There is something about having a room to call my own. For the past many years, I’ve either had a desk in a dark corner of a busy room or in the middle of the chaos and hubbub. However, this past weekend we claimed my sons’ room and turned it into a space I can finally call my own.
In this space I will study my class work. At this desk I will write my novel. On this couch I will read devotions. In my grandfather’s chair I will sit quietly and pray.
This is a holy place. It is a holy space: Set aside for a purpose, this room will speak to my soul and allow the creativity of my inner being to flourish.
Who knows? I might even pick up the guitar from time to time.
I’ve been to Washington a total of four times in my life: Once for the “Stand In the Gap” event on October 4, 1997 and three other times for business. With each visit, I am amazed by the grandeur of the place, the scale of the Capital and the beauty of the art and monuments.
My time in DC is always short so I’ve never been in a museum or gone on a tour. I’ve never entered a building other than to buy a coffee and use the restroom.
My business trips take me to Bethesda but each year I make sure I jump on the Metro and travel to the Mall. I see the sights, take some pictures, and marvel once again at our Nation’s Capital and the beauty of this city.
But this past week, as I walked the length of the Mall, something new struck me: Many places around the world construct obelisks and statues to honor their great leaders; those who rose to fame and power and shaped the world with their words and actions, both good and bad. And we have our fair share of those great granite tributes. But we also have something more.
In Washington, DC, flanking the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial are two fantastic structures that honor men and women, named and yet to be named, who came from little towns and villages across this country to give their lives to protect the freedom we so enjoy. These beautiful memorials tell a story of a country who is led by great men and who is made by every man.
At the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, several service men were hiking the mall, 60-pound packs loaded on their backs. Their boots pounded out a rhythm on the marble steps, all the way to the top of the monument. As they stood, hunched over, catching their breath, many people looked at them in wonder. I approached them and spoke to them a bit about where they were from, their training and those loaded packs. I asked for a picture and they were happy to oblige. As we parted, I shook their hands and thanked them for their service and asked God to bless them in their duties.
I am thankful for young men and women who volunteer, knowing that they are likely to face battle. I am grateful that they are willing to serve, knowing the risks. But I pray that they will never need a monument of their own.
We often go for walks on beautiful evenings like tonight. We tie our shoes, grab some plastic bags and the dogs and hit the sidewalks of our neighborhood, talking about our days and enjoying the quiet sunset.
And so, after dinner was done and the dishes washed, we readied ourselves for our customary stroll. As we reached the half-way point of our journey, we passed a couple who were working hard to tie a yellow ribbon around the large oak in the center of their front yard.
I asked Anita if I could take a little detour from our walk. As I crossed the street and came closer, I could tell that the couple was struggling to make the large yellow ribbon look just right. I called out to them, “Who’s coming home?”
“Our son.” said the man over his shoulder. His wife continued her work without looking back.
“What branch of the service is he in?”
“Army. He’s in Afghanistan and he’s planning on coming home to visit in July.” At this, the woman turned and looked at me. The concern of many worried nights was written all over her face.
“What is his name? I’d like to pray for him, if that’s all right.”
“His name is Matt.” the father replied with humility.
“Great,” I said. “I’ll remember to pray for him every time I see this ribbon when I drive through the neighborhood. Have a great day.”
“Thank you.” his mother replied.
What they don’t know is that I rarely pass their house. It’s a little out of my way. But as I walked away from their home, their worried faces and that yellow ribbon, I made a vow to drive that direction every day…at least until July when Matt is home safe and the ribbon has served its purpose.
God bless our troops, God bless Matt, and God Bless America.
What did I do with my time this week? Where did my days go?
I started my Monday with hopes serenity and meditation.
I planned a time of reading and devotion for Tuesday.
I desired a spirit of charity on Wednesday.
I expected to live a life of graciousness and forgiveness on Thursday.
But here it is, Friday and I have yet to live my life in a way that honors your good works, your loving kindness or your compassion for others. Instead, I filled my week with activities, television, blind ambition and selfish gain. I’ve put myself above others. I’ve met my needs without giving one thought to the needs of those around me.
Forgive me for my failure and renew my heart for the challenge of the weekend and the week ahead.
Thank you for your abundance and love. You have always taken care of me and met my every need and I know, because I’m an American, that you will continue to do so. You are such a good God: One of the best. You are the creator of all things and I know you want me to have as many of those created things as possible, pressed down and shaken together (as it says in your word).
I don’t want to be negative but I want to share the pain in my heart. I know you can see it from where you sit and it is certainly obvious to anyone who passes by that our home needs new siding. Of course, with the restrictions of our home-owner’s association, it cannot be a vinyl, not that I would chose this but I’m simply reminding you. So, I’m praying for a high quality fiber board or real cedar with a dark stain, if at all possible. We can talk colors later.
And Dear Lord, I noticed the other day that my shoes were scuffed on the toes. I am embarrassed to wear them in public…I now know what it must have felt like to have all those people looking down on you while you were on the cross; mortifying, isn’t it? I’ve been through my closet and ALL of my shoes are in this shape. Of the 12 pair I own, not one is truly in step with today’s fashion. A new set of black dress shoes would be lovely. Thank you, God, in advance of your generosity!
Thank you, Jesus for knowing the condition of our shoes. You even know the condition of our water and while we are on the subject, please remind the delivery service that the salt should be placed BESIDE the furnace and not in front of the water softener where everyone can see it.
