Paul Barton says that when he was growing up, he does not recall hearing the words, "I love you," from his father at all. Paul says, "When your father never says those words to you when you're a child, it gets tougher to say them yourself each passing year."
To tell the truth, Paul could not remember the last time he had told his father he loved him either. And so, he decided to set aside his ego and make the first move.
When they called him back for surgery, their lips met like two butterflies. Hours later, the doctor sat to talk with the elderly woman. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but the words from the doctor fell like bricks.
This caused me to look at the man sitting beside me. We had also been married for many years, but to be honest I often acted as if we had all the time in the world.
I’m author Holley Gerth, and if we could have coffee today I’d say:
You don’t need to have it all together. The world tells us we need to be “perfect.” It heaps on the pressure. It tempts us to hustle for approval and praise. But I’m learning this: The breaks in our “perfect” facades are actually more like windows where people can most clearly see Jesus.
My car was jammed with my daughter’s belongings. As we drove to the university a few hours away, we talked about the adventure she was about to experience.
We arrived on campus and carried in heavy boxes. The whole time I pointed out how exciting it all was. Hours later, we said goodbye. I walked briskly to my car, put my head on my steering wheel and cried like a baby.
Here's a big question. How do you recognize the voice of God? Instead of being frustrated that God does not speak to us in an audible voice, perhaps it would be helpful for us to remind ourselves how He does speak.
I've been thinking more about that big question of how we recognize the voice of God. A few weeks ago I was leading a retreat for university students. It was that Saturday when here Northwest Arkansas, the rain absolutely poured down in torrents. And I came upon Psalm 29.
"The voice of the Lord is over the waters. The God of glory Thunders. The Lord Thunders over the Mighty Waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful. The voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars. The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the Lord shakes the desert. The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forest bare, and all in His temple cry, glory!"
There’s an image of Jesus I can’t get out of my mind. It’s found in Matthew 8.
Jesus has ministered all day long. Evening comes and more crowds press in. Then He and the disciples climb into a boat to sail to the other side of the lake. Jesus is so exhausted that he falls asleep. He remains asleep even as a terrifying storm sweeps in and the boat nearly sinks.
Many minorities in evangelical circles are trying to express that evangelicalism is now dominated by the cultural defaults, political defaults, and social defaults of the majority culture.
My experience and mentorship in predominantly African American church settings had a rich influence on me as a minister of the Gospel. My wife's input from her Jamaican culture helped edify me for ministry. My time spent learning and being mentored in predominantly white spaces has been enriching. Learning about the culture, history, and plight of Native Americans has spiritually impacted me. My time in San Antonio and seeing the communal life of Hispanics reminds of the book of Acts. Having brothers and sisters that love Jesus, but reside in different political camps keeps me aware that no political party in completely congruent with the Gospel. Being raised and mentored by strong women of faith reminds of the value my sister’s bring to the body.
If we could have coffee today, I'd say, "Let's talk about gratitude." "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you," says 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
There's one little word in that verse I recently realized makes all the difference. We're to give thanks IN all circumstances, but we're never told to give thanks FOR all circumstances. We live in a fallen, broken world. Spouses leave, diseases ravish. Funerals happen. We are not made for any of this. If something is not from God, we don't have to force ourselves to be thankful for it.
I read a quote just yesterday that made me smile and think. It talked about the universal phenomenon that happens on a merry-go-round. A child rides their carousel horse and every time, without fail, they will wave to their parent as they ride by. And every time, without fail, their parent waves back.
There are wonderful "All In" times with God when he and we are waving at each other. We smile and say, "I see you, God! I know you were there for me! You are waiting for me, you are delighted with me."