Tuesday, July 31, 2012

House of Hope

Some of you have been there!  Others have heard the story.  Still others are new to the journey of the House of Hope in Arad, Romania.

It all started with this group of kids.  They are off to counquer the world with new winter gear that arrived in the form of a Christmas gift under a tree.  They are standing at the door way at the House of Hope.  They were excited!

That was 14 years ago.  Today, the same group of kids are young adults who are going off to graduating from High School and going off to college.  Things have changed!  They started off as abandoned children who were lost into the orphanage system.  They were scared when they arrived in the care of Global Hope but today they are confident and beautiful.  Their witness of faith is wonderful.

Today, they are living in a variety of settings and the House of Hope is being repurposed from a group home to a preschool / kindergarten.  It will open this fall with a whole new use but with the same laughter that has always blessed the walls.

The facility itself was once a small family farm house with a barn across the small courtyard.  The remodel of a 100 year old home was quite a trick.  But faithful folks made it happen.

Today the facility is in need of a new roof so the new school ministry can be officially licensed and the kids can be safe and dry.  We are committed to making that new roof happen.

A new roof will cost about $8000 with a full long term rebuild.

You could be a part of the process.  Any donation would help.  Just email me and I will tell you how and share the positive impact your gift can make.

Flavius, Gaby, Mircea, and Teo have all outgrown the group home that the House of Hope provided over the last 14 years.  Now it is time for a new adventure, complete with a new roof!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Early Morning Rides

Some of you will know that I enjoy early morning bicycle rides.  It is cool, quiet, unhurried, and I love to see the sun emerge for a new day.  Some of you will also know that the last few months have not been ideal for early morning rides.  In fact, they have been almost nonexistent.  I could claim lack of time, the impact of a significant life transition, or any one of a number of other excuses.  John Maxwell says that excuses are the 'off ramp of life'!

The real truth lies in motivation and implementation.  It just hasn't happened and (sort of like Jimmy Buffet) I have no one to blame but myself.  Until today.

What a great day to ride.  55 degrees at 5:30 A.  An uninhabited trail system that is mostly flat!  And a beautiful sunrise that burst over Hilltop Road while I was rounding the curve behind the KOA tower.

It was a reminder of days gone by.  Do you ever long to recapture parts of the past so the future can feel better?  It is a part of the healing process.  We don't want to live in the past but it is good to recapture the good things of yesterday so tomorrow can hold a brighter promise. 

Today (an interesting concept when you think it over), today is the day.  Happy trails!  Go for it!

BTW:  congrats to the newest 1000 mile club member!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

No Hits~No Runs~But At Least One Error

I made a mistake yesterday.  It is not an 'every hour' occurrence, but it certainly is not a rare happening in my life.  I guess I could casually say, "Oh well, mistakes happen" and blow it off as just another event that has little significance in the larger flow of life.  But this one is different.

My mistake was magnified by my teaching.  Has that ever happened to you?  It is that old do as I say not as I do trick.  Don't you want your words to match up with your actions?  I do.  But this time I fell short.  I like to teach about the nature of grace.  I even like to live in the presence of grace.  In fact, I am dependant upon grace.  After all, if I only got what I deserved ... it would be a different issue.  But instead of getting exactly what I deserve, I am often overwhelmed by grace.

Here's the deal.  My mistake was to focus on law rather than on grace.  I often teach about the joy of erring on the side of grace.  But this time, I missed the mark.

First United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City sits within a block of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building.  It was April 19, 1915.  A huge car bomb went off in front of the building.  Lives were lost and our nation was changed.

The church received a major part of the impact.  They rebuilt by taking the pieces of life and bringing them back together with grace.  The former stained glass of the church was gathered in shattered pieces and put back together to form a beautiful window of grace.  It says, "The Lord takes broken pieces and by his love makes us whole."

For me, that is a wonderful description of grace.

I missed the mark, fell short of the glory of God, allowed law to limit my thinking, and made an error by withholding grace.  It seems that no one really wins when law wins the day.  But everyone is blessed with grace prevails.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Release Your Spirit

Many years ago I took up the hobby of raising doves.  I had a nesting pair of ring neck doves and a handful of beautiful white doves.  Their coo in the morning always reminded me of grandma's house when I was very young.  They are beautiful birds.

From time to time folks at weddings, funerals, or celebrations of some sort want to do a dove release.  It can be a wonderful way to add a punctuation mark on the day.

I remember one wedding outside of Longmont at a wonderful event center.  The vows were said, the rings had been exchanged, and a kiss was shared.  As the couple turned to face the congregation the doves were released from a hidden location behind the couple.  They flew beautifully for the first ten to fifteen fluttering seconds.  Just then there was a tremendous clap of thunder and all the birds made a unified about face right back to the cage they came in.

The couple couldn't see what was happening over their shoulders but their guests had a great laugh.  They were all thinking about the symbolism of a wedding that is released and then makes an immediate U-turn to the safety and security of previous quarters.

With God the dove is a greater symbol of life, peace, and a spirit of hope.  The heavens open and the dove descends as a sign of the Holy Spirit and the endorsement of God.

In our inner life of faith, there is also a point of release that allows us to fly free.  It is a commitment of faith that says "I want to know Jesus" "I want my faith to soar"  "I want to fly"

I find way to many people who are restricted in their spirits.  They are unable to worship fully, they are inwardly focused when it comes to generosity, and they are easily caught up in conflicted situations.  Sad.  It is sad because you and I know that there is much more to life.

It may be time to fly!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in all of the 15 poetic forms that dwell in the psalter.  It is filled with imagery that shifts and turns with each phrase and poetic device.  But at the heart, it is an acrostic poem that is based on the Hebrew alphabet.  It is shaped around 22 distinctive sections that are intimately connected to each character of the Hebrew alphabet.

The seventh section (Waw) is built around the theme of spiritual freedom that arrives through the doorway of faithful obedience.  It is a declaration of faith and a statement of reverent commitment that flows from the heart of the believer to the page of the psalter.

It was originally intended to be shared in song.  In fact, many monastic traditions still sing it regularly as a part of their worship liturgy.

May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,
    your salvation, according to your promise;
42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
    for I trust in your word.
43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
    for I have put my hope in your laws.
44 I will always obey your law,
    for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom,
    for I have sought out your precepts.
46 I will speak of your statutes before kings
    and will not be put to shame,
47 for I delight in your commands
    because I love them.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,
    that I may meditate on your decrees.

Check out verse 45!  It is about freedom that we find in relationship with a loving God.  Our obedince, our desire to serve the Lord, our willingness to live by God's design...all are surrounded by the gift of freedom.

Our own history of seeking freedom brought about some words that continue to shape us as people who love freedom and would do all that we can to maintain it.  It is our desire to be one nation under God.

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.