Saturday, February 27, 2010

Done is as done does

David wrote these words:

O God, why have you cast us off forever? Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture? Remember Your congregation which you have purchased of old. The tribe of your inheritance, which you have redeemed -- the Mount Zion where You have dwelt.

Let's see here, God loves the Hebrews so much that he brought them out of Egypt and slavery (purchased of old). He redeemed them. He loved them. He protected them.

Yet they continued to fall, to sin, to waste that love and protection.

We laugh at them and their weakness.

And we do the same things they did, over and over, despite having a savior who takes care of us individually.

Among the Thirsy's song, I need a savior, tells us this:

How many names Can I use to explain
The love of my Jesus The life that He gave
And so many times Will I praise You today
I lift up my life Cause You’re always the same
And my off-er-ing, To you I bring

Your name is Jesus Your name is Jesus
You’re the wonderful, counselor, my friend
You’re what I hold on to, I know that You brought me through
All the days of loss and to the cross, You knew
That I’d need a Savior
That's whom I need. I need a wonderful, counselor, a friend. I need someone to hold on to, someone who will bring me through. Someone I can talk to, someone I can cry on their shoulder, someone who smiles at my antics and gets on to me when I make those dreadful mistakes that always come.

I go up, and I fall down. That's the pattern of my life. But through it all, through every single little mistake and penalty, there is my savior, whose blood washed me clean.

Notice the tense of the verb? He's done it already. He's paid the price, for me, for you, for us.

God, my God, my Jesus, does not cast me off forever. That's the difference in the Old and New Testaments. I'm paid for. I've got a God who will not leave me if I merely repent of my sins (which means I quit doing them as best I can, turn the other direction and live another way). I am forgiven. I am redeemed. It is done.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A cross to share

A few days ago, we returned from Jackson, Miss., via I-55. Alongside the road somewhere during the couple hour trip there was a white cross stuck in the ground. On the cross was red lettering that spelled a name, Tiffany Brewer.

I wondered for miles about her. Who was she? What had happened to her? Was it an automobile accident as I presumed? Did she die?

What was her favorite hobby, her favorite color, her favorite book, music, TV show, movie? Was she young? Did she have time to find love and lose it or maybe, just maybe find it and keep it?

Who was Tiffany Brewer and why did she pick up her cross and leave it beside the road?

On the trip Mary and I made, we visited my parent's grave and dropped off some black and gold Saints ribbon. I told my Dad that the Saints had won the Super Bowl, though for the life of me I felt stupid doing that. I mean, if he is in heaven (as I assume that he is with his confession of Jesus as Lord and all), then I didn't have to go to the grave to tell him anything because his soul isn't there and his body is incapable of understanding. Still, it made me feel like somehow I had made him a part of this whole celebration.

Looking at the gravestones, I thought about who they were and how much I miss them and all the thoughts one has when standing in front of his parents' graves on a windswept cold afternoon in the woods outside of Meridian, Miss.

Jesus makes it clear at the end of scripture (sorry Mormons) what the future holds for my Dad, my Mom, maybe even Tiffany Brewer: And behold, Jesus says, "I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to give every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.

Reward? To give every one according to his work? What about all that saved by grace through faith business?

It still exists, friends. But clearly Jesus brings reward to continuing to work on our salvation, to continue to seek after perfection, to continue to be sanctified. Clearly.

I say all that to say this...Tiffany Brewer, if she believed in Jesus as her savior and professed it with her mouth was saved. Period. If she continued, in what I presume was a short life, to feed the poor, help the homeless, testify to the good news and generally work for those who are marginalized, her reward in heaven was substantial.

Who was Tiffany? Where did she come from and where did she go?

Thoughts on the road.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

White flag time

The exercise has been this: becoming vulnerable for the Spirit's use.

In other words, despite my being a pastor (or maybe because of it), despite all my reading of scripture (daily), despite the hundreds of sermons I've prepared (or certainly because of that), despite countless prayers and the couple mission trips I've ventured on, I have to learn to surrender my will to His.

In other words still, I've got way too much of me in the equation and not nearly enough of him. That being the truth that Jesus is always rattlin' on about, what is the 14-day Acai spiritual flush that roots out me and allows him in?

Let's hope for this reaction...John the Revelator sees a door standing open in heaven. The voice (God's magnificent, stringent, powerful, throaty voice) says: come up here and I will show you what must happen afer these things.

John the Revelator says that INSTANTLY he ws in the Spirit. He sees a throne. he sees someone sitting on the throne. The one sitting on the throne is brilliant as gemstone. Twenty-four thrones surround him and twent-four elders sat on these thrones. And everyone is singing, good voice, bad voice, training or not, they're singing "You are worthy, O Lord our God, to reveive glory and honor and power. For you created everything and it is for your pleasure they exist and were created."

That's a worship service that doesn't start at a particular time and end at a prescribed time. It starts when God calls things to order and ends just past the end of time as we know it.

How do we get rid of that mess we call ourselves (sorry for all those reading who think they really, really have got it together) and allow so much of the wonderfulness, the awesomeness, the greatness of God in?

Simple. Really. Simple.

Worship. Truly, really, magnificently worship God. Sunday morn? Sure. Wednesday night? Absolutely. But don't forget Monday, Thursday, Tuesday and Saturday. And especially, especially Friday. Worship. Truly, really, magnificently at that place of holy ground you call...uh, whereever you passionately feel like worshiping.

Give it up for Jehovah. Woof, woof, woof.


The Bible says of worship: (in Genesis 24) The man bowed low and worshiped the Lord.

(in Exodus when Moses and Aaron talked to Pharaoh about releasing the Hebrews) “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: How long will you refuse to submit to me? Let my people go, so they can worship me.

In First Chronicles: Then he led the entire assembly to the place of worship in Gibeon, for God’s Tabernacle was located there.