It says in your Word that we are to lift up all our cares and burdens because you will take them from us. I know you hear my prayer and will meet my needs. And so, I thank you for the abundance with which you have blessed us. But honestly, God, it has caused quite a dilemma. With so much food on our pantry shelves, we have to remodel that space. And so I ask that you will give me wisdom as I pick out the correct carpenter to remodel the pantry. And PLEASE help me find someone who will not suggest that horrible wire shelving! As a child of God, I know you want the best for me and my family.
Thank you. Thank you. You know these burdens of my heart and I’m so thankful that you will hear me and answer. I always feel so much better when I can just give these concerns up to you.
For the past four years we have closed the doors of our church and sent thousands of our regular attenders into the streets of Noblesville, Fishers, Indianapolis, Cicero and so many other towns in the surrounding area.
Participants hammer nails, rake leaves, paint walls, clean gutters, care for children, write letters, collect food and so much more. Hundreds of thousands of work-hours are invested. Lives are changed all over the central Indiana and literally around the world.
But even before we left the parking lot we saw the possible impact of our actions. Eight semi-truck trailers were waiting at the back of the church parking lot. Their doors were open, the skid loaders waiting, tables for sorting set up and ready. The expectation is that this weekend we will collect enough food from all the neighborhoods around the county to fill each and every truck. Imagine that! Hundreds of thousands of pounds of food gathered together in one place to help feed the needy of Hamilton County.
Last year’s collection was enough to get the pantries in our area through into the middle spring. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we can make it possible to feed hungry people throughout the entire year? I think we can. I’m going to do my part by filling a bag of my own and helping pick up food tomorrow.
On this day, All Saints Day, we lift up those who have gone before. In truth, we know that they weren’t all Saints. We know that some were rough, some were gruff and all were in need of your grace and mercy.
Even the great men and women of the faith stand as giants because of your love and power.
And so, on this day, we thank you for those who were examples, those who led the way, those who taught us how to live lives that reflect your gentle, loving spirit.
Despite hundreds of hours of Biblical training, I’ve never known the truth.
I’ve been attending church for decades, Bible Studies for years, youth groups overnights, summer camps and service projects…No one has ever informed me that Jesus hated my pumpkin. And given the prominence of this sign, attached to a pickup truck roaming the streets of Noblesville, this is something I should have known. SOMEONE should have filled me in about God’s Son and his thing against orange gourds.
In my defense I always thought, in the hierarchy of things that Jesus hated, a pumpkin might be pretty low on the list. For instance, I was pretty sure that Jesus hated murder. I was under the impression that genocide pretty high up there as a thing hated by Jesus. War is considered bad and I thought it might get some of the the Messiah’s attention.
I am also pretty sure Jesus hates racism, child abuse, cruelty to animals, stealing, rape, poverty and social injustice. I think Jesus even hates hate itself.
So, on this Halloween Weekend, I think I’d better re-think my understanding of Jesus and certainly review the evils of pumpkins.
But a more troubling question is still unanswered: If Jesus hates the Jack-O-Lantern, does he also hate the pumpkin grower?
You are bigger than the mountains, more powerful than the rolling tide, greater than any army. But there are times when a parent has to wonder if you are capable of moving the hearts and minds of the teenagers. These young people are a force of nature equal to a planet’s gravity, greater than solar winds, as powerful as black holes.
So many parents have given up any hope that their child will graduate high school, complete college, move out of the house, get a job, become a productive member of society.
So many teens struggle to find purpose in their lives. They desire so much more from the world and themselves. But rather than being proactive and look for work, volunteer where needed or develop a plan to stop world hunger and water shortages, they sit for hours playing video games, texting and watching YouTube.
We believe you can move the mountains. We trust you will move the children.
You gave Solomon wisdom to rule his kingdom. We pray that you will give parents a small portion of that insight.
Save us from this generation and their lack of direction and purpose.
Move them to greatness, we pray with all our hearts.
My stomach is full. My pantry over-flows. And yet, there are people in my community who are waking up each day with pangs of hunger in their gut. Their children are looking forward to school because it is there that they receive one good meal. The parents are worried about what they will eat tonight and tomorrow. Their pantries are nothing more than empty shelves.
My jowls are saggy and my belly is padded with fat from years or excess. Yet, there are people in Somalia who are traveling for days and weeks in the hopes of finding someone who will give them a cup of rice. Mothers carry dying children, praying that someone will be there, waiting with medicine and food.
Dear Lord, thank you for the blessings you’ve poured out on my family but forgive my sin of selfishness. Open my eyes to the needs of others in my own community and around the world. Direct my life in a way that can bring change to a hungry and hurting world, one meal at a time.
A song of ascents.1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Another week is underway and there are a few things that I would like to ask you about. There are several things happening in my life that are bigger than my own abilities and strength. I don’t have the intelligence or wisdom to work through the mounting problems lining up to face me in the coming days.
You know the hurdles I will face. You know the challenges in my way. You know my limitations. You know each one even before I ask. And so I turn my eyes to you and pray.
I pray for the grace needed to run this race. I pray for the strength to stand strong in the face of difficulty. I pray for humility when I want to be proud. Most of all, I pray for your love.
Thank you for what this week will bring. I know you will walk with me, each step of the way.