Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Need Help...

The message was short...

Six words...

"Please call me (insert phone number) I need help"

Each word carried weight... gravitas
Each word carried a sense of urgency...Now! Not tomorrow or next week.
Each word was written with a humble, gracious, loving

And so I did...

My iWitness...

My friend said, "I'm okay and then broke down in a flood of tears."

What is it about us that we tell others we are "okay" and the harsh reality is that we are on the verge of a tsunami of tears?

What is it about hearing a trusted voice on the other end of the phone that makes everything feel better in an instant?

What is it about being comforted by someone who has walked the downtrodden dusty trail just a few miles ahead of us that is profoundly soothing?

What is it about the privilege of jumping down into the deep hole of despair with a friend and being with them in their pain and as they dissolve into a puddle of tears so do you?

What is it about coming along someone who is hurting and putting your arm around their neck and holding them close that brings healing not only to them but to your heart as well?

What is it about the scriptures that when we recited Jeremiah 29.11 together, our voices in perfect sync with one another over the cellular air waves, "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" we were provided an immediate sure foundation of knowing without a doubt that we indeed do have hope and a future?

What is it about being open about our woundedness that brings not judgment but compassion and tears and love and a true desire to bring one another to restoration and reconciliation?

What is it about a plea shouting, "I NEED HELP" that allowed our conversation to eventually end with laughter?

What is about God's promise that He is an ever present help in our time of trouble?
"God is our refuge and strength,
     a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
     though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling." (Psalm 46. 1-3)

What is it about?
It's about you and me being courageous and vulnerable enough to utter three of the most difficult words that have ever been put together in this specific order!

I need help...

I know I do...
How bout you?

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

"Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep." (Romans 12. 15)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Trust That

Like a wave building two hundred yards out from shore slowly but powerfully growing into a wall of water, cresting, pausing and then crashing down into a rush of white foam, so too was the ladies' laughter from the utility company when I told her that I had filled out an order form online and was calling to check on the status of the order.

By the time she caught her breath from laughing, I was laughing as well and finally this little bit of frivolity ended with her saying, "Oh sir, I'm sorry. But you filling out an online order form with our company and you thinking that it actually went through... you can't trust that."

My iWitness...

Have you ever offered up a prayer to God and wondered:
"Did that prayer go through?"
"That online prayer order form that I just filled out in spiritual cyberspace...did it get to its intended recipient?"
"Is there some type of bureaucratic pipeline filled with twists and stops whereby my prayer request just got clogged up in the molasses type flow?"
Is there any way to bypass all of this and find someone who has a direct pipeline that can speed up the process?"

Those are just a few of the thoughts that have ruminated through my mind over the years.

Here's the good news...
Listen carefully:

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4. 14-16)

I love the last verse...

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need...

Going to God with confidence that God hears, listens and helps?
You can trust that!

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones." (Proverbs 3. 5-8)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Not a Seat in the House

I moved into the house that I am renting over the weekend.
The owner is still doing some upgrades to the kitchen which is creating quite a mess downstairs.
That means that most of my "stuff" is in the garage and that most of my "time" is spent in the master bedroom upstairs.
Yesterday it hit me that outside of the three commodes there is "not a seat in the house."

My iWitness...

I have a good friend who has kept the same routine every night for the last 30 plus years.
Before tucking himself in for the night, he kneels.
He kneels beside the bed...
He kneels before his Maker...
He kneels in prayer...
He kneels as he lifts up in prayer his family, his friends, his coworkers, his life...
And then he gets up... it takes a little bit longer today than it did 30 years ago...and goes to sleep.

I was once told by a police officer friend of mine that when securing a suspect it is imperative to get them into a kneeling position. It is the most vulnerable and weakest position to be in. It's very difficult to do much harm while in the kneeling position.

With "not a seat in the house" I found myself doing that which my friend and others have been doing for centuries... kneeling in prayer. I feel very vulnerable and weak in this position. It's okay... I am in good company... If it's okay for Jesus to do it, then it must be okay for me to do it as well...
"And Jesus withdrew from them about a stone's throw and knelt down and prayed..." (Luke 22.41)

I'm wondering if you would join me in kneeling before God to offer up our prayers and praise...

"Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand. (Psalms 95. 6-7)

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

At The Top of My Lungs

I drove into the shopping center. All the normal eateries and big box stores had their signs that shouted their presence in the middle of this megalopolis they call Houston.
I parked the car.
Got out and started making my way toward the front doors of the latest church I would "check out" to see if this just might be the place where God wants me and my family to serve.
The greeters, who had big smiles on their faces were enthusiastically engaged with other visitors or perhaps friends as I walked into the foyer of this large church completely unnoticed and without a greeting of "Welcome to our Church." (Sidenote - As a pastor this drives me crazy when this happens. I wondered if I would make it out at the end of the service without anyone saying hello.)

I wandered around a bit looking at the various ministries and watching other people enjoy the joy of fellowship of knowing one another in the context of a church setting.
I went in and found a seat in the middle on the aisle about halfway to the front of the worship center.
No one else sat in my row of 15 chairs.
I felt quite lonely and quite alone.
Nothing worse than being in a large group of people where everyone else is laughing and carrying on great conversation and there you sit rereading your worship bulletin for the 5th time.

The five piece band started to play at the allotted time - 11:00 am.
And they were loud!
I mean really loud!
The bare, polished concrete underneath me and the unfinished ceiling above me created quite the echo chamber. The 1,000 plastic chairs only enhanced the reverberations.

The second song we sang is one of my favorites...

10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman...

The chorus goes like this...

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

When we got to the line: Sing like never before

I did just that!!

For the first time in my life in a church setting...
I sang
I mean...

My iWitness...

When was the last time you sang a song about God at the top of your lungs?

With the music being so loud, the invitation to sing at the top of my lungs could not have been more obvious. I took full advantage of it.

In the midst of feeling a little out of place in a new worship venue, stinging a little bit from not being greeted and my butt hurting from sitting in a flimsy plastic chair, I stood up and felt the presence of God fill me up with enough oxygen to blast His praise at the top of my lungs. God is worth singing to at that volume regardless of my circumstances, feelings and issues!

Rarely have I felt so liberated, so blessed, so full of joy, so uninhibited, so beside myself in singing as loud as my voice would project. Maybe it was a good thing no one else sat near me!!

I felt a new kinship to and appreciation for my namesake David as he writes in the Psalms:

Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.

Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre (or acoustic, electric and bass guitar!);
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;

play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. (Psalm 33. 1-3)

The church service was over after 90 minutes of singing, praying, preaching, more singing and then communion.
I walked out with no one saying anything to me...
It didn't matter...
My heart was too full to care otherwise!
I had done something with God I had never done before...
I shouted for joy...
I gave thanks to God...
I sang to Him a new song...
I sang "like never before"...
At The Top of My Lungs!!

And that's my iWitness
Laugh often and Fear not!