemplated scripture this morning I was confronted by the urgency of the Bible. I was made uncomfortable by the need for speed. I could hear you saying, “Danny, quit lying down, get up and move. Why are you still sitting there?” Time to “..jump up and serve. Someone is hurting. Someone is crying, someone is in pain and needs a Savior. Why? Because you are still sitting there.”

Dear God, when someone hungers, make it our response to serve a meal spiritual and physical. When one of us is displaced, make it our urgency to house. Dear God help us to move today and stand with our brother and sister in pain. May we find peace in the urgency to bring others to you. Amen.

Get up and move on the path today. What re you doing still sitting there?

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Time to Prepare…

Zach Well I’ve started again. Cutting some blocks for our Lenten series. My wife thinks I’m a little crazy to go through so much work for such a few weeks. To be honest most people just don’t appreciate the process. But…that’s not why I do it. For me its a time to consider God’s word, to pray about what I read in the Scriptures, to meditate on those words, then contemplate my relationship to God through those meditative thoughts and finally cut to the center and find direction.

This morning I was reading from Genesis 1:3-5 in the Living Bible, Then God said, “Let there be light.” And light appeared. And God was please with it, and divided the light from the darkness. So he let it shine for awhile, and then there was darkness.

Obviously God was creating a woodblock series. Just kidding. But what really caught my attention was that phrase, “…he let the it shine for awhile, and then there was darkness.” Let’s be honest people. You only have a short period to walk in God’s way. To share in His creation, to tell someone the good news of a risen Savior. So…enjoy the walk today. Share with a friend or neighbor how you are preparing for that day you walk the path in heaven. Don’t delay for darkness is always a reality.

Dear God thank you for being our creator and redeemer. Help us to prepare and spread the good news about the path. Amen.

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Wait! Don’t Go….

converseWe just had our annual meeting at FCBC. Now for you who don’t know what the means here is an explanation. Our board of deacons presents the budget for the year and the membership votes for, against, or abstains. The board works hard at reviewing numbers, costs, and tries to anticipate what will come our way in the new year. Have to say they do a great job! (If interested the budget passed).

Now as part of this process I write briefly about the past twelve months, what I see as positive and negative from my perspective. This time I noted that possibly in three years I will be considering retirement. Not a soul said anything about it after the meeting. But…wow the emails started coming not just from the church family but some from the broader community as well. Here is a brief list, “You can’t go. Can’t believe the deacons would allow it. Why are you abandoning us? You aren’t that old. What will you do with your time? You would miss us. You were the pastor for my daughter’s wedding and presided over my father’s and grandfather’s funerals. You just can’t go. Nope, there is no debate.”

I really appreciate such comments but I’m sure there were others who thought , “Wow about time.” But just didn’t write it out. Yet, honestly we all realize there are realities to life. At some point I will have to go.

For Christmas I got a new pair of Converse. Now I love these shoes! Have ever since I was a kid. Problem is I’m really type A when it comes to keeping them clean. Probably because when young they were expensive and I was expected to care for them. No matter how rough they looked you lived with them until… just maybe you got another pair. So…I work really hard at keeping the white parts white. Every time I wear them out comes the rag and they get a complete cleaning! But heres the thing…no matter how hard I try after a year of life no matter how diligent they start to look a little dingy.

Now I’m not saying I’m looking the worse for wear. But there does come a time when you say, I sure would like a new pair of converse. Ones with new skills, new gifts, a new direction. (You get I’m talking about me and not shoes now right?)

Here is my point. Thank you to all you who wrote and said, “not yet.” The reality is I’m not done quite yet. I still have a race to run but its all about timing, its all about God’s direction. Won’t hang the converse up this time, still have a path to walk with you. But…well you know.

Dear God, when we weary of the journey, strengthen us by your Spirit to imagine new heavens and a new earth. Keep me on the path. Amen.

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birthdayToday is my wife’s birthday! God bless you dear heart! When I took her early this morning to sit with the twins the little ones shouted out, “Happy Birthday Grandma!” Promptly giving her balloons, flowers and great hugs.

When I looked at their beautiful faces I was reminded of what James Finley states in his book on meditation. “The meditation practice we might find ourselves gravitating toward could be baking bread, tending roses, or taking long, slow walks to no place in particular. or we might find ourselves being interiorly drawn to painting or to reading or writing, poetry or listening to certain kinds of music….Or our practice may be that of being with that person in whose presence we awakened to what is most real and vital in our life.”