We can deduce from these things that we are to bow, we are to submit, we are to do this where God's Tabernacle is located.

Bow? I can do that.
Submit? Oh, I'm working on that.
Tabernacle? Where, uh, is that. I had it right here. Somewhere. I had it. Holy ground? Holy? Smoke.

Getting less of me and more of Him is a process. It begins and ends in the same place, the Garden. The Garden where we talk and walk and get to know each other more, or better. The Garden where things are went awry but the Garden (or new Jerusalem) where God promies perfection will get leafy again one day.

There is this notion throughout the Bible that we must surrender to God, which simply means more of him, less of us. This is vital because we've all seen what we do with freedom, what we do with control, what we do with the keys to the auto. We wreck the dang thing, over and over and over.

So we need to slowly let go of control and slowly allow him to take that control. Life, to me it seems, is about who has control.

The prophet Daniel says God ... controls the course of world events;he removes kings and sets up other kings.He gives wisdom to the wiseand knowledge to the scholars.

Paul wrote to the young church in Rome, "Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires." And "The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins." And So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace."

More of Him, less of us is not a mantra. It is life, well lived, abundant. Amidst all of the religious information that is available, it is best to keep our focus on Christ Himself. Simply growing in Christ-likeness -becoming more of Him and less of ourselves- will produce the fruit that the Lord desires to see on our lives. The more we surrender fully to Christ, the more victory we will have over sin and self.

The end of the third chapter of John's gospel (which I suggest for anyone who hasn't read all of the gospels) says this: The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.

"The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

HE MUST BECOME GREATER, I must become less.

John the Baptizer said much the same thing.

It is the way life must be played out if one is to live well. The one who comes from heaven is above all. Period. Therefore, to live properly, one must submit to the one from heaven.

More of HIM, less of ME.

Yesterday I was diagnosed as being, I think I understood this correctly, diabetic. I have to test my blood sugar every day. I have to poke a hole in my abdomen daily and shoot medicine into said hole. I have a new way to live, apparently.

But the new life only works properly if I use the medicine properly. I am a new creature, but the old creature still exits and if the new one doesn't act in a proper manner, the old creature will rear its ugly head and viola, there he is again.

Paul says that all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. New ones. Fresh ones. Those clothes that have not yet been soiled. More new clothes and less old ones.

The old hymn says this: All to Jesus, I surrender, all to him I freely give.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

Are you capable of doing this? Can you become vulnerable for the Spirit's sake? If you can, life will overflow with abundance. That's the simple truth that is so very difficult to not only believe but to live.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cloudy with a 50 percent chance of Jesus

I read yesterday that NASA says this was the hottest decade in human history. I'm absolutely certain this was the coldest winter on record around these parts. What does this all mean?

The Bible doesn't say much about weather patterns, but it is pretty clear about the facts that humanity has been tearing up the earth for thousands of years. Why should it be different when it comes to things like carbon usage or whatever? And why would this become a political issue? And why do I care?

My answers are way similar: I don't know, I don't know and I really don't know.

Jesus, though, does tell us some things to watch for about the end times. He says this in Matthew 24: The time will come when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place. Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. ... Immediately after those horrible days end, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of heaven will be shaken.

And then at last, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the nations of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

There is a 100 percent chance of Jesus in the clouds, friends. It's foretold in Daniel. It's talked about by Jesus himself. Then in Paul's letter to a church in Thessalonica, he writes: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever.

Looking at clouds is just something I do these days. It's a longing. It's a wishful state of being. When those red skies at night are more than sailors delight, that's where I want to be.

Jesus said that he didn't know when the end times were coming. That being the case, I figure no one else on this side of the River Jordan does either. Still, we can be watchful, not so that we are perfect beings who know not sin, but that we are sinful beings who seek the perfect once coming with blaring horns and cloudy skies.

I once thought that Jesus would come when the field goal kick that would win the Super Bowl for the Saints was in mid-air, thereby eliminating the kick and what would be the Super Bowl win. That didn't happen, obviously. We still are waiting for what will be the most impressive parade that any of us ever will have.

That's the forecast that you can be excited about. That's global warming that makes your cheeks pink.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jesus requests your friendship

I was driving when the phone rang. (That seems like the beginning of a cheap detective novel, but it's not). Or do phones actually ring any more? Anyway, the phone went off (do phones...) and I answered.

It was a former boss or co-worker or whatever he might have been. He was calling to see how I was, how life post-retirement was treating me and so on. I kept waiting for him to fall to his knees figuratively and beg me back to the newspaper, but that never happened. They apparently still can do without me.

Afterwards i was puzzled. Why would someone actually call to check on me? Am I giving off bad vibes? Am I the subject of rumors?

Then it hit me what was so puzzling. He was merely doing what all of us should be doing...he was being kind and concerned.

Now that we facebook and we twitter and we myspace and we google and we do all these things, we've lost actual vocal contact with the world and especially with those we call friends. I've confirmed nearly all the free world as my friend, but there are few who actually meet that selective criteria. The criteria? Those who actually come in contact with each other, actually have a relationship.

Some say they can't have a relationship with Jesus for the relatively simple reason that he is dead and they can't actually talk back and forth with him.

My answer? Facebook, twitter, myspace, google. We don't actually talk back and forth and my goodness if the 3g network, or my I-phone or my Internet were to crash at the same time my world would come crashing at the same time.

Jesus and I have a relationship in the way that my cousin June and I have a relationship. Every single time I need to talk, June is there. Every single time I need to talk with Jesus, He truly is there. He is there in the Bible, in my prayers, oftentimes in my dreams. He is there. He is there in a way that even June can't be.

I wait on Him, he comes. I listen for him, he moves my heart. I never, never am without Him. I know that to the world that is foolishness, but that's truly the way it is.

