Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Devotion 3.1.17

Hope - Psalm 39

When you hear the word "hope," what comes to mind?  It's simple definition is "a desire or expectation for a certain thing to happen." 

In our culture, we put our hope in many things.  We place hope in our own ability to resolve issues and to build a path toward a certain outcome.  We put our hope in institutions, our own businesses, the free market, and those traditional institutions that have served us in the past such as government institutions and all that flow from those.  We can be satisfied with outcomes from these, and sometimes we are disappointed, in ourselves, in our co-workers, in our families, and in those larger institutions that we had hoped might serve us better.  In fact, they can become sources of conflict.

Our successes in life can make us confident, but it can also build a pride that may not serve us well.  Likewise, our failures and disappointments can make us bitter, cause us to withdraw, and become cynical about the world around us. 

The truth is our one true hope lies in Christ.  David, the king who had many successes, also had many failures.  David, regardless of his station in life, constantly turned to God in both good times as well as bad.  In Psalm 39, we read as David talks to God in earnest, "And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers." (7 and 12)

David sets the example for us in terms of where we turn for hope.  Our hope is found in Christ.  We seek Christ through prayer and God's Word to give us that hope.  David's prayer is a great point of reference for us to turn to Christ to find that hope.  We hope for the mercy and grace we need daily in our lives.  We seek our hope through Him for eternal life.  We place our hope in Christ in all we do and pray that we serve him in all we do.

Hope Men's Ministry

Monday, February 27, 2017

Devotion 2.28.17

How do you prioritize life?  How do you go through your day attempting to say, "Before this day is out, these are the critical items that must be accomplished?"  Two angry customers who called you yesterday?  That well that has to be repaired that you have put off, but now before the crops are planted, you have to do it and have about one week left?

In education, we study a psychologist named Abraham Maslow.  Maslow developed what has become known as "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs."  The theory is simple, before you can be motivated to address lofty goals in life, the most immediate needs will come first.  So, before you can reflect on the future and dream about that book you've wanted to write or that ultimate house you have wanted to build, you do have mundane items such as putting food on the table for your family and the water leak in the restroom that have to be addressed.

Our needs drive us.  When are we most likely to "need" God?  Like David, we turn to God in our hour of need, but in truth, we need God daily in our lives.  Suffering, joy, pain, sorrow, faith, healing, grace, mercy, peace, thanksgiving, worship, praise, and devotion.  Those are daily needs of ours. They are "our daily bread."

Over the next 40 days, we will journey through these needs using the book of Psalms to talk to God.  "To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of the maidservant to the hand of the mistress so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy on us." (Psalm 123:1-2)

Together we will lift our eyes to the Lord our God, through His Son Jesus Christ, asking His Spirit to give us a measure of faith as we take all of our needs to him in prayer. 

Hope Men's Ministry

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Devotion 2.22.17

I heard a great news story one time that involved an animal rights' activist and a farmer.  The farmer raised chickens for egg production, and the animal rights' group was protesting the condition chickens live in to produce eggs.  It had become an entangled mess of lobbying, courts, and such.  Until one day, the farmer called the animal rights' head and asked, "Can we talk?"  (The story was on NPR, so it isn't one that is made up.)

Between the two, a logical solution was developed, and a relationship of sorts began.  The relationship was one of respect.  One was a matter of economics - the size of the crate for the chicken and the number of chickens in the coup with the mechanisms to feed, water, and gather eggs.  The other was a matter of conditions considered deplorable - the size of the crate for the chicken.  These two people were not from the same world.  Their worlds were different and vast.  And yet, through a relationship, they were able to forge a solution acceptable to both and the groups they represented.

We talk about being "of the church" in a world that is clearly less and less sympathetic, even in a nation founded on religious freedoms, to "the church."  The beliefs expressed by the church are placed in an "old world" category, not enlightened by the knowledge of the day.  For those who have lived over the past four to five decades, areas of life we once considered common are being hedged in.  Unfortunately, it is tempting to withdraw from society, to talk at society about its condition, and to gather only with like-minded people.  The question is, how does our light shine when we do? 

In speaking of fatherhood last Sunday, we noted that the scripture is clear on the role of men, fathers, in the lives of the family and children, yet we looked at the numbers of single-parent households where there is no father or minimal father (40% across the board now according to Pew).  How does the church speak the truth in love to society that now ignores that truth (Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 6:4, and Hebrews 12)?

