Thursday, October 27, 2011

God Is a BIG Idea!

I have often grappled with the concept of “hearing God’s voice,” and relating to a diety called God.  What does that mean and what does God’s voice sound like?

I never hear an audible voice.  It is an impression on my mind and heart at best. 

Maybe we put limitations on the idea of God because we have barely scratched the surface of truly understanding him….yet I say confidently …

What a ponderous thought. 

I don’t want to box him in.  I don’t want to misunderstand Him or mislabel Him.  I want to free God to be big and large in my life. 

And so, I offer you these thoughts on the God that I am coming to know.

He is the God of …

He is the God of …

He is the God of …

He is the God of …
Bald Men
Skinny Women
Fat Men

He is the God of …
-Hungry Children
-The Homeless
-The Aged
-Drug Addicts

He is the God of …
And all other religious interests

He is the God of …
--University Professors
--High School teachers
--Band Directors

He is the God of …
   The Crippled
      The Blind
         The Deaf
            The Injured

He is the God of …
Smart people
The D Student
The Dropout
The Nobel Prize Winners

He is the God of you and me!

God Is … therefore I believe in HIM!

You can’t   deny him
You can’t   ignore him
You can’t   abuse him
You can’t   hide from him
You can’t   out-do him
You can’t   beat him in arm wrestling
You can’t   outfox him
You can’t   outrun him
You can’t   out-think him
You can’t   out-maneuver him
You can’t   outsmart him
You can’t   live without him
You can’t   run away from his love
You can’t   avoid him
You can’t   put a lock on him
You can’t   hoard him for yourself

I guess the only thing one can do is refuse to accept His love.

And yet …

And yet, His love still reaches out for you and me in a thousand ways.

So, what is God all about?

He is love to the max.  There is nothing you can do that would ever stop God from loving you.

I can relate to that kind of God.

So again I ask … What is God all about?

God is a BIG IDEA.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Person behind the Label

“You’re fat!”
     “You’re ugly!”
          “You don’t belong!”
              “Hey homo!”
                    “Who dropped you on your head, 

The labels we wear in life.  Don’t you just hate them?

I do. 

I’ve had a few labels attached to me down through the years.  Want to hear a few?

“You’re an accident waiting to happen.”  Ouch.  That was said to me over thirty years ago.

“Get away from that thing, boy.  You don’t know ‘nothin about machinery.”

I was given a tee-shirt once with this on it:  “I must hurry and catch up with the others, for I am their leader.” 

Yes, we laugh, but don’t you see that there might just be a bit of sting to these caustic remarks?

What labels have you worn?  

What labels do you still bear?

I was once called “knot-head.” 

I am seeking to redeem every ill label anyone has ever cast my way and your way.  What we must always remember is this:

Do we internalize our labels? 
Do we dwell on them? 
Do we become what our labels imply? 

Well, that is up to how we decide to respond to the labels in our lives.

Me?  They are distant memories, and I am choosing to move past all of these labels.  I am choosing to see myself as I choose to become.

I am choosing to become one whole, complete, happy, and well-adjusted human being. 

I am full of goodness.
I am competent.
I can successfully lead a quality life.
I love people and people love me in return.

And so can you become all of these and more.

Make the choice!

What are you choosing?

Interesting words – “choice” and “choosing”.

Are you choosing your responses to these negative and hurtful labels that have been levied toward you during your lifetime?

Nothing of detriment clings to me.
No labels are visible.
The essence that I give off is good, wholesome, positive and getting better.

They are only words. 
               They only have power 
if we allow them to.

I have since learned how to handle these sharp barbs thrown my way.  Today, I am a successful leader.  I have proven that people will follow.

I have been successful in a multitude of activities and career choices. 

So, do labels linger?

Only if we allow them to. 

Only if we allow them to.

There is a person behind every label mankind can level against one.  Step around those labels.  Become better than the label.  Become the best you that you can become.

I see you; a respectable, wholesome, care-giving and thoughtful individual with more good traits than anyone could possibly deny.

Let your label read “Happy, Fulfilled, and Moving toward Better”.

There is a person behind those labels, and you are a becommer!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Starving for Grace

Ernest Hemingway once relayed this story.

“Once upon a time a Spanish father fought with his son, and the son ran away to Madrid.  Years later, in an effort to reconcile with his son, the father took out an ad in the LeLiberal newspaper: 

“Paco is a very common name in Spain, and when the father reached the plaza square on Tuesday he found eight-hundred young men named Paco waiting for their measure of forgiveness.”

What does this story tell us? 

The world is starving for grace.

 Who hasn't needed a measure of grace on occasion? 

I have. 

--Carolyn and I recently avoided a $154 traffic violation for exceeding the 30 MPH speed limit in a small town in Oregon.  Thanks to the grace of the police officer, he let us off with a simple verbal warning.

--I saw grace once in a hot cup of coffee offered a young homeless man on a cold Sunday morning.  He had spent the night in the doorway of a church near downtown Seattle.

--The clerk should have been fired.  After all, he left the cash drawer out of the locked
safe.  He should have been fired.  Instead, he received grace.  No pink slip, just a 
verbal comment that said, “Please don’t let that happen again or I’ll have to take 
disciplinary action.”  

