EVEN

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As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.
Psalm 71:14

Don’t despair.

Even if the world today seemed to conspire against you.

Even if the work outweighed the play.

Even if it seemed nobody spoke your language.

Even if the Kingdom seems farther away than it did yesterday.

And don’t give up.

Even when you were embarrassed or shamed.

Even when the nightly news cut you to the quick.

Even when the momentum is pushing in the wrong direction.

Even when everything just hurts.

For the Lord is our God

Even at the gates of destruction.

Even at the end of time.

Even at the darkest dusk.

Even at your side.

And our God is good!

Even in spite of it all.

Even in your heart, and mine, and theirs.

Even in this very moment.

Even in ways you cannot fathom.

Rejoice!  Do not despair!

Have a great week,

Mitch

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12:12 training

 

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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12

I believe I have failed this verse completely.

First word:  Be.

Yep, I’ve blown that before.  Now, ask me to “do” and maybe I can help you out.  Or to ruminate, or worry, yes I’m your man.

But to “Be” anything is a challenge.  Let alone what I’m suppose to be:

Be Joyful.  Be Patient.  Be Faithful.   Gulp!

These are not simple things to ask for!  To be joyful — well, I’ve managed that from from time to time, but certainly not on command.

To be patient? This is maybe the hardest request out of the whole verse.  It’s just not something I’m any good at.  Not for more than maybe 5 minutes at a time.

Then, to be faithful.  Oh Lord, I wish I were.  I work on this one, I really do, but it’s a challenge for me.

Be joyful, patient, and faithful.

Already it seems impossible, but then add in the conditions, and I’m positively sunk.

Be joyful IN HOPE.  So as I try to muster up a little hope for my life, I need to do that joyfully.  Yikes.

Be patient IN AFFLICTION.  I have trouble being patient at the drive through lane, and you want be to be patient in affliction?

And finally, be faithful IN PRAYER.  You want me to be consistent in my prayer life, reaching out to God as much as I possibly can?

Hmm.

Ok, maybe I can be faithul in prayer.

Which maybe means maybe I can try

to be the rest.

After all, I might not be Romans 12:12 perfect,

but I can be in 12:12 training.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Christmas is for adults, too.

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Everybody always says, “Christmas is for Children.”

Been there, done that.  It was great.

However…

I’d like to raise a few points on behalf of those who find themselves with a few gray hairs.  Or a lot of them.

Christmas is no less magical or profound or sweet or challenging now than it was when we were whippersnappers.

In fact, it may even be better.

Let’s talk about Hope:  I must confess I’ve done my time on the Island of Misfit Toys.  Feeling broken. Not sure where I belonged. But I’ve learned that everyone gets broken.  Everyone feels like a misfit from time to time.  It is the coming of Christ that gives our lives meaning and purpose.  Now I know what it really means to have HOPE!

Let’s talk about Love:  I’ve learned that there is no perfect present underneath the tree.  Hard as we might try, we can’t fit love in a box.  There’s only one gift that truly satisfies to that extent.  It is the gift that God gave to us, so that we might pass it on.  Now I know what it really means to have (and give) LOVE!

Let’s talk about Peace:  Every year I find myself saying, “has the world ever been this bad?”  My attentiveness to the suffering around me has developed, but so has my faith and resolve.  I believe there is no turmoil that the Prince of Peace cannot transform, and I want to help.  Now I know how to look for signs of PEACE!

Let’s talk about Joy:  Whereas once a gadget or a toy would make me giddy, now joy strikes me much more deeply. It is in the presence of family and friends.  In witnessing simple acts of grace.  In the Christmas story.  More than just the excitement of a season, I am reminded of what God With Us truly means both now, and the whole year round.  Now I know the ongoing thrill of JOY!

Oh, I’d never take back those wondrous years of Christmases past.

But that wonder has never left, if we know where to look!

It’s in any heart that embraces the HOPE, LOVE, PEACE, and JOY of Christmas…

and never lets go.

Merry Christmas.

Mitch

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Have you been abused?

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Some things need to be said.
And I’m gonna say em.

If you have endured
(or are enduring) some form of abuse in your life
(Sexual, Physical, Psychological…)

You aren’t alone.
You aren’t alone because abuse is more prevalent than most of us realize.
You and I encounter people every day who are victims of child abuse, or spousal abuse, or rape, etc.

BUT ALSO

You aren’t alone because
of all the places where God chooses to be,
God MOST chooses to be with those who suffer.
God is with you right now, arms around you.

You deserve to be safe, and happy. 
God wants that for you,
and will never give up on pursuing that for you.

If you are not safe, or not happy, I’m very sorry.
Whether your abuse happened 30 years ago
or is happening right now,
pain is pain.

This little devotion probably won’t change that.
But just know that I was thinking about you today.
Whoever you are.

And if there’s a way I can help,
Listening to you.
Praying for you.
Helping you be safe.
Pointing you towards people who can help in other ways,
I will try.

I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which means
that I believe Hope Springs Eternal.
that good can triumph evil.
that Love can heal what has been broken.

That is my wish for you today.
To be healed and hopeful and triumphant.

In the name of Jesus,
May it be so.

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Double Negative

Sometimes I can be so singularly negative about my life.

I look at the world and only see what’s broken.   The place on my floor that creaks. Facebook friends who won’t stop sending me game requests.  The chip fragments at the bottom of the bag.

Don’t get in my way when I’m feeling negative like that. I’m likely to growl. Or sigh.

But then there are other times, when negative doesn’t even begin to describe how warped my vision is.

At those time it’s like I’m Double Negative. Twice the suffering in the world. Twice the bad stuff to endure.

When I’m Double Negative I go big. I see democracy falling apart at the seams. I see corporations as hungry giants. I see The Church in ruins. My life in tatters.

When I’m Double Negative, stay as far away from me as you can.  That kind of negativity is doubly toxic. Doubly contagious.  Doubly dangerous.

If you’ve ever been in that place, you know what I’m talking about.

All my life I’ve been told that a Double Negative = a Positive.  Like saying,  “I don’t know nothing about the Bible” is grammatically  saying “I know something about the Bible”.

Well, that may be true in grammar, but when it comes to attitude, or outlook, or faith, there is nothing positive about being Double Negative.

And while it’s easy to bounce back from one negative day, or even the occasional Double Negative day, some folks just spiral downward until they may be doing permanent damage to their soul.

Is there any hope for those of us who suffer from Double Negativity?

Here’s an answer from Paul, that I think applies:

…we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5)

Paul is suggesting that two wrongs can make a right.  Suffering and endurance can lead to character and hope. All it takes is a glimmer of faith and perseverance.

How about that? A double negative leading to something positive after all.

Not for nothing,

But isn’t that something?

Have a great week,

Mitch