We learn from the farmer and the activist.  We begin by having a conversation.  Not one of scorn for the other, but a conversation intended to develop a relationship.  A "Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman" conversation (John 4) where he does not condemn, but listens and informs. 

We pray that as opportunities in this world come to us, we seize them and use them to develop relationships.  We pray the Spirit move us to speak the truth in love and that we share in the gospel message of love, forgiveness, and mercy and grace.  We pray that we go out into the world and not shrink from it, so that Christ's light may shine.

Hope Men's Ministry

Monday, February 20, 2017

Devotion 2.21.17

What approach do you use when you encounter conflict?  I'm almost certain that the thought going through your mind is, "It depends."  When it's conflict between your children, you may be more like a parent, using that authoritative voice and your authority to say, "Enough, here's what you should be doing instead of what you are currently doing."  As our children get older, we may find our voices changing and the use of reason and what children should know.  That's true in all of our relationships.  As they mature based on time and getting to learn one another, our approach to conflict may change.

Time is key in the handling of conflict.  Sometimes, you had to dive to keep your children from harming themselves (moving toward a wall socket uncovered) and sometimes you let time work to your advantage.  For example, we sometimes give them time to let our children try to work out their conflicts so they can learn from them until we have to finally intervene.

We see that in the church too.  Conflict and how it is handled may depend on several factors:  the kind of issue; the depth of the emotion involved; the level of maturity among the body of believers involved in the issue (from several members to the entire body); and the timing of intervention. 

Paul sees a need to intervene immediately in Corinth because harm is likely in the practices and beliefs the congregation have developed (or beliefs they were unable to shake before they became Christians).  Paul sends people and a letter he has written to intervene, and he admonishes almost like a parent.  We hear this in 1 Corinthians 3:  "But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.  And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.  For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and believing only in a human way?" (1 - 3)

We pray that when we are in conflict (not if, but when), we take the time to pray and assess the issue before we decide how to act.  We pray that when conflicts arise, we strive for maturity and seek God's will, in our personal relationships, professional relationships, and in our spiritual relationships.

Hope Men's Ministry

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Devotion 2.19.17

We have to be able to laugh at ourselves in the course of life, for if we take ourselves too seriously, we find ourselves in awkward moments because we just couldn't pause and laugh.  Take the Children's Message at church yesterday in the second service where I met a young boy named Cooper, who was full of life and information.  The topic was the "Three Pigs," used to illustrate the foundation of Christ in the church much as the pig who chose brick.  Of course, Cooper set me up with several opportunities to laugh, genuinely, not at him, but at his commentary as we went along.  He has a library and the Three Pigs' book is also accompanied by a movie.  And he knew the narrative and gladly led me along through the narrative.  Our interaction, as well as the other kids, led to laughter in the congregation, which is the primary reason you invite children to come to the altar and hear the Word of God processed for a child (and the adults in the room).

We take ourselves too seriously sometimes which makes the sharing of the joy in the Gospel difficult.  There is a Christian satire site, the Babylon Bee, which is funny in its own way, like this story (click on this to read it) about the church secretary who used "every font known to man" to advertise the pot luck supper.

Times can get tense in this world, and the sharing of the gospel can become difficult, yet we seek to find joy in our work and laughter as we share in that joy with others.  As Paul writes in Philippians 4:  "Therefore my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved."  Love, joy, and crown all from standing firm in the gospel.  We pray we share in that joy with the world.

Hope Men's Ministry

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Devotion 2.16.17

School districts, created from a law, are to be governed by a board of trustees.  In the eyes of the law, school districts are political subdivisions, so the weight of the office of trustee conveys some governmental authority.  The trustee only has authority, however, when sitting with the other trustees in a legally called meeting.  Yet there is a lengthy history of conflict within school districts that arises from simple actions that created a conflict that festered into a term called a "brouhaha."  A brouhaha infers actions and events that bordered on chaotic but were, for all intents and purposes, a noisy and overexcited event.

