Thursday, November 30, 2006

stories of grace

Today I read the detailed written account of someone's experience in meeting God. It is a story of different turns and twists, but in the end, it is the story of one's search for Christ.

It is interesting because the writer sees his story as unique--and concerning the details and specifics, it is.

But as I read it, I realized it was not unlike my story--or for that fact, any believer's story--who has found Christ.

What we have in common, when all is said and done, is a story of God's love and grace.

It is often dramatic. It is miraculous. It is always worth retelling.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I received a very vitriolic letter yesterday from someone who is very angry at the church. I was singled out as being a liar and tagged with other unkind labels. Sadly, our church has invested much in this individual and these accusations are especially painful.

I shared with my staff later in the morning about the grieving process i went through, and continued in this morning. There is the unavoidable checking of ourselves when we have been accused. I tried not to be defensive and to be open to any hint of truth in the charges made against me. I chose not to share the letter with anyone else becasue unkind statements are made against other brothers and sisters which I know are not based in fact.

I reminded myself that we had done our best.

Does such a conclusion that absolves me of guilt mean that (a)I can't do better or (b)I can't learn from such hurtful situations. Of course not.

But I have learned I can't control how people react. I must be accountable to God--and I can, volitonally, be accountable to my staff brothers.

In the end, I am left to my thoughts and to my sadness.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

thanksgiving 2006

I woke up today to three grandchildren snuggling in bed with me, asking "Grandpa and Grandma, tell us stories..." What could be better than that!

Here is my thanksgiving list for today...

*Ten grandchildren and six children (and their spouses) all in good health

*Both of our mothers--age eighty-two--doing well

*A beautiful and wonderful wife (how did I manage to be so blessed?)

*A completed church buildng--after thirty months!

*A devoted assortment of reliable friends

*A place to work that I love

*A glorious hope in Christ!

Thanksgiving 2006 is a special time for me. Never have I felt a deeper sense of gratitude to God for His faithfulness, mercy and grace towards me. I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

the incredible krysta

Some people impact you in ways that defy description. Krysta, a young lady I know, is one of those people.

Krsyta has been battling leukemia for the last three years and until about four months ago it appeared she was on a long-awaited path to healing. Hers is a particularly isidious brand of leukemia and the treatment itself was physically devastating for Krysta. Now, just when she has emerged from the shadow of treatment, she is facing it once again as the disease has reappeared.

It's funny but I have wrestled with my own emotions about this, and I am just a pastor and friend. It is not easy to process the "whys" of sickness and disease and the apparent incongruity of bad things impacting good people. There are no "pet" answers for we "men of the cloth". We battle as well with our own questions and search for scriptural rationale for the occurrence of things we don't understand. In the end we are left to affirm or disavow our own faith in God's fathfulness and grace.

It is an easier task to affirm my faith because of Krysta, because she has unabashedly done so. I observed Krysta during her first battle with leukemia and watched her survive a variety of potentially life-threatening situations. I saw someone emerge with a strong and quiet confidence in God.

News of the leukemia's return was a shock--literally on the heels of being told she was doing great and that her doctor visits would be reduced. I know Krysta had to process this information and decide what she would do about her own faith. And, thankfully, she has embraced it wholeheartedly.

Today we talked about the next several months, culminating in a bone marrow transplant on January 16th and a year of heavy-duty follow-up treatment. What impressed me most about Krysta once again was her quiet confidence in God and her desire to make the hospital an evironment in which she could share her faith.

No wonder I am impacted by Krysta. The validity of her faith in God is contagious for me as I struggle with the "whys" I can't answer. I am encouraged to trust the God we both serve and to be stronger because of her.

Thanks, Krysta.