I have always had a grace period for every home and automobile I’ve purchased.  The payment is due on the 1st , however, I am given a few extra days before my payment is considered late.  That is grace.

The world is starving for grace and kindness at the end of a hand that could offer rebuke instead. 

I think our calling as human beings is to offer a bit more grace in these days.  It’s easy to offer the letter of the law.  It’s easy to issue edicts, eviction notices, call the note due, judge one to be a low life, but oh, to offer grace. 

To offer a cup of water to a thirsty form of humanity is to offer grace. 

Sometimes it takes grace 
to be able to offer grace, 
doesn't it?

*“We’ve got to keep the doorway clear.  These    people may scare off our regular customers.”
*“I might not get repaid for the loan,” You            mumble.
*“But he may go out and do something much       worse than this.  He needs to be taught             a lesson.” 
*“We’ve got to set an example.  What if …?”

Yes indeed.  What if?

                    But what about grace?

The world is starving for grace. 

This word – GRACE – is commonly applied to those of us inside the church walls.  Otherwise we don’t talk about it much.  But we need to. 

I don’t think GRACE is simply a religious term.  It is a term for mankind.  In a day and age when we face cold and hard times, don’t you think a bit of grace might just ease the pains and struggles of life?

I think of the Bill Gates Foundation and the immense humanitarian work they do around our world.  I doubt that you’ll find the word “GRACE” in any of their literature as the purpose for what they do, but it is there nevertheless. 

They are easing the day to day struggle of mankind in life-changing ways. 

I’m all over the idea of GRACE when it comes to my religious belief, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I receive grace abundant in times of need.

Let’s take grace for a walk up and down Main Street USA; beyond the walls of churches and sanctuaries.

Offer a helping hand, a kind word, a smile, a meal to a homeless person.  This is grace at its finest. 

My friends Ed and Carole do just that.  They and their friends serve soup and bread to the homeless in and around Boston every weekend.  They are offering grace and a kind word and along comes hope on the coattails of the grace that is extended. 

“Grace comes free of charge to those who don’t deserve it.”  Philip Yancey said that in his book What’s So Amazing about Grace?

Grace is free.  It’s an act of love, compassion, kindness, gentleness.  It is not dependent on us being worthy of it or of earning it.  Grace offers hope,

HOPE.  Remember, a person can’t live 4 seconds without hope.

Hope and Grace. 

God give us the grace to offer more grace.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Images of Self

Who am I, really?

Who are you, really?

Maybe we should ask the question this way; “What have I been in the past and what am I becoming today?”

Proverbs 23:7 puts it this way:  “As a man/woman thinketh, so is he/she.”

Earl Nightingale says, “You become what you think about it.”

Earl also says “The mind moves in the direction of our currently dominant thoughts.”

Let’s see.  I’ve been a drummer from early age till now.  During my junior high and high school days I was consumed with drums.  I played them; I listened to recordings featuring Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.  I thought of little else.  I should have become a drum stick, I thought of drums so much.

And then I discovered that I could sing and lead music as a director/conductor.  That was a fun trip which lasted a long time as well.  I watched other directors, I studied musical scores, I dreamed of some day being able to direct some great symphony orchestra in Dvork’s New World Symphony.  I should have become a baton, I thought of directing so much.

And then I dreamed of becoming a great managerial whiz.  I even set my cap for being president of a particular music publishing company by age forty-five.  I got my foot in the door of that organization at age 38 and was on my way.  I would have been a great company president.  If only …

And now I write and speak.  I write and speak because I love to.  But I do it mostly because I want to offer hope, encouragement and inspiration one word at a time to my audience.

My friends Rick and Linda read my blogs.  Linda wrote me one day in appreciation of something I had written and she used the word “philosopher” in reference to my writing.  That was an ironic statement and one that took some getting used to.  I had never seen myself as a “philosopher”.  I’m the guy who thanked Dr. Dunning, my college philosophy professor, for giving me a “D” in philosophy.  I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the label “Philosopher” and P. Michael Biggs going together. 

So, what is my image of myself?  How do I see myself?
And how do you see yourself? 

Are we successful?

Do people listen when we talk or sing?
Do they read stuff we write?

Are we known as a stable person?
Are we trustworthy?
Are we reliable?

Do we live in integrity?
Do we live the Christian precepts with clarity that we promote?
Are we consistent in our walk and talk?

Are we kind to others?
Do we encourage others with a smile, 
                            a firm hand, a kind word?

Do we love our spouses?
Do our children run to us or from us?
Are we good to our siblings?

Are we a citizen of the world, thinking of the next generation, not just of our time in space?

What are the images within you that you hold dear?

These are sobering and ponderous questions.  I stop often and think on these things. 

You see, I really do believe “I’ll become what I think about.”

What do I want to become?
What do you want to become?

I have the questions. 
For the answers, we each must search our own hearts and minds. 

What beats within you? 
What is your destiny?
What is your God-given gift?

What is your calling in life?

Before you pass from this earth, what do you wish to have accomplished?

If the desire is there, then I believe God has gone ahead of you, prepared you with the gifts and abilities and will help you find the full scope of knowledge required to accomplish that destiny. 

Henry David Thoreau gives us a great summation for these thoughts today.