Sometimes the conflict can be traced back to an innocent action.  For example, in The Andy Griffith Show, we see Barney, the highly excitable deputy, decide to cite Gomer, a simple and friendly mechanic, for a U-turn.  Probably in the confines of the law, but Barney could never allow something to be simple and routine, and in the end, it turned into a brouhaha with Andy needing to intervene and the town taking Gomer's side, all on the streets of Mayberry. So in schools, the mother of a teacher turns to a trustee one Sunday at church to inform the trustee the principal got upset with the teacher (a variation of the truth, the principal asked why the teacher was late).  The trustee, not in the roll of the trustee because he isn't around the table in a formal meeting, calls the principal at home that same Sunday.  The principal becomes defensive upsetting the trustee.  The trustee calls the superintendent, who in turn calls the principal, while the trustee calls another trustee.  You get the idea.

I've sometimes felt that football games should be held on Monday nights because that gives time and space before the weekend.  As it is right now, a football game is played on Friday, and when it is a loss, the town has the weekend to mull it over, Saturday at the coffee shops and Sundays at church.

Like a family, like a school, and like a church, sometimes a conflict can arise from the simplest of misunderstandings or actions.  Sometimes it is completely innocent.  But allowed to fester by time and space, it can become beyond a brouhaha into a conflict that requires intervention, sometimes by a third party. 

For the church (and followers of Christ including their families, their organizations, and their places of work), conflict should be treated in a timely fashion, with the foundation for that solution being Christ as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3, "For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."  That foundation can protect us in times where conflict arises. 

Pray that our one foundation is Jesus Christ the Lord.  We are his "new creations," by water and by Word.  ("The Church's One Foundation," Samuel Stone, 1866) Pray we always lift our eyes to Christ, in good times and in times of need.

Hope Men's Ministry

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Devotion 2.15.17

Conflict, a word that is both a noun and a verb.  There is a conflict occurring between the family, the employees at work, the parties in power, and even among the nations.  They conflict over beliefs, direction, actions taken, comments, and decisions.  Conflict can be healthy in that it shapes us and makes us stronger in the long run, while maybe being unpleasant at the time.  When we conflict, it can possibly harm us because words are hard to take back, arguments can escalate, and the conflict itself can lead to death.  The Vietnam War, officially titled an "armed conflict," had a total death toll of 58,000+ (US Archives).

Conflict is not in God's design.  Conflict emerges from the ash heap of the fall of man.  Eyes opened, discovered they were naked, hid from God, lied to God, blamed the other, and now they knew good from evil because evil had entered their hearts (Genesis 3).  Conflict now knows all aspects of our lives.  We conflict within ourselves ("For I do not understand my own action. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." Romans 7:15).  We conflict with others (Cain and Abel, David and Uriah, Christ and Peter, Saul before he became Paul).  We conflict with God (best expressed by David in Psalm 22 when he laments, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?").

And yet, in our conflict, we lift our eyes to God.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3, "According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder, I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it.  Let each one take care how he builds upon it.  For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw - each one's work will become manifest for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done." (10 - 13)

We pray that as conflict arises, God uses it to test us and to shape us rather than allow conflict to destroy us.  We pray that we continue to look to the cross of Jesus as the foundation that we build upon, including when we conflict with one another.

Hope Men's Ministry

Monday, February 13, 2017

Devotion 2.14.17

I saw a meme (a picture with a saying or something usually humorous the other day) that said this:  "Good judgment comes from experience.  And experience?  Well, that usually comes from poor judgement."  Men, today is Valentine's Day, and if your wife or loved one says, "Don't make a big fuss just because it's Valentine's Day," and you go along with that, read the above quote.  Don't say we didn't warn you.

The most important decision you will ever make that has nothing to do with logic, only emotion.  I've fallen in love, and she is the one for me.  You mull it over with trusted friends.  you talk to her dad to seek his permission to ask for his daughter's hand (or a suitable replacement if dad isn't in the picture).  Then you ask her and she says yes.  Phase two:  The marriage.  You know, that event that you took maybe less than three months to plan but maybe as much as 9 months.  That day that is very much about planning.  Where it will be held (for many of us the church, but sometimes other venues)?  Who will conduct the wedding (not an issue unless you are of different religions or even faiths, for example I attended a Jewish/Baptist wedding once upon a time)?  The bridesmaids, the groomsmen, maid or matron of honor, best man, their outfits (often tied to wedding colors - another decision), day, time (tied to location availability), invite list...  you have either experienced this or get the idea.