I never have to Facebook him. I never have to wait for the e-mail connection. I don't. He is with me instantly.

In the Message, Job answers God after several run ins. He says this: I'm convinced. You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. ... You told me, Listen and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers. Admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand -- from my own eyes and ears."

Once you turn your life, and your relationships, over to Christ. Life changes. That's simply the way it is.

Confirm his friendship. Soon.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I was in the fifth grade and emotionally and socially stunted (I know that comes as a shock to those who know me...). I wasn't yet talking to girls as, well, girls. Then she walked into the room, having transferred from, as far as i could tell, heaven.

Her skin was flawless. Her hair was brown and reserved for the work of silk worms. Her eyes were pools the likes of which I had never swam. Her smile lit up a room the way a lamp never could.

Her name was Brenda Mott, and from the moment she walked into the room in the fifth grade, I was smiten with her in the manner Romeo wanted to pop popcorn with Juliet.

I made it a week before I was crushed. It was in the cafeteria. I had managed in my athletic courage to move closer and closer to her table as the days went slowly by. I had rehearsed what I would say to her when that magic and unforgettable moment occurred that we were at the same table for the short amount of time we had for our lunch.

This particular day, a Friday as I recall (and time is absolutely destroying my memory so bear with me), I made it to her table, the table of the young female gods apparently. We sat together for a couple of moments (with the conversation going on between Brenda Mott and Beverly Goodsby and not between Brenda Mott and Billy Turner) before our table was called up to go through the line.

This day was a day in which eating ones entire lunch was a signal for celebration. In other words, if we ate our entire lunch, we would be rewarded with a popcycle. Let me tell you, I wanted a popcycle almost as much as I wanted to swim deeply in the pools that substituted for Brenda Mott's blue eyes. Unfortunately for me, there were sweet potatoes on the menu that day.

Sweet potatoes and hot dogs. I was more than okay with the hot dogs, being a complete conneseur of the dogs that are hot. But sweet potatoes? I had never had a moment alone with one and didn't care to. But I had to eat all the substances on my plate to get my popcycle. And I had to do it quickly in order to get a few words in with Brenda Mott. Ah, the complexities of life.

I came up with a plan. I put my sweet potatoes in the hot dog bun, figuring that if I couldn't see them, I wouldn't know they were there, I could eat them quickly and get on to the wonderful conversation I could see Brenda Mott and I having.

I was wrong.

As I munched a couple of times, my squeemishness took over and to my absolute horror, I threw up on my plate. Brenda Mott screamed. Beverly threw her hand over her mouth (which was a good thing to occur, thinking back). And me? Me?

The nurse I was sent to in school asked if I felt bad and reflecting upon how young love had been squished by squishy sweet potatoes, I surely did and said so. The nurse sent me home, which since I had been embarassed until the end of time seemed a good place to go.

My love had been rejected and the opportunity would never come again. Brenda and I never dated, never spent time together, graduated high school together without my ever telling her the story of the time I was sweet on her.

I'm preparing for Sunday's sermon and I notice this bit of Luke. It seems to have little substance when you compare it to all the incredibly important other things happening in Luke's gospel, but it strikes me that it tells us a lot about the character of God, through Jesus His Son.

Luke records it this way: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you where not willing.

This is a 32-33-year-old man talking about a city he had visited, visited but never lived in with such a passion it reminds me of someone whose love, deep abiding love, has been rejected.

You know the kind of love I'm talking about. The kind of eros love where you fell deeply into those pools and nearly drowned. The kind of agape love where you gave everything you had to a friendship and the friend stabbed you in the back over what would amount to nothing at all.

Jesus loved the city, but he loved the people so much more. He wanted them to hear his message and love him the way he loved them. So very few would, and most of them only came along after the cross, after the Holy Spirit informed them.

Some of us over time have had difficulty even loving, extending that which is ourselves, because we've been afraid of loving and, well, losing. Extending ourselves through love is dangerous if nothing else. If one never extends love, one never is hurt. So it takes a bit of a risky business to give love without fear of rejection. Sometimes we wait so long to tell someone how we feel, the moment passes in the midst of a sea of potatoes, so to speak.

It hurts me, it really does, when I think about how much and how often I've hurt Jesus. How I've sinned by looking at the wrong thing here or thinking or saying the wrong thing there. How much he loves me and yet I turn away from that love on occasion (and the occasion was about 20 years in my case).

We forget or ignore just how much that hurts him.

Rejected love hurts a God as much as it hurts a child. Never forget that. Never.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Your to do list today

Where do I go today? What do I do?

Aren't those questions somewhere in there each morning? Oh, jobs and school and I don't know, household duties. But isn't there more? Doesn't there have to be somehow?

Solomon sat down one morning and pondered that thought, or thoughts like those. What does a king who has everything do, actually do, each day?

He writes these thoughts down:

My heart overflows with a beautiful thought! I will recite a lovely poem to the king, for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.

You are the most handsome of all. Gracious words stream from your lips. God himself has blessed you forever.

He completes the thought this way: I will bring honor to your name in every generation. Therefore the nations will praise you forever and ever.

I'm one of the fortunate today. I have no pressing matters. I will write some thoughts that might or might not be beautiful, I will pack up the trailer and we will go to see my son sing some of his music tonight in Jackson. I will live today unless I don't.

Sometimes we make this all too much. We wonder deep thoughts and we try to make tose thoughts reality. We try to be when we should simply let God be.

This day, allow your beautiful thoughts to overflow your hearts. That, this day, is enough.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dry bones and other things

The ground was as dry as his throat. For days and days he had wandered these dust covered hills, seeking shelter at night, seeking something entirely different during the day. No, during the day he sought relief, something exceedingly to find in a desert.

