Saturday, November 17, 2018

Alarm Clock

I am a morning person…meaning, I generally wake up early and find great pleasure in the transition of each day from darkness to light.  My wife is not a morning person by nature. Her job as a teacher, however, does force her to face mornings at un-preferred hours.  She doesn’t always seem to appreciate my exclamations of “Good morning dear!...what should we do today!... I thought we could get started with painting the ceiling!”
Her eyes slide toward me as she shuffles across the kitchen floor… “We will start with coffee.”
“Oh…Ok…I’ve already had three cups!”
Proverbs 27:14 speaks of people like me…in a rather unsavory light.  “If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor (or in this case, spouse) early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.”
My older brother is also NOT a morning person.  It was not uncommon for his teenage self to avoid the coming day until the crack of noon or after…especially Saturdays.  I often took an overwhelming sadistic pleasure in being privileged to wake him.
Some Saturdays, I would place our Boom Box dangerously close to his face with a cassette cued to the exploding intro of Europe’s “Final Countdown” or Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” with the volume cranked to the max.  I would then press play as my smile stretched from ear to ear!
Other weekends would warrant cold water in the face or an armload of pots and pans intentionally thrown to the floor near the head of his bed…it justify it as a Godly action…“Praise him with the clash of cymbals!...” Psalm 150:5.
Hmmm…I don’t really see the curse!?
There comes a time every day when we need to wake up!  Whether we cherish mornings or despise them, there comes a time when we must wake up.  We cannot stay asleep forever…we’d starve if we did...or at the very least we would wet the bed!
Likewise, there comes a moment in our lives when we can stay asleep no longer.  We must wake up.  Inevitably, the day arrives when we realize that perhaps we have been “asleep”…ignorant…unaware…blind to the realities around us or in our world.
We can close our eyes to world hunger for a long time…perhaps our entire lives.  We can ignore human trafficking. We can pretend that the sex trade does not exist. We can make believe that we are perfect and that we were always our parents’ favorite!
Assuredly the morning will come and the alarm will sound.  When it does…how will our hearts respond? Will we open our eyes to see the sunrise in our soul? Will we awaken to the desperate need that the world has for Jesus…awaken to the truth that I am not called to remain asleep…I am called to bring the Good News.  I am called to feed the hungry, help the poor and afflicted.
How many times will we hit snooze?
Sometimes it is hard to wake up.  The covers are warm, the mattress is soft and your face feels so good as your pillow is mashed against your eyes. Perhaps the question to ask is what makes us get out of bed?  What makes us wake up?  A friend of mine would constantly emphasize it this way…”Your actions ALWAYS follow your beliefs.”  Bottom line? We allow our heart go toward that which we value. We will wake up to what we value.  Jesus talks about this in Matthew 6:19-24, “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
If we truly want to see change…it starts with our own hearts.  Does my heart treasure the needs of others? Does my heart treasure encouragement to others? Does my heart value that which Jesus values?
Do I treasure my comforts? My Xbox? My Volvo? My Bacon Cheeseburger?
If we are ready to change what we put our value in…it starts with perhaps the scariest prayer we can pray.  “Lord…Change my heart!”

Saturday, November 10, 2018


Acne is the bane of most adolescents.  I admire the bravery of these young teens that daily traverse public society and their schools with the “I can’t seem to look away from that amazingly big red spot on the side of your face” pimples.  Yet, they press on navigating the waters of pubescent metamorphosis.
I remember my own battle with the dreaded pustules.  On one occasion, I recall a group of friends and I stepped into one of those photo booths they have at any number of metro area shopping malls.  Incidentally, these booths prove to be a huge asset to those of us socially awkward, yet intimately interested, teenage boys, who finds himself in a group of friends with the cutest girl in the 5th grade. How else could we arrange such an opportunity to have a picture taken together?  When the group of us finished our four poses…and the pictures printed, I was aghast to see the quarter sized zit in the middle of my forehead looking like a bullet hole between my eyes.  I knew it was there…I had just hoped that it wasn’t so noticeable…I was wrong.  You have to experience it to appreciate how the pain and pressure of a cyst that size is relentless.  Only then can you appreciate, how when the infected pore finally gives way to, the explosion of relief.
Similarly, I had to fix my truck again this last week.  It is pretty much inevitable that I have work that needs to be done on one vehicle or the other…or both.  This time it was the rear brakes…including the left rear caliper that needed to be replaced.  It is a relatively simple job.  However, to do it right, you cannot do it alone.  Once I finished the initial install, I invited my son to help me “bleed” the new caliper.  I coached him as to how to pump up the brake and then keep it pressed to the floor as I loosened the bleeder screw to let the air out of the line.
It was about our third attempt, that went a little unplanned.  I had him step on the brake as before…but I had trouble with the wrench and the screw.
“Keep it pressed to the floor!”
“Ok…I am”
“Keep it there…the bolt is stuck.”
“Oh…I see…that’s why it wouldn’t turn…the wrench was caught on the caliper…now it should tur….OH! AH! I just got shot in the eye with brake fluid!”
There is this moment in the Gospel of Luke…Where Jesus is entering Jerusalem for the last time before he is arrested.  As he enters the city…people are cheering and celebrating the arrival of their new King.  When the Pharisees see and hear this, they tell Jesus in Luke 19:39…“Jesus…rebuke your disciples!”  In which, Jesus replies to them…”if they keep quiet…the rocks will cry out!”
When we come to see Jesus for who he truly is we must respond.  We must worship.  When we come to see what God has done…we must respond.  We must cry out!  We cannot stay silent! If we remain silent the rocks will cry out.
The reasons for praise are all around us! They are in the new mercies every morning…they are in the heart aches…they are in the ease of blessings and in the challenge of trouble.  If I remain silent…the pressure builds until I must cry out…and so I cry out…Praise Him!
Thank you God for the blessing, because it shows your concern.  Thank you God for the struggle, because it keeps me dependent upon you.  Thank you God.
Even if I cannot see out of my right eye...I will praise him!