Then you choose the vows.  Those words that creates the marital relationship before God (the marriage license at the end signed by everyone creates the relationship before the eyes of the law I'm guessing).  The pastor chooses readings or you give him (or her in some cases) those that are meaningful to you.  One, most certainly in every wedding comes from 1 Corinthians 13.  "The Love Chapter."  While I'm almost certain Paul wasn't talking about marriage, like any artist, once your work is out there it is up for interpretation, and 1 Corinthians 13 has become that for marriages.

So, while you are standing there having just heard a song about love, you continue to stand for an undetermined amount of time to listen to the reading of 1 Corinthians 13.  Me?  Oh no, we listened to a solo and then had The Love Chapter read while we knelt.  "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal," it starts.  "...Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;...  Love never ends...."  Neither, apparently, is this passage going to end, you think.  Why didn't we just pick a few verses? you ask to yourself as you look into your soon-to-be new bride's eyes. 

So, to remind ourselves of the love we share, we have set aside a day, once each year, to look back at our bride (or girlfriend), and remember our love.  That day would be today, so today we use the devotion to remind ourselves of the love we share with our loved ones, mainly our wives and/or those we love, who may become our wives one day.  And remember, if your wife or loved one says, "It's just another day, so don't do anything special for me," ignore it.  Don't fall for it.  If you haven't learned that by now, you will only make the mistake once.  Make sure you at least say, "I love you," today.

Have a great day men. 

Hope Men's Ministry

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Devotion 2.13.17

I had the privilege Saturday to attend an Eagle Scout Court of Honor.  A friend's son was being awarded the Eagle Badge, an honor that few who are Scouts attain.  Yet the forum included a video by then national president of the Boy Scouts in the United States, Rex Tillerson.  Tillerson, himself an Eagle Scout, talked about the values instilled by scouting and the transfer those values take young men into life.  Imagine, he said, that early in the Scout Oath, young boys take an oath to God and country, and he then quoted Scout Law, a series of words such as "Loyalty," "Trustworthy," and "Obedient."  He then talked about life after scouting in which those worlds took hold and were of value throughout that young man's life.

Imagine that.  Teaching values through activities to our youth that they take into life.  That sounds familiar to us.  In his book on excellence, Peterson talks about aspects of excellence that should transcend our lives.  Unfortunately, we've learned to compartmentalize our lives.  There is church self, work self, family self, and outside of formal organization self, and often times those "selves" do not overlap. 

Peterson uses Jeremiah 7 where the LORD speaks to Israel through Jeremiah to say it's not enough to say, "This is the temple of the LORD," and then return to your life of sin when you leave the temple.  As Peterson speaks of "discernment," that spiritual trait that seeks God's will, the fact is we know God's will, but our nature is foreign to that will (sin).  Consequently, our lives are of substance and image.  The image we project and the substance of our true selves.  Like the Scouts, do we live those values we profess on a Sunday?

Fortunately our hypocrisy has a cure, and it is that of Christ Jesus.  Christ covers our sins to present us holy before the Father.  Pray we strive to lead those lives that are God-pleasing and that we turn to Christ when we fail.

Hope Men's Ministry

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Devotion 2.9.17

Since most, if not all of us, are grown, where do you go when you need guidance?  A trusted friend, perhaps a licensed counselor (nothing wrong with that by the way), a pastor?  We seek advice as men, but we seek it under the cloak of darkness.  We seek it in cloak of darkness because we, in fact (but not in truth), are supposed to be the source of strength and answers.  To reveal a vulnerability or a weakness would be, well, showing a vulnerability and weakness.

Men have a God-given role to lead and to be the spiritual leaders of the home and the family.  That point may be debated in this world, but the truth is there for us to see in scripture, covered in devotions past.  So, where does a man go when he needs guidance?

David, king of Israel, man after God's own heart, shows the torment he feels because he is the king of Israel.  Just where, may we ask, does the warrior king, go when he needs guidance?  Described in  1 Samuel 16 as ruddy and handsome, David's confidence probably filled the room when he entered it.  And yet David had his weaknesses and shortcomings. 