The earth he walked was so dry, rocks crumbled at the touch of his feet. He wandered the mountains south of Jerusalem, thinking despite himself of the River Jordan far to the north where he had been baptized merely a month earlier. It was wet there, so wet one could wash his face any time of the day or night, wet enough and green enough that it seemed to be paradise next to this forsaken area.

He understood the purpose of this time of testing. He must be tempted to show his full humanity, for everyone was tempted at one time or another by the adversary. He wasn't bothered by this notion. In fact, he welcomed it.

It wasn't the physical dryness that affected him as much as the spiritual dryness. He longed for time with his Father. He longed to have his Father whisper his name and feel his arms go around him.

In this spiritual dryness, he could not do this. It is impossible, he knew, to feel tempted if the Father is holding you. His adversary showed up most days, but the adversary wasn't the real threat. His condition was the real threat.

Food was but a memory, and his body, lanky and lean to begin with as was anyone's body who walked these mountains, hillsides and valleys, was eating itself he was so hungry. One day he would call himself living bread and living water, but for these 40 days, he was dry, dry, dry.

It had not rained during the time he had spent here. He walked on.

The tempter would return soon. It was the order of the day.

My friends, if you've felt dry lately, if you've felt tempted lately, know that you are in excellent company. Jesus felt that way at one time.

In fact, every human faces a temptation. No one succeeds in fighting it. Is that understood this morning? It's a bit of a true pickle. If you think you can fight off temptation, you've succumbed to the temptation of pride and ego.

If indeed you have felt dry lately, come back to the refreshment that is Jesus. Listen to your own heartbeat and know that it is a gift from God. Do not wonder why you wander, simply accept that God loves you and get on with it.

The desert is dry, of course, but the living water refreshes and gives life. Try some today. It's free.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The hardest word to say

Random thoughts that meander until a painting of sorts is formed:

Temptation: That which tricks us into following.

Following: That act we do when we are incapable of leading.

Leading: That which I do constantly, and that which constantly leads to my downfall.

Downfall: As a verb, that sin that leads to redemption; as a noun, that area in my life that is largest since I fall down so often.

Redemption: That which I need more than anything; that which only my Jesus can provide.

Jesus: The only one who can withstand temptation.

Think of all this exercise this way. I love ice cream. On a scale of 1 to 10 (and scale is the appropriate noun here), I love vanilla ice cream about a 19. I love the taste, the texture, the timing, the ice and the cream. I love it in the way that some love football or baseball or movies or whatever is that famous first-love that Jesus talks about early in Revelation.

I would eat it every day except for a couple of facts. One, it ruins my digestive track and clogs up my innards in ways I didn't know was possible a few years ago. Two, it layers on layers of fat that I knew existed but thought would run off and join someone else's circus.

As my dear Mary tells me, if someone put a tub of vanilla in front of me with a spoon lying close by (or not), I could not resist the urge, as it were. Could not. I can take someone hitting me three times in the face (as I discovered recently at one of those literally God forsaken parades) but I could not resist cream that is frozen.

It is my albatross, hanging not around my neck but around my navel.

So what can I do? That's the tough question. If I accept that I have no viable defense against the temptation of ice cream, what do I do to continue to, er, have the plumbing work correctly?

My only defense is a very good offense. I must make sure there is no one with tubs of ice cream nearby. If it is not in the house, or perhaps better yet, I'm not in an area that has readily available ice cream, then I can't eat it. Not even I can make ice cream from nothing (or bread from stones if you get my meaning).

Let's put it another way: An alcoholoic must change his very habits, meaning an alcoholic must not got to bars or any other place that he or she was used to going to drink. If the alcoholic is near alcohol, especially early in his or her sobriety, then the temptation to drink will overome. This whole mess of will power will get you nothing but fatter or drunker or even dead if taken to the extreme.

Temptation, therefore, is just another word for something more to lose. Don't put oneself in position and one won't lose. Put yourself near the temptation and like a desert traveller, water will overcome even the DNA of a camel and the ugly animal in all of us will come out.

Ronald Meredith describes one quiet night in early spring: "Suddenly out of the night came the sound of wild geese flying. I ran to the house and breathlessly announced the excitement I felt. What is to compare with wild geese across the moon? It might have ended there except for the sight of our tame mallards on the pond. They heard the wild call they had once known.

"The honking out of the night sent little arrows of prompting deep into their wild yesterdays. Their wings fluttered a feeble response. The urge to fly--to take their place in the sky for which God made them--was sounding in their feathered breasts, but they never raised from the water. The matter had been settled long ago. The corn of the barnyard was too tempting! Now their desire to fly only made them uncomfortable. Temptation always is enjoyed at the price of losing the capacity for flight."

The temptation, which changes in each of us (your temptation probably isn't my temptation), is alive and vibrant. All we can do in defense is turn to the one who was tempted and succeeded in saying that hardest of words, "No."

Monday, February 15, 2010

God on the line

What are you being called to do by God?

That's the subject of the latest book I've written (pray for it please for without prayers one must rely on talent alone and that's no good in my case).

I read with interest this morning a tale of one young woman who decided God's call was a real one.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Twelve years ago at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, a 17-year-old speedskating prodigy named Kirstin Holum was tapped for future greatness.

When Holum placed sixth in the 3,000 meters – one of the most grueling disciplines in the women’s program, a lung-scraping four-minute bust of lactic acid torture – speedskating insiders predicted a golden future and speculated she may not even reach her peak for another decade.

Like many of the longer distances, the 3,000 is regularly dominated by older athletes, as it can take years to build up the requisite reserves of aerobic capacity and deep-tissue resilience. At Nagano, 32-year-old Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann of Germany claimed the gold.

Holum was born into speedskating royalty. Her mother Dianne was a world-class speedskater who won Olympic gold in 1972 and reached even greater heights as a coach, mentoring the legendary Eric Heiden to his clean sweep at Lake Placid in 1980.

