May 302015

The WordThe Word. The word? Which word? In Christian circles, the term “Word” is short for The Word of God, The Holy Bible, The Big Book. You know, as in “preach it from the Word!” In the class I teach at church, last week I was talking to kids about The Word. We were reading a famous verse that goes like this:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  -John 1:1 NIV.

Yeah, I know. It sounds weird. One of those jumbles of confusing phrases that make you want to skip ahead to the real story? Now hang on, this is NOT going to be a pithy theological journey.

The kids learned that the Word was another name for Jesus. Okay. So we’ve got the Word, the Bible and the Word, Jesus. Now that’s confusing… or is it? I explain the Word, the Bible, to kids as a book that shares who God is, how much He loves me, and what He wants for me and from me.  The Word, Jesus? His time on earth was spent showing us who God is, how much he loves me, and what He wants for me and from me. Hmmm, coincidence? I don’t think so. What God expresses in text, he expressed live, in Jesus’ life!

I was talking to a coworker recently about this. You know, we each are the walking word! The word of something. It’s up to us to decide what word. We can be so expressive, not with the technical meaning of the sentences we spew, but with our specific word choices, the tone of those words, and all the body language that goes along with it. A seemingly innocuous sentence, delivered along with certain words, tone, body language, ends up being heard as, “You incredible bumbling idiot, you total dumbas…tronomical fool. Why can’t you do this right like me?”

Other great choices include not speaking at all, or saying something that, together with the tone and body, is heard as “Hey, here’s a cool way I found to do that. It makes the job easier for me.”

One communication results in pushback, alienation, resentment, defensiveness. The other causes openness, cooperation, support, team.

So what word are you today? What message will you share today, in the workplace, in church, at home? Whether you choose to look at this from a faith perspective or not, you will be a walking word today. Me? I pray that I will be the right word.


May 252015

Heidi Heming, 27 yrs-old, left, of Chattanooga, Tenn.  is comforted by volunteer Marina Clifford, 12 yrs-old, while visiting a loved one's gravesite at Section 60 on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, Monday, May 27, 2013.  Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are buried in Section 60. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)Here I sit, Memorial Day morning, in my safe house, on my safe street, in my safe valley. It is so easy to forget that every day, someone is risking, someone is wounded, someone is dying, for that comfortable safety I feel right now. When someone pokes fun at a young woman in uniform in the airport, leaving family and friends behind, does that make her risk less? When a fellow customer impatiently pushes past a limping middle-aged veteran, does that make his wound any less permanent? When a government leader callously minimizes a passed veterans service with careless public rhetoric, does that make his death any less of a sacrifice?

At this very minute, in every hospital in America, and at Ukiah Valley Medical Center, skilled laboratorians practice their trade using experience and technology to support you and your loved ones today. Helping to diagnose infections, strokes, heart attacks. Providing safe blood for trauma victims. Giving answers to tough questions every hour of every day. If you don’t know of their presence, does that make their duties less critical? If you don’t understand what they do, does that make their knowledge less important? If you don’t know why they serve, does that make their service more trivial?

At this second, my Jesus stands in heaven, wrist-ripping scars still evident, the single living veteran who gave His life in a war on crime, a war against evil, a war to bring down the sin walls of separation between us and the Father. If you don’t believe in Him this morning, does that make His sacrifice less valuable? If you don’t acknowledge His role in your life and future, does that make His love for you any less intense? If you refuse to admit that there is such a Person, does that mean that He didn’t die just for you?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  -John 15:13 NIV.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  -Romans 5:8 NIV.

On this Memorial Day,

To members of our Armed Services here and abroad, even if we don’t acknowledge you, to laboratorians serving you right now, even if we don’t know of you, to Jesus, dying for me and for you, even if you don’t believe in Him, I say thank you, thank you, and Thank You!

May 022015

identityI finally reached the dusty counter of the country store. I reached back for my wallet… It was gone! All my cash was gone. Worse, I realized that my  identity, my I.D. card, was gone as well! Still worse, I didn’t know the name that was on it. I didn’t know my name! The last large town, I remembered showing my I.D. and having someone tell me, “Sorry, that name is already in use. You’ll have to pick another name!”

A new name? But I’ve always had this name! It made no sense to me, but I had dutifully gotten a new I.D. card with a new name, Freddie. I’d only had the new name for a week when I realized I had lost it. I couldn’t remember my new name! My brother  walked over just then  and said, “Don’t worry. I’m sure that when you called Mom about your name change, she wrote it on the calendar!”

And then I woke up! What a dream. The rest of the story, including a cattle drive, a handful of Chinese toddlers and a bag of bread…. well we’ll just leave it at that.

I actually did call my Mom early yesterday morning, more as a joke than anything, I think. Just checking the calendar.

So, if I was in doubt about my identity, who better to call than Mom! Mom and Dad gave me a name before I was born. They guarded my first steps. The guided my words and actions as I grew. They built things into me that became who I am. Regardless of my foibles as a child or adult, they always remind me where I belong and that I have a place in their hearts. That is a powerful and grounding thing.

Not all of us are blessed with receiving powerful and grounding identity from their parents. There is still one better source for identity. One best source for connection and belonging.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!     -1 John 3:1 NIV.

Look higher! There is one foolproof method for determining who you are. One reliable Source for clarifying your  identity. One Person who is sure of who you are, who wants you and always has.

I am called a child of God. And that is who I am!


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