David is a man worthy of study for men because he was of this world, and being of this world, he had his strengths and certainly his weaknesses.  Yet David, in all occasions, turned his eyes to God.  "Nevertheless, I am continually with you, you hold my right hand, you guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.  Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire more than you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:23 - 26)

We see God's own son, Christ, turn to the Father often for counsel.  Pray in earnest that as we seek guidance, we turn to Christ and the Father, praying for insight, praying for wisdom, and praying for those things we believe we need and those things He knows we need.

Hope Men's Ministry

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Devotion 2.8.17

In a book I acquired recently, the author, Todd Rose, writes and talks about The End of Average - How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness.  I'm two chapters into it (I read about three books at a time which isn't good, but it is what it is), and the author notes our culture's use of "sameness."  He speaks of how the marketplace drives "average," how medicine drives "average," and all other aspects of people and professions that value average.  The temptation to target "sameness" comes from attempting to diagnose, prescribe, and attempt to solve problems, cure diseases, find a solution to overcome obstacles, and a host of other observations meant to examine the situation.  "If we can identify what the average person needs/wants/desires, then we can treat the issue for a broad number of people."

Rose talks about issues in the Army Air Corps (what would become the Air Force) and the inordinate number of crashes occurring due to "pilot error."  They studied pilots and cockpits and sought to find out what the average pilot was built like - height, arm and leg length, and the cockpit designed to fit that.  Believe it or not, it finally occurred to them to discard that notion and design a cockpit that could adjust to the individual.  Todd writes, "By discarding the average as their reference standard, the air force initiated a quantum leap in its design philosophy, centered on a new guiding principle: individual fit."

Teams that excel make that same devotion to excellence.  How do our individuals fit into our game plan? How does our game plan reflect the individuals who make up the team? Like them or not (maybe even detest them), the New England Patriots haven't dominated for years by targeting average.

How does this notion of targeting average by various industries impact the church?  Is the church of targeting average?  While your desire may be to say, "No, our church is a church of excellence and our ministries are of excellence!", the fact is we are creatures of comfort, and the expectations necessary to create the environment of excellence often challenge those comfort zones.  Christ certainly turned the comfort zone on its ears in His day when he said this, "On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17)  Came to call sinners?  But we value those who walk in the paths of the law, who observe the law, who tithe, who observe the Sabbath, and who observe the various rules in and around the temple.

This simple comment speaks volumes to us today.  Why do we exist?  What is our role and purpose in this world?  How do we operate in this world from Sunday through the rest of the week?  How do our Sunday activities appeal to those not part of the church?

Pray we expect excellence as we serve Christ.  Pray that we understand the fact that we are here to serve those not yet in the Word and to recognize the need for grace and mercy in our own lives.

Hope Men's Ministry

Monday, February 6, 2017

Devotion 2.7.17

A gig (that's a musician's name for an event in his or her schedule) I've really begun to enjoy is the opening of Sunday School in the sanctuary each Sunday where I play "Mr. King." Perhaps the name itself is the reason since it adds to my already large ego, which my wife would say is true because I've asked to be called that at home as well.  Perhaps it is because I share the stage with "Gordy," a puppet operated by Brent Smith as we talk about stuff.  And perhaps it is because there are children in the audience ages 3 to about 5th grade who seem to enjoy "Gordy" and will talk to him when he's out and about.

We talk each Sunday and it usually goes something like this:  Gordy does something silly, for example he once found a dog and wanted to keep it even though it may belong to someone else;  Mr. King usually asks Gordy a series of questions, as in one episode where Gordy wanted to learn more about fishing and so we got the kids to fish for other kids with "gummy worms;" then we tie it to scripture and watch a video; and finally, Gordy gets it, Mr. King affirms it; and we close out in prayer and send the kids to class.

My enjoyment is the level of enthusiasm of the kids.  As we've grown into this relationship (we just began our turn at this back in September), we've learned how to talk back and forth.  I make more eye contact with Gordy and with the kids, and we are in a rhythm now.  When I finish, I walk into the Adult Bible Study where we are far more sophisticated and talk about mature topics.  Yet, we are all bound by a simple truth that is spoken so well in a child's song.

"Jesus love me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him below,
They are weak but he is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
The Bible tells me so."

No truer words were ever spoken, and despite of our level in age, that simple truth should always be at the forefront of our minds.