Despite an ongoing battle with exercise-induced asthma, Holum was a champion waiting to happen. Instead, Nagano would signal the final time she would pull on a pair of skates with competitive intent.

From that point on, her life began an entirely different journey.

“Speedskating was such a huge part of my life,” Holumn said in a telephone interview with Yahoo! Sports. “I still loved the sport, but I had this incredibly strong calling that it was time to move on and take a different path in life.”

There is no television and no internet at St. Joseph’s Convent in Leeds, England, meaning Holum won’t get to watch the Winter Olympics where she was supposed to become a star.

The peaceful surrounds of the convent is where Holum, now known as Sister Catherine, devotes her life to religious service as a Franciscan nun. That calling had begun on a trip to Our Lady of Fatima, a holy site in Portugal famed for a series of religious visions that appeared nearly a century ago. It was outside the Fatima basilica where Holum decided that a path of religious dedication, not frozen skating lanes, would be her destiny.

“It is funny now to think of how different my life is now,” she said. “I had the wonderful privilege of being able to compete as an Olympian, and now I am blessed to able to serve God and help those less fortunate.”

After completing an art degree, including a thesis on the Olympics at the Art Institute of Chicago, Holum joined the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, a faith with a mission “to work with the poor and homeless and evangelization.”

Based first in New York, Sister Catherine and her fellow nuns stepped on to the mean streets of the Bronx to work with some of the Big Apple’s most underprivileged children in areas steeped in gang culture. Such work and sacrifice in homeless shelters and soup kitchens gave her a deep-rooted sense of satisfaction that skating had never been able to provide.

All of us, I believe, are being called by God. Many of us put off the decision process till we can't put it off any longer. I've been a part of that. But all of us have to decide at some point.

What is God calling you to do? Ask yourself that sometime soon.

Then make a decision.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Seeking the wisdom of Love

It's a running theme, but it's all I have for the moment: How do we, those of us who are half-empty on the norm, turn positive, turn toward the light, turn to the joy of it all?

We must be transformed. How? Positive change is not automatic. It’s not a matter of God doing everything while we just go along for the ride. Nor is it a matter of us taking matters into our own hands and doing it all ourselves. It’s a cooperative effort between us and God.

Paul puts it this way: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." – Romans 12:2

It's about the mind, which puts me in jeopardy right there.

But in the moments of darkness, that appear way, way too often I understand, I read this (and by the way, if you don't own The Message -- though it be a paraphrase and not a translation -- go get one for your secondary Bible reading. The language is simply wonderful):

Oh, thank God -- he's so good. His love never runs out. All of you set free by God, tell the world. Tell how he freed you from oppression, then rounded you up from all over the place, from the four winds, from the seven seas. Some of you wandered for years in the desert, looking but not finding a good place to live. Half-starved and parched with thirst, staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion. then in your desperate condition, you called out to god. He got you out in the nick of time.He put your feet on a wonderful road that took you straight to a good place to live. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.

That says it all. God is a balm when we are injured. He is a love when we are love-less. He is a goal when we are aimless. He is all things and all ways.

Though our circumstances often look terribly bleak and terribly dark, God is there to shine a light on the road ahead. He really does. I've, as anyone who has read any of these in the past month, been in the dark spot. But through it all, through it all, God is there making my way easier than it would have been.

The Psalm above, No. 107, ends this way: If you are really wise, you'll think this over -- it's time you appreciated God's deep love.

I do, I do. I sing songs of praise, even while doubt crawls up my legs like infection. But God is fully capable of washing me clean. He has before. Unfortunately, I guess He will do so again.

He is love. Pure, amazing love. It is time I appreciate it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Joy comes in the song

Bring a gift of laughter; sing yourselves into his presence....
For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.

This morning it didn't snow, though parts of us wanted a blizzard. It is, uh, what it is. It's cold, rainy and all those things we don't enjoy.

But it's time to sing, for it's a day closer to being with God, a day closer to the joy that would bring. For God is sheer beauty.

Love that exists is love that should be shared. To keep the love that God gives us is to extinguish it. I've been given so much love by a God who is all-generous that sometimes when I forget to sing to him, it is so sad that it makes me sad.

I spend too much time in that arena, by the way, the arena of sadness. Half-filled is far better than half-empty. But I am what I am, my dear Mary says. I want to be more.

So the answer lies there in that first sentence. I must sing myself into his presence.

Sing when I am down,
sing when I am up,
sing when I can't,
sing when I can,
Sing when change comes that I want,
Sing when change comes that I don't,
sing for the good,
sing for the bad.

Sing, sing, sing to the Lord. Sing praise for all He gives and even, though this is the absolute worst, sing for the bad.

Sing till he is with us.

The Bible says: Enter with the password, "Thank you." Make yourself at home, talking praise. Thank Him. Worship him.

Thank You, my dear, living God. Without you I would be nothing, existence would be awful and I would have no future. With you, I have a chance to be all those things.

I can make my destiny with Christ as my captain.

Let is be so. I sing. I sing.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Eyes wide shut

Today really is the first day in the rest of my life. Exciting stuff.

Let's see: I stumbled out of bed this morning with my normal abnormality, a painful, stiff back that resents being straightened or bent depending on how things went in dreamland, two knees that are protesting their usage and even a bit of a headache. I fumbled with slippers and found my robe in a pile of Saints clothing. The sky was pewter gray and it was cold as I walked slowly out to get the newspaper. I spilled coffee grounds on the counter and apparently into the coffee maker as well, since coffee and coffee grounds greeted my cup at the same time when the black liquid was released from the maker. The paper told the story of my unpleasant experience with the Saints parade from two days earlier. I've got some things to do today, but it's really much like the rest of my calendar, fairly clear.

I've fighting depression and struggling with the constant search for joy. Where did it go through all this, my mind and body keeps asking?

