I was in Riverside, California two weeks ago. I spoke to the women of Sandals Church on Saturday and then the pastor, Matt Brown, “interviewed” me during the Sunday morning services – incorporating it into his sermon for Mother’s Day. He has been doing a series on “honor” – Mother’s Day he preached about honoring our parents using Noah’s son, Ham, as an example of dishonoring and Shem and Japeth as examples of honoring. It was a terrific sermon. They have 4 services on Sundays – two in the morning and two in the evening. By the 4th service, I wasn’t sure what I had said or not said! I am not sure how Matt does it week in and week out. He is a great preacher – he puts truth down “where the cows can get it”.
You can listen to his sermons on the Internet. Just go to Sandals Church, Riverside, California. Don’t you love a church called “Sandals”?
This is a church doing “transparency” from the top down. Their mission is to be “real with self, others and God”. They take it very seriously – as a lifestyle. I made plans to stay the week. I had the privilege of meeting with some of their key leadership as we journeyed together through some painful and “secret” life “issues” – sharing our hidden hearts. I was deeply moved by the authencity and transparency of these people. Especially the men. Their transparency and commitment is very authentic.
It is good to be with people with whom you can be honest, who accept you as you are, without condemnation, taking you before God in prayer. We all hunger to be known fully. Loved unconditionally. Honored as valuable. With our best attempts we fall short in giving that to each other - it only truly happens in Christ. At best “we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (I Cor. 13:12)
Won’t it be exciting to be fully known, fully loved, fuly honored? For now we can give that to each other as best we can knowing it is only a dim reflection of what Jesus gives to us. We can be Jesus to each other.
When we think of Memorial Day we think of the start of summer, 4-day weekend, cookouts, sales events…My granddaughter was watching TV with me this morning and an ad for a Memorial Day car sale was trying to entice us into buying a car. My granddaughter asked, “What’s Memorial Day?” I am glad she asked but it showed me how we tend to forget the reason for Memorial Day.
A day to remember. Remember all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Families who have an empty place at their table…
We enjoy our holiday events – I love a good burned hot dog covered with mustard, katsup and relish – but perhaps we have come to emphasize all the activities over the reason. I am touched each time I see the advertisements for the Wounded Warrior Project – what an important endeavor. For those of us from the Vietnam era, there was so much venom spewed out towards those who served our country because so many thought the war was wrong. Our returning veterans were spit upon, taunted, jeered. And yet they answered the call to duty and served. They were not responsible for the political decisions yet they bore the brunt of it.
This Memorial Day, remember…thank a service man or veteran. Remember all those that serve our nation – especially those who do so out of true love of country. Get a copy of our Constitution and read it. Thank God that you live in the greatest nation in the world. A nation built for freedom – a nation who birthed great men like George Washington, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan – men of principle and honor.
I made a trip out to New Mexico last week to speak for the Lincoln County National Day of Prayer event. It is the largest per capita in the country. They had 1400 people in attendance at 6:30 in the morning! Wonderful, warm people – it was a privilege to be a small part of their observance. It never ceases to thrill me as the present the flag. It gives me goose bumps. I love this country and the liberty for which it stands as a beacon of hope around the world. God bless America.
As I travelled home my last fight was on a small prop plane that left Washington, Dulles at 10:30 PM arriving at my airport at 11:00. It is a rather small plane and as we boarded, a young woman was ahead of me and seated herself in the front seat opposite the young flight attendant. They struck up a conversation. It wasn’t long before she was confiding some rather personal details about her life. I am sure she didn’t realize that her voice carried over the rattle of the engines! (I was trying not to listen as I was reading an engrossing mystery.)
But it made me so aware how much easier it is to confide our secrets to a stranger on an airplane or in a bar rather than in a church. Why is that? (No, I do not frequent bars other than the one on Cheers som eyears ago.) Do you remember the lyrics of the theme song?
Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
If only our churches could be that kind of place. How can we make it so?
Charles Colson died yesterday.
I have been interested in reading and hearing the media report on it.
The media has reported his death. In a 10 inch column 3/4s of it recounts his transgressions during the Watergate scandal. And there were many. Then they mention his conversion to Christ.
However, the report in heaven might have been like this: ” We welcome one of our choice servants into Heaven today. He was soundly converted some 40 years ago and followed Christ closely until our Father called him to be with us. There are many here today because of his life of obedience. He did “see Me in prison and visited Me.” He influenced many to live godly and obedient lives. He was an example of the wonderful grace our Father pours out on His children.”
There was a bit of a mess he stirred up some years ago in the American ploticial system but I have forgotten all about it.
I welcome him with open arms to join us for all of eternity. I am well pleased with this servant of mine. Let’s pray for his beloved wife, Patty, whom he left on earth.”