While I watched “grandma” settle in with the toddlers, one in each arm. Holding, snuggling, kissing, laughing and yes giving instruction. I was seeing oneness with our Savior. May God allow us more awareness of His presence in our daily lives. Thank you dear wife for teaching me daily about walking hand in hand with our Savior!

Dear God, enlighten the eyes of our hearts so we may not only see and receive your mercy but also notice the places in our daily lives where you call us to extend love, mercy and hope. Amen.

See you on the path.

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Take a Presence Break

Dolores Sorry I’ve been gone for so long. Have missed you all! But lets see if I can get back on the path. Just before Christmas I visited the Mission Dolores in San Francisco California. In the cemetery there is the marvelous statue of Father Serra walking the path. He seems to be taking a presence break.

What do I mean? Well the skill of merely pausing for five minuets and spending some time in the Presence of our Savior. Why not try it now? Make it Simple: Just decide to stop right now. Breathe: Notice the temperature of the air as you take it in. Take a deep breath. Expand your chest. Exhale and Let it Go! Let go of everything that does not serve you. Let go of that to-do list. Just ask God to walk with you now. Breathe In. Breath Out. Breath Out. Breath In. Do you feel the energy? Be Present: Notice what is attracting your attention.Draw in the Deepest Breath of Your Day. Breathe in gratitude for this day. Exhale, let go, and say HELLO to this present moment.

Whenever you experience stress, worry or pain this day take a break and walk with your Lord. You know what to do.

Dear God, wherever we look today allow us to catch a small glimpse of you. Let us enjoy this day! Keep us on the path.

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Won’t Be Long…

I’ve always been a fan of astronomy. As a young man had a telescope, ground my own mirror in order to build a scope, took hundreds of astral photographs. But most of all just enjoyed being outside looking at the wonders of the universe.

This last Sunday was really excited to see the blood moon and the total eclipse. But, for us in Fresno the clouds never dispersed and our view was hampered. But…I kept going out, I kept thinking just maybe I’ll catch a glimpse. Then sure enough the clouds parted for just a moment and I got to see, for a few seconds a heavenly sight.

The Psalmist declares, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” Psalms 8:3-4

Then I got to thinking. What if we lived our daily lives in the same way as I did that night? What if we continually checked to see if we were living in such a way as to honor our Savior. Why? Because won’t be long. Live in anticipation of the coming Savior. Oh sure there are some clouds, some tough times but really won’t be long. Won’t be long brothers and sisters Jesus is coming. Stay on the path.

My Advent

My preparation for the Advent season has already started. I decided to do some woodblocks representing the various announcements from the Lord regarding the coming Savior, which requires time and planning. I’ve enlisted the help of my mother to do some embroidery (thought would be good to have mixed media) my daughter to produce a pulpit banner to hold the prints and my wife for critical review.

I want the coming seasons of Thanksgiving and Advent to be a time of Joy. To be a season filled with music! So my theme this year is to center on the biblical songs of God’s people as they await the Savior.What a joy to pause, to consider, to prepare worship items to help shepherd the flock.

Of course you don’t have to wait for advent. You can raise your voice today in prayer, in adoration, in joy. Take a moment to enjoy your walk with the Savior right now!

Dear God, we are often so rushed we have no time for You. We stumble, trip and even fall into obedience dragging old habits, time schedules and mindsets with us. Help us today to delight in your voice and to tell someone the good news of the Savior today. Don’t wait…rejoice now!

See you on the path.

Everything is Broken…

What a week! Someone stole all the copper wiring out of the parking lot lights. The organ decided it was just too tired and didn’t want to play any more. I strolled into the men’s bathroom and part of the metal closure fell out of the door frame and whacked me on the head. I have a bump.

One of our parishioner’s stated, “Everything is broken.”

My answer: “Of course! This isn’t heaven.”

Sadhu Sundar Singh, an early twentieth century Indian missionary made this statement, “Diamonds do not dazzle with beauty unless they are cut. When cut, the rays of the sun fall on them and make them shine with wonderful colors. So when we are cut by the cross, we shall shine as jewels in the kingdom of God.”

Okay brothers and sisters as you travel the path it is your time to shine. To show those around you that we are safe and secure because of the sacrifice of our Savior. Of course the path gets bumpy from time to time but at least we are on the path with our God.

So, pray with me, Dear God, help us from making crosses out of tiny slivers of discomfort in our lives. Help us to see and recognize the true crosses we are called to bear, those whose heavy weight leads us down the path to freedom and provision of others. Amen. I say again Amen!

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