Then through it all, in contemplating just what does all this mean, I find a nugget that turns the sun into more than heat giver.

In a book that I strangely but highly recommend, The art of racing in the rain, there is this phrase about automobile racing: The car goes where the eyes go. I won't talk about the book more because you should read it and I probably can't even help you understand it if you don't on your own, but the phrase speaks to where I am this morning.

My eyes have been off the prize. They have strayed. They are not on the one who gives such light that a mere moment in his presence leaves us with shining faces. My eyes have been on that which is darkest: me. I have been looking at my future through eyes that have no glow. I have been looking at my present through eyes that look only for what and how this all affects me.

I couldn't be farther from the grace and mercy of God, not because He isn't despearately attempting to race down that long road to greet me but because somewhere in there in the past month I've stopped looking ahead through eyes of love.

I have wanted to strike out at something or someone because of my own loss and my own grief. I have wanted to change things through my own power. I have wanted a different ending to the story. I have WANTED.

The Bible tells us that Jesus at one point in the Garden, a wonderful place filled with Olive trees that are strangely created beings that look like old humans in their crevices and their faces, asked his Father to take this cup away.

The cup of pain.
The cup of depravity.
The cup of outcome.
The cup of misery
The cup of coming sin.

He wanted to change things before they even happened.


Then he said those wonderful, saving, grace-filled words: But your will not mine be done.

And we were saved.

I've entered into the valley of the shadow I'm slowly emerging, looking for that which makes my face radiate from within. Nothing I do, nothing I wish for, nothing on this earth can make me do that.

But He can, and He will.

The car goes where the eyes go. Mine are turning back to Jesus. Open my eyes, Lord, open my eyes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We lived through it

Okay. We did it. It's done. Let's move on.

The Saints victory parade reminded me of all the reasons I don't do Mardi Gras, the reasons I don't like crowds, the reason I don't like parades, the reasons I don't like, well, some people.

We experienced hours and hours of frustration so that we could, what, see men on a float go by in five minutes time?

Clearly what was proven here was I can be a complete pain and I am an idiot. To see these people I've seen in the lockerroom and interviewed up close and personal, I weathered folks simply ignoring the fact we had gone early and set up our "camp" over and over.

We wound up in a scrum for two hours trying to get back across the river. It was painful, frustrating, and misearable.

But, it's over. Done. Been there. Never going to do it again.

For a month I've saved every newspaper, bought shirt after shirt, hat upon hat, memory upon memory. I've built the Saints into a willing idol and they're simply not worth that. They will not rebuild the city. They in fact will go their separate ways come today.

We should, as well.

It's fair time to move on. To pick up where sensibility left off and find our way back into work, play, church, things.

It's hard. It's like, where is the next game to win? But it is what it is. (I can't speak but in Sean Paytonisms).

We've told the NFL we're not the laughing stock we were. But now, let us find ways to make that so.

We had a parade. Let's move on.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Life again

I'm all out of sorts. I regret having missed working the Super Bowl and I'm tired for no reason other than my own emotions are gone having expended them on the Saints.

I awoke this morning concerned about contracts and wondering who the first opponent is next season. I'm losing my mind, I fear.

What should be the happiest time of my life is the happiest time of my life, with reservations. Maybe that's the half-filled life I lead. It's never enough. I didn't fit in with the crowd in the Quarter Sunday night, discovering I'm too straight, too old, too alcohol-less, too smoke-less and too, well, cranky I guess.

I discovered I wasn't happy enough to share this victory. Had these young whipper snappers (another term in which I use but have no idea what it's meaning is) spent all those years changing clothes because one shirt worked better than the other during games? Had they spent all those years just waiting for a winning season? Had they...

The Bible talks about my feelings a bit.

In Matthew 21 from the Message we read:
33-34"Here's another story. Listen closely. There was once a man, a wealthy farmer, who planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, put up a watchtower, then turned it over to the farmhands and went off on a trip. When it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants back to collect his profits.
35-37"The farmhands grabbed the first servant and beat him up. The next one they murdered. They threw stones at the third but he got away. The owner tried again, sending more servants. They got the same treatment. The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. 'Surely,' he thought, 'they will respect my son.'

38-39"But when the farmhands saw the son arrive, they rubbed their hands in greed. 'This is the heir! Let's kill him and have it all for ourselves.' They grabbed him, threw him out, and killed him.

40"Now, when the owner of the vineyard arrives home from his trip, what do you think he will do to the farmhands?"

41"He'll kill them—a rotten bunch, and good riddance," they answered. "Then he'll assign the vineyard to farmhands who will hand over the profits when it's time."

42-44Jesus said, "Right—and you can read it for yourselves in your Bibles:

The stone the masons threw out
is now the cornerstone.
This is God's work;
we rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it!
"This is the way it is with you. God's kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life. Whoever stumbles on this Stone gets shattered; whoever the Stone falls on gets smashed."

I have no right to hoard my Saints, no right to deny others their own way of celebrating, no right to have second-thoughts about my own happiness. I have, basically, no rights.

Everything I am, I am by the grace of God. I will never be a sports writer again. I miss it terribly. But the fact is I've told God that whatever He wants from me, I will do.

The Saints have come.

Now is the time to go on.

(After the parade today)

Monday, February 8, 2010

I've tried to organize my thoughts, and I've failed.

I know one can't possibly put into words what we've gone through. They can't, though many are employed to and do it so well. I must say I missed being one of those last night in some ways.

Mary and I watched the game in a large wonderful room in the French quarter, two blocks from the mecca of debauchary, Bourbon Street. Why? I'm not sure as morning turns to afternoon. I've never done that before, I've never thought of that before and I might never do that again.

We have a HD large screen tv, but we chose to watch it on a 27 inch or so whatever normal vision TV is.

