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Sunday, April 22, 2018


Top Ten Hints for Springtime...
 ...After Divorce
I like springtime!  And this year, I am SOOOOO ready for it to come!  Seems like dreary skies and late snows have just lingered and lingered.  

But out in front of the house, the leaves of Surprise Lilies have continued to push up, although the tips are brown because of the cold.  The jonquils are blooming, tulips are in bud, iris are growing and warmer days are coming.  Yay!!!  (With my apologies to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere who read my blog, and who are facing the movement toward winter instead.)

Springtime is a good analogy for a lot of experiences in life.  I have noticed around me these days, places where I can see God’s hand at work in the lives of people I know, little beginnings of growth and renewal.  It’s always fun to see those things. 

The cover of the second volume of my divorce devotional is intense green, as opposed to the desolate grays and blues of volume one.  It is indicative of the time when, after a divorce, one begins to recognize that life can be good again, that there are new possibilities.  During this time, the emotional numbness begins to thaw and one begins to believe there is hope for future love.  It is a really good experience, especially if you have been deep in sorrow, depression or despair. 

Springtime also contains some risks, too.  For example, heavy rainstorms can come, or mountain streams begin to overflow as snow melts in the altitudes.  Flooding can occur.  In my part of the United States, storms can breed deadly tornadoes.  There is great joy and wonder in spring, but there are dangers as well.  The same is true in the springtime of divorce. 

There is an interesting verse in the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) that goes like this: 

         I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.  (2:7  ESV)

When post-divorce spring comes, it can be very exciting.  A heart long silent may suddenly come alive again when you catch the eye of an attractive date.  Being on the receiving end of a little flirting can feel very good.  But be careful:  do not stir up love prematurely! 

Sometimes the loneliness that has been overwhelming and perhaps tediously long leaves us so hungry for companionship, love and laughter that, like the flooding rivers, we get caught up overboard and can get way ahead of true love.  Sadly, I have observed several individuals who, after their divorce, were caught up in just such an experience.  In response to the attention they received, they mistook infatuation or the alleviation of loneliness for true love.  Sometimes they end up married far too quickly, only to find themselves in the throes of another divorce! 

If only they had waited a bit longer.  If only they had not “stirred up or awakened love until it” pleased! 

I was very blessed.  God arranged for me to have special friends around who helped me learn how to pace myself and not get in a hurry to jump into another relationship.  Some days that was very difficult for me, because I had concluded that I would like to remarry sometime, and wondered when it would be.  I eventually did, but it wasn’t until six years after my divorce.  I remember one friend in particular saying to me that it would be worth my while to be patient and wait for the person God may be preparing, pointing out that the person may not be nearby yet, or may be in the midst of her own divorce and not yet single.  My friend’s words turned out to be prophetic, because that was exactly the situation at the time, I learned, when a few years later I met the woman who would become my wife.

Let me share some thoughts, or maybe tips, that might help YOU pace yourself, or that might be something useful you could share with your friends. 

1)     Allow yourself time to heal.  Some statistics suggest that it takes a year of healing for every four or five years you were married.  Wait until you are well into the healing process before entering another relationship.
2)    Choose to get into a relationship ONLY when you are comfortable with being single once again.  Entering a relationship based on neediness is not a healthy start.
3)    Commit to yourself that you will seek healing so that you can bring a healthy, whole person into any relationship, rather than a person still struggling with wounds and fears.
4)    Commit to not date until your own divorce is final (as well as that of the person you are dating if that applies).  Far too many people have dated someone they thought was divorced and single, only to be hurt again when that person decides to go back to their spouse and try again.  And, if that person would date YOU while still married to someone else, if you marry that person who is to say they wouldn’t date someone else while married to you?!?
5)    Pace yourself.  True love does not need to hurry.  Concentrate on getting to know the person well, take time to let the relationship grow and mature.  If it is real, love can always stand the test of time.
6)    Listen to the advice of friends who have your best interest at heart.  Sometimes they will be wrong, so you don’t always have to agree with them, but listen.
7)    If you find you are forcing yourself to ignore red flags, or to go counter to instincts that warn you to be careful, then take drastic action and stop quickly.  Take time to evaluate those warning signs carefully before proceeding any further.  After all, who wants to get divorced again?!?
8)    If you find yourself thinking that the relationship feels a lot like that of your first marriage, take heed!  Sometimes we get into certain kind of relationships because they feel familiar, but when the familiarity is from a troubled relationship and failed marriage, it is time to try something UNFAMILIAR!
9)    Pray.  Offer the whole matter up to God, both personally, and then, when you DO meet someone, pray together for God to guide.
10)  Spend time in the scriptures…daily!  Even if it is only a few minutes a day.  This puts you into a situation where you will be able to hear God speak when the time comes for him to guide you.
Spring is here in the central United States.  And, if you are struggling with the aftermath of a divorce, know that spring will come to you one day, too.  My second book is filled with ways to recognize and celebrate that new life.

