A Hopeful Lament

My favorite passage in the Bible is found in the Book of Lamentations.

This book is written by the prophet Jeremiah at a time of immense national calamity for the nation of Israel. The nation is going to fall and it’s people will go into captivity in a foreign nation. 

The first three chapters of the book describe a hopeless situation. Hunger,  death and disease are rampant.

Judgement has come to the nation and it is deserved.

Yet in the midst of his despair for the nation Jeremiah writes the following:

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Lamentations 3:21-25

Jeremiah reminds us that, whatever our circumstances are, we can trust the inherent goodness and mercy of the Lord. We can place our hope in God. 

When we place our hope in people they may fail us.

When we place our hope in our own wisdom we can be fooled. 

When we place our hope in our wealth and position it can disappear. 

But if we place our hope in the Lord,  it is not just wishful thinking. Because we are certain that his character,  his heart, his goodness – they will never disappoint us. 

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Exhaustion

I spent the week taking care of my wife after her hernia surgery. It was a day surgery and we were home within hours of the procedure being done. 

She was a model patient.  She had few demands and expressed gratitude for what I did for her. 

It took very little physical effort to meet her needs. Providing meals and painkillers when needed. Binge watching TV shows with her to make the time pass as quickly as possible. 

My daughter arranged her schedule so that she could work from home and be with her mom. She did this so I could get some relief.

My wife had set up a massage appointment for me midweek before she scheduled her surgery.  She made me leave the house and go the library and get a haircut. 

Living with a caregiver she knows my tendencies well.  In the midst of her pain and uncertainty she was thinking of me.  Because she knew I would lose sight of taking care of myself.

My wife constantly reminds me that an exhausted caregiver who cannot take care of themselves will be of no use to others.  She is a very wise woman and I am fortunate to have her in my life. 

Laughter

I have learned from personal experience that not only is laughter the best medicine, sometimes it is the only thing that works.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

I have observed that most Christians can mourn easily but struggle with laughter.

Perhaps this is why Solomon,  the wisest man who ever lived penned this passage. 

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Ecclesiastes 3:4

I can already hear some of you trying to define what dancing is. (Take a chill pill).

Anyone who reads the Bible can see that Jesus went to a lot of parties.
His first public miracle was to change water into wine.  He was literally the ‘life’ of the party.  He has commanded his followers to prepare for a coming wedding feast (Can you say ‘party’).

We are commanded to rejoice in the Lord. God expects us to be joyful.

Unfortunately, based on their interactions with His followers/ children, many people view God as a cosmic killjoy.

I believe that there are three things that we can can we do to reverse that misconception. As His children, we need to:

1. Lighten up. 
Yes, I know that Hell is real and the stakes are high. But the gospel is good news.  It is not some bad tasting medicine that you force down people’s throats. Remember that we are inviting people to a wedding not a funeral.

2. Live a little.
It’s okay to socialize with people who don’t go to church. God called us to be the light of the world, not the light to our small circle of friends. We are called to moderation not isolation.

3. Laugh out loud. 
Have fun. We should be the life of the party.  The one who listens to others and always has something good to add to the conversation.  Laughter and joy are contagious.

Small things

It’s often the seemingly small things in life that have the greatest impact on our destiny. 

A single fresh baked chocolate cookie can alter the trajectory of the worst of days. 

A single word of unwarranted criticism can destroy a lifetime of work. 

A single word of praise can encourage a starving artist to complete his dream.

An answer to a proposal of marriage  can bring joy or despair.

A decision to skip the elevator and take the stairs every day can lead to better physical health. 

A decision to read the Bible 15 minutes a day can alter the way an individual thinks and acts. 

An attitude of gratitude can transform oneself and others at the same time. 

A hug for the heartbroken, a smile for the weary, a listening ear for the one who feels worthless,  are actually the most important of things.

  

Random Thoughts

Become a servant leader by your actions.

Influence others by your behavior.

Quit trying to defend Gods actions and purposes.

Love others intentionally and well.

Listen for what is being said. Then listen even more to what is not being said.

Support change. If it doesn’t work celebrate the boldness it took to try and learn from it.

10 Timeless Truths

Here are 10 timeless truths that are equally valid in secular business and church work.

1. Everyone has feelings and it affects their output.

2. If you are unwilling to do it no one else will want to do it.

3. Praise for a job well done encourages continued excellence.

4. Micro managed employees lose their drive to innovate.

5. Constantly changing job descriptions leads to high turn over.

6. An introvert can lead as well as extrovert – just differently.

7. A fun work environment is greatly undervalued.

8. If you take yourself to seriously, no one else will.

9. Ownership  of a problem  is often the beginning  of the solution.

10. Simple,  clear and concise  are powerful in the marketplace of life and business.

Should We Give People a Second Chance?

Everyone wants a second chance. But many are reluctant to offer it to others. 

The story of John Mark demonstrates that we should give people additional opportunities.

John Mark was a helper to the Apostle Paul who deserted Paul while on a missionary journey. Barnabas brought him back and used him.

John Marks desertion led to such a sharp division that Paul and Barnabas went there separate ways

Yet before his death Paul sent for John Mark, noting his usefulness to him and the ministry.

Is there someone you need to extend a Second Chance to?