Tom with kids in Kuwait

Tom with kids in Kuwait
Tom with kids in Kuwait

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why is life such a struggle?

The Family of Faith

Work seems all consuming

When I get a day off I just crash

Then it’s back to work again

Just try living without cash

The morning is consumed with children

Getting them ready and off to school

Then worrying that the phone doesn’t ring

About a bloody nose or broken rule

Of course we go to the games

We have to pull for our team

High school sports are life

In our small community

It’s overtime and report cards

More meetings and more work

And it seems my life is empty

I am about to go berserk

I said the words about Jesus

So I could have eternal life

But it seems that things remain unchanged

Days full of struggles and of strife

And then someone invites me

To come with them to church

I say that I’m too busy

To just leave my life in the lurch

I don’t expect tomorrow

To be any better than today

To give up something else for church

Is surely not my way

But to continue as I have been

Is to live as if I’m blind

For I know there is something better

If I will seek, perhaps I’ll find

There is a truth I must admit to

If I am to end this time of strife

This precious jewel of wisdom is

I can’t squeeze God into my life

Don’t judge or condemn me

For this simple fact is true

No matter what you say to others

The same is true for you

God will not be a second

Or third or fourth or fifth

God’s place is always first

All other thoughts are myth

No other gods before Me

We make none of wood and stone

But we carve them of idleness and busyness alike

And find ourselves alone

So far from our Redeemer

So close to life’s contempt

Living in separation

So much life already spent

But God has given us a family

It is one of those called out

So that we never face the world alone

It is an ear to hear whenever we may doubt

The church is that special body

Where nothing goes to waste

A Covenant Community

A family of faith

Where many gifts and talents

Are shared to produce good fruit

The Body of Christ lives fully

When the vine is our true root

The church is more than a place to gather

More than a place to sing and to repent

Those called out of this world are set apart

To be sanctified and resent

Into a world that dies of busyness

Of worry and no hope

That seeks so many other gods

Money, stuff, and dope

God must be at the center

Surrounded closely by the Body of Christ

And those called out call others in

For inclusion in real life

For the church is the true center

Of the community’s very life

When people have no time for it

They reenter one of strife

And wonder how they got there

From a place where things were good

Blind to their own departure

Feeling always misunderstood

The early church had no need

People gave of what they had

This body of believers stuck together

Not quitting when someone got mad

And there were no hungry among them

No one left to sleep upon the street

And no worry about tomorrow

For Christ did death defeat

And before there was a work day

And after the day was done

The family of faith did gather

For prayer and food as one

We cannot squeeze God into our day

Living as the church is no after thought

Following Christ is all in or all out

And we know what all out has wrought

The Ecclesia is called out of the world

To be holy and set apart

Yet so many cling to the things of this age

Instead of singing How Great Thou Art

Until God is set above all things

And the church is central to our life

God’s blessings will be elusive

We shack up with our sorrow and our strife

Change is often difficult

Human nature is to remain

With that which we know so well

Even amidst the hurt and pain

And I have tried time and time again

To make those bold first steps

Only to fall and hurt myself

And return to what I know best

And finally admit

That I cannot really change

Without the helping hand of God

While serving in his reign

It’s hard to accept a victory

That first began with surrender

But a life among God’s chosen

Is one with fear replaced by splendor

And one living among friends

Who truly love one another

Makes the church so central to our lives

A community like no other

The church building is a crossroads

Where the church itself does gather

In two’s and three’s at times

By the multitude is our rather

And a place where some just stop in

Or come to pray or talk

Knowing that belonging to each other

Is essential to our walk

With Jesus Christ and God’s own Spirit

Who lives in our heart and walks by our side

As the Father intended when He gave us his Son

That one day we would rejoice as his bride.

Many words have brought us to this final point

Take a Sabbath from this world of haste

And find a way each and every day

To gather as the Family of Faith.

Who will love these children?

Children walk to church

In the cold

In the rain

Often with parents unaware

Of where they are

Or why they are there

Cars park far away from the church building

Kids get out

And run for where they will find love

The car speeds away

Lest someone speak with them

Or invite them to stay

Kids come having no boundaries on their lives

Parents often don’t care

Some just don’t know what to do

But the parents will not accompany their children

For fear of hearing the truth

Their kids are just not worth it

The firm direction of a pastor or an elder

May be the only taste of discipline they know

May be the only real love they have tasted

The command to love one another

Is a foreign language to a child brought up in a sea of selfishness

Is a huge step to think of others first

Hope and despair walk side-by-side through the church doors on Wednesday evening

The anticipation of real love in one set of eyes

A spirit of rebellion in another

Who will answer the call to be love as God is love

The harvest is plentiful

The workers are few

Yet the remnant that persists thrives on hope

Lives with courage

Encourages others

Those whom God has called and do not come

Live with busyness

But not fulfillment

It hurts so much to see children growing up without love

Throw away kids

Kids left to fend for themselves

It hurts more to see those whom God has called

Stay on the sidelines

Surrender their lives to busyness

For all who come will be filled

With God’s love

With a renewed spirit

All who come and are completely spent when they arrive

Will leave full of energy

Will find that God will refill and renew whatever is used up

We who should lead will never find abundance in timidity

Only in giving do we gain

Only in serving do we grow

We who should say follow me to the One I serve

Can find no peace in excuses

Wonder why love does not abound in their lives

How will those who do not know love come to know love

When God’s people sit this one out

When the followers of Jesus are on an extended break

How will we answer the question, “What did you do with what I gave you?’

By hanging our heads

Or in expectation of sharing our Master’s happiness

We were not made to feel guilty

But to be God’s love

But to fully live

We are made to put God first in everything

In our life

In the lives of others

We see the children of our community living in households of rebellion

And say, “How pitiful.”

And think, “Something should be done.”

But we are the ones to lead the lost to the light of love

By going into the community with the good news

By being present when the children come seeking love.

So let us be love

As God is love

As we are commanded to be love

So let us be love

Without excuse

Without fail


Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Spirit within me speaks

My prayer begins in a silent room.

With praise and thanks

For simple things

Breath and sight and the day not promised but delivered.

Consciously I seek to continue in thanksgiving

Not wanting to petition too soon

Not wanting to manipulate

As if that were possible with the Almighty.

Feeling too constrained by my own thoughts

I go to silence

There is safety in silence

My mind surrenders to silence.

I anticipate hearing God

But the thoughts come from within me

They are not mine but God’s

His Spirit within me speaks and my prayer is complete.

Sometimes I wonder why I look skyward

Or bow my head

Or seek God in lofty places

When He has given me his Spirit to live within me.


Romans 8:26

Friday, January 13, 2012

To live fully for The Name

Not so long ago

Words seemed too many and so large

And towns seemed so small

That has all changed since my call.

It’s a different world once you have received a charge.

Today my books are full of words

That help me to understand

Things past and present once distraught

But at the cost of reading in microscopic font.

While striving to live the greatest command.

And the towns which once seemed empty

No places to go hang out

Now seem so full of hurting people and needs

Will I be able to plant enough seeds?

And finally let the good news out.

The world has really not changed much.

It lives for glory, fame, and even wealth.

But my eyes are set upon another place

Where stored up treasure is truly safe,

And my purpose is beyond myself.

I see the world through different eyes

Though physically they are the same

My vision responds to a new paradigm

One which embodies both rhythm and rhyme

And calls me to live fully for The Name.