Hope Men's Ministry

Devotion 2.6.17

"This game is over," I said with about three minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  My wife, grading papers, agreed.  We turned it over to the movie "Dave," the spoof on a president who is replaced by his look-alike after a stroke. 

I woke up early and tossed and turned.  The potential devotion ran through my mind.  "Super Bowls rarely live up to the game they are supposed to be," ran through my mind.  Does the devotion even need to be about football? I asked myself.  We are men, and you do write them to be "theme-of-the-day" to apply scriptural truths to every day life, I said to myself.

So, when I awoke this morning, I pulled up the headlines.  Tom Brady named MVP?  I looked at my wife.  "I think the Pats won that game," I said.  She said they did because it was on the tv when she went to work out.  "And we missed it," I said.  I missed Roger Goodell having to hand the Super Bowl trophy to Kraft.  I missed Tom Brady's distant handshake at the end of the game with Goodell, as if Brady knew he had to do it but really could care less about Goodell.  I missed the MVP trophy award.  I missed Kraft's speech that slapped Goodell across the face in a gentlemanly way, as Goodell left the stage.

We missed the single-biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.  25 unanswered points.  Over time.  A catch to end all catches to keep a drive going.  A coach that knows the game better than any current coach in the NFL standing cool on the sideline, not getting deterred regardless of the hopelessness that most people would have.  It was one of the greatest Super Bowls of all time, if not the greatest, and sealed a note in football history for one of the greatest teams in the NFL of all time (sorry, hate them or not, you cannot ignore the stamp on the game the Patriots have made).

In the parable of the 10 virgins, I fell into the group that fell asleep, ignoring the need to be prepared for the return of the master. When I awoke this morning, game over, I looked at the group who had stayed with the game and said, "Share some of the joy you had last night in a game like that," to which they said, "Game over.  Joy is ours.  You should have stayed with it."  In that parable, the five wise virgins were steadfast and stayed prepared."  When the master returned, the five foolish begged the five wise to share in their preparation, to which they said, "Too late."  Christ, at the end of the parable, said, "Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." (Matthew 25)

Pray we always are alert.  Alert to opportunities to serve.  Alert to sharing the gospel.  Alert to Christ's return. 

Hope Men's Ministry

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Devotion 2.2.17

Visited the city of Austin this past week for an educator leadership conference.  It was enjoyable as the firm I now represent kept me busy interacting with the superintendents and assistant superintendents that were there.  I see people from my days in Houston and the colleagues I have here in West Texas.  Austin is a great city to visit and take clients to dinner and talk about projects and such.  My first conference in Austin was in the 1980s, so I've seen the city grow over those years. 

With that comes travel in the city, and the ride share companies are abundant, minus Uber, in the city.  We depended mainly on one called Fare!, and one ride has stayed with me.  Our driver's name was "Sajib," and when he picked us up, I got the front seat.  Sajib and I started talking about Austin as he began the drive, and I eventually asked, "So, where you from originally?"  He paused, and finally said, "Pakistan," almost apologetically, as though he knew what would be going through my mind.  He followed up with, "... I've been here for 10 years.  I can't believe what's going on over there.  It's just crazy."  The tone in his voice told me he wanted to make sure I heard him distance himself from the events in that part of the world, so I turned and looked at him and said, "The whole world is crazy my friend, the whole world."  Yes, he responded, the whole world, almost relieved I didn't press.  We began talking about life, the importance of family, and our hope for our children.  All in about five minutes.  When the ride was over, I got out with the others, and Sajib got out.  He thanked us, and then said, "I can stay, I can take you other places if you need, no cost."

My regret, complete regret, was I didn't shake his hand and say, "I will keep the world and our children in prayer."  I know he would have appreciated that.  I believe the opportunity was there to show the love of Christ and the ability to look past my own prejudices, and his, and begin that dialogue that might ultimately introduce him to the world of the grace and forgiveness we live daily.

My prayer now is that Sajib, and others like him, are reached.  My prayer is to not fail to act when God puts someone in front of me desiring to be heard, listened to, and then introduced to the love of Christ.  We keep those who haven't met Christ in our prayers, and we pray that when an opportunity presents itself, we go to God for the words and wisdom necessary to begin that conversation.

Hope Men's Ministry