Changing Seasons and an Unchanging God

God never changesWhere I live in northeastern New Jersey, the leaves are all starting to change colors. The signs that fall is upon us are so evident. In some ways I really enjoy this. I found that I love the change of the seasons.

I am a summer guy, there is no question about that. I love almost any activity that has to do with the summer except for sweating. So the change from it being 96 degrees out with the humidity being something you can taste to a cool 70° is welcome to me right about now. As you drive around the neighborhoods, more and more pumpkins are showing up on people’s doorsteps and I’m starting to notice more cornstalks popping up around too. That one never really made sense to me, I’m just going to be honest. I get why people put up pumpkins they’re cute and decorative, I’m just not to sure about the cornstalks.

One of the things I love about the changing of the seasons is that it reminds me of what I love about the season before it. Right now I am missing sitting and soaking in the sun on a sandy beach. I am missing hearing the sound of seagulls cackle about my head. In the middle of the summer oddly enough I find myself missing a rainy spring day. And in the dead of winter, I long to be outside in a flannel shirt and a vest. Then in the spring I miss sitting under our favorite blanket on the couch with a cup of hot coffee.  Every season reminds me of the beauty and joy of the season before it.

In the midst of all of this change, I am reminded of one thing that doesn’t change–God.  Whether there are leaves on the trees or leaves on the ground, or they are somewhere in the in between stage, God is still in control.  In fact, God is the one who causes leaves to bud out, grow, and then one day fall to the ground.  God is holding that together right now.

For some of you it isn’t the natural seasons that you’re concerned about. Right now you’re in the midst of changing seasons of life. Some of you have lost a job, gotten a divorce, or found out you have cancer.  Or maybe you’ve recently become a parent, or that precious baby you used to hold in your arms is now breaking free and headed off to college.  These changing seasons can be incredibly difficult.

No matter what season of life you’re in remember that God is one who doesn’t change, even if you do.  I love the words from Lamentations 3:21-23

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

What is one thing you need to hope in God for today?  

~Peter

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Being ‘More’ Together

connectedLet’s just call something out.  You are incredibly privileged.  Based upon the fact that you were able to push a button and connect to the information super highway you are among the world’s wealthiest.  The simple fact that you are connected online to so many hundreds of other people through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram mean that you have privilege and means.  I know that I do.  There are times when I wonder am I using my privilege and my means enough to support and take care of those who do not have as much.

It’s funny, the more connected we are digitally, it seems like the more disconnected we are physically.

When Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment in the law is, He responds in Matthew 22:37-40 by saying,

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend the whole law and the Prophets.

When Jesus uttered those words I don’t think that He meant that we should just click ‘like’ on someone’s Facebook rant about the injustices in the world.

I don’t think that Jesus meant that we should stir our hearts to the point of passion, but not enough passion to actually do anything about it.

It’s funny… We are able to explain away so easily what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves.  It amazes me how simple it is for me to ignore my neighbors and not give a rip about what is happening in their world.  We live in the most connected world ever.  What will it take for us to reorient ourselves and look to the needs of all of those people on your news feeds, and timelines.

I love how Jen Hatmaker puts it,

Love your neighbor as yourself.  In other words, what standard is acceptable for my own life?  My own family?  This is the benchmark for everyone else.

What if we applied the same benchmark that we have for ourselves towards others?  I imagine that we would give more, listen more, hug more, laugh more, pray more, help more, be more, and see more.

Here’s to being ‘more’.   Let’s be ‘more’ together.

~Peter

No More Talking

what is your life saying

Actions speak louder than words.  At least that is what they say.  When I come home and walk through that door, I can immediately tell if Tiffany needs me to sit down and talk with her about her day, or if she needs to be tagged out and I get to play in the wrestling ring of life with three kids.  Sometimes she doesn’t need me to say anything, she just needs me to do something.  And that speaks louder than anything I could have said to her. Communication is a funny thing because we communicate with far more than just words.  We express ourselves through our body language, our facial expressions, and our emotional responses.  We are constantly gathering information from each other as we live life together.  Often times the most helpful information are the things that no one is actually saying out loud.  It is the things that you are doing.  Sometimes it is just who you are that speaks volumes!  This brings me to a question:

If God took away my words, would my life keep speaking?

What would my life be saying?  Words aren’t everything, they are helpful, but they are not the end all and be all of communication.  What if someone said to you, NO more talking.  Would you be happy with the message your life would communicate?

So, here’s the question… what is your life saying today?

~Peter

He restores my soul… What about yours?

Quiet WatersThe utter simplicity of this truth never stops amazing me.  I am so grateful for this.  What activities or places do you go to find your soul being refreshed by God?  For me it’s anywhere near the water.  What about you?  

~Peter

Automatic Toilet’s and the Holy Spirit

Holy SpiritDo you remember the first time that you walked up to a toilet and looked for the handle to flush it and it wasn’t there?  The individual that created this little device is a genius, and deserves a pat on the back.  As a pastor I shake tons of peoples hands on a Sunday morning.  I have made it my routine to go wash my hands after each service.  You people are carrying some serious amounts of germs on those hands.  So, it’s even better when I go into the bathroom and not have to touch that nasty little lever coated in sickness.

In our office each of the toilets there have automatic sensors on them.  Which totally enhances the experience.  However, one particular toilet flushes when you walk in the stall.  You know, it’s just a preemptive flush.  The first time that this happened to me, I was completely taken by surprise.  I mean you expect that at the end, not in the beginning.

One of the things that I have always thought about and shared with others is that we should see life through the lens of a parable.  What I mean is, what could God be showing you or teaching you through life’s everyday ordinary objects?  When Jesus taught the people He often told parables, or short stories that were embedded with images and pictures that people were familiar with.  It was a teaching strategy.

Right now you can ask yourself 3 questions to help understand your life’s parable.

  1. Where have you seen God lately?

  2. What is He trying to say to you?

  3. What is He prompting you to do?

Back to the automatic flusher…  Every time this happens I am reminded that I am never alone.  Even when I think that I am going to be alone, I am not.  Let’s be honest, sometimes as parents we retreat to the bathroom because that is generally a place where there is still a little bit of privacy.  But as followers of Christ we are never alone.  Do you remember what  Jesus told His disciples?  In John 14:16 He said, “I will ask the Father to give you another helper, and He will be with you forever.”

As I view life through the lens of a parable, a malfunctioning automatic toilet flusher reminds me that the Holy Spirit is with me, ALWAYS!  This means that when I am tempted, I am not alone.  When I am afraid, I am not alone.  When I am weak, I am not alone.  When I am hurt, I am not alone.  There is no where I can run, no place that I can hide from God.  And I love that the toilet sensor reminds me of that.

So, where have you seen God lately?  Keep your eyes open, you never know what may pop up in your life that reminds you of what God is doing in the world around us!

~Peter