Why? I keep asking myself that. The answer finally comes. We did it to be in that number. We wanted to be there when hell froze and the losers of the world, which WE USED TO BE, became winners.

Tracy Porter grabbed the interception that will never be forgotten in Saints history and I grabbed my coat and my shoes. We watched the subsequent drive (it was Peyton after all) and when the final pass of the son of my favorite Saints player of all time hit the ground and we watched the victory formation snap, we sprang like Butch and Sundance into the crowd of crazies.

We journeyed, we knew not where, finding ourselves on Bourbon Street for the second time since I moved to New Orleans 18 years ago and the first time since I found Jesus and lost myself 14 plus years ago. As one we moved, men and women, young and old, every smoker in New Orleans and even the homeless with a banjo playing When the Saints Go Marching In to roars and gays who apparently love football as well as everyone else (or at least like a party).

We popped out of the scrum at one point on a street corner and stood for a while, watching. Suddenly a second-line broke out and I found my feet doing something that might be called dancing. Twice as I pondered the way I do, I was asked by young people if I KNEW THE SAINTS HAD JUST WON THE SUPER BOWL. Apparently I wasn't giddy and stupid enough. They had no idea how long 43 years of losing is, don't remember the first game Archie played where he scored on a roll out just like he always did at Ole Miss and didn't think that was the beginning of something special. It wasn't. It never was. Always I was destined to be a loser. Always the city was just a party city that HOSTED Super Bowls, and were never invited.

We wound our ways to Cafe Du Monde and had coffee and beignets and watched humanity and time pass us by, screaming, dancing and losing clothes as the party went along.

We watched and participated in some deep meaning Who Dats and I simply reflected. Really. I didn't cry. Never did. Even while talking with my daughter, who sat there in the stands in Miami giving me updates, or my daughter across the river whose fiance is a great Saints fan and my son who is mostly.

We all bonded over this. Young and old, rich and poor, gay and straight apparently. We all felt that maybe just this once, We ARE WINNERS. We all won. We all changed.

I dislike the Who Dat nation stuff because it was stolen. I do cry every time Get Crunk plays because no one else has that. I've spent all day crying. I can't stop. I will, though, but it might be Friday.

Organized thoughts: No. None.

Thoughts of how much that meant? Too many. I have to hold on till the parade. After all, I've been waiting 43 years.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Praying for his saints

5 Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds.

... 5because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints

I know these saints are with a little s, but hey, God loves his saints, doesn't he? We've reached the breaking point now, my friends. The long, long week has drawn to a close. My daughter, Shanna, is flying out tonight for Miami with a ticket in her hand. Mary and I have booked a hotel room in the quarter for Sunday night. I've collected literally hundreds of things to remember this by. I've written a sermon entitled "Who Dat?" for Sunday. We've still got to buy a few eatables, but mostly we're ready for this game like we've never been ready for a game.

But are we really?

It's difficult when things are once in a lifetime, or at least labeled that. When we went to Israel recently, we sure thought that was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Then on the last night there, they began working on us to come again. Once in a lifetime doesn't mean what it once did. But with the age of this football team in some key parts, particularly on defense, one could surmise this might be a oncc-in-a-lifetime Super Bowl for the Saints. So the Turners have gone all in.

That said, none of us need forget what Sunday's main thing is. It's about worshiping our Lord. If the game was at noon instead of whenever it is, that would still be the main thing. It does not change because of the importance of the game.

I've been comforted this week by videos of Drew Brees' interview with a Christian magazine. I've been comforted by interviews with Mike Heath. I know Jon Stinchcomb a bit. There are Christians on both teams.

And everyone wants to win the game.

So how does one pray in this instance? Pray only that God protects the players. Pray that God keeps the Super Bowl from terrorists. Pray for no rain. Pray that in New Orleans, no matter the outcome, the city remain upright.

"18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

That's a start, huh?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A time for everything

Time is such a wonderous thing, isn't it? It is what it is, to quote a famous philosopher from these parts. It moves consistently, without change nor difference. Interestingly, God moves outside of time, so that time has little meaning to Him. This week, it seems, has been a God-like week, then. For time has had little meaning to us all.

Time has crept, as the saying goes. To us, one day has been like a thousand years. To us, a week has been a lifetime or at the minimum 43 years.

Time has been as slow as Christmas, which is a saying I'm had for all my life despite not understanding the clarity of it at all.

Time has been, well, let's go to the scriptures to discover just what time has been:

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

There is TIME for everything. There is a moment when it all comes together, a minute where it all makes sense, a second when it we shall see. There is a time.

I have a new tee-shirt (well, actually several new tee-shirts) and along with some stuff about some football game coming up at the end of this lengthy, lengthy week, there is a phrase: OWN THE MOMENT.

I've thought about that a lot, which is a saying tdhat is like slow as Christmas. What exactly is a lot? I digress. Anyway, can you own a moment? Can you reach out and make it yours?

Acutally, you can. You can take what God has given you, at the proper moment, and absolutely own it. You can own your mistakes. Own your problems. Own your sins. You can own up to it. You can own it.

Is this the Saints' moment? One doesn't know. One will find out.

The writer tells us: there is a time to weep and a time to laugh,a time to mourn and a time to dance. Three hours or so, the longest three hours of our lives (which by the way makes no sense at all unless you're living it) will decide which this is.

As they say around here (actually, no one has every actually said this to me but I hear we say it all the time): Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez.

My how time flies (which, oh you get the idea).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

God is listening

Even now, declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend you heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for his is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

Goodness those are wonderful words: He relents from sending calamity.Now, one can take that a couple of ways. First, the fact he is relenting from something means he has done so in the past. That's scary. Second, the fact he is relenting means he can so choose to no do so in the future. In any case, calamity, that which runs through my days, has been shut down. So says the Bible. So says the Lord.

