Feb 282015

The truth will set you freeJess fumed and sputtered to herself,”Here it is, our fifth anniversary and he’s already forgetting! “The truth will set you free,” what kind of sarcastic text response is that? I’ll bet he comes home with a pitiful box of Great Value chocolates… and not even dark chocolate! If I find a Walmart receipt for after 6:00pm, I’ll… well I’ll… well I don’ t know what I’ll do, but he’ll become reacquainted with the couch tonight, that’s for sure!”

Over the next hour, she heard rustling and banging from the back deck, but she refused to even go to that side of the house. Suddenly she heard a tentative knock on the back door. She ignored it, thinking of the unwanted chocolates. A minute passed. Another gentle knock. Sighing, she resigned herself to her fate and got up, stomping her way through the house. She opened the back door with an exaggerated sigh….

and her mouth dropped open as she stared at her allegedly forgetful husband, dressed in a tuxedo, standing by a table complete with a linen tablecloth. The deck was lit with torches, soft music playing from somewhere. China, silver, and crystal shone in the light of two tall candles gracing the table. She saw pasta, steamed vegetables, a small salad, crusty bread in a basket, and a chocolate cheesecake waiting on a side table. And yes, it was DARK chocolate!
“May I escort you to your usual table, ma’am?” he said with a smile.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 NIV.

How often do we spend energy worrying up ideas in our heads about what might be, when the truth is actually far better, or at least not near as bad as we imagine? Can you think of an example in the last few weeks?

Maybe you make assumptions about a teenager and their homework. Maybe you imagine someone at work snubbing you. Maybe missing a church meeting notification has you assuming you are being excluded.

Later you find out that the teen stopped to help a struggling, elderly neighbor cover some bushes before the night’s frost. Your friend at work was fighting a fever and was about to go home sick. You wrote your email address down for the church secretary as .com instead of .net. The truth will set you free. Free from worrying about fairness, free from anger, free from misguided angry thoughts and responses.

I choose to leave the assumptions for others. Will you? Let’s focus on what really is, instead of what might be. If you do, as Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.”

Feb 212015
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Have you ever messed up and thought, “How am I ever going to get out of this mess? How do I get this turned around?  I know I have. I’m not going to be talking about my mess today, but someone else’s mess.

A friend comes to you and says, “I’ve really blew it. I borrowed your mower without asking and just backed over it with my truck.” You’re thinking, “That was a BRAND NEW MOWER! I just gassed it up. I just started it once. It’s not even dirty yet!”

I hear second hand that an employee has been very critical of me behind my back. I call her into my office and ask for an explanation. She breaks down crying and said that a decision I made had upset her and she had just started to be openly critical about everything.

Coming in from working in the yard, you surprise your son taking cash from your wallet on the dresser. He desperately tries to cover up.

Made a mess of my whole life
Burned every bridge I crossed
Am I too far gone? Which way is home?
How did I get so lost?

I’m looking for a good place to turn around
And get off this road that I’m headed down
I’ve gotta find some peace of mind
Lord, send a sign somehow
I just need a good place to turn around. –Point of Grace

What environment do I create for people around me who have made mistakes? An environment of criticism, judgement, punishment, and separation? Or do I recognize the wrong deed, accept the apology, lavish forgiveness, and cultivate a renewed relationship?

Do I create a good place for others to turn around? I know Jesus does. Each time, every time. I count on it. Can others count on me for a safe place to turn around? Can I forgive and forget the past and allow others to start over? Making messes, burning bridges, lost… all of us, sooner or later, just need a good place to turn around.


Feb 142015

mission-critical-chain Do you use this as a criterion for deciding whether to speak out or to act? “Is it Mission Critical?” I woke up early this morning to talk to one of my young lab professionals. Emotions were high as we discussed a disagreement about how to properly perform a challenging laboratory procedure. Were we making good choices that balanced quality and value to the physician? Were the results we produced able to give the physician useful diagnostic support?

Yes, it was a mission critical issue. How we chose to proceed would indeed affect how we provided care to the patient. It was worth a little disagreement and discussion to ensure that we all worked together to do our best for each patient we serve. I expressed my thanks to her for pushing for excellence.

“Aargh! I hate how he leaves his dirty coffee cup by the sink until the end of the shift!” Is that mission critical? No. Probably not. Is it a housekeeping item that has to do with how we exist in the same work space with kindness? Sure. But mission critical? No.

Maybe we need to apply this to all parts of our lives. My beautiful and everloving wife inserts an “R” into the laundry process. She does not wash the clothes, but she does “warsh” them! That is not my favorite word! She’s been saying that for all of our awesome 30+ years of married life and then some. Is it mission critical? Heck no!

The young teen just down the pew from grandma Thelma is wearing a skirt that is showing a lot more above the knee than grandma expected. Is it mission critical? Not if the mission is to model acceptance and love.

No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! 1 John 4:12 The Message

A woman sees a friend, another young mother sitting in her car after church. Struggling as a new single parent, she is showing new signs if drug use. Is this mission critical? YES! She wraps her arms around her and wipes her tears, willing to risk a little pushback, not letting go without finding a way to help.

The young man playing a guitar  and vocal solo for church- the music genre is not my favorite. He is pouring his talent into the song. The words are pointed Godward. Is my music taste issue mission critical? NO!! After church, I thank him for gifting his talent to God and allowing us to listen in.

May I apply a Mission Critical filter to my words and actions today. May I let go the things that are not, and hold tightly to the things that are.

Feb 072015

cabooseWhat do you know about cabooses? For some reason, I woke up early this morning, thinking about cabooses, punctuation, and Jesus’ Second Coming. I know that sounds strange. Hang on and see where this train takes me.

While growing up, I’d strain to see the caboose while waiting at a rail crossing, seeing it as a sign that the end of the train was coming. These were a manned safety feature of most trains until the 1980’s. They can still be seen on legacy trains like our own Skunk Train that crosses Mendocino County, even though they are more common in model trains.

Functional or not, we always watched for the caboose as a dramatic end to the train’s thundering, whistling magic. We might not focus on any number of interesting and colorful boxcars lumbering by, but “There’s the caboose!

Writing experts among us might screech and complain about its misuse and abuse, but the exclamation point is the way we make a dramatic end to a statement that excites us. A period with vertical flair, An end with blast off potential! “I love you, oh, so much!” I say to my girls. BAM! A statement I want them to focus on. “This is important!” the exclamation point says. “Look here!

My Bible tells me that Jesus is coming to pick up His friends one day soon. I am at peace, knowing that He’s coming for me. Yes, imperfect, messed up, failing me. Obviously not because of my perfection (there ain’t any),but because I belong to Him, period. I mean exclamation! With earthshaking sound and mind blowing graphics, He’ll come to mark the end of our time living apart!

 “Look, I am coming soon! Revelation 22:12 NIV.

Now that deserves an exclamation point! While I am blessed with peace and strength and joy in the middle of  the struggle and pain and loss we experience on this ailing planet, I know He plans much more for me, and soon!

Whether I think of it as a caboose or an exclamation point, it will be a dramatic end to this part of the journey and the victorious start of the next!

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