Monday, April 9, 2018

God at Work


I had a good conversation with a dear friend, the other day, whom I have known since early childhood.  During the conversation, I shared some photos from recent trips of mine, and it all got me to thinking.  I was thinking about I have been very blessed in life to get to see and experience lots of things.  

Let me share some of the things I recalled as I was reflecting.  I have hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and been atop Pike’s Peak.  I have walked ocean beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean.  I have stood at the top of the Empire State Building, the Washington Monument, and beside the roaring waters of Niagara Falls.  I have stood where America’s founding fathers first read the Declaration of Independence in Boston, and where they signed it in Philadelphia, and seen one National Archives of Washington D.C.   I have toured government buildings in our nation’s capitol and enjoyed the beautiful homes of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and several other presidents.  I have stood where Abraham Lincoln read his Gettysburg Address, and where the Civil War ended settled at Appomattox Courthouse.  I have been inside a space shuttle and a retired presidential jet, touched a moon rock, stood at the base of a Saturn V rocket while wandering around Cape Canaveral.  I have been to Disneyland and Disney World and other amusement parks, and even traveled on a cruise ship.

I have walked among totem poles in Alaska and waded in the oceans of Miami Beach.  I have seen great masterpieces by Monet, Pissaro, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Renoir, Rodin, Degas, Dali, Picasso, Cassatt, Homer, Rockwell in the art museums of cities like New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Oakland, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Austin, as well as in the home of an acquaintance.  I have attended plays and musicals on Broadway (and elsewhere), enjoyed live presentations of magic by David Copperfield and Dough Henning and attended the filming of a network sitcom in Burbank. 
I have stood on five continents, and seen some of the wonders of the world.  I climbed pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, stood atop the mountain fortress of

Masada, climbed to a cave where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and entered the treasury room of the magnificent desert city of Petra.  I have eaten lobster in Maine, clam chowder in San Francisco, bar-b-que in Kansas City and Houston, wonderful pizza in New York and sub sandwiches in Pennsylvania, Tex-Mex in San Antonio, sea bass in Seattle and great steak in Kansas City and Omaha.  I have watched them make Hershey kisses, and toured Kodak’s great photo factory in Rochester.  I have been to professional football, baseball, hockey, basketball, car races and soccer games.  (Yeah, I know, those of you who know me well are stunned by that last sentence!)
I have hiked to the bottom of the Great Meteor crater in Arizona, climbed the stairs inside the Statue of Liberty, and descended the stairs inside the Washington Monument.  I have been to many historical sites, and have enjoyed watching meteor showers in August and December, eclipses, alignments of planets and the first moon landing by Armstrong and Aldrin.  (I didn’t watch that last one in person…it was televised.  😊)

I spent great times with lots of aunts and uncles and cousins at their homes and family reunions.  I have experienced the joys and difficulties of having and raising children, of being married and of caring for aging parents.  I could go on, but you get the idea---I have been lots of places over the years, and gotten to see and do lots of things. 

At the same time, there are plenty of things I haven’t experienced.  Things like owning a Lambourghini or vacationing at the fancy resorts in Hawaii or the Caribbean.  I have never seen the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or Michaelangelo’s paintings in the Sistene Chapel.  I have never had millions of dollars (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars in the bank available for me to just spend any way I would choose.  On the negative side, I have never been imprisoned, nor been so enslaved to drugs that I would steal, lie and cheat just to get money to get them.  I have never known what it is to be starving, to live with a terminal disease, to grow up in foster care, to fight in the combat of war, or to be in fear of my life from marauding bands of soldiers in my own country. 