Oh, uh, wait. There was a condition. We must return to the Lord our God for this to occur. There lies the rub.

In this territory of Saints Dats and Mardis Gras revelers, it's hard to see where we've returned to the Lord. It really is. I can only say that judging is not my forte'. I simply must wait to see who is up there, if you know what I mean.

The greater issue is can I personally return to the Lord. That means can I read daily from his Word. Can I pray at least daily? Can I love daily (the hardest of them all). Can I turn cheeks when I want to turn fists?

Joel says that we are to rend our hearts, not our garments. I take that to mean we are to let our hearts talk, not the way we dress or the way we talk or the way we do certain things. Let our love show, not our rules. Let our zest for love show, not our worship styles even.

If we do so, the Bible says He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing. In another place, the Bible says his grace is sufficient.

Clearly that means his grace and mercy is enough for us, the blessing that never ceases, the blessing that wips away even calamity.

Today that is enough. Tomorrow? I'm working on it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


PUXSUTAWNEY THIBODEAUX, the world's most famous nutria, emerged from chilly waters in the bayou, took a sniff of putrid air, walked a mile or two and then noticed not only his shadow, but all the hunters in the woods were wearing (not orange) but black and gold.

The meaning?

Obviously a Saints Super Bowl.

This is rare territory for all of us, you realize.

German tradition holds that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2 — the Christian holiday of Candlemas — winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says spring will come early.

Down here, if the nutria sees black and gold on hunters, it means, well, no one has ever seen it so we're still discussing what it might mean.

As I stood near the Superdome after the climatic NFC championship victory, two men walked by me. One said to the other, "I don't know how to act." That's the way we all feel down here. As winter began at The Times-Picayune, times were so bad that the company bought out more than 40 persons, including myself, before threatened layoffs could come. Now? Darn near everyone who has ever worked for the newspaper is in Miami, covering the Super Bowl. Heck, even a dead one, Buddy D, has been written about three times in the newspaper's coverage. I guess the threatened deadline of layoffs of Feb. 7 isn't such a threat any longer.

Every where you go, people are focused. Every where you look, people are black and gold. I spent last week buying Tee-shirts so I could remember this time, clearly anticipating it might take another 43 years to get back to this stage.

I know ultimately this means little. I know ultimately that if the Saints lose Sunday night, life will pick up on Monday and continue or even begin again. I know that my job in life is to make disciples for Christ, not to say Who Dat. But I'm delirious, and I suspect God understands.

We are in foreign lands. We don't know how to act. We don't know what to say. We who-dats are involved in the game that features all those new commercials. It's so new to us that I suspect the commercial time will be a refueling stop instead of what we watch to gain enjoyment.

In other words, the game finally means something to us, all of us, the so-called Who-Dat nation. By the way. That's a direct theft from the Red Sox nation. Seems we could have come up with something new. But then, I digress.

This day and this day alone I will leave scripture out of the mix. I love my Lord far more than I love my Saints for I'm smart enough to understand that my Saints do not save me and my Lord has. However, this week I love my Saints more than I love my Mannings, and I love me some Archie (always have.) He looks down from the wall above my office desk from the cover I have framed of the 1970 Sporting News. We go way back.

I loved Peyton all these years. I treasured Eli all these years. Heck, though I went to Mississippi State, I forgave all those who went to Ole Miss.

But this is about thick, Mississippi River water that is thicker than even blood. This is about all the have-nots getting a chance to be haves, the can'ts getting to be cans, the maybes getting to be the sures.

We are part and parcel of this thing and we might not get another chance. I had thought this was about getting to go to the party. We're there. We might as well win the dang thing, though the nation can't seem to understand that we have that possibility.

PUXSUTAWNEY THIBODEAUX has seen the shadow of the hunters of black and gold. Winter is going. Super Bowling is here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cry out to Jesus

I'm back to working the lectionary after a month of sermon series, and immediately I find something God has to say about this week. Isn't that always the way?

In the Psalms it reads: I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything. On the day I called, you answered me; you increased my strength of soul.

I love that last part. You have increased my strength of soul. The Message reads this way: The moment I called you, you stepped in. you made my life large with strength.

I tend to live as if I was weak, emotionally, spiritually, even physically. I don't live as if I have the faith that sustained a group of 12 and changed an entire world. I dont live as if i believe in my own work. I doubt there are people who find these musings meaningful. I doubt the book I sent out last week will have any impact, nor will be read. I doubt the book I'm rewriting now, the novel, will ever be read. I doubt.

But the Bible tells me that when I call out to God, he answers. The Bible says that when He answers, my life is made large with STRENGTH.

Emotionally, I have my tears dried and my grief made manageable by a God who loves me.
Spiritually, I have a relationship with a Spirit who lives in me and guides me and even walks with me.
Physically, I feel better, I act like I feel better and I am able to walk and even stand without pain.

All because I remembered to cry out to Him. When I do that, when we all do that, doubts that are as real as our autos are washed clean.

Again, at the bottom of this Psalm, it says: Finish what you started in me, O God. Your love is eternal -- don't quit on me now.

I know I test God with my antics, my doubts, my grief, my sorrow. I know I test those around me who would prefer a pastor, I think, who is impervious to doubt. But I think that I am real in a way that some are not. I doubt. I worry. I succumb.

But in the end, I think, God is there for me in a real, realy way. He lifts me up at the end. He make me happy in the end, even in my obvious sadness.

Psalm 139 reads: Oh, yes, you shaped me first inside, then out, you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God -- you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made; I worship in adoration -- what a creation. You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Friends, when you get down this week, look up. God knows you. God loves you. God is ready to lift you up. He knows every bit of your DNA. He knows your hurts. He knows your joys.

"The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day," says the Psalmist.

I don't have the big picture. God does. That's why I cry out to him.