Okay, so I recounted all those things so that you could have a point of reference to understand my conversation with my good friend (remember that?) as I share what struck me as a significant point.

I was showing my friend photos from my trips to tour mission work in Bangladesh and, more recently, in Bolivia.  As we talked, I thought of all the wonderful sights I have seen in my life, but it occurred to me that all those things just don’t compare to being somewhere watching God moving in the lives of people, as I did in Bolivia and Bangladesh, and so many other places.  I have been privileged to watch God do things not merely far away, but in the churches I have pastored, at children’s camps I have helped lead, at conferences I have attended and prison ministries I have served, at concerts and revivals and prayer groups and Bible studies and even over the kitchen table in my home.

There is nothing more amazing than being present when the Spirit of God is in the business of touching hearts, changing lives and saving souls.  

If I had to choose between all the wonderful sights I have seen or being present when God is changing someone’s life, I would choose to be present where God is moving, especially when He is giving ME the opportunity to be one of the agents that He is using!  

I invite you to look around you and ask yourself, where God is at work in YOUR part of the world, and how YOU could be one of the agents through which he does his life changing deeds.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

3 Lessons from Holy Week


I have really enjoyed Holy Week here at my church, and hope you have been doing the same.  Wednesday, as we shared together for a morning breakfast, I was leading with a little devotional thought, and as it was something kind of fresh for me, I thought I’d like to pass it along to you.  The concept isn’t anything new or different, but a scripture passage just led to fresh perspective. 

The passage is in Luke 22 as part of the description of the Last Supper and the events surrounding it.  In the devotion time, we were discussing the fact that some people call Wednesday of Holy Week, “Silent Wednesday,” because there is nothing specific recorded about the actions of Jesus on that day apart from his usual teaching in the Temple.  I commented that none of the disciples knew what their next few days would be like…the terror, the anguish, the grief, the despair, nor the ultimate joy and wonder that would come on Easter; it was all totally unknown and unsuspected.   

That’s the way you and I live, too, isn’t it?  How many things in your life have come that were not at all what you would have guessed might come to pass (such as a divorce, perhaps)?  

Life unfolds one day, one hour, one minute, one experience at a time.

I also thought that, even though all the disciples fled, and none of them understood what was happening during the crucifixion, Jesus didn’t spend his last hours thinking he should have explained things better, spent a little more time, or talked to the disciples just a little more so that they would be better prepared.  Somehow, Jesus was able to say, “It is finished,” without regret or any sense that he left something out…even though the disciples were so confused and confounded!

In the midst of all the events of Thursday evening, Luke records a statement Jesus made to Simon Peter that only Luke records in 22:31-32,

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus is warning Peter of the trials that are about to befall him, and in his statement, demonstrates confidence that Simon Peter and the disciples will be just fine.  Notice he doesn’t say, “IF you turn again,” but “WHEN you have turned again!”  Jesus was fully confident that Peter would come through just fine, and when he did, he would be able to help the other disciples.  WHY did Jesus think that?  Because, he said, “I have prayed for you.”  That was enough.  Jesus understood how prayer worked.  Jesus believed praying for Simon was what was needed, and that it was sufficient to get him through every trial that would be coming in the coming days.

So what is my point?  Several things.  

First, we may not know what is coming ahead in our lives, but the Lord does, and just as he did for the disciples back then, so he will also make sure that his disciples now have everything we need to make it through whatever is ahead.  

Secondly, we can learn a lot about prayer and trust.  Jesus considered the matter settled, because he had prayed, and he knew that God answers prayer.  

Thirdly, whatever life shifts you face as his disciple, remember that just as Jesus prayed for Peter, so he has also prayed and is praying for you.  (Refer to John 17:20 and Hebrews 7:25.)  You don’t have to face the hard things all on your own.

May your celebration of Easter remind you that, no matter what life brings, if you look to the Lord as your guide and your source, you can rest assured that God will get you through.  That is one of the little side promises of Easter!  I hope you have had a blessed time through your celebration